Retreat Project Finishes

Happy Mother’s Day Weekend, everyone. I hope your hours are pleasantly filled either with friends and family visits or with time for leisurely sewing/crafting.

First of all, let’s congratulate Joan O. for winning a free quilting magazine. Like many of you, she is participating in the “Favorites” Block of the Month quilt along this year. She commented “Done” on April 30th, indicating the completion of BOM #3 — “Weathervane” variation and “Ribbon Star.” The instructions for BOM #4 are on the “Favorites BOM QAL” page of this blog – happy sewing!

I attended a quilting retreat during the third week of April with nine quilting friends. The fellowship was superb, the quilt shop hopping opportunities were unparalleled, and the dedicated time for sewing yielded beautiful results. My main sewing goal during the retreat was making blocks for a Christmas quilt that will be published in Quiltmaker next fall. So sorry — I can’t show you a picture, it’s a secret until published, but I know you will love it!

Besides buckling down on the Christmas quilt, I worked on turning two groups of fabrics into baby/lap quilts. The “Giant Star” instructions were published in the August/September 2020 issue of Fons & Porter’s Quick + Easy Quilts. (Click here to purchase the magazine from Quilting Daily. Click here to read the original blog post about the publication of these quilts.) The design is fat quarter friendly; you need a fat quarter each of four fabrics plus background fabric. Since the fabric companies generously sent me half yard cuts, I had enough to re-make the quilts. I determined to sew the star patchwork while on retreat. Done!

And my goal for this past week was adding borders, quilting, and binding them. I am so happy they are now complete. The quilting pantograph on the red, tan, and blue quilt is “Becker’s Shooting Star” and can be purchased from Urban Elementz. I quilted spirals freehand on the gray and teal quilt. Do you like the geometric contrast of triangles and spirals?

The backing conundrum: The quilts are a little larger than width of fabric, so I had to piece the backings. Here’s the back of the red, tan, and blue quilt. I cut the yard of coordinating plaid fabric into quarters and sewed “Sheepfold” blocks in the space between the quarters. (“Sheepfold” is a favorite scrappy Leader/Ender block; I store the blocks in a shoebox and select colors to coordinate with the project at hand. I often use them to expand backing fabric or to add a border to a scrap quilt.)

If you are in the market for a “Giant Star” baby quilt or wall quilt, let me know (aby.quilts@gmail.com). I love these quilts but could be persuaded to part with them “to a good home.”

“Favorites” BOM #4

Happy May Day! On the home front, my husband and I are ushering in May by planting squash and corn in our garden. Hopefully it will rain in the next few days to speed the germination process.

Here, on the blog, I am ushering in May by publishing instructions for two blocks in our “Favorites” quilt along: Ohio Star variation and Bird of Paradise. I think you will enjoy making these 12″ blocks, from selecting fabrics, to cutting, and finally to sewing.

Ohio Star is a perennial favorite among quilters. I have modified the traditional design by piecing Four Patches for the corner squares and by including an additional color for the small triangles surrounding the center square. Begin by selecting fabric for the center square – perhaps a large scale print. Then, pulling colors from that print, select tonals or small scale prints to coordinate. I chose the yellow tonal for accent triangles because I will also use it as my sashing fabric.

Bird of Paradise is another favorite star block. When making the star point units, you will have the choice to use specialty Tri-Recs rulers or to paper piece. I highly recommend Bonnie Hunter’s You Tube tutorial for using the rulers. Note that she begins with 3 1/2″ strips, but you need to cut the triangles from 4 1/2″ wide strips. Click here for the cutting tutorial. Click here for the sewing tutorial.

Are you excited to add these blocks to your “Favorites” project box? Click on “Favorites BOM QAL” in the menu. Scroll down the page to BOM #4 and download the instructions. On your mark, get set, sew!

“Favorites” BOM #3 Wrap-up

Here we are, at the end of April, and it’s time to applaud the BOM participants who have completed the two blocks assigned this month, “Weathervane Variation” and “Ribbon Star.”

