Layer Cake Block One with Gene Black

To start us off, we have a fun block designed by Gene Black.  I “met” Gene through the Jelly Roll Sampler Quilt Along.  Many of you also “know” Gene this way.  If you don’t, you will.  He — yes, he — is very friendly and generous.  I was excited when he offered to design one of our blocks. 
Now from Gene,
Hi, my name is Gene Black. I live in Northeast Alabama. The town I live has the World’s Largest Office Chair as a “claim to fame.”

Everyone always wonders how a man started quilting. What I have discovered is that each man has his own story, although some are similar. My earliest memories of quilting go back to my early childhood. I sat on the porch under my grandmother’s quilt frame that hung from the rafters and played while “the ladies” quilted.

In high school, I took “Family Life” as an elective. We learned to cook, but before that we learned to sew and made an apron. That was my introduction to using a sewing machine. I liked it! A year after I graduated I got a used Kenmore sewing machine in avocado green. Yes it was the seventies! I still have that machine and it still works.

Fast forward 30 plus years. A co-worker had seen lots of my artwork and thought I should start quilting. She was teaching a class on Foundation Paper Piecing. She begged me to take the class. She even let me take it for free. I knew NOTHING about quilting or piecing. She told me that I would need an acrylic ruler with a quarter inch mark on it. Ha, I got a clear school ruler- not what she meant. So for the class she loaned me a ruler.

I made the block perfectly and was the star of the class. Everyone else in there was already skilled in quilting. So I signed up for the advanced class and made a table runner.

After that I started working on my own and reading blogs. I was already writing my art blog so it became my quilting blog also. I soon let my artistic head take the lead and designed my own ideas. What I have discovered is this: There is nothing really new that you can design in a block. What you have to do is add your own spin to it. This block is called the Alabama Spinner. It is a star type block that I added my spin on. I hope you like it.

I am happiest when I am creating. Besides quilting, I also paint and make jewelry. One of my desires is to use my artistic talents to design fabrics for the quilting community.

Blog —

Art Website —

Thanks Gene!
CLICK HERE for the instructions to Block One designed by Gene:
Note:  From time to time I get an email saying there’s problems with the file.  If you get mumbo jumbo when you click on the link above, try “right-clicking” on the link and clicking “Save Target As.”  Then save the file to your computer and try to open it.  It isn’t the file that is the problem, it’s the download process.  If it doesn’t work after several tries, just send me an email — — and I will email you the file.
It’s called “Alabama Spinner Block,”  appropriate since Gene is from Alabama! 

Here is my version of Block One.  Notice that I reversed my medium and dark fabric.  I knew the pink was darker, but I thought there was such a good contrast between the green and the pink that it wouldn’t really matter.  And I wanted a green center star!  Well, sometimes you get just what you asked for. 
I think I would like the block better if I had followed the directions.  Then the star would have stood out more.  It stands out more in the photo than it does in person.  Oh well, that’s what happens you experiment, sometimes you like the results, sometimes you don’t.  I love the block, and I love the colors, so I won’t sweat that it could’ve been a little better. 
After you make your block, upload a picture on our new flickr group HERE.

Why do you want to post your picture? Because we all want to see YOUR block! Okay, another reason is because that picture enters you into the next drawing. So there is one rule about posting pictures:

Rule 1) Post only one picture of each block.

That’s the only rule. Any blocks posted before the deadline will be entered into the next drawing. Any blocks posted after the deadline will be entered into the next drawing.

Are you ready for the first drawing?! I will post winners tomorrow. 

We have two great prizes for tomorrow (for anyone who has sign up to play along by today):

Prize 1) A couple Dandelion Girl charm packs courtesy of Gene.

Prize 2) A quilt book, Simply Charming Fun, courtesy of me.

Yeah! Start sewing today and stay tuned tomorrow . . . .


  1. m•e•l•i•s•s•a
    November 2, 2010 at 1:18 pm

    Love you story Gene…the acrylic ruler bit made me laugh out loud 🙂

  2. Karin
    November 2, 2010 at 1:40 pm

    Wow! What a great block! I’ve to got clear my plans for the day and make it today! Might have to make a whole quilt with that block! Love the story about how Gene became a quilter!

  3. Irina
    November 2, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    Great instructions Gene! I love instructions with clear, well made photos. It’s good to start with a star!

