Fat Quarter Fun with Loose Threads

21 05 2018

This past Thursday, I had the privilege of speaking to the Loose Threads Quilt Guild in Clinton, SC. Marilyn, the Programs chair, selected my “Cutting Up” lecture. Using step-out examples, I showed the quilters my favorite innovative cutting techniques, from “Disappearing Nine Patch” to “Stepping Up” (found on the Patterns page of this blog). From turning a straight-set quilt into an on-point set quilt to tricks for using Layer Cakes of 10″ squares efficiently. At the conclusion of the program, Marilyn and I invited everyone to the Fat Quarter Fun workshop on Saturday.

Saturday – that’s when the real fun began! We met in the fellowship hall of the Hurricane Baptist Church, way out in the country. Would you like to see pictures of the ladies at work/play? First up are Carol and Claire, chatting and laughing as they sew.

Toby made a cheerful pink and lime green quilt for a baby girl. Take a look at the stylized leaf print in the center of her blocks; Toby will also use it in the quilt’s borders.

Marge had plenty of yardage and so decided to make a larger quilt; she began with four 16″ blocks for the center.

Here’s Patti arranging her blocks on the design wall. She used flannel fat quarters for a cuddly finish and plans to place the four extra Four Patches in the border corners.

I challenged Virginia to think outside the box, to make a non-sampler style quilt. I love the results!


Linda was ecstatic to end the day with a completed quilt top. She plans to donate it to a favorite charity. The recipient is sure to love the A, B, C, 1, 2, 3 theme print with bright green and yellow coordinating tone-on-tones!

Great fun was had by all!

If your guild would like a workshop on efficiently cutting fat quarters to make Half Square Triangles, Four Patches, and rectangle units, please contact me to arrange a workshop. aby.quilts@gmail.com



Saturday Scrap Strategy #7

19 05 2018

My friend Heather is downsizing her stash due to an upcoming move, and I am the happy recipient of part of her collection. Here are two prints that caught my eye as I pawed through the gift box.

Isn’t that white, gray, yellow, and teal stripe unusual and interesting? Heather told me that she used it in the first quilt she ever made years ago. The yellow print was a yard cut purchased during a sale day at our local quilt shop.

By adding gray and white from my stash, I’m on my way to a lovely quilt!

Today’s strategy, then, is to use your sizeable scraps immediately rather than cutting them up into squares and strips you might use one day. Let the colors and designs of your scraps inspire you! By adding just a bit of background or coordinating fabrics from your stash, you’ll stretch the leftovers of one project into a second quilt, be it a baby quilt, wall quilt, table runner, or placemats.

QQ Magazine Winners

16 05 2018

Thanks for your congratulations and comments on the publication of “Americana” and “Stepping Stones” in the June/July 2018 issue of McCall’s Quick Quilts.

As promised, I held a random drawing for two winners of free copies of the issue. The winners are Gail Randall and Janeanne Weidl. Congratulations! I know you will enjoy all the projects patterned in this magazine issue.

If you are not already a subscriber to Quick Quilts, click here to link to the subscription department of F+W Media. Click here to order a copy of the magazine.

You might be interested in details about the quilting of “Americana.” I quilted it on my longarm machine. Generally, when longarming, I begin at the top of the quilt and quilt toward the bottom. However, for this quilt, I began about 10″ down from the top. I chalked a wavy line using a curved ruler as a guide. After quilting the line, I echoed above it until the quilting ran off of the top of the quilt, keeping the quilting lines roughly 1″ apart. Then I echoed below my initial line until I needed to roll the quilt in order to reach the next section. I chalked a line in the next section for uniformity, but  I did not worry if my quilting did not exactly echo or if the spacing was not exactly 1.” After all, when the wind blows, flags ripple a bit unevenly.

Trinity and I intentionally designed “Skipping Stones” with three diagonal bands of negative space knowing that quilting would best be seen in those areas. I quilted a spiral design all over the quilt, and I love the texture that shows up in the white areas. Click on the quilt to zoom in and view the quilting. My grandson was pleased to pose in front of the quilt (with his Hotwheels cars).

The 4″ patchwork units comprising this quilt are quite versatile. They can be found in several traditional designs. For example, I incorporated them in the patchwork blocks for a table runner and pillow cover.

If you make either “Americana” or “Skipping Stones,” I would love to see a picture of your quilt!



On the Road Again

15 05 2018

This past weekend hubby and I visited relatives in VA and PA, celebrating Mother’s Day with them. Prior to our trip I prepped stems and leaves for hand appliqué. I am making “Peony Star” designed by Kathleen Tracy. Marie K. suggested this project when I asked her for ideas of handwork suitable for road trips.

In the photo you can see that I pressed leaf shapes cut from freezer paper on the right side of the fabric. I cut out a scant quarter inch all around, pinned the leaf in place, and used the freezer paper as a guide for needle-turn hand appliqué.

