Bird Walk BOM Program

BirdWalkQuiltFrontWelcome to the Bird Walk Block of the Month. We are so excited you decided on creating this pattern. Occasionally, check back here because I will be adding Tips and Tricks on piecing the 12 blocks, sashing and borders.

First things first, THE FABRIC!! Isn’t the Marcus Brother’s Primo Batiks: River Rock Collection just BEAUTIFUL!!?? We loved it and it made creating the Bird Walk Pattern so much fun. You can print out your own swatches by clicking here. Scroll down that page and there is a little printer icon to click on.

So which fabrics are used for what blocks and appliqués? I always encourage self expression and choosing what pleases you. I never feel that my choice HAS to be your choice. So feel free to experiment with color and prints when choosing your fabrics. “Oh, no, not me. You tell me what I’m suppose to use.” Did I just hear your inner quilter panic over fabric choices? Okay, then I made it easy for you. Click on this link and you can download a 7 page swatch sheet that I created for quilt shop BOM Program Directors. The first half of the first page doesn’t apply to most, but the rest of the document has lots of fabric swatches and what was used in each block.

If you visit this link, you can see the blocks up close and personal. I’ve also included the up close pictures of the Bird Walk Quilt that my mother and sister made when testing the pattern. Their version, using the tans, browns, and reds, turned out great! I would love to see what you choose!

What was the inspiration behind this pattern? You can read about us and the pattern inspiration on the Marcus Fabrics website. That picture? Yes, I agree, we totally look like dorks. We are close loving sisters and best friends. I believe it is why I love what we do together.

If you have any questions, let me know. Click on the Contact Us to send me an email.


September 2, 2016

BW.Block1Month One – Duck Track Block

Welcome to the first block of your Bird Walk journey! When done, this block should measure 12 1/2″. All 12 blocks are “bird” inspired. I research pieced blocks named after birds and selected some beautiful ones for this quilt. The Duck Track block was first published in the the Birmingham News, December 3, 1935.

We used two backgrounds in the block, Background 1 is the cream and is referred to as Background 1 throughout the pattern. Background 2 is the cooler, bluish fabric and is also referred to as Background 2 throughout the pattern. You’ll make two identical units using the same fabrics with Background 1, and two identical units using Background 2.

When I teach a class, we always start off checking the seam allowance. The seam allowance is usually blamed when the block doesn’t turn out the correct size. However, there are four elements to making the block the correct size.

  1. Cutting
  2. 1/4″ seam
  3. Alignment
  4. Pressing

Cutting your fabric. Be sure you iron out all wrinkles and folds (steam is fine). Have good lighting, your proper glasses, and a sharp rotary blade. Always stand when cutting. Sitting is convenient but standing over your ruler allows for better accuracy. Always cut once away from your body and don’t see-saw back and forth. If your blade is skipping or you’re having to cut several times, time for a new blade. If you’re ruler is sliding, try non slick grips on the back and anchor your pinky on the non-cutting side of the ruler.

Your 1/4″ seam needs to be accurate. Most modern sewing machine come with a programmed setting for piecing. It is marked by a P. I can’t tell you how many students I have helped find the correct setting for their quarter inch seam. They’d been using tape when all along their machine had a perfect setting for them. Be sure to know your machine’s settings and have the proper foot. MEASURE that quarter inch before you start.

Alignment is so important. Some ladies sew like it is a race. I’m guilty too. And none of us like to be last in the class room. But it isn’t a race and accuracy is more important than finishing first. Take your time. Align that fabric up perfectly. Take time to pin. Ask yourself, “What’s the point?” When sewing points, be sure to align the ends at the point. If the fabric is slightly long or short at the other end it isn’t going to matter as much as getting your point to be at the quarter inch seam.

Pressing Matters. Press first with the seam closed (no steam). Open the pieced item and from the wrong side of the fabric, knock the seam, with the side of the iron, the direction the arrow shows in the instructions. You’re just knocking it over. Then from the front do the same, making sure the seam hadn’t folded over on itself. When pressing, I hold one side of the fabric taunt while pressing with the iron – not tight enough to stretch the fabric but to enough to press the seam well. No steam in my iron unless I want the piece to grow.

