Saturday Scrap Strategy #12

23 06 2018

If your scrap collection is anything like mine, you have an eighth of a yard of this, and a 6″ strip of that, trimmings of quilt backings, leftovers from projects completed years ago, as well as an assortment of fat quarters. What to do with all of it? Today’s Scrap Strategy suggests incorporating coordinating scraps into a “Steppin’ Up” baby quilt. You will find a printer friendly document of this project on the Patterns page of this blog. Simply click the Patterns tab under the blog header; once on the Patterns page, scroll down until you see “Steppin’ Up” along with the pictured blue and yellow quilt.

Here is my fabric pull for a lamb-themed “Steppin’ Up.” Several months ago, I made a lamb quilt and purchased more fabric than needed. The leftover fabric is too cute to leave languishing in my studio, so I selected pinks, greens, and several neutrals that coordinated. Notice that the four fabrics at the top of the photo coordinate well, but I did not use them, feeling the intense colors shouted louder than my focus fabric. Perhaps the black print could serve as binding.

“Steppin’ Up” is a quick quilt, easily strip-pieced. In fact, only 19 seams are required for the quilt top! The instructions call for 10 strips cut 3 1/2″ x width of fabric (WOF). However, I cut strips for this quilt 4″ wide, and I cut 2 strips of the lamb theme print. On my work table, I alternated the colors of the strips, basically “pink, green, neutral.” I sewed them together and pressed every other seam to the right and pressed alternate seams to the left. This pressing tip helps greatly when sewing the quilt rows together. You can see from the photo that I used several fat quarter strips. I simply abutted them in the strip-piecing process.

The next step is making a tube by sewing the first strip to the last strip.

If you are sewing along, lay the tube flat, still wrong side out, on a large cutting mat. Trim off the selvage ends and then cross-cut at 4″ intervals. In case you use several fat quarter strips as I did, you’ll be able to cut 5 tube strips, trim away a little waste where fat quarters abut, and then cut 5 more tube strips.

Next, arrange the tube strips on your work table in successive order so that a different fabric print is at the upper edge as in the photo below. You will rip out the top seam and open up the tube into a strip of 10 squares.

Since the lamb print is my theme print, the entire reason for making this quilt, I thought I would arrange the strips with the lamb print stepping up from the lower right corner to the upper left corner of the quilt. However, the lamb print is not the strongest fabric in the collection; the darker green is. I am much happier with the dark green in the stepping up position.


After arranging the rows to my satisfaction, I sewed them together. The seams nested nicely due to the pressing technique mentioned earlier. The quilting motif is freehand, Es and 3s in pink variegated thread. I auditioned the black print for binding, but couldn’t bring myself to use it for such a sweet, pastel quilt. I found just enough gray swirl print in my scrap stash that fit the bill much better.

All finished, just in time to give to my friend who is expecting!  Oops, just found out she’s having a little boy. Guess I’ll be making another “Steppin’ Up” quilt very soon . . . in boy related colors and fabrics.


Copy Cat

13 06 2018

At Sunday’s Tarheel Quilters Guild meeting, Pat P. showed her fish-themed baby quilt. And she did a bit of advertising for the Saturday Scrap Strategy blog posts.

Does this design look familiar? Pat patterned her cute quilt after the Kitty Cat quilt, our first Scrap Strategy idea. Click here to read about its construction. In the close-up photo you can admire the theme print and view Pat’s terrific swirly quilting.

Thanks, Pat, for copying the Kitty Cat quilt and for sharing photos with blog readers! The child who receives this quilt will love it!

How about you? Are you a “copy cat?” Have you made one of the suggested Scrap Strategy projects? If so, I’d like to share a picture with blog readers as an encouragement for using scraps. (aby dot quilts at gmail dot com) Did you know that you can scroll through all the Scrap Strategies by typing “scrap strategy” in the Search box and then “enter” on your keyboard? You’ll find lots of ideas to copy!

“Rolling Nine Patch” Baby Quilt

11 06 2018

For a one block project, I recently purchased quarter yard cuts of five 1930s reproduction prints in various colors. Needless to say, I had plenty of fabric left over. Combining my five with a few other scraps in daughter Trinity’s 30s scrap bin, I sewed nine “Rolling Nine Patch” blocks.

This baby quilt was quick, fun, and easy. I think the white sashing and narrow border showcase the prints beautifully. The quilt seems pretty and fresh to me. For quilting thread, I chose a variegated pink since it blends nicely with the pink print backing yet subtly shows off the quilting motif on the front of the quilt. I freehanded flowers, leaves and loops all over.

One of my favorite things about this quilt is the scrappy binding. Since I didn’t have enough of any one 30s fabric to make the binding, I cut 15″ – 20″ lengths of all the fabrics used in the quilt and joined them diagonally into one long strip.

Can anyone tell me why I was motivated to make this quilt instead of working on my UFOs?

