“Table Tiles” Web Bonus

22 08 2014

As noted in my last blog post, my table runner is featured in the October/November 2014 issue of McCall’s Quick Quilts. Click here to view all the designs offered in this fabulous issue. Did you notice the four “web bonuses” listed on the web site?

Quick Quilts OctNov 2014 Cover

Are you intrigued with the woven appearance of the Black, Gray, and White runner? The placement of the “Roman Stripe” blocks definitely has an over-under effect. To our eyes, the strong black color advances or stands out, while the gray recedes. The juxtaposition of dark, medium, and light results in the dramatic woven effect.


Would you like to make a lap quilt of this design? If so, download the instructions here. The McCall’s editors have adapted the table runner design for a larger quilt and offer it to you as a web bonus.

If you made the lap quilt, would you increase the size of the blocks from 3″ to, say, 6?”

“Table Tiles” Published!

20 08 2014

The October/November 2014 issue of McCall’s Quick Quilts will be available on newsstands by the end of August. You may order a copy of the magazine online; click the magazine cover below to link to McCall’s.

Quick Quilts OctNov 2014 Cover

I am excited to say my design “Table Tiles” is included in this issue!

Table tiles table runner

Based on the time-honored “Roman Stripe” pattern, this runner is quick to make. Use a selected palette as I did in the quilt shown above: black, white and gray. Or dig into your scrap basket for a colorful version.

Roman Stripe table runner

My scrappy table runner used the leftovers (plus a few more blocks) from a quilt I made for my sister’s wedding gift. Elizabeth is pictured below holding the quilt. You can read more about the quilt here.


“Table Tiles” would appreciated by anyone on your holiday gift list! Go ahead, get a head start on some quilted gifts for your favorite friends and relatives.

McCall’s has sent extra copies of the magazine for me to give to my blog followers. If you would like to win, leave a comment below answering the following question:

What color combination would you use for “Table Tiles?”

“Sunbonnet Sue and Overalls Sam”

18 08 2014

As I wrote on 15 August, I’m working on three vintage quilt projects for friend and customer, John. After completeing the 80″ x 80″ LeMoyne Star, I decided to work on a smaller project. This is a well-loved and well-worn baby quilt.


The quilt was made for John’s great-aunt Stella whom he never knew. She passed away at the age of 7 due to a congenital heart defect. John plans to give the restored quilt to his mother for Christmas. It holds so many dear memories of her sister.

The quilt contains four dainty “Sunbonnet Sues,” each holding an embroidered flower.


And, not to be outnumbered, there are four “Overalls Sams,” with criss-crossed suspenders.


You can see that the blanket stitching is rubbed away in spots, the pink fabric is deteriorating, and the prints are faded with age. As John and I collaborated about the restoration of this baby quilt, we felt only the appliqued squares were salvageable. I would purchase solid pink fabric for alternate squares, border, backing and binding. The quilt layout would remain the same, for memory’s sake.

At first, I attempted to use a seam ripper to separate the pink squares from the ecru. However, the machine stitching is so tiny and the fabric is so fragile, I decided to cut the ecru squares away from the quilt right beside the seams.

A baby quilt

The quilt was hand quilted with a thick, sturdy thread. I tried using the seam ripper to un-quilt on top of the blocks, but lifting the edges of the blocks and snipping away the quilting stitches  between the layers was quicker and less perilous for the fabric.

A baby quilt 2

I removed some of the embroidered blanket stitches and re-stitched by hand where necessary. One of the Sams blocks was so faded and the overalls irrepairable, I decided to replace the hat, pants and shoes. My dilemma was choosing a fabric for the pants; I needed striped fabric with a faded look. I auditioned homespun plaids and my collection of old shirts. Hubby’s retired nubby gray and blue shirt was the best match. A new solid blue hat and matching shoes will complete the makeover.


Whenever I work with vintage quilts or blocks, I wonder and imagine about the quiltmaker. I also play detective, noticing colors, fabrics, techniques, and stitching proficiency. On this quilt I noticed that the blanket stitching on the Sue blocks was smaller and finer, using two strands of black embroidery floss. On the other hand, the blanket stitching on the Sam blocks was of larger scale, using three strands of floss. It makes me wonder if two quiltmakers worked on this quilt. Or perhaps John’s grandmother made the blocks at different times in her life.

