A Sad Tale

Local folks who know our family, and those who have read the book, know that Hazel died unexpectedly at a young age.

Hazel and Dale married in 1954, and Hazel’s main ambition was to be a farmer’s wife and a mother. By 1961, Hazel’s brothers, Donald and Larry, were both married and each had their first child. Hazel was still not even pregnant. And Donald was working on his second one, born in 1961.

Donald and his wife, Ruth Ann, with their sons, Greg and Jeff (the infant):


Larry and his wife, Carole, with their son, Tony:


Here’s Hazel holding Larry’s son, on the left, and Donald’s son, on the right:


Even Dale’s brother, Damon, was married by now and had a daughter, Susan:


So when a little boy came up for adoption in their area, Dale and Hazel decided to adopt.


They named him Gary.



Mildred and Vern were grandparents of four little boys!



And Hazel found out she was pregnant! I was born in 1962, the first girl among the grandchildren on Hazel’s side of the family.

In 1962, Donald and Larry each had another son, making 3 boys for Donald, and 2 boys for Larry. What a group!

After 14 months, I finally learned how to walk. My mother wrote in my baby book: “A slow walker, but a fast talker.” I must get that from my father!


Then I turned three,


and Hazel gave birth to her third child on Christmas Eve, 1965 — Darin:


He was quite the active little fellow, and still is!



Gary, the dutiful big brother:


In 1968, Hazel was pregnant for the third time, with her fourth child, and in early 1969, she contracted the Hong Kong flu. Dale was working full time, and since Hazel was so sick, she and us three kids went to stay with Hazel’s parents, so Hazel would have help and could rest.

The doctor was concerned about Hazel’s weakened state from the flu when she went into labor on February 11th, 1969. Not having enough strength to deliver the baby normally, it was decided to do a C-section, and during that procedure, something went horribly awry.

The baby was saved, a little girl they named Katherine Louise. But due to complications from the procedure, Hazel entered a vegetative state that she never recovered from. She passed away on February 17th, 1969 — 48 years ago today. Katy was only 6 days old.

Hazel’s unexpected passing left the community and all who knew her and Dale in shock, and left Dale with four small children to raise.

Hazel was laid to rest in the Locust Grove Cemetery in Callao, not far from where she lived, and only a few blocks from the school she attended while writing in her little red diary.

And her Happily Ever After with Dale came to an end.


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.