Reversible Friendship Quilt

In 2022 I exchanged two sets of quilt blocks with two different groups of friends. The friends from my church’s Sew-n-Sews group exchanged house blocks, and the Block of the Month group that I taught at Sew There! Quilts and More exchanged framed square signature blocks. Since the amount of blocks from both exchanges was enough for lap quilts, I decided to make a reversible quilt.

The Sew-n-Sews admired my twin size “Painted Ladies” quilt as I assembled the blocks at our 2021 retreat. They decided, then and there, that we should exchange blocks for throw size quilts at the 2022 retreat. (Click here to see a picture of my twin size quilt. Click here to view the pattern by Eye Candy.) Each of us selected a different door color; mine was a black/white print. We had to make a few partial blocks for the tops and bottoms of the columns. The “Dune” quilting pantograph emulates clouds and faintly echos the spiraling dots in the light background fabric.

After trimming the thirty signature blocks to a uniform size, I arranged them in a 5 x 6 grid. I added a wide border all around so that the patchwork would be larger than the “Painted Ladies” patchwork and loaded the signature quilt as the backing in my longarm machine.

My friend, Bonnie, spearheaded this exchange, explaining that we could use leftover Jelly Roll strips to frame the 6 1/2″ squares. We exchanged a set of blocks each month. The first set contained plain centers, and we signed our full names. For subsequent exchanges, Bonnie encouraged us to ad lib with applique or piecing and simply sign our initials. Aren’t the colors and prints a feast for the eyes?! I listed the exchange participants in one of the plain-centered blocks.

This reversible quilt has found a home on my sofa. It’s perfect for snuggling under while napping or reading a book. I am so happy to have this tangible and cheerful expression of friendship.

Charming Tote Bags

On Friday I met with six ladies at Sew There! Quilts and More in Angier, NC. Our project for the morning — making tote bags from 5″ charm squares. We didn’t quite finish assembling the bags, but we worked through the prep steps and talked through the final assembly steps.

I chose a “Wild Meadow” charm pack designed by Sweetfire Road for Moda, and I made two bags with the fabric. Green Grunge serves for handles and the bag bottoms. These bags were inspired by a video tutorial by Jenny Doan of Missouri Star Quilt Company. Here is the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S7i6Wrl4rZ8. When comparing the photo above with the Jenny’s bags, you will see that I modified the design by including more squares and shortening the handles. If you would like to download my instructional notes on the project, click on “Patterns” in the menu of this blog. Or click here for the direct link to “Patterns.”

Fun Story: Growing up, my youngest sister had a penchant for “pocketbooks.” If you had asked her what she most wanted for her birthday or Christmas, she’d emphatically say, “a new pocketbook.” She amassed quite a collection, one for every occasion! Now that she’s grown up, we still chuckle about her love of purses. Liz’s birthday is in April, and I’m not even going to ask what gift she would prefer. We’ll sport coordinating totes and go shopping together in style!

“Simple Windmills” – BOM QAL Participants Share

It’s the middle of January, and it’s time for me to share pictures of some of the blocks “Rows Parade” Quilt Along participants have made.

First up, enjoy the bold, intense colors of Karen’s blocks made with Kaffe Fassett fabrics. Karen is using a layer cake to make the twin size quilt.

Beth often hosts quilting friends in her studio. As a group, they plan to make the blocks each month. As you can see, a couple of the ladies plan scrappy quilts, and one is using her collection of 1930’s reproduction fabrics.

Paula has chosen “Adel in Autumn” by Riley Blake for her “Rows Parade” quilt. The background is “Eyelet” by Joanna Figueroa, Fig Tree and Co. for Moda.

Both Paula and Vickie are in the Block of the Month class at Sew There! Quilts and More in Angier, NC. We meet up one Saturday per month for show and tell along with a tutorial for the next month’s block.

Great job, ladies. Thanks for sharing pictures of your “Simple Windmills” blocks!

Are you inspired and encouraged? Truly, the blocks are quick and easy to make. You will find instructions on the “Rows Parade BOM QAL” page of this blog. Take a few minutes this weekend to sew some “Simple Windmills” for your “Rows Parade” quilt! And send a picture of your blocks to aby.quilts@gmail.com.

“Blueberry Hill” Mash Up

Despite my looooong list of UFOs, I have begun a new quilting project. For the past two years, my son and daughter-in-law have sent me Rifle Paper Co. fabric for my birthday, and I now have six one yard cuts of “Holiday Classics.” The partridge in a pear tree theme and the gold accents lend an elegant, festive air to the fabrics. I plan to add some cornflower blue from my stash to lighten the dark wine and navy prints.

For patchwork blocks, I’m combining Sherri McConnell’s Block of the Month for 2023 (aquiltinglife.com) with a “Simple Irish Chain” design. Sherri’s block for January is an Ohio Star variation, and I plan to make four blocks instead of one. I will place these blocks in the corners of my quilt. The Nine Patches for “Simple Irish Chain” will do double duty as step-out samples for a class I’ll teach at Sew There! Quits and More in Angier, NC beginning this Thursday evening.

