Christmas Wall Quilt Finished!

At the end of September, my church’s quilt group staged a beach retreat. Our packing list for the long weekend included 12  6″ Christmas-themed blocks. On Saturday evening, we exchanged our blocks, each of us receiving 12 different designs. Such a variety! From snowmen to mittens, to trees, stars and pinwheels. From simple to complex, pieced to appliqued. Since each quilter signed her block prior to the exchange, I have a wonderful reminder of time spent quilting with my friends in an idyllic setting.

At first, I thought I would make a table runner with the 12 blocks, but some of the blocks are directional and might look odd if viewed from the opposite side of the table. The various colors of the background fabrics added to the puzzle of how I should join them together into one quilt. I settled on framing the blocks with two colors of fabrics, red and gold. Any blocks with a red background were framed with gold tone-on-tone, and alternate blocks were framed with red micro dot. I found a yard of Christmas print in my stash that contained red, green, and gold which perfectly served as border and binding.

For quilting, I chose green thread and quilted holly leaves in each frame. I quilted various outline and filler designs in the blocks with green, red, or white thread as the motifs and backgrounds dictated. I meandered with green thread in the print border. Click on the picture to zoom in and view quilting details.

It’s time to decorate my home for Christmas, and I can’t wait to hang my Christmas sampler quilt!

I follow written by my friend, Stacy. Stacy is hosting a Quilt Along in 2020, #christmasforayearqal. She personally wants to make several Christmas quilts and other decorative items in the coming year and invites us to quilt along with her. Stacy has rounded up some great prizes to energize and reward us. I posted a picture of my Christmas Sampler on Instagram and invite you to join in the fun. Here’s the link to Stacy’s blog which details the QAL:

“Bowtie” Table Runner Finished!

Early in the summer, I exchanged patriotic “Bowtie” blocks with the ladies in my Block of the Month class at Sew There! Quilts and More in Angier, NC. We all deliberated about the settings we could use when putting the blocks together. Would we twist and turn the blocks? Would we prefer wall quilts or table runners?

I decided to make a table runner that I can use during all the summer holidays from Memorial Day to Labor Day. To obtain the size I wanted, I made a few more blocks. (Click here for a tutorial.) And I arranged my bowties in diagonal rows by color.

I meandered with white thread since that is the color of the background fabric. Happily, the white thread overlying blue and red fabrics does not distract from the design. Navy binding finishes the project. What a fun way to remember the ladies in my class and the chats we enjoyed while sewing the blocks each month for our “Marbella” quilts!

Did you quilt along on the “Bowtie” project? If so, I’d love to share a picture of your quilt with blog readers. Send a picture to aby dot quilts at gmail dot com.

Christmas Exchange Blocks Completed

I recently wrote about my take-along project – hand appliqueing green leaves on 6 1/2″ white squares. I began stitching these on our road trip to Texas to visit our daughter Trinity and her family. I finished all but two blocks on the trip, and those were completed this week.

Incidentally, the four green fabrics are from a Wilmington Prints “Emerald Forest” pack of 2 1/2″ wide strips.

The blocks will be exchanged on a retreat with 11 quilting friends the last week in September. Happily, I found some gold star buttons in my craft drawer which will neatly cover the hole-y center of the yo-yos. But I’ll not sew the buttons on as that is best done after a project is quilted.

I wondered what a wall quilt would look like using all 12 blocks, so I laid them out on a piece of holly and berry fabric. Sweet, don’t you think?

Click here to read the legendary origin of the Orange Peel quilt block design. You’ll need to click “Full Description” in the right hand column.

“Fiesta” – My Round Robin

I promised to show you the round robin quilt that I began in January. In subsequent months, five fellow Tarheel Quilters added borders to my center yellow and orange “Dutchman’s Puzzle” block.

I actually made the block while visiting Kathy in KY who had invited me to speak to her guild in January. Kathy and I had both participated in a Flying Geese block swap, and she had leftover units. I begged for 8 to make the center block so as to be ready for the first round robin exchange at our January guild meeting.

Irene arranged a blind Round Robin in that we didn’t know whose quilt we were working on. Although it wasn’t necessary, I added a written request that blue and green be added to the quilt, and I included Flying Geese leftover from my “Migration” quilt. (Click here to see a picture.)

I have figured out three of the quilters who contributed borders to my “Fiesta” quilt: Colleen designed the second, Seminole pieced border; Yolanda added the royal blue, yellow flange, and orange strips to add focus and simplicity to the design; and Gwendolyn added the border of large, yellow print  triangles of Kaffe Fassett fabric. The outer Flying Geese border blends my leftover units with coordinating fabrics from a friend’s stash.

I am thrilled with my round robin . . . and think perhaps I should add one or more tone-on-tone borders to add a suitable frame and to increase the quilt size. What color(s) should they be?