I hope these tips help. Let me know if you have any other questions regarding this block. I’d be happy to add them here.


October 3, 2016


Month Two – Bird on a Cattail Block

Let start with the piecing. The River Rock fabrics from Marcus Brothers are fun and lovely! I used a medium purple print in the pinwheel with the Background 2 (blueish light). The Half Square Triangles are finished at 2 inches. If you like Star Singles, a quick and easy way to make 8 flying geese at one time, this is the time to get one of those sheets out and use it, because you’ll duplicate this pinwheel in Month Three! The Flying Geese are also duplicated in Month 3. You can get ahead by make two of each! The Flying Geese are arrange in a gradating color order. Lightest to darkest from bottom to top.

This block has lots of opportunity to “fussy cut” your fabrics.

Fussy cutting is picking a special color or character of the print in your fabrics to enhance your block.

I fussy cut my flying geese ‘bellies’ to get the gradating colors I wanted. I also fussy cut the ground fabric, the rock, the cattails and especially the little bird’s body and wing. Want a blue bird instead? Feel free to experiment and audition different color options for the details in your quilt. Choosing the fabrics and fussy cutting the details is my favorite part of quilting! Those tiny details make a world of difference to me.

I like to cut my background fabric just a little bit larger and then when I’m done with the applique, I trim it to the proper size. For this quilt, I used a fusible product called Steam-A-Seam Lite II. Follow the instructions on your particular fusible product if you’re fusing.

After I’m done fussing with my fabrics, trimming, arranging and finally pressing them into place forever and ever, I top stitch each piece by add a small blanket stitch in matching thread. It gives the pieces an nice outlined look. GO SLOW. Those appliqué pieces are so small to stitch around! (Who designed such tiny pieces anyway!? My bad. But they are so cute.) Test and practice your blanket stitch before sewing on your block. My sister, Lora, is amazing when it comes to quilting and instead of doing the blanket stitch, she used a variety of colors and did thread play on her appliqué when she quilted her quilt.

A few ladies in my class are stitching by hand and WOW are they skilled. So whichever your method, enjoy the process. If you need an up close look at the block to see which fabrics to use, visit this link.


November 3, 2016

BW.Block3Month 3 – Yellow Finch and Bird House Block

If you doubled up on the Flying Geese and Pinwheel from last month, all you need to do is the paper piecing! I really enjoy this technique. My blocks come out perfect in size.

Start with the Bird House. It is the easier of the two units. Use your favorite paper piecing or foundation method to construct. I have a tutorial if you need a refresher or are just learning. Go to my blog for November 2016. After mastering the Bird House, make the Yellow Finch. If you need an up close look at the block to see which fabrics to use, visit this link.


December 3, 2016

BW.Block4Month 4 – Quail Nest in a Boot Appliqué Block

A long time ago, I saw a photo on the internet of a nest in an old boot. The image just delighted me and when I was drawing, I recalled the idea and drew up a boot for Mr. & Mrs. Quail to have their babies.

Now, the chicks are small and challenging to appliqué. A glass of wine might help (wink). Jennie, one of the ladies in my BOM class, decided the chicks weren’t turning out the way she wanted, tossed the babies and appliquéd eggs instead! Ha! I thought she was brilliant. Adapting a pattern to suite your desires and skill level is a great talent. This block has lots of opportunities for “fussy cutting” (see comments in Month 2). Pay special attention to how the print can accentuate the roundness of the birds or to create a wing. A close look at the block, visit this link.

You’ll have a couple sheets to trace which are already reversed for you. A couple of the appliqué templates will be from month two, the rock and some grass. The large 13×19 sheet is to be used for positioning. Take your time in tracing and trimming out your fusible appliqué paper. Remember to write the numbers on your appliqué pieces. What are the numbers for? When you lay out your pieces, start with 1, then 2 and so on. The pieces are numbered in how they over lap each other.

