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 #4

28 04 2018

During the Second Quarter (April – June) I’ve challenged myself and blog readers to cut and store scraps in an organized and usable way. I find it easier to cut into my odds and ends if I have a scrappy quilt project in mind. Then, as I cut, I can set aside the squares or strips that would work well in a particular project. Those fabrics that are too small or two few to be used in the project I’ll cut and store in boxes with others of like size or shape.

One of the scrap quilt designs I’ve recently admired on Pinterest is a simple “Irish Chain” made of scrappy “Nine Patches.” This pattern, of course, can be made with any size square (the smaller, the cuter). Since I have an abundance of 2 1/2″ squares, I planned to use that size, making 6″ finished “Nine Patches.” While looking on my fabric shelves for the container of partially constructed scrappy patchwork house pieces, I opened a mystery bin containing … you guessed it … “Nine Patches.” (More about the scrappy houses later.)


I remember making these blocks a couple of summers ago when most of my fabric was in storage. I just cut and sewed the scraps I had taken to our temporary living quarters. The bin contained 28 blocks, more than I need for a lap quilt. Most of the blocks were blue or green; a few were red. Since I plan to donate the quilt to the local Veteran’s Hospital, I set aside those that are too juvenile or feminine. I made a few more blue blocks to obtain the 25 “Nine Patches” needed. I alternated them with 24 print 6 1/2″ squares arranged in a 7 x 7 grid.

With blue thread, I quilted a “Baptist Fan” all over design. Taking a cue from the red accent squares, I bound the quilt with a red print. My friend Carol K. will approve; she says every quilt should include a little red. I am pleased with this very scrappy quilt. It is simple yet comforting and homey. Besides, it is almost a free quilt: The “Nine Patches” were made from scraps, the alternate squares came from the trimmings of a quilt backing, the navy blue paisley backing was leftover from another quilt backing, and the red print binding was from stash!

Here’s another idea for a smaller “Nine Patch” quilt. On March 17, 2014 I posted a tutorial for a table topper “Irish Chain” made with 2″ squares. Click here to link to the blog post.

What colors or size squares would you use to make “Irish Chain?”

Saturday Scrap Strategy #1

7 04 2018

My friend, Heather, is moving, and she has decided she can’t take all of it with her. So she bequeathed me some of her scraps. Thanks, Heather! My scrap quilts are much more interesting with the infusion of another quilter’s favorite colors and prints.

Do you see the kitty cat print with pink background in the upper left corner of the picture? Yes, those frolicking felines grabbed my attention, too. I wondered if there were enough scraps to serve as a theme of a small quilt for a baby girl. The largest piece was not quite 10″ wide and some smaller pieces were not quite 5″ wide, so I couldn’t cut 5″ squares. No matter, 4 3/4″ squares will work just as nicely!

Heather’s goodie bag also included a yellow tonal, and I found small-ish pieces of green dot, blue plaid, and purple dots and twigs in my stash; these colors function well as frames for the kitty cat squares. I cut framing strips 2 1/2″ wide.

For each block, I needed one center 4 3/4″ square, 2 rectangles 2 1/2″ x 4 3/4,” and 2 rectangles 2 1/2″ x 8 3/4.”

Since the blocks are framed with different colored fabrics, I could have set them side by side, but I desired a larger quilt. Sashing and borders will stretch my patchwork to a desired size. For sashing and inner border, I first considered 2 white and black prints, but they drew my eye away from the focus fabric. Instead, I found a light gray swirl scrap in my stash (leftover backing for a wall quilt). Digging a little deeper in my black/white bin of fabrics, I found a meager strip of “meow” fabric. Perfect for cornerstones! I cut sashing, cornerstones, and inner border 2″ wide.

My stash bin of pink/purple fabrics contained bright pink yardage for border and binding. Determined to use every last bit of the kitty cat fabric, I incorporated pieces of it and the leftover tonals in the 3 1/2″ wide border. The final measurement of the quilt is 36,” the requested size of our hospital’s NICU.

What do you think, did those frisky cats hijack my well-intended scrap-cutting session? I will admit, my coffee table is just as littered with bags of scraps, but I do have a cute charity quilt to show for my efforts!

“Elbow” Baby Quilt Finished!