First up are blocks by Terry. She is making two quilts! One quilt has a strong and bold palette…

and the other quilt has a soft and sweet vibe.

Joan has been busy as well. The greens, gold, and rust she has chosen say “fall” to me.

Trish is also quilting along. I love the way her purples and pinks play with the dark green and the pansy theme print!

Chris is using her stash of 1930’s reproduction prints. How fun!

Kathy writes, “April was a busy month, but I finished!” Hooray, Kathy.

Paula is working with a black background which makes the other colors stand out so well. She opted to use just one color, aqua, in the Nine Patch diamond which surrounds the center square. She is anxious for tomorrow’s post when the two final 12″ blocks are revealed.

Are you quilting along with the “Favorites” block of the month project in 2022? Did you make “Weathervane Variation” and “Ribbon Star?” If so, comment “DONE” below to be entered in a drawing for a free quilting magazine. If you are new to the blog and are curious about the project, click on “Favorites BOM QAL” in the menu. You will link to a page with printer-friendly instructions for all the blocks to date.

“Cabins and Cornerstones” Published!

The May/June 2022 issue of Quiltmaker magazine has reached subscribers’ mailboxes. Look for it on your favorite newsstand! Themed “Father Knows Best: Quilts by and for Men,” the issue is brimful of perfect projects for Father’s Day gifts as well as for springtime sewing.

My quilt, “Cabins and Cornerstones” is featured on pages 56-61. The editor succinctly explained the process for making this quilt and included fantastic step by step diagrams. But I bet you would like to know some back story and behind-the-scenes info.

My friend, Kathy, showed our quilting class a Log Cabin quilt she made with scraps from her stash as well as some inherited from her mother. She recommended the Creative Grids Log Cabin Trim Tool saying, “This is the most fun I’ve ever had making a quilt.” Wanting to share in the fun, I bought the ruler and begin digging into my container of strips and strings.

In my haste, I didn’t read the instructions which suggest sewing light “logs” first around the center square. I added dark logs first as you can see in the picture below. Sewing dark logs first meant that the longest logs would be light and would therefore not frame the block nicely.

However, we can turn most of our mistakes into design opportunities! I decided a red sashing between the blocks could simulate the final dark logs. Once I settled on red sashing, I avoided using red logs in the blocks so red wouldn’t be touching red, thus muddling the design.

I pieced the “Piano Key” border from 2″ wide strips and made four more Log Cabin blocks for corner squares in the border. But the scale was wrong; the narrow logs didn’t look cohesive with the wider piano keys. So I made four identical Log Cabin blocks with black center squares and 2″ wide logs which look so much better.

I quilted the “China Sea” pantograph (designed by Keryn Emmerson) with light gray thread and bound “Cabins and Cornerstones” with solid black fabric.

To echo my friend Kathy, “I had a lot of fun making this quilt!” It is not a quilt-in-a-day project; I pieced the blocks over several months, keeping a tray of strips and strings on a small table near my sewing machine. Sometimes the blocks were leaders and enders as I sewed other projects; sometimes I chain pieced three or four blocks at a time. I used the trim tool ruler after each round of logs to make sure my cabins stayed square as I built them. “Cabins and Cornerstones” is a great design for turning narrow scraps into a beautiful, colorful quilt!

Happy Easter 2022!

For me, Easter is always a time of reflection and hope. At this season I am reflecting on the matchless sacrifice of Jesus who willingly gave his life in payment for my sins. I am also focusing on the sure hope of eternal life and the resurrection of the saints. Reflecting on this hope is especially meaningful and soul-healing because of the recent passing of my father and also of a dear friend.

The quilt-y show and tell for today is an Easter table runner made from twelve 6″ blocks, each signed by its maker.

The ladies in my church’s sewing group exchanged them at our retreat last September. The blocks are wonderfully unique! I love them all.

