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?”

Cowboy Quilts for Twins

The NICU of our local hospital is not currently receiving donated baby quilts due to the COVID-19 epidemic. In fact, hospital staff is not encouraging people to visit patients at all. But when they open their doors again, these two quilts will be in the bundle delivered to the tiny babies who need extra medical attention.

In mid-March, I taught a “Giant Churn Dash” baby quilt workshop to members of my guild, the Tarheel Quilters. My friend Karlene gave me the FQ stack of cowboy themed fabric (an older Riley Blake line). I made one quilt in the workshop, sewing along with my students, and I made the other a week or so later. It is a quick and easy pattern; you will find a link to the instructions on the Patterns page of this blog. You guessed it – the quilt design utilizes 2 1/2″ strips, and I bet you have some in your stash just begging to be used.

Generally I match the quilting thread to the color of the background fabric, tan in this case. But this time I chose a high contrasting dark brown so the quilting design would show up well. Can you see the cowboy boots and hats? (The pantograph, “Stetsons and Boots” was designed by Dave Hudson of patternman.com.)

Have you made a baby quilt lately? What pattern/design did you use?

“Irish Chain” Finished!

Here we are on Friday the 27th, heralding the final weekend of March. Will you have some time to sew/quilt? Will you be working on your “Churn Dash” blocks for the “Sisters” BOM QAL? (If you are new to the blog, click on the “SISTERS BOM QAL” tab to see the first three blocks in our 2020 quilt along. All the participants attest that the blocks are not too difficult, so you can easily catch up and quilt along with us.)

I’m happy to report that my UFO, “Irish Chain,” is finished. Since I intend to gift it to a senior at the VA Hospital or a local nursing home, I thought about quilting a meandering motif all over. This would be a simple and quick design. But then I took a closer look at the floral and vine print in the “Nine Patches” and thought of free- handing heart-shaped leaves and loops. I really do enjoy quilting this design; I can quilt it at an even speed and don’t even engage the stitch regulator feature for my longarm! I used a medium dark gray thread which blends nicely in the darker fabrics and adds a bit of texture to the light gray background squares.

I bound the quilt with the same red print as the setting triangles (an older VIP Cranston print transferred from my mother-in-law’s stash to mine; thanks, Cynthia!). Tip:  If you apply both steps of binding by machine as I did on this quilt, make sure the bobbin thread matches the color of the border on the front of the quilt. For example, my border triangles are dark red, so I used dark red thread in the bobbin as I applied the binding first to the back of the quilt. By doing this, the machine stitches of Step #1 won’t show glaringly if I fail to completely cover them when I fold over the binding to the front of the quilt for Step #2 stitching.

While sewing this quilt, I found myself humming and singing a favorite hymn, “O God, Our Help in Ages Past.” We surely can rely on His help during this COVID-19 pandemic. How comforting to know He has the whole world in His hands! Click here to listen to this hymn via You Tube.

Workshop Summary

This past Saturday, I offered a workshop for making the “Giant Churn Dash” baby quilt to Tarheel Quilters Guild members. About ten ladies attended; we had a blast sewing together! Pictured below are Joy and Maureen who are focused and concentrating as they sew. And you can tell that Colleen is in her happy place with fun fabrics in her hands!


While most workshop participants used 2 1/2″ strips leftover from jelly rolls for the strip-pieced units, some cut strips from stash or fat quarters. Karen modified the instructions so that she could use 2 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ rectangles she has cut and saved through the years.

Due to obligations at home, Anita could not attend the workshop as planned. But she sewed along with us while at home, and we exchanged pictures in the afternoon. Instead of placing a white square in the center, Anita featured an airplane print that she also used to back the quilt.

Several ladies affirmed that they would make this quick, easy and versatile design again. Yolanda plans to make two from the same pretty fabrics; they’ll be given to twin girls in the NICU of our local hospital.

On Sunday, at the guild meeting, we showed our quilt tops to those in attendance. Barbara was our over-achiever, she made 3 quilt tops and quilted all on her new longarm overnight.

I encouraged everyone to access the instructions on the Patterns page of my blog. Like you, even those who could not attend the workshop may still make a “Giant Churn Dash” baby quilt.



Giant “Churn Dash” Baby Quilt

Since “Churn Dash” is the March block of the month in our “Sisters” quilt along, I have a pattern variation to share with you.

I’ve designed a contemporary baby quilt based on the time-honored design. One giant block is all you need to make for this quilt! Click on the Patterns tab in the bar beneath my header picture (or in the drop down menu on your smart phone). Once on the Patterns page, you’ll be able to click on the link to the printer friendly instructions for the 24″ block and two borders.

As you might surmise from looking at the picture, the rectangles are strip-pieced from 8  2 1/2″ strips. You can use leftover jelly roll strips or you can cut 2 1/2″ wide strips from stash as I did. In addition, you need about 3/4 yd. of light background fabric and 3/8 yd. of a theme print. I’ll be teaching this quilt as a workshop on Saturday to fellow Tarheel Quilters Guild members. When 20 of us complete our quilts, our NICU charity coordinator’s stockpile of baby quilts will be greatly increased.

I selected coordinating quilting designs for my two Giant Churn Dash quilts. For the “Under the Sea” theme quilt, I chose light blue thread and a pantograph of sea creatures.

And for my “Pretty in Pink” quilt, I quilted a freehand design of heart shaped leaves and large flowers with pink thread.