If you are interested in making “Peony Star,” you can find the pattern in “The Big Book of Civil War Quilts” published by Martingale. The quilt is pictured on the cover, center row, far right.

Have you prepped a handwork project for your summer road trips? If so, what pattern/design are you working on?

Saturday Scrap Strategy #6

12 05 2018

During the second quarter of 2018 I challenged myself and blog readers to tame the tangle of scraps by cutting them into usable sizes of squares and strips. I personally am more motivated to deal with my scraps if I have specific projects to prep for. One ongoing scrap project is my “Roman Stripe” bed size quilt. You can read about the beginning of this project by clicking here.

It looks only about three-quarters finished, doesn’t it? You see, I estimated that I’d need 250 blocks for the quilt. After making 250, I began sewing them together and realized with chagrin that I way under-estimated. So now I am cutting more 2 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ rectangles for block centers and more 1 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ strips for the sides. This is an easy block to make – just two seams and you’re done. I’ll be doing the happy dance when it is finished, but until then, it is my leader/ender project that’s motivating me to delve into my burgeoning scrap bag of strips and strings.

Do very scrappy quilts such as this appeal to you, or would you make “Roman Stripe” with limited colors?


Quilts Published!

8 05 2018

Exciting news! Two wonderful quilts from my studio were published in the June/July 2018 issue of McCall’s Quick Quilts! You can find this issue now on newsstands and in fabric stores.

“Americana,” a 64″ x 40″ wall or lap quilt is on the magazine cover. It was constructed entirely from half square triangles – how easy is that! And you can use charm packs of 5″ squares from Wilmington Prints as I did. Wait until you open the magazine to page 28 and see the flag photographed as a wall quilt along with the instructions. You will love it!

Super exciting for our family is the publication of “Skipping Stones,” a quilt designed by my daughter Trinity and me. It’s our first quilt published as a “design team,” although Trinity usually gives me candid feedback on most of my design ideas. You’ll find “Skipping Stones” on page 8.

Trinity stays particularly busy in the fall and winter as a substitute mail carrier, so I undertook the construction and quilting of this quilt last fall. Moda graciously provided quarter and half yard cuts of a variety of yellow, green, gray, and black prints from “Pepper & Flax” designed by Corey Yoder. I employed a speedy technique for making the “square in a corner” units. Check it out!

McCall’s provided me with two copies of the magazine to give to lucky blog readers. If you’d like to be in the drawing which will occur on May 15, leave a comment below stating which quilt you would make first, “Americana” or “Skipping Stones.”


Saturday Scrap Strategy #5

5 05 2018

I’ve been working this week on two “Postage Stamp” wall quilts. They will be graduation gifts for Carol and Peggy, two of my husband’s students at Carolina College of Biblical Studies. I am so proud of these ladies who returned to college in their middle-age years and have earned their bachelor’s degrees in Biblical Studies!

The different squares represent all the bits of knowledge they have studied and all of the friends they have made in the process. It is my prayer that they use their wisdom and talents in ministries unique to them.

Would you like to make a “Postage Stamp” quilt, too? Here are the specifics: Use any size squares, the smaller and the scrappier, the better. My box of 1 3/4″ squares was overflowing, so I chose that size. I arranged 80 squares in an 8 x 10 grid on a portable, flannel-covered cardboard square. Chain piecing the squares in horizontal rows sped the construction process. I pressed the seams of all the odd rows to the left, and I pressed the seams of all the even rows to the right. Since the squares were small, I did not pin the rows together, rather I simply nested the seams as I sewed from one to the next. After assembling the patchwork, I pressed the horizontal row seams in one direction. The first border of ecru fabric was cut 2″ wide, and the second border of blue fabric (school color) was cut 2 1/2″ wide.

Tip:  I prefer to quilt small projects on my home machine rather than the longarm, and I generally use long, straight quilting pins to hold my quilt sandwich together. I remove the pins as I quilt. However, for this quilt I used a quilt basting spray to prevent shifting of the three layers as I quilted. Following the directions, I first sprayed the “wrong side” of the batting and used my hands to press it in place on the wrong side of the backing. Then I sprayed the right side of the batting and placed the quilt top over it, smoothing and pressing with my hands. Using the spray eliminated the many stops and starts I make when removing quilting pins. I am very pleased with the non-shifting and pucker-free results and will definitely use basting spray again for small projects.

After securing the quilt sandwich with basting spray, I used my walking foot to quilt a cross-hatch design through the patchwork. I plan to machine stitch a Bible verse in the ecru border in cursive script. Colossians 3:16 would be perfect, “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”

Inviting comments on two questions today . . . Do you have a graduating friend or relative who would love to receive a “Postage Stamp” quilt? Or, have you used a basting spray to secure layers of a quilt?