X Blocks – a Tutorial

This spring/summer I participated in a round robin with 11 other Tarheel Quilters Guild members. The final round or border was due at our July guild meeting. By now, the quilt projects are sizable, and I hoped I could “just” add a plain outer border and call it done. However, one of the rules of our round robin is that only one plain border could be added to the quilt, and someone else had already taken the easy route on this quilt.

After studying the patchwork and colors for several weeks, I decided to add pieced X Blocks for an outer border. These blocks, I believed, would echo the shape of the central patchwork block as well as go together quickly. To that end, I pulled all the tonals and small prints from my stash that I felt would coordinate with the colors of the quilt.

Now to figure out what size to make the blocks. Get out the calculator! The quilt measured 44 1/2″ wide. I decided to add 2″ all around with a solid orange border. I cut the strips 2 1/2″ wide and sewed them to the quilt top.

After imagining what 4″ X Blocks would look like (too small), I opted for 6″ blocks. With the width of the quilt at 48 1/2,” I needed to make 8 blocks each for top and bottom of the quilt since 8 x 6 = 48. Since the quilt is rectangular, I made some blocks for the sides of the quilt, but the measurement did not yield a “whole number” of blocks. I added some 6″ wide white rectangles to cope on the side borders.

To make a 6 1/2″ (unfinished) X Block, you need the following: 1  5″ white square cut on both diagonals, 4  2 1/2″ x 4″ colorful rectangles, 1  2 1/2″ square of contrasting color.

Thinking of this block as a diagonal Nine Patch will help you construct it properly. Sew 2 of the rectangles between white triangles; these units are rows 1 and 3 of the “Nine Patch.” Press the seams toward the triangles. Now sew the 2 1/2″ square between the remaining 2 rectangles; this unit is row 2 of the “Nine Patch.” Press the seams toward the square.

Sew the 3 rows together to make the X Block. Press the seams toward the center row. Center a 6 1/2″ square ruler on top of the block and trim all four sides.

Tip: If you press the seams as written above, the seams of the blocks can nest when set side by side. A quarter turn of the block is all you may need to make the seams nest with the adjacent block.

I am very pleased with the X Block border I added to Irene’s round robin quilt. As I had hoped, the blocks repeat the design element introduced by the center block, tying the entire quilt together in a visually pleasing way.

Irene loves her quilt top and plans to add more borders, enlarging it to bed quilt size. I’ll show you my round robin in a subsequent post; it’s also gorgeous!


“Uncle Sam’s Bowties” QAL

I hope you are celebrating the USA’s Independence Day in grand style! We are hosting a family reunion/cook-out tomorrow, so I’m blogging today just prior to company arriving.

Some blog readers have joined me in making simple “Bowtie” blocks as a Quilt Along (QAL). Participants can choose any colors or styles of fabric they wish. I’m working on red, white, and blue “Bowties” as part of an exchange with Block of the Month students at Sew There! Quilts and More in Angier, NC.

Since I will trade most of my blocks, I’ve not settled on a final design. I think I would like a sampler of sorts with only one of each print or tone-on-tone.

The Bowtie is quick and easy to make; it’s not too late to join in the fun. For each block, you need 2 light background 3″ squares and 2 colored/print 3″ squares as well as 2 colored/print 2″ squares. Click here to see a tutorial for putting the pieces together.

If you are participating in the QAL, please leave a comment below detailing your progress.

Happy 4th of July!

“Flying Geese” Special Exhibit

February 27 – March 2 saw the unveiling of the “Flying Geese” quilts made by The American Samplers at the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival in Hampton, Virginia.

Two years ago, Lynne and Dwanna organized an exchange of 2 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ Flying Geese blocks make with bright fabrics and Kona “Snow” for the background. The thirteen of us in the exchange each made 640 blocks, 4 of each fabric. (I contacted the Mancuso Quilt Festival special exhibit coordinator and explained our wish to display our quilts in 2019; we were accepted.) One year ago, we exchanged the blocks and began scouring Pinterest and quilt magazines for design ideas. We decided to keep our designs secret from one another. The secrecy made the unveiling this year at our retreat so much more exciting!

I drew inspiration from Linda Collins’ quilt made with Civil War reproduction fabrics, a picture of which I found on Pinterest. I separated my blocks into warm colors (red, orange, yellow) and cool colors (purple, blue, and green). In “Migration,” the warm colored geese are flying northwest to a cooler climate in the summertime, and the cool colored geese are flying southeast in the wintertime.

Ironically, Kathy was inspired by the same quilt. She made “Going Home” as a reference to her many journeys to Washington, her state of origin. Isn’t is interesting how different our quilts are although inspired by the same quilt design?