We enjoy the Lite Steam-A-Seam 2 double sided fusible product. I think I mentioned this before. It is easy to draw on the yellow grid side (use a fine tip permanent marker instead of a pencil. The pencil will smear and get on your hands and fabric), easy to peel (drag a pin across the paper to tear and then peel away from the middle toward the edges) and it sticks to your fabric before fusing. Since it is sticky, re-positioning the pieces is easy. Just don’t let the grass fold in on itself!! Once arranged perfectly, press with a steamy, hot iron. Use an iron sheet to protect your iron from the fusible product, then press again from the back. Add a small blanket or zig-zag stitch to anchor it in coordinating threads. Your background fabric cutting instructions is oversized. Once all the appliqué and top stitching is done, trim the block to it’s proper size of 12 1/2″ x 12 1/2″. Great work!!

Another product my class is enjoying is the portable light pads by Huion. These are awesome! There are three types. I have the smallest because I take mine back and forth to class all the time, but they also have a battery operated one and a larger size light tablet too.  Have fun!

January 3, 2017

BW.Month5Month 5 – Bird’s Nest Block

I found this pretty block in The Quilter’s Album of Patchwork Patterns by Jinny Beyer, page 194 (I so recommend this book to quilt block history buffs) The Bird’s Nest block was first published  in 1897 in the Ladies Art Company.

Ladies Art Company was established in 1889. Magazines ads in 1895 mentioned 272 quilt blocks to choose from and a catalog was published in 1897 listing 400 different blocks. The rest is history! Ladies Art Co. was the first business to offer hundreds of quilt patterns in a mail order catalog. While their patterns predate the Kansas City Star patterns and others published in newspapers and books, a large majority of blocks were published in the 1880s through the 1890s. { info from }

I added Half Square Triangle “leaves” to the left and bottom sides of the block, basically to make it a 12″ finished square, as well as to give an artistic impression that the nest was hidden in nature.

Start off by making your Half Square Triangle leaves with the 3″ squares. Remember to trim the Half Square Triangles to 2 1/2″ before sewing them into rows.

The blue “eggs” are Square-in-a-Square units. Being the Queen of Fussy Cutting, I wanted a gradated look for the eggs. I used my lightest blue in the center with the darkest eggs on the outside. Middle blue in the middle. But, guess what? That isn’t how my block got sewn up! Somehow my eggs got scrambled. The two eggs on the left and the two eggs on the right are actually turned (Over Easy? Can’t take a good yoke? Bahahhaaa). Anyway, scramble your eggs how ever they please you.

The next units to make are the Corner Square Triangles. The 4 Elements to making a block the correct size is especially important these “nest” units as well as the eggs. Take a quick minute to review. Take your time in sewing up each unit too. Enjoy!

February 1, 2017

BW.Month6Month 6 – Hummingbird block

Oh my gosh! You’re half way! The pretty pinwheels in this block are called the “Hummingbird” by Clara Stone, first published in 1908 in Practical Needlework. The block is also called “Crow’s Foot”,1931. I liked “Hummingbird” better. The tiny half square triangles can be a challenge if your quarter inch seam isn’t perfect! The first time Lora sewed this block up, it was a half an inch shorter than it was suppose to be. Lora was sure it was my math. I was sure it was her fat quarter inch seams. Yep, it was the seams. If you have been struggling with size, try Star Singles. It is a great way to make Half Square Triangles and they turn out perfect. One Star Singles sheet makes 8 perfect HST. You’ll need 16 HST for this block. Star Singles are sold at the “Finished Size” which is the size that the block is once the seam allowances are sewn up. The Finished size of the HSTs in this block are 1″. That means, before it is sewn into the block the Unfinished size is 1 1/2″ because of the seam allowance. Star Singles come in many sizes (I think I have them all!).

The Hummingbird applique gives you a few areas to fussy cut. The bird is a great one to do so. Adjust the body over the fabric to create highlights on it’s little chest. Remember to position in numeric order then the pieces will overlap in the proper sequence. Have fun positioning the bird in flight over the flowers!

March 1, 2017

BW.Month7Month 7 – Darting Birds

The sun is shining! Here in Livermore, CA we have had rain after rain after soggy rain. But today the sun is shining brightly, lawn mowers are roaring, neighbors are weeding and trimming. Best of all the birds are singing and darting across the sky. It as if they are aware that spring is approaching and they have a blue sky to dance upon.