For the overall setting, I’m following “Blueberry Hill” which I designed for the July/August 2022 issue of Quiltmaker magazine. (Click here to see the blog post about this quilt.) As per the photo below, I will surround the “Simple Irish Chain” design with 12″ blocks. I am always motivated and enthusiastic at the beginning of a Quilt Along, so perhaps I’ll make four of the February blocks as well. I will keep you posted as my mash up develops. If I keep up with the QAL, I’ll have enough blocks by December to make a festive variation of “Blueberry Hill.”

Are you participating in a Block of the Month program in 2023? Find the information for the free BOM on this blog by clicking “Rows Parade BOM QAL” in the menu. The menu also contains links to three previous BOMs: Sisters, Options, and Favorites. Take your pick!

Old Joke — New Quilt

“What’s black and white and red all over?”

Was your first response “a newspaper,” or did you and your elementary school classmates come up with other creative answers like “a skunk in a blender?” Eeeew!

My hometown’s newspaper, the Culpeper Star Exponent, published a page of cartoons in black and white each week day. And that was the page we kids turned to after Daddy read the national and state news, and Mama perused the community and recipe columns, and Grandma took note of the obituaries. Calvin and Hobbes, Peanuts, Funky Winkerbean, and Prince Valiant all were read and chuckled over Monday through Friday, but the favorite day was Sunday when the funnies were in color!

This quilt combines all the newpaper offerings – colorful Four Patches for Sunday comics, black on white for editorials and articles, red sashing and border for “read all over” by all the family members.

If you would like to make this quilt, follow these measurements and basic instructions:

  • Sort through your bin of 2 1/2″ squares. Combine four different fabrics for each Four Patch. You need one Four Patch for each block in your quilt.
  • Surround the Four Patch with 2 1/2″ black on white strips. You need {2} 2 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ strips and {2} 2 1/2″ x 8 1/2″ strips per block.
  • Trim all your blocks to be the same size, ideally 8 1/2″ square.
  • Cut red print sashing strips 2″ x 8 1/2″ and sew them between blocks. Cut cornerstones 2″ square.
  • Add an outer border of red fabric 4″ – 6″ wide.
  • Quilt an edge to edge design with gray thread.
  • Bind with black print.

I had two leftover pieces of contemporary black print for backing, neither large enough for my quilt, so I inserted a strip of pieced “Sheepfold” blocks between them. The pieced backing adds an extra layer of fun, don’t you think?

Comment below: What’s your craziest answer to the old joke, “What’s black and white and red all over?”

“Simple Windmills” – Extra

Have you taken a peek at the instructions for “Simple Windmills” on the “Rows Parade” BOM page of this blog? It is Block #1 for Row #1 in our Quilt Along for 2023. Even if you are not quilting along, I hope you will make one block just for fun. It is a great block to have in your patchwork “toolbox,” being useful for so many quilting situtions.

For each block, you need 4 light background 2 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ rectangles as well as 4 colorful 2 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ rectangles. Sew them together, zippity-zip, and you have an 8 1/2″ unfinished block.

Do you want to make a lap quilt, using a favorite fabric collection, favorite stashed color, or leftover Jelly Roll strips? “Simple Windmills” is a fantastic choice.

Do you need to make a quick quilt in bright colors for a baby shower? “Simple Windmills” does the trick!

Are you looking for an “trim-able” block to exchange with sewing friends or a quickly made Block of the Month for your quilt guild? Do you need an idea for a Quilt of Valor? Are you in charge of teaching a block at a retreat for a lotto quilt? Look no further than “Simple Windmills!”

Stacy’s quilt made with a patriotic flair.

Are you searching for a simple block to teach a child or granchild? My granddaughter, Krystine, made a pink and purple “Simple Windmills” quilt almost ten years ago (with cutting, pinning, and pressing help from Mom and Grandmum). Click here to read the blog post from 2013.

Some years ago, Marjorie emailed me a picture of her scrappy version of this design. Notice that her background fabrics are of various colors as well.

Simple Pinwheel by Marjorie

You can make a table runner alternating 8″ Windmills and framed 6″ Windmills.

“Simple Windmills” is a stash buster for 2 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ rectangles. When trimming my scraps, I often cut 2 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ rectangles for a “Chinese Coins” arrangement or for Flying Geese. I raided my container when making the quilt top pictured below. As you can see, the four rectangles need not be all of the same fabric; you can simply coordinate the predominant color . . . or go totally scrappy!

Do you have a New Year’s quilting resolution to sew a quilt from a Jelly Roll you bought on impulse? “Simple Windmills” ties all the various prints and tone-on-tones together while keeping your eyes moving around the quilt.

Christmas-y “Simple Windmills”

“Simple Windmills” — check it out! And email me a picture of your project, aby.quilts@gmail.com

“Home for the Holidays Sampler” Finished

I enjoy the “A Quilting Life” podcasts/You Tube videos by Sherri McConnell and her daughter Chelsi Stratton. They design fabric collections for Moda and produce patterns that showcase their fabric lines. Their first book, “Home for the Holidays” was published this summer, and they designed a sampler quilt made from block designs featured in the book and launched a twelve week quilt along this past fall. They both created quilts from their “Emma” collection. I decided to quilt along since making one block each week sounded doable, given my packed schedule this past fall. You can find links to the PDFs for the quilt along on the quilt finishing post of Sherri’s blog, aquiltinglife.com.