I arranged one row right side up and the other row upside down so diners on both sides of the table could enjoy the motifs without standing on their heads. I cut the yellow sashing and border strips 2″ wide and quilted loops with yellow thread in the sashing and border. I may add quilting within the blocks at a later date to reduce the pouf created by the loopy quilting. A purple tone-on-tone is the perfect binding color as it echoes the purples within the blocks. I am happy to have finished this friendship block exchange project in time to decorate my dining table with it this year.

Happy Easter, my friends! Click here for some beautiful, reflective Easter music by guitarist Josh Snodgrass.

“Favorites” BOM #3 — Participants Share

First of all, I am announcing the winner of a quilting magazine. Mary Lish, “come on down!” Mary successfully completed BOM #2 in March and commented “Done” on the 31st. She will receive the Feb./Mar. issue of Quick + Easy Quilts which contains instructions for my charm pack friendly “Paddle Star” table runner. Congrats, Mary!

Secondly, thanks for all the kind comments for my “Brown-Eyed Susans” quilt recently published in Fons & Porter’s Love of Quilting. Spring and summer road trips are the best occasion for trying your hand at EPP. If you hand stitch all the rosettes while on vacation, you can machine stitch them to background squares once you are home again.

BOM #3: Pictures of “Weathervane” variation and “Ribbon Star” are rolling in. Would you like to be inspired by color and fabric choice of fellow participants?

Helga lost no time in making her blocks; she sent me a picture on April 1st, the day the instructions were posted on the “Favorites BOM QAL” page of this blog!

Karen attends the BOM monthly meet-ups at Sew There! Quilts and More in Angier, NC. I am loving her tan and blue fabrics. Wonderful work, Karen!

Marianne also sent a picture of her blocks in maroon and orange/tan. Her words of encouragement, “These were fun to make!”

Joan has finished the “Weathervane” variation and will soon find time for “Ribbon Star.” The subtle shading of the two gray fabrics in the pentagon shapes is lovely.

Here’s hoping you are enjoying spring sunshine and finding time to sew today! If you are new to the blog and wish to join the free Block of the Month Quilt Along, click on “Favorites BOM QAL” in the menu. It’s never too late to join the fun; the pace is not too strenuous.

“Brown-Eyed Susans” Published!

Have you seen the May/June 2022 issue of Fons & Porter’s Love of Quilting? It contains so many fun, bright projects perfect for spring sewing. Instructions for my lap quilt design, “Brown-Eyed Susans,” begin on page 52.

“Brown-Eyed Susans”

And in case you are leery of committing to “all that hand work,” I’ll let you in on a little secret. I machine appliqued the hexie rosettes to the background squares. Yes, coordinating yellow-gold thread and a very shallow zigzag stitch did the trick. Zoom in to see the nearly invisible stitches around the edges of the rosettes.

The alternate blocks are an “Album Cross” easily made following the instructions in the magazine. The brown inner border hails back to the brown centers of the flowers, and the green plaid outer border adds a comfortable country feel to the quilt. Using light yellow thread, I quilted a floral design all over the quilt. The pantograph is “Wall flower” by Hermione Agee c. 2011.

Have I tempted you to purchase the magazine and try your hand at simplified English Paper Piecing? If not “Brown-Eyed Susans,” there are many other projects in the issue to ignite your creativity! Click here to purchase a digital copy from the Quilting Daily store.

Spring QALs

It’s spring, and web-based Quilt Alongs are “busting out all over!” Since each one will result in a beautiful quilt, I am tempted to begin them all! (Click here for the classic organ piece “Spring is Busting Out All Over” played by Jane McKee Johnson.)

Of course, we have “Favorites,” the BOM I designed and publish on the first of each month here on this blog. Have you downloaded BOM #3? There are two blocks this month, “Weathervane” variation and “Ribbon Star.”