After completing all the repairs, I pressed the Sue and Sam blocks right side down on a white terry towel with a dry iron. With this technique, the embroidery stitches maintained their loft, sinking into the terry loops instead of being ironed flat. Using a rotary cutter, I trimmed all the blocks to 8″ x 9.” Next, I cut seven alternate blocks from washed and dried solid pink fabric. I set the blocks together with 1/4″ seam allowance.


After sewing on the pink side borders, I emailed a picture of the quilt top to John asking if he would like top and bottom borders added. Although the original quiltmaker omitted top and bottom borders, we thought adding them would give a more finished, traditional look to the quilt. John postulated that perhaps his grandmother ran out of the pink fabric. Again, we are playing detective; we have no way of knowing for sure.

Admittedly, the quilt is long and narrow. However, baby cradles, back in the day, were long and narrow compared to roomy cribs of today. This is a picture of my grandson and my mother-in-law. Aidan is sitting in the antique family cradle. The “Sunbonnet Sue and Overalls Sam” quilt would have amply covered a baby sleeping in a similar cradle.

aidan cradle 8 apr

No attempt was made to duplicate the original hand quilting designs: a four-pronged geometric design in each alternate block and diamonds elsewhere on the quilt. Instead, I quilted leaves in the outer border, large flowers in the alternate blocks and meandering in the appliqued blocks. I used a light tan thread, matching the ecru background of the appliqued blocks.


I bound the quilt in pink fabric, similar to the original quilt, and attached a hanging sleeve on the back of the quilt.

Repairing and restoring quilts is always a conundrum. Shall I make it look exactly like the original quilt? Do I have vintage fabrics with which to make authentic substitutions? (After all, “A quilt is only as old as its newest piece of fabric.”) Am I repairing for a museum or for a customer who wants a few more years use from vintage textiles? For this quilt, collaborating with John at key decision points was invaluable. Talking through construction options gave me his vision for the quilt.


What was old and unusable, is now revitalized and useful, and we are both pleased with the results.

“LeMoyne Star” Quilt

15 08 2014

Friend and customer John recently sent me a box with three quilt projects that need completing. These are projects his mother inherited from his grandmother. You can read about other projects I’ve completed for John here, here, and here.

The package contained 25 “LeMoyne Star” blocks pieced from micro-gingham and solid scraps. Some were hand pieced; some were machine pieced. To obtain an over-all view of the blocks, I placed them on my design wall.


Fortunately, there was the perfect number of the various backgrounds to form diagonal rows of color. “LeMoyne Star” is challenging to make correctly because of the eight “Y” seams. (Click here to read Jan Krentz’s tutorial on constructing this block.) As you might imagine, I ripped out several squares and triangles and re-sewed with 1/8″ seams in an effort to make two of the blocks a smidgeon larger.

Next, I trimmed all the blocks to 11″ square. It is a bit un-nerving to trim someone else’s work, especially since these are vintage blocks, the quiltmaker is deceased, and they will become someone else’s heirloom quilt! Sadly, many of the star points were lost in the process. On the other hand, I am creating something beautiful, useful, and memorable from a stack of blocks that have been hidden from view, utterly useless, for many years.


White sashing and borders seem the perfect complement to the blocks. The picture below shows all five rows with vertical sashing strips between the star blocks. Looking good!


 The next step is shopping for pink gingham fabric for cornerstones, backing and binding. I reckon I need about six yards. (Time lapse, 4 hours, shopping trip to JoAnn’s and Hancock’s.) Alas and alack, JoAnn’s had only 1 1/2 yds. of pink gingham, poly-cotton, and not the right shade of pink. However, I found a pink tone-on-tone that blended well with all the vintage fabrics.


John correctly surmised that repeating the cornerstone pink in the outer border would lend cohesiveness and give a finished appearance to the quilt. With 10 1/2″ squares, 2 1/2″ sashing, 4 1/2″ white border and 3 1/2″ pink border, the quilt measures 80″ square.


Although I hadn’t planned on a pink border when purchasing the fabric, I had just enough fabric for border, backing and binding. (Note to self: always buy an extra yard.)


I quilted an all-over swirl-with-points design with white thread. The quilt looks so fresh and pretty; the white sashing masks the fact that the blocks are at least 35 years old. All in all, a lovely summer quilt!


“Slant Six” Incentive

13 08 2014

Nearly two weeks have passed since I posted Clue #3 of the “Slant Six” mystery quilt. Have you found time to make the blocks as directed? Remember, links to all the clues are on the “Mystery Quilt” page of this blog.