For fabric, I used half yard cuts of “Katie Jump Rope” designed by Denyse Schmidt. I added a bit of orange for an accent. Since several of the prints were large scale, I decided to make six 12″ blocks framed by bold or large scale prints to alternate with six 18″ blocks. The frames serve to separate the blocks just as sashing would. (I should note that several of the blocks in my quilt are my own choice, i.e. not featured in the book.) The scrappy border is from leftover 3 1/2″ strips, and I had enough of the medium value brown print for the binding.

For quilting, I chose “Malachite” designed by Patricia E. Ritter. Since my background fabric was white, I chose the “safe” thread color of white. I do like the visible texture this pantograph adds to the background fabrics, and white thread looks fine even on the darker fabrics.

My dear, elderly friend, Nancy, will receive this quilt for her January birthday. I know she will feel special when she opens the box for her cozy surprise!

“Rows Parade” Block #1 – Simple Windmill

Happy New Year! If you plan to view the Rose Parade on TV tomorrow, why not begin selecting, cutting, and sewing fabrics for your very own “Rows Parade” while you watch. We begin the 2023 free Block of the Month Quilt Along with a quick and easy block, Simple Windmill.

If you are making the queen size quilt with horizontal rows, you need to make nine Simple Windmill blocks in January. If you are making the throw size or twin size quilt, you need to make six blocks. Don’t be put off by the amount of blocks you need to make each month; they can all be constructed in a couple of hours.

“Fresh Fig Favorites” is the fabric line I selected, and I purchased a stack of fat quarters for the project. My initial thought was to use just two colors per row, hence the teal and green fabrics pictured above. As you can tell from the picture of the finished quilt, I deviated from that idea and used all the colors in most of the rows. You might like to do the same. If you are using a bundle of fat quarters, your quilt will be “planned scrappy.” All the colors and prints will look pleasing when used together in your quilt. However, work on spreading the colors evenly throughout the quilt.

As you begin constructing the blocks, be sure your seam allowance (slightly scant 1/4″) yields the prescribed sizes of units and blocks. We want each of the rows of your quilt to measure the same length. Measuring carefully as you go will mean less frustration in the final assembly of the quilt.

Click on “Rows Parade” BOM 2023 in the blog menu. Print the Fabric Requirements document and the Line Drawings document. And then locate and print the instructions for Simple Windmill.

I would love to see a picture of your completed blocks. I often share the pics on this blog to inspire readers to participate in QALs. Email me at aby.quilts@gmail.com.

Excitement is Building for “Rows Parade!”

Join the “Rows Parade” Block of the Month Quilt Along that begins January 1st. You will find fabric requirements and line drawings of the proposed row quilt options under the menu tab “Rose Parade” BOM 2023. By arranging your blocks in rows, you can make a queen size quilt as I did . . .

. . . or make fewer blocks and arrange them in columns as Sarah Y. did.

Sarah, with the help of EQ8, sketched a third option for a twin size quilt. She mocked up Wild Meadow fabrics by Jackie MacDonald of Sweetfire Roads. You can use a layer cake of 10″ square plus some additional coordinating yardage for both of the smaller quilts.

Join the Quilt Along Fun. The blocks are quick and easy . . . I promise!

George Washington Crosses the Delaware, Again

This panel quilt has found its home with my husband’s best friend, Dan. When he first saw the panel several months ago, he was quite enthusiastic and begged for a quilt made with it. Dan, engrossed in researching his family history, recently discovered that he is very likely a decendant of one of George Washington’s aides. So the famous historical scene has personal meaning for him.

I find panels challenging to work with because they are rarely printed straight, and they rarely measure in sizes compatible with conventional quilt block sizes. My sister-in-law bought two of these George Washington panels several years ago, but I procrastinated making making quilts with them because of the math involved. During her visit last fall, she suggested that we just sew blocks above and below the panel. (Why hadn’t I thought of that?) We used 9″ “Nine Patch Square Dance” UFO blocks to make a quilt for her neighbor, Jimmy. When Dan saw the quilt, and enthusiastically exclaimed over it, we determined to use the second panel to make a quilt for him.

During the week preceding Christmas, I spent a blissful day in my sewing room making four more blocks for Dan’s quilt, sashing the blocks, and adding borders. I quilted it the following day, and sewed on the binding the day after that. The colors of the Civil War reproduction fabrics echo the hues in the painting, and the simple patchwork design is reminiscent of woven coverlet designs, popular during the Revolutionary War era. The pantograph is “Happy Times” by Hermione Agee; the swirls act as clouds in the sky, waves in the water, and texture throughout the quilt blocks. I used a muted gold thread which blended nicely with all the colors.

My husband and I ate dinner with Dan’s family this evening and presented him with the quilt. He was so excited, and I know he will treasure it as a family heirloom!