  4. Gene Black
    November 2, 2010 at 2:01 pm

    Wow, I am first. What an honor!

    A couple of notes:
    – my art website and blog address are reversed.
    – if you have difficulties with understanding the directions, please email me. I love to “help.”

    I am debating whether I will make this block again OR use the sample in my quilt. I have a couple of FQ collections that I ordered that will be in this week. I may just use one of them. Then I will have to make a new block.

  5. Cindy
    November 2, 2010 at 2:04 pm

    What a great block, Gene. I like the “spin” you put on it and look forward to creating my first Layer Cake Block.

    Thank you, Gene.

    Hugs and blessings.

  6. Pam
    November 2, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    I’ll be playing along and podcasting/blogging about it on my website at

  7. Coisas da Laura
    November 2, 2010 at 2:10 pm

    Great block, Gene!
    Thank you for your time and good work!
    Hugs from Brasil.

  8. Merete
    November 2, 2010 at 4:49 pm

    What a great block to start with, love it! I will make it tomorrow and post it on Flickr.
    Thanks Gene :o)

  9. crickets
    November 2, 2010 at 4:52 pm

    Love our first block and cannot wait to get started! Thx Konda and Gene – let the games begin!

  10. Sandy
    November 2, 2010 at 5:09 pm

    Great story, Gene…thanks for sharing it and the great pattern. Can’t wait to start.

  11. Jackie
    November 2, 2010 at 5:16 pm

    from one North Alabamian to another – yea for Stars that Fall on Alabama! Thanks for the block Gene.

  12. The Mighty Miners
    November 2, 2010 at 5:58 pm

    I love this block! I hope it turns out great! I agree I think it is great to start out with a star :)guess we will rearrange our today plans

  13. CaraQuilts
    November 2, 2010 at 6:15 pm

    The cutting directions for A is totally blurred. It’s a gorgeous block!

  14. corinne
    November 2, 2010 at 7:22 pm

    Great story. Great block, this is going to be fun. Thanks

  15. Karen
    November 2, 2010 at 9:18 pm

    Awesome block to kick off the quilt along with.

  16. A.J. Dub.
    November 2, 2010 at 10:40 pm

    This was a fun block! Thanks Gene and Konda!

  17. Michele
    November 3, 2010 at 12:12 am

    Looks like a great block.

  18. Leah
    November 3, 2010 at 5:22 am

    What a great block! Thanks for sharing

  19. Connie
    November 3, 2010 at 4:21 pm

    Loved this block Gene! Great directions and photos.

  20. Mary Grace McNamara
    November 3, 2010 at 6:22 pm

    Ooooh, I like it! Thanks Gene! Can’t wait to get started! I’m using fat quarters and yardage from my stash!


  21. Scraps
    November 4, 2010 at 4:38 pm


    What a neat block. I just found your website and loving it. You got me, I am going to make this block this weekend. So there will be other blocks. Fun Fun Fun.

  22. Lee Ann
    November 4, 2010 at 10:21 pm

    Well, I’m not great at instructions; but, after reading through it a couple of times, I started and finished it with much agony, stress, and a few mistakes.

    I’m not so sure about triangles; but, I’m glad I persevered and finished it. Whew!

    Thanks for a great block! And, I’m looking forward to the next one.

  23. GeeGee
    November 5, 2010 at 1:12 am

    Great block, love the applique circle! Thanks Konda for posting another great quilt-along, I had such fun making the last one, so I know this one will be fun also. Thanks Gene for sharing your talent with us.

  24. Heather
    November 7, 2010 at 4:51 pm

    I have to say, after participating in the last JRQAL, Gene’s instructions are by far the best yet. Love how clear and concise they are. I had no trouble at all putting it together and choosing my fabrics so they looked great together. Thanks Gene!!!!

  25. frugal mommy
    November 8, 2010 at 9:50 pm

    I loved this block. I went out today and bought a layer cake to start this fun project. I came home and made this great block. It was my first try at quilting. I am now hooked. I do have to say that I had a few issues with the triangles, but this will be fun to try and learn a new craft. Thanks!

  26. Angie
    November 13, 2010 at 6:00 pm

    I just love those blocks! My oldest son loves the one w/the blue! Just beautiful!