21 03 2018

I made this quilt top at a quilting retreat at the end of February. I’m calling the patchwork an “Elbow” block. Pre-cut friendly, it’s made from 5″ squares and 2 1/2″ squares. The gray tone-on-tone and gray swirl print (from Wilmington Prints) wonderfully showcase the bright, scrappy fabric prints.

After assembling the top, I searched my stash for backing and pondered what color quilting thread would be best. The backing question was easily settled by piecing gifted fabrics from Heather and Peggy. (Thanks, friends!) As for thread color, I debated between gray to match the background and lime green to match the backing. My quilting friend, Sana, always encourages me to “take a walk on the wild side” when choosing thread, so I chose daring lime green instead of safe gray. I was surprised and pleased with the outcome; lime green is not as garish as I imagined, and the quilting design texture shows up so much better than if I had selected gray. (Thanks, Sana! I should listen to you more often!)

Some little guy in the Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit of our local hospital will have a bright, interesting quilt to stare at until he is big enough to use it for “tummy time.”


“Summer Safari” Re-make

16 03 2018

Have you ever rummaged through your projects and stash for a certain fabric, but were captivated by another print instead? This happened to me recently. I intended to transform an owl print with coordinating tonals into a baby quilt, but I found giraffe fabric in the same “unfinished/unstarted projects” container. Folded with the giraffe fabric were just enough yellow, green, and purple prints to make another “Summer Safari” baby quilt. So I forgot about the owls and worked on a giraffe quilt instead.

“Summer Safari” was printed in the June/July 2016 issue of McCall’s Quick Quilts. If you don’t have a copy of the magazine yet you’d like to make the quilt, you will find basic instructions for the “Simple Pinwheel” block on the Patterns page of this blog. Click here to read my original post about this quilt.

Giraffe quilt done . . . now where are those owls?

“Postage Stamp” for a Baby Girl

26 02 2018

The Tarheel Quilters Guild, of which I am a member in good standing, is low in their stockpile of donation quilts for the neo-natal intensive care unit at our local hospital. The plea from our charity chairman at guild meeting motivated me to finish a “Postage Stamp” quilt from 2 1/2″ squares.

Back Story:  About this time last year, I purchased several packs of coordinating 2 1/2″ squares from Pineapple Fabrics at the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival. I began sewing a white square to each, using them as leaders/enders as I worked on other patchwork projects. Somewhere along the way, I cleaned off my sewing desk and shelved them as an unfinished project. While amassing projects to take to this year’s Mid-Atlantic retreat with friends, I found the baggie of squares and determined to complete the project.

The blocks are arranged in a 15 x 15 grid. If you’d like to make the project, you’ll need 113 colored 2 1/2″ squares and 112 white 2 1/2″ squares. I arranged my squares in diagonal rows of the same color, but you could try a random arrangement with equal appeal. I cut the outer border 3 1/2″ wide from a lavender tone-on-tone. For a quilting design, I took my cue from the hearts and swirls printed on the border fabric.

This sweet little quilt finishes at 36,” the perfect size for a NICU donation quilt. Love and prayers for the beautiful baby girl who will receive it.


Ninja Turtle Quilt

10 07 2017

In late winter, a house fire tragedy occurred near Gatesville, TX, claiming all the earthly belongings of the family. The young son, a Ninja Turtles fan, attends the same country school as my granddaughter. Together we cooked up the idea of a Ninja Turtles quilt to comfort him. Once I found the licensed turtle print in JoAnns, we selected solid red, orange, blue, and purple to match the headbands of the sensational reptiles.

The patchwork design is simple — Four Patches from 5″ squares alternating with plain 9 1/2″ squares of the Ninja Turtle print. Krystine began sewing the quilt in February, but then schoolwork and sports crowded out her sewing time. She brought the unfinished project in her backpack to my house this summer for us to complete together. I pinned and pressed while she sewed the blocks and rows together. Then I loaded the quilt top on the longarm and installed the “River Run” pantograph for her to stitch. We selected green thread which blends nicely with the majority of the fabrics. Leftover turtle backing fabric became binding which we top-stitched with a machine zigzag stitch.

I am proud of Krystine for carrying on the family tradition of gifting quilts to folks in dire straits. I related to her my husband’s grandmother’s practice of making quilts and saving them in her cedar chest for the purpose of giving them to families who had lost all in house fires. We know Scott is going to love his quilt and we hope his parents will realize that folks in the community care about them in their great loss.