Placemats for Meals on Wheels

On October 11 I blogged about finishing my “Painted Ladies” quilt and showed the bands of 3″ wide strips I strip-pieced for the Piano Key border.

Strip-pieced bands for Piano Key border

Oooops, I made more bands than I needed for my quilt. No worries! I can cross-cut at 3″ and use the overage to make placemats. I prefer to make this style placemat using 3″ unfinished squares arranged in a 7 x 5 grid. This yields a generous 13″ x 18″ finished placemat size.

I augmented the cross-cut strips with a few squares from my 3″ bin. The various textures and color-saturated prints keep your eyes moving around the placemat, don’t you think? With medium blue thread I quilted a simple diagonal cross-hatch design. Bound with royal blue, these two placemats are out the door. They’ll be added to those donated by fellow guild members for a county-wide Meals on Wheels program that gives placemats to seniors along with a holiday meal. It’s a proven fact that cheerful surroundings during meal time boosts the spirits of the shut-ins, and many use their gifted placemats all year round.

As a holiday gift idea, consider involving the youngsters in your life with making placemats for family members. Pictured below is my grandson who, several years ago, enjoyed rifling through my “I Spy” fabric bin for interesting prints. I sewed the squares together, making a placemat for him and one for his little brother. (You can read more about the project and see more photos by clicking here.)

“Options” QAL BOM – Participants Share

Time marches on! It’s mid-October and time for me to share pictures of our Quilt Along participants’ blocks. First up are blocks from Trish. She sent September’s lovely blue “Four Patch Morph” blocks. I am learning so much from the way Trish chooses fabrics for her monochromatic quilt. She is varying scale, and shade, and texture, and she is fussy cutting larger scale prints for a fantastic effect.

Trish also sent a picture of her October “Birds in Flight” blocks. The block on the right looks different than those I made. Because she used all dark fabrics, the large triangles blend into the small triangles of adjacent units, making a design that reminds me of folded paper sailor hats made from newspaper. So interesting!

Next up are blocks from Joan. The greens and pinks are so soothing, and I love the textured background she chose. Comparing Trish’s block on the right with Joan’s block on top, you can see that the “paper hats” shape is not as evident since Joan used different colors for her large and small triangles.

I also have a picture of Judy’s block. Remember that she up-sized her blocks to 12″ and is just making one per month. I enjoy seeing the vibrant color combinations in Judy’s blocks.

Judy and Mary are in the same quilt guild, and I thank them for challenging other guild members to participate in the “Options” QAL. Mary’s quilt is going to be so interesting with the mixture of bold colors and gray textures and the light background sprinkled with birds, stars, and dots.

I always enjoy studying Helga’s blocks. The position of colors and shades is intentional, and the fussy cutting is subtle.

Thanks, friends, for sharing pictures of your blocks!

Believe it or not, “Birds in Flight” is the next to last block in our “Options” Quilt Along. I am proud of those who are keeping up with the schedule! And if you are a bit behind, I hope you will have several hours this week and next to devote to catching up. If you are new to the blog and would like to participate, click “Options BOM QAL” in the menu. You’ll navigate to a blog page with all the introductory info and free monthly patterns available for download.

“Roman Stripe”

“Come sit a spell, and if you are chilly, cover your lap with this quilt!”

I made the patchwork for this quilt several years ago. Since then it sat in my UFO pile while I debated about whether or not to make it larger and add patchwork star borders. Each 3” block is composed of three 1 1/2” x 3 1/2” strips, two matching lights and a dark blue or red. This is a value reversal of many Roman Stripe quilts; most of the time a lighter strip is flanked by two darker strips. The blocks are arranged in a 10 x 10 grid. I like the over-under woven look.

By adding a 2” wide inner border of light print and a 4” border of navy solid, the quilt is a perfect size for a vet at our local VA hospital. I freehand quilted stars and loops over all with royal blue thread. A red print binding echos the red patchwork strips nicely.

What project in your UFO pile do you want to finish this month? Leave a comment below; I will be your cheerleader. It feels great to transform a top into a useful quilt that will bless the recipient!

“Painted Ladies” Finished!

In 2021, from January through August, I exchanged house blocks with three friends and my daughter, Trinity. The pattern is “Painted Ladies” produced by Eye Candy Quilts. (Be sure to click on the name of the pattern to see what the quilt is “supposed” to look like.) We purchased a bolt of light gray textured fabric to divide among ourselves so we would have a common background, and we agreed on a palette of relatively bright fabrics. Each of us chose a different color for all the doors of the houses we made. For example, all the doors of the houses I made are royal blue.