The Month 7 block is called Darting Birds. It was first published by Nancy Page, Birmingham News, July 9, 1935, [The Quilter’s Album of Patchwork Patterns by Jinny Beyer]. I chose two blues and two purple fabrics to create the four birds. I chose Background 2 as the background. You’ll start off making 2 1/2″ Half Square Triangles (unfinished size) in the four different fabrics to create the wings and tails. The heads and bodies are formed by making Corner Square Triangles. Sew the birds as individual blocks and then sew the darting bird blocks together.

See above to review tips for accuracy. This block you’ll want to pay close attention to your seam allowance and aligning the fabrics.

Check out this beautiful video of Darting Birds by Paul Bunyard-Wild About Images.

Enjoy sewing your Darting Birds!


April 1, 2017

BW.Month8Month 8 – Birds on a Branch Block

Because of the nest in Block 9, I imagine two of the birds are the parents and one is the visiting mother-in-law! When our chicks are young, don’t we all need an extra set of hands?

The background of the block is a leafy tan. Yes, I know, it is a different background than block 9. I loved the combination of the subtle difference in print and the slight difference in color. I chose a different background for block 8 and block 9 so that they would be independent of the other, yet united by the branch. One online distributor was advertising this as an 11 block pattern because they thought block 8 and 9 was one. Oh well, I tried.

First make the Flying Geese and then assemble the background as in the instructions. Trace the leaves and fuse, using any of the green scraps from the previous blocks. It really doesn’t matter which green is used for whichever leaf. Have fun selecting and arranging.

Some tips on appliqué:

There are lots of tutorials that can give visuals and demonstrations if reading just doesn’t paint the right picture for you or you’re struggling with the technique and your results. I start out by tracing my images with a fine tip permanent pen onto the fusible product. Pencil smudges and can get on your fabric. I trace slowly and carefully. Then I trim the fusible product with a good 1/4″ space around the pieces. I fuse to the wrong side of the fabric (read your product instructions). I LOVE to fussy cut. So I’ll try to arrange the light portion on the breast of the birds, or a strip as a vein in a leaf. Fun fun fun. When I trim the pieces out, I use small appliqué scissors that have a fine serrated edge and I trim on the outside of the line. What a difference a good pair of scissors make! They’re pricey so hide them from your family. You don’t want them used for cutting the plastic casing off your son’s new ear buds! (oi.)

I machine sewed a small blanket stitch in coordinating colors around all the applique pieces. GO SLOW. Count as the stitches go. Pivot gently and often when doing the curves.

Happy Sewing!


May 2, 2017

BW.Block9Month 9 Nest in a Tree Block

I’ve a new tiny nest in a tree right outside my master bedroom slider. The nest is too high in the tree for me to see inside the little home, but the birdie couple have been busy fussy with it. I haven’t heard little chirps yet.

You get to choose some browns from your growing collection of River Rock batiks to create the trunk. Doesn’t matter which ones, nor the order. I didn’t specify that in your instructions. I know it makes a few ladies nervous when I say choose what you’d like but really, you can’t do it wrong. It’s art. Be brave. 🙂 The leaves are random from your green River Rock batik scraps too. Doesn’t matter which greens you choose. Have fun.

Pay close attention to the numbers on your applique pieces. These numbers aren’t just for keeping track of the pieces, it is also the order you need to place them on your background. When placed in order, the nest and eggs will all be arranged correctly with the correct pieces overlapping. When the branches, nest, eggs and leaves are all arranged to suit you, iron them in place (read your fusible web instructions!) and add a small blanket stitch with matching thread to keep them in place forever.

The instructions for the background will have had you make the background and trunk slightly larger than needed. Once the applique stitching is done, trim the finished block to 12 1/2″.

You can now sew blocks 8 and 9 together if you like. If the branch doesn’t line up perfectly, don’t worry. The leaf number 24 will camouflage any misalignment!  Fuse the two remaining leaves and stitch around them to finish the Month 8 and Month 9 pair.

Well done!

June 3, 2017


Month 10 The Duck Foot Block

The Duck Foot block portions of this square are the four Corner Square Triangle units. The four Duck Foot blocks rotate so that they create a large frame on point. You’ll make two Duck Foot blocks in green and two duck foot blocks in brown. The instructions for making these Duck Foot blocks is on page 16.