Pam made “Geese on the Farm,” inspired by the Canadian Geese that make migratory stops near her home in Maryland. In her write-up, Pam expressed thankfulness for her friends and family that flock together to help each other in the journey of life.

Lori made “Flying Geese Out the Ying Yang.” Granted, 640 is a lot of geese blocks to exchange! The black and white triangles reminded Lori of the Asian Yin and Yang symbol for balance. The quilt design reminds her to work at balancing all the changes and challenges in her life right now.

Alicia, the octogenarian in our group, loves birding and bird fabric. Zoom in to see the bird prints she fussy cut for the centers of each block, and note the goose square near the center. Alicia was inspired to make “Wild Geese and Water Birds” by a block designed by Bonnie K. Hunter for Quiltmaker magazine.

Patti arranged her geese in color families. “Flying Colors” is the perfect name for her quilt. Zoom in to see the awesome quilting designs executed by Lori.

Linda’s quilt, “Flying Geese, Fly Away,” is so much fun! Some viewers see houses, others see pencils. What does her design remind you of?

Trace the flight path of Dwanna’s geese with your finger. Isn’t her spiral ingenious? Dwanna calls her quilt “Friendly Flock.”

I am partial to Marie’s quilt, “Geese, Geese, and More Geese,” because I love the bright royal blue sashing.

Diane, bless her heart, used all 640 geese exchange blocks plus 6 more to make her color saturated quilt. It’s like a waterfall of color! “Birds of a Feather Flock Together.”

Do you have a favorite, or do you love them all? I was so proud of our group; our exhibit certainly provided a feast for the eyes of show attendees!


New Quilt Project: Flying Geese

Last February, at a quilting retreat, I exchanged bright print and tone-on-tone 2″ x 4″ Flying Geese blocks with about a dozen friends. The challenge for all of us is to make quilts to display at the 2019 Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival. Until now, my Geese have patiently sat in their zip-loc bags awaiting a freedom flight to my design wall.

Although we’re keeping the final lay-outs of our quilts secret, I’ll give you a sneak peek at the beginnings of my project.

“Well begun is half done” – I am really excited about my design idea inspired by a quilt I saved on Pinterest. I’m motivated to work on it every day until it’s finished. Won’t this be a fun, cheerful quilt?

House Quilt Finished!

I am excited to share a picture of “Mi Casa Es Su Casa,” the quilt made with blocks exchanged between twelve friends most of whom live in Germany.

I quilted, E’s and 3’s, a freehand all over design with pale yellow thread. The yellow blends well with the orange sashing as well as with all the other colors, and yet it fades into the white background of the blocks.

For binding, I chose a black and white even stripe. I considered cutting the fabric on the bias so that the stripes would diagonally wrap around the quilt, but I decided I liked the look of straight stripes just as well. In comments to a previous post about this quilt, Sana suggested adding a narrow black flange or black piping prior to attaching the binding. What a great suggestion! In the future, I need to dress up some of my quilt edges. Unfortunately, I had already machine stitched the binding to this quilt before reading Sana’s suggestion.

I added a wide hanging sleeve on the upper edge of the quilt back because “Mi Casa …” will hang in a quilt show in Nuertingen, Germany with other block exchange quilts. I can’t wait to see pictures of the quilts made by my friends.

Whew! One of my “serious” UFOs is done. Now to move on to the second – which has an end of February deadline. But first I have to quilt a handful of customer quilts and make a patriotic quilt that has been accepted for publication. Sew many quilts, sew little time!

Miniature Block Exchange

Earlier this summer my friend Lori organized a 4″ block exchange among five quilting friends. We used the Simple Friendships book by Kim Diehl and Jo Morton as our guide. (Click here to view the book on We are making blocks for the row by row sampler quilt on page 100. While the book gives instructions for using only brown Civil War prints and tan shirtings, we are using various colors with the shirtings. The only stipulation was that we must use fabrics from our stashes (i.e. not purchase any new fabric). This rule was hard to abide by because I found some gorgeous medium blue with small white paisleys and a lovely tiny floral with mustard yellow background at Loving Stitches quilt shop. (I bought fat quarters anyway to use in a future Civil War repro quilt.)

There are six different blocks in the sampler, so Lori settled on a six month exchange scheme. We are to mail three of the blocks to the other participants in September. Enthused about the project, I made five each of four of the blocks right away. Then summer activities and other quilts distracted me. September rolled around, and I realized that the two blocks I procrastinated in making are supposed to be mailed this month. Arrrgh!

A couple of hours of concentrated cutting and sewing, and they are done! It will be so much fun to see the fabrics my friends have used in their sampler blocks. Although the blocks and the wall quilt are small, the exchange project stretches over several more months, so you probably won’t see the finished quilt until the new year.

Are you currently participating in a block exchange?