I decided to enlarge the quilt by adding two borders. By adding an inner border of the background fabric and an 6″ outer border of bright “Piano Keys,” my quilt will fit a double bed or will serve as a generous throw quilt. To make the “Piano Keys, I strip-pieced 3″ x 40″ bright strips and cross-cut them in 6 1/2” increments.

I considered using the strippy border at the four corners of the quilt as shown below, but I decided a purple square looked better planned and much nicer. The dark purple color recedes and does not draw attention to itself. Zoom in to see the stay-stitching on the border at the bottom of the quilt. Stay-stitching keeps the cross-cut “Piano Key” seams from popping open. Tip: Stay-stitching the outer edge of the border prior to adding it to the quilt is less cumbersome than stay-stitching after the pieced border has been sewn to the quilt.

I debated on a suitable quilting design and thread color. Since “Painted Ladies” is a contemporary design; I could quilt the “modern squares” pantograph design. Alternately, there is ample “sky” between the houses; I could quilt Es and 3s to simulate clouds. But in the end I chose “Tea Time” designed by Dave Hudson ( Why “Tea Time”? How does the design relate to my house quilt?

I have enjoyed sipping tea in the homes of each of the ladies I exchanged “Painted Ladies” blocks with. I enjoyed Cranberry herb tea with Trinity while watching the sunrise on her front porch in Texas. And one Thanksgiving weekend while driving from northern Virginia to my home in North Carolina in the midst of a terrific rainstorm, I was calmed by tea and conversation with Lori in southern Virginia. My friend, Pam, is all about hospitality, tea and cookies, and her loveable/frolicsome dogs. And Judy and I have enjoyed several sewing getaways replete with tea, quiche, and stacks of inspiring quilting magazines. Besides, china tea pots and cups go hand in hand with the Victorian homes perched on a hill in San Francisco for which the pattern is named.

My husband, Ran, is the expert quilt holder!

It was so much fun to receive happy mail each month from my daughter and friends; the brightly colored houses we exchanged delighted us all from month to month. And now we have beautiful quilts to snuggle under.

A Few More Finishes

I have been working diligently to quilt and bind the tops I constructed on a retreat in mid-September.

First up is a Sawtooth Star table runner I made for my son and his girlfriend.

The fabrics are leftover from the leftovers. The original project was a Christmas mystery quilt I designed and facilitated on Facebook for Quilting Daily. The quilt eventually made it to my son’s home as a gift. From the leftovers I made a tree skirt which I also gave to him. I am sure they will appreciate this year’s gift, a coordinating runner.

The quilting design features holly sprigs and spirals. I planned to use lime green thread, but after basting the runner to the backing on my longarm, I almost reverted to a safe gold polyester thread which would melt into the ecru background. Taking a deep breath, I kept with the more daring color, and I am glad I did! The thread shows off the design without being obnoxious.

The second finish I am sharing today is a quilt for a baby boy. The fabric is “On the Go,” and I used all forty-two squares in a charm pack. As with most collections, there is a white on white fabric to serve as a background for all the prints and colorful tone-on-tones. I considered substituting another colorful square from my stash, but decided to keep the white square. I could stitch the name of the recipient in this white square, couldn’t I?

I chose gray thread to quilt the project. The pantograph is “River Run” by Dave Hudson. The diagonal texture adds movement and interest to the simple squares of the patchwork design.

Next week I will show you the finished quilt of which I am most proud — my “Painted Ladies” quilt!

Have a lovely weekend!

Retirement Signature Quilt

Our pastor’s wife recently retired from thirty-four years of teaching mathematics, and the ladies in the church quilting group put their heads and fabrics together to make a signature quilt for her. After learning that blues are her favorite color to decorate with, we pooled 2 1/2″ wide strips of blue prints and tone-on-tones from our stashes. We decided on a simple framed square design, and cut 4 1/2″ squares of very pale gray fabric for the centers of the blocks.

During one of our sew days, we sewed about 70 blocks and pressed the wax side of a 4″ piece of freezer paper on the wrong side of the gray squares. The freezer paper stabilizes the fabric as well-wishers sign the blocks. Several of Vanessa’s friends planned a surprise retirement party, and the blocks along with gel roller fabric pens were displayed there on a table for guests to sign.

After the party, the blocks were collected and brought on our quilt group retreat. I removed the freezer paper and trimmed them all to 8 1/4″ square; we arranged and rearranged them on a design wall until the shades and textures pleased us. Sewn together in an 8 x 8 grid, the size is perfect for snuggling on the sofa.

At the Raleigh Sewing and Quilting Expo I found the perfect backing fabric of physics formulas, from the “Science Fair” line by Robert Kaufman. I expanded the backing by including several bands of signature blocks.

Keeping with the math theme, I quilted the “One, Two, Three” pantograph by Dave Hudson with pale gray thread. We know Vanessa is going to love this quilt signed by her friends and colleagues.