“Peony Star” and a Baby Quilt

31 05 2018

“Peony Star,” featuring appliqued stems and leaves, is my summer take-along project. Click here to read about the beginning of this project. Thinking I might have a couple of hours to sew while visiting our daughter Trinity this past week, before leaving home I cut kits of pieces for the star flowers. Sure enough, while visiting, we spent some time in her sewing room. Trinity cut out strips and squares for a baby quilt, and I sewed the “Peony Star” blocks together.

The nine peonies look so nice, I’m thinking of expanding the project from wall quilt to lap quilt. I certainly have enough Civil War reproduction prints and shirting yardage to make more blocks! I’ll keep you posted on my progress.

And in case you are curious about the baby/toddler quilt Trinity worked on, here’s a picture.

Isn’t the “Giraffe Crossing” fabric by Riley Blake just adorable? The quilt was easy to make, and the patchwork sizes made efficient use of the yardage.

Basic Instructions:  From theme print (“Giraffe Crossing”), cut three strips 6 1/2″ x WOF (selvage to selvage). Sub-cut into 6 1/2″ squares. You need 18 squares. From both the orange and teal fabrics, cut three strips 3 1/2″ x WOF. Sew each orange strip to a teal strip down one WOF side, right sides together. Press seam toward the darker fabric. Cross-cut in 3 1/2″ increments. Sew two of these “two-sies” together to make each “Four Patch.” You need 17 “Four Patches” for the quilt. Each of the “Four Patches” measures 6 1/2″ square.

Referring to the photo, arrange the 6 1/2″ theme print squares and the 6 1/2″ “Four Patches” on a design wall or work table. Sew together in horizontal rows. Press seam allowances toward the theme print squares. Sew the horizontal rows together, and press seams to one side.

Cut strips for the inner border (lime green) 2″ wide. Cut strips for the outer border (triangle print) 4″ wide. The quilt measures 41″ x 53.”

Trinity and I sure enjoyed chatting and sewing together, and we both feel happy about our progress on our projects, “Peony Star” and “Giraffe Crossing” baby quilt!

Saturday Scrap Strategy #8

26 05 2018

Besides working on UFO’s this quarter (April-June), many blog readers are avidly whittling down their bins of scraps by cutting and storing often used sizes of squares and strips. Each Saturday I post a suggestion for turning these scraps into quilts.

Today’s strategy utilizes 2 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ rectangles, a scrap size I frequently use. Granted, you could adapt the design idea for any rectangle size. In fact, my quilt “Brick-a-Brack,” made with various purple 3 1/2″ x 6 1/2″ rectangles cut from fat quarters, was published in the April/May 2014 issue of McCall’s Quick Quilts. Click here to see a photo of the quilt or order a digital pattern.

For the center of this baby quilt, you need 50 2 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ rectangles. Arrange in 5 rows of 10 rectangles each, varying textures, colors and values. Sew the rectangles together in horizontal rows. Press the seams of rows 1, 3, and 5 to the right; press the seams of rows 2 and 4 to the left. This ensures that the seams will nest well as you join the rows together. After sewing the rows together, press the seams open or to one side.

For the first (white) border, you’ll need 4 strips cut 3 1/2″ x WOF (width of fabric). Measure, pin and sew to the center patchwork. The second border is made from 2 1/2″ white squares sewn to 2 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ rectangles. You need 52 of these units, 13 for each side. To make the 4 corner squares, sew white 2 1/2″ strips to 2 sides of 4 1/2″ squares. Cut the third border strips from white fabric 3 1/2″ or wider.

Note: By advance planning, you can make this a matching game quilt. You’ll need two each of 50 prints; use one in the center patchwork, and use the other in the pieced border. Of course, you’ll need two extra rectangles in the border.

I’d love to see a picture of your Baby Brick-A-Brack quilt!

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.


Second Quarter Challenge – Underway

12 04 2018

Like me, several of you have an idea of which UFOs you’d like to complete this quarter (April – June). Some of you are “rolling over” the UFOs you hoped to complete in the first quarter – that is a great idea, keep them at the top of your quilting “to do” list. Thinking and planning is the first step to doing.

Helga sent pictures of two baby quilts she’ll be working on. She has a long-time friend who recently announced the good news of the births of twin grandchildren in her family. Helga is all set to sew the quilt backings together, baste, quilt, bind, and label these two gift quilts.

The second part of the Challenge is to cut our scraps into useable sizes and store them so they can be quickly found and used in future quilts. Helga sent several pictures of her bulging scrap containers; I’ll share one with you. (Lots of wonderful reds in this plastic bin!) Helga plans to make a quilt from a book she recently bought, Nine Patch Revolution by Jennifer Dick and Angela Walters. Click here to view the book on

Comment, please:  If you haven’t already done so, state your UFO completion goal. I promise to cheer you on as you work to finish it. Also tell how you store your scraps, both before and after trimming them into strips and squares.