My wonderful encyclopedia book that tells all and knows all, didn’t have any history on this block. “Source unknown. Date unknown.” Humpf. What a let down. Despite not knowing the source of this Duck Foot block, it is quite versatile. I can imagine an entire quilt created from a combination of these four units. I recently created a unique star for my new pattern “Living in the Moment” (First star block in the second row) from the Duck Foot block, though I used a small 4-patch instead of the Half Square Triangle in the corner.

My tip is to pay close attention to alignment and which way the arrows indicate to press the seams. The block with nest together quite nicely if the seam allowances are pressed in the right direction.

You’ll want to create five Half Square Triangles in green and Background 3. Trim to 2 1/2″, sew together to create “foliage”. You’ll also create the ‘trunk’ by sewing up six 2 1/2″ squares from several different browns from your growing River Rock batik stash.

As you create Month 10 block, image all the ways you can use the Duck Foot block in your future sewing opportunities!


July 14, 2017


Month Eleven Ducks in the Reeds Block

You know when you’re just going along… minding your own business… when suddenly it hits you. You remembered something you forgot. Eyes get big, quick intake of breath, heart jumps in your chest. The older I get, the more this happens. I’ve burned two pans on my stove just this year because I left the kitchen, got sidetracked and forgot I was cooking! Now I have a rule that I can’t cook unless I STAY inside the 10’x10′ kitchen space. Why didn’t someone tell me I forgot to post July’s tips and tricks for the Bird Walk BOM?! So sorry for my distractedness! I love this block. Month 11 has the tiniest of ducklings tucked under momma’s wing. Just 10 days ago, one of my own ducklings flew the nest (across the country, no less) so this block seems extra sweet to me. I want to make it again. Good therapy. Cheaper than a psychologist, anyway. 🙂

For tracing your pieces, the reeds and cattails are from Month 4. The duck and duckling pieces are on page 18 and the water, trunk, and an additional reed and cattail are on an 8 1/2″ x 14″ insert. The 13″ x 18″ insert is the positioning sheet.

You’ll start off by appliquéing all the pieces but the reeds and cattails on the 13″ x 22″ background. Then you’ll trim it down to the 12 1/2 x 10 1/2 and sew the top strip on. You’ll want to position the trim so that the trunk will line up right at  2 1/4″ from the right side. That way the trunk will line up with the brown square and continue the trunk look. After the top strip is sewn on, you can finish up by appliquéing the reeds and cattails.

Again, have fun fussy cutting to your heart’s content. Lots of great designs in the fabric will accent the implied dimension of your pieces.

Great job!


August 6, 2017

Month Twelve – Return of the Swallows Block

Wow. You made it! This is the last block, borders and quilt top assembly month. Stretch that arm over your shoulder and pat yourself on the back. I’d do it for you if I was close enough. I’m proud of you! This was a tough pattern with lots of challenges in appliqué, piecing and paper piecing. You’ve got skillz!! With this last block, we wrap up using all three techniques.

Return of the Swallows block is comprised of eight flying geese. This block is attributed to the Kansas City Star, October 2, 1946, according to pg 69 of the The Quilter’s Album of Patchwork Patterns by Jinny Beyer. (Have I mentioned I love this book? What a resource.) You’ll create two sets of geese in like colors and assemble them “flying” in two different directions, up and left.

Next you’ll paper piece the Birdhouse, just about the same instructions as the bird house in month 3 so you’ve got this one. After it is pieced, appliqué a little blue bird, stems and flowers atop.

Next, paper piece the feather. Go ahead and make 5 copies of the the feather pattern. Four will be for the border and one for the block. The feather is a two part paper pieced pattern. Sew the A side and the sew up the B side. Then sew A to B for the complete unit. Now the block feather uses a different background than the border feathers, but the feathers themselves are a great place to use up those scraps. There is no specific color or placement. Just have fun. Keep an eye out for contrast and a variety of color.

Again, I am SO PROUD of you for completing the Bird Walk pattern. You can now call yourself a Material Girlfriend!! You rock.

I have received so many encouraging emails regarding the Bird Walk project. Thank you!! I need the pat on the back occasionally too!  I have a follow up pattern in the works call Party Crashers. I hope to introduce that pattern to you soon.

Blessings to you,

Lisa Norton

Material Girlfriends Pattern Designer