I have two winners to announce today. First of all, we need a winner for the fabric to make a Christmas/winter holiday layer cake quilt. The fabric line is “Joyful” by Maywood Studio.

“Giant Bloomer” published in Fons & Porter’s Quick + Easy Quilts, Oct/Nov ’21

The winner can make this quilt or another layer cake friendly quilt, and when she finishes, I’ll show you a picture of her quilt. The winner is Barb K.!

The second winner is someone who completed her September “Four Patch Morph” blocks in the “Options” block of the month quilt along. She receives the Fons & Porter’s Quick + Easy Quilts, Oct/Nov ’21 issue. Congratulations Jane S.!

As an FYI – never think that you don’t have a chance of winning a drawing on this blog. Only twenty people entered the drawing for free fabric; and only nine quilters commented “Done” when I am very sure many more completed the “Four Patch Morph” blocks. You have a pretty good chance of winning, and I love reading your comments!

Wishing you many blissful October days of sewing and quilting – Aby

BOM QAL Block #9 -“Birds in Flight”

If you are looking at the picture and thinking, “that is a lot of half square triangles,” you are absolutely correct. However, I think you’ll have a lot of fun planning colors/fabrics for your blocks as well as twisting and turning the units to make the various options. As usual, the instructions prescribe oversize cutting measurements so you can trim after sewing the HSTs for greater accuracy. Click on “Options BOM QAL” in the menu. Once on the page, scroll down to the black Download button for Block #9. Click Download, then print the instructions.

While you sew, glance out your window to spy birds in flight. Do you see Canadian Geese wending their way to a warmer winter climate? Do you see doves, cardinals, or chickadees flocking to your birdfeeder? Hubby and I are always tickled to see our four teenage ducks that hatched on Easter now circling the lake just for the joy of flying.

I would love to share a picture of your block(s) with blog readers. Send a digital picture to

“Four Patch Morph” Wrap-Up

The 30th day of September, how can that be? Perhaps this month began for you with a Labor Day picnic with family or friends. Perhaps you’ve taken a late summer vacation or gone on a retreat as I did. Hopefully you’ve spent several hours in your sewing room working on engaging projects like the “Options” Block of the Month Quilt Along.

September saw participants making “Four Patch Morph,” block #8 out of ten in the QAL. First up, is a block by Judy who is making one 12″ block each month instead of making several 8″ blocks. (Good for her for exercising this “option!”) Aren’t these fabrics pretty?

Joy also sent a picture of her Four Patch variations. I cannot decide which is my favorite; all are so nice!

Mary is still having fun fussy cutting prints designed by Tula Pink, I see. And I love the placement of the diagonal stripe in the first block.

If you are quilting along and have made your “Four Patch Morph” blocks this month, please comment “Done” below. You’ll be entered in a drawing for a free quilting magazine. Be sure to come back tomorrow for instructions for Block #9.

In the Quilting Room

“It’s not a quilt until it’s quilted!” So I’ve been working diligently to quilt and bind the tops I sewed while on a recent quilting retreat. First up is a table runner for a young couple’s wedding gift. Typical of many brides today, she plans to decorate with gray as the predominant color. I begged her mom for an accent color that I could throw into the mix, and blue was the answer.

I like the juxtaposition of elaborate quilting and the simple patchwork in shades of gray. The color (or non-color) allows the quilting to shine. The quilting design is “Calliope” by Patricia E. Ritter. My quilting consultants advised that the blue binding would add a needed accent. I am pleased with the outcome, but if I make this style of table runner again, I will add a blue diamond in the center square of the “Churn Dash” blocks for more color contrast.

I’ve also completed four baby quilts. Two owl quilts will be perfect for twins spending time in the NICU. The babies will receive quilts of the same owl fabric theme yet different patchwork designs. Owls plus orange plus blue are a gender neutral fabric/color scheme, making these quilts versatile for either boys or girls. Since the fabrics contain large circles, I freehand quilted loops and double loops over all. I used tan thread on the first quilt and orange thread on the second quilt. (I am really liking the jazzy orange thread that blends with the border yet shows up jauntily on the white background!)

Two sailboat quilts were next in the queue. With all the string-pieced blue fabrics, I imagine these quilts finding homes with baby boys. My inspiration for the underlying quilt was “Blueberry Crumble” designed by Megan of the Tiny Orchard Quilts website and You Tube channel. (BTW, I highly recommend Megan’s You Tube channel!) Using the theme fabric as a guide, I used medium blue thread to quilt “Sea Worthy,” a sailboat and anchor pantograph on both quilts.

There are several more retreat project flimsy finishes that need my attention, so I am off to my quilting room!