I’d love to see a picture of your Giant Churn Dash baby quilt! Send a digital photo to aby.quilts@gmail.com

“Twin Star” Check Up

Jane-ellen’s “Twin Stars”

How are you doing on your “Twin Star” blocks? Have you made the “big sister” and the “little sister” for this month? Since it’s a leap year, you have an extra day this month to “git ‘er done.” On February 29th, I’ll give you the opportunity to comment “done” if you have finished your blocks for the QAL. (If you are unsure what I’m writing about, click the tab “Sisters BOM QAL” for all the details. It’s not too late to join the fun!)

Carol’s “Twin Star” blocks

Since Quilt Along participants are now adept at making triangle units, I want to suggest several other patchwork blocks which use 4 “Twin Star” triangle units. (Use the same measurements as well as cutting and sewing tips listed in the instructions for the 12″ “Twin Star” block.)

First up is “Hope of Hartford.” To make a 10″ block, cut a 2 1/2″ square for the center and four 2 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ rectangles of background fabric. To assemble the block, you will use a partial seam technique around the gold center square. Wouldn’t this coloring of “Hope of Hartford” make a pretty Christmas quilt?

“Pinwheel” is a simpler design which also uses 4 of the triangle units per block. The block finishes at 8″ square. I love the interest that two colorings of the block creates in the quilt. Additionally, you can use the triangle units in a pieced border. Since several blog readers regularly make quilts to honor veterans, I have sketched an idea using 30 “Pinwheel” blocks to make a sizable Quilt of Valor.

What other color combinations could you use when making a “Pinwheel” quilt?


“Chandelier” at the Ark Encounter

Last weekend, Hubby and I accompanied a busload of folks from several Ft. Bragg chapels to the Ark Encounter in Williamstown, Kentucky. We were impressed with the sheer size of the structure, built according to the dimensions God gave Noah (Genesis 6). It was eye-opening to read the listed scientific names of all the animals, extant and extinct, and to realize that they all could have fit on an ark of this size!

The interior of the ark was crafted from beautiful timber, and cages housed models of dinosaurs. We watched several films and read many plaques as we walked through the largest timber-frame structure in the world. Our imaginations were stirred as we considered how Noah’s family must have felt to hear rain drumming on the roof for 40 days and nights. How tired they must have been to care for all those smelly and demanding animals day in and day out for a year!

For the long bus trip I packed a lap quilt made from leftover blocks from my “Chandelier” quilt. After hand stitching the binding on the way to Williamstown, I used it as a pillow or lap warmer on the way home.

The Ark Encounter is an adventure we will long remember!

“Steppin’ Up” in Pink

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Marlene, who collects and distributes baby quilts to the NICU on behalf of my guild, says her stockpile is dangerously low. Each month 20-30 quilts are needed to comfort newborns with medical issues. I volunteered to teach a speedy baby quilt design in March at a guild workshop. The completion of 15-20 workshop quilts should boost the pile Marlene keeps in reserve.

In the meantime, I made “Steppin’ Up” in pink prints. The half yard of ‘Goldilocks and the Three Bears’ fabric I found in my stash made the perfect border.

You can find a link to the instructions for “Steppin’ Up” on the Patterns page of this blog. Although the pattern calls for 10 strips, I just used 9 strips each cut 4″ x 40.” The addition of a 4″ border yields the perfect size for a baby quilt. I quilted a freehand, all over design of hearts and loops in light pink thread.

The pleasing outcome of this quick project has me wondering what other fabric combinations from my stash would look great in this design. I am sure I have 9 blues, and/or 9 greens, and/or 9 reds that would work, with a fun border print, as a baby quilt. What color(s) would you use from you stash for “Steppin’ Up?”

“Dear Jane” Convenience Quilt

Lest you think I have make an intricate “Dear Jane” quilt from Civil War reproduction fabrics, let me hastily disabuse you of that notion! (Click here to read about the original “Dear Jane” quilt, and do an internet or Pinterest search for “Dear Jane quilts” to see images of hundreds of quilts made by quilters more ambitious and patient than I.) No, this is a “cheater quilt” aka a “convenience quilt.”

The center of this quilt is a panel, a photographic image of part of the original “Dear Jane” quilt. I purchased it about 10 years ago knowing that my mother-in-law liked to hand quilt panel designs. I added borders and gave it to her to finish, but evidently other quilting projects pushed it to the rear of her fabric cupboard. Recently, because of failing health, my MIL has gifted me with much of her fabric stash, and this quilt top was among the treasures.

Since I am in the mood to finish up projects that are just hanging around, cluttering my sewing space, “Dear Jane” was high on the “just git ‘er done” list. A 3 yard piece of rust colored poly-cotton, also from my MIL’s stash, served as a backing. I meandered with a brown/gold thread which blends nicely with all the fabrics. Leftover backing became the binding which was sewn entirely by machine. This quilt is destined for an assisted living facility where it is sure to warm the body and heart of an elderly resident.

What is high on your “just git ‘er done” quilting list?

“Dot Crazy” Baby Quilt Finished!

Last spring, I made “Around the Corner” from yardage, a charm square pack,  and a jelly roll of “Dot Crazy” by Benartex. Click here to read my blog post about this quilt.

After the quilt was complete, as is usually the case, I had bits and pieces and some strips left over of this very fun fabric. I decided to use them in making a baby quilt.

The close-up photo shows both the meandering loop and double loop quilting design as well the elements of one 12″ block. To compose the block, I cut 2 1/2″ squares and 2 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ rectangles. It was my goal to balance cool and warm colors within each block. A white 2 1/2″ frame around each block makes them “float” against the background.

I considered reserving the leftover “Dot Crazy” yellow strips as binding, but opted for adding them to the squares in the pieced border instead. I believe this border treatment adds interest in its simplicity.

This happy quilt will be perfect for tummy time for a baby girl, the newest addition to our church family.