“Weathervane” Variation
“Ribbon Star”

I am quilting along with Sherri McConnell of A Quiliting Life. She publishes blocks on the first Thursday of each month. I am using scraps of brown and barn red from the “Ruby” line by Maywood Studio.

2022 Mystery Quilt from A Quilting Life

Quiltmaker magazine is celebrating their 40th year in print with a mystery quilt along. Blocks are published in each issue this year. I am sewing with red, pink, and cream prints from Laundry Basket Quilts.

“Ruby Jubilee” Clue #1

American Patchwork and Quilting magazine is celebrating their 30th year in print with instructions for blocks commemorating each of the 30 years. Purchase a current magazine issue to discover the details.

Lisa Bongean of Primitive Gatherings just released block #1 in her QAL “Oh Say Can You Sew.” She’s using Red, Cream, and Blue scraps for the design, but I have chosen to sew from my burgeoning bin of colorful batiks. And pretty soon Lisa will begin a Summer Blocks series with three designs to choose from.

“Oh Say Can You Sew” Clue #1

Moda Blockheads 4 QAL has just begun. There are about 30 quilt block designers, and a block is published each week on their blogs as well as on the modafabrics website. Click here to sign up for the newsletter which alerts you when blocks are online. To see this week’s block, click here. To read introductory background information, click here.

All these are sew much fun! Which QALs are you tempted to join?

“2021 Mystery” from A Quilting Life – Finished!

Sherri McConnell of A Quilting Life (blog, podcast, and You Tube channel) is one of the quilters I “follow.” For the past several years, Sherri has designed a mystery sampler block of the month and published instructions for 12″ and 6″ blocks on her blog. Last January I decided to quilt along and pulled together some bright scraps and fat quarters for my quilt. I made both 12″ and 6″ blocks, intending to include both sizes in the sampler.

At first I thought the fabrics for my quilt would not make a cohesive finished quilt since they hail from various fabric lines. But I kept making blocks, and in the end, I am very pleased with the bright scrappiness of the composition.

You can see Sherri’s setting for the 2021 mystery here and purchase her pattern, if you desire. Since I included both sizes of blocks, I chose a different setting – the same setting as the “Sisters” BOM QAL I designed for our 2020 block of the month. I made extra 6″ blocks to fill out the design.

As well as being a scrap stash buster, this quilt fulfills a fat quarter challenge. At a retreat last April, I gave eleven friends a fat quarter of a blue/green/purple leaf print with the challenge of using it in a project to show at this year’s retreat. I sprinkled patches of my fat quarter throughout this quilt. (The challenge print is circled in the photo below.)

The Piano Key border, suggested by my daughter, increases the quilt size and adds to the scrappy fun. I quilted a waving ribbons design with beige thread. Royal blue binding finishes the edge. What will I do with this quilt? My friend will soon move into her own place, and this quilt will be the perfect apartment-warming gift.

Spring Placemats

My sister recently hinted that she would like some new placemats. I love it when my siblings express exactly what quilt-y things I can make for them! Since her birthday is in April, I decided spring placemats would be my gift for her. As I shopped for fabrics at Sew There! Quilts and More in Angier, NC, I sent pictures of fabrics that might blend with her kitchen d├ęcor. Once we settled on a panel print, “Floral Flight” designed by M.J. Merrill (Wilmington Prints), we conversed via text about the perfect color to frame the square panels. Blue (always my go-to)? Red (generally her go-to)? Or green? She decided green offered the springtime vibe she was looking for.

I trimmed the panels to 12 1/4″ squares and added 1 1/2″ strips to the top and bottom of each. Then I added 3 1/2″ wide strips to the sides, bringing the the size to 14″ x 18.” After loading backing and batting on the longarm, I basted the placemats fairly close together. The quilting design is freehand heart-shaped leaves and loops in lime green thread.

More of the green print served as binding. And now, the placemats are “in the mail,” on their way to wish my sister a very happy birthday!

Are you in the mood to make fresh placemats this spring? What colors will you choose?