I’ve heard from Cheryl . . . and Stacy . . . and Suzie . . . and Kathrin. In fact, Kathrin emailed me pictures of her best guesses of the layout for the quilt. And one of them was correct, meaning the same as my quilt. Kathrin’s secondary design was also viable, but she would have wasted some fabric.

As an incentive, I’m offering a free copy of Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks from Today’s Top Designers, Vol. 10 to the first five quilters who send me a picture of the “correct” layout of the blocks. However, you will have to wait until mid-November for your prize (that’s when Vol. 10 hits the newsstands) . . . but that will give you plenty of time to quilt and bind “Slant Six” before oogling the new block designs. aby dot quilts at gmail dot com

Incidentally, my block, “Intersections,” was selected for publication in the magazine!

Happy sleuthing!

Caribbean “Brick-a-Brack”

11 08 2014

Friday was an exciting day! McCall’s Quilting linked with my blog to give both sets of blog readers a free pattern and lots of fabric choice ideas for “Brick-a-Brack.” Have you downloaded your copy of the free pattern from the McCall’s website?

If you are still undecided on a fabric palette, I’d like to suggest a shimmering option with tropical island flair . . . blue and green batik.

Brick-a-Brack Marilyn Hearnsberger fish

Besides being an avid and passionate quilt maker,  Marilyn is also a certified scuba diver. She lives just minutes from the ocean, and her home overlooks a bay. Is it any wonder she selected these fabrics?  The small fish and seahorse appliques were cut from a fat quarter. Do you see the large appliqued fish in the bottom left corner? Marilyn found the pattern for it in the April/May 2014 Quick Quilts along with the pattern for “Brick-a-Brack.”

Cover for April May 2014 McCall's Quick Quilts

Marilyn kindly sent me close-up pictures of the quilt so you can see the quilting motifs she used. She used a variegated blue thread which blended nicely with all the batik colors yet contrasted well with the light border fabric.

Brick Caribbean 3

While the interior bricks are secured with a diagonal lines, the borders on the sides of the quilt have meandering fishy bubbles. The top and bottom light borders sport wavy lines.

Brick Caribbean 2

Are you wondering how I “met” Marilyn and obtained a picture of her awesome quilt? Marilyn emailed a digital picture of her rendition of “Brick-a-Brack” to McCallsQuilting@fwmedia.com along with a short note about her quilt. McCall’s prints some of the photos they receive on a “show and tell” page. And if the photo is not selected for publication, the editors often forward it to the quilt designer. I have received reader photos of “Charmville,” “Prism,” and “Brick-a-Brack.” Your pictures and notes send a valuable message to quilt magazine editors and pattern writers, telling them what designs you enjoyed making. This helps them better plan future magazine issues.

Thanks, Marilyn, for sharing the picture of your shimmering “Caribbean Brick” first with the McCall’s editors and then with me and my blog readers!


“Brick-a-Brack” Friday Freebie

8 08 2014

Did you know that most quilting magazines have websites and blogs? McCall’s Quilting is no exception. Check out their home page. Under the header, you will find a thick pink bar comprised of various click-able tabs: Home, Magazines, Free Books, Bonuses, Blocks & Patterns, Lessons, Videos, Blogs, Community, About Us, Subscribe, Shop. Wow, so much to peruse!

Under the thick pink bar you will see “Recent Blog Posts.” Today Kathy, the McCall’s online editor, is blogging about my quilt “Brick-a-Brack” published in the April/May 2014 issue of McCall’s Quick Quilts.


The quilt published in the magazine was mainly composed of 3 1/2″ x 6 1/2″ purple bricks. In addition to submitting this quilt, I sent two smaller quilts made with 2 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ bricks. The editors wrote directions for the smaller quilts and published them as a free web bonus. Kathy reminds McCall’s blog readers today about the free pattern as a “Friday Freebie.”


If you’ve made “Brick-a-Brack,” either large or small, leave a comment on the McCall’s blog telling Kathy about your quilt.


Prior to publication, I shared the design with my bee group. The following are some ideas and pictures for “Brick-a-Brack” themes. Barbara and Cindy raided their scrap baskets, using all styles of fabric. Susan and Geniece used 1930s reproduction fabrics for sweet baby quilts.


Lynn made a peaches ‘n’ cream quilt, arranging the bricks diagonally by fabric.


Drusilla used rich reds and greens for an elegant throw.


Don’t you love Tai’s bright palette? She’s a natural at coordinating fabrics!


These ladies found the design quick and easy with flattering end results. I hope you will download the Friday Freebie from the McCall’s website and give “Brick-a-Brack” a try.



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