“Scrappy Squares”

11 10 2018

Guess what is on the design wall . . . my “Scrappy Squares” leader/ender project. To see the beginning of this project, click here.

My plan was to make a quilt with a 7 x 7 grid, i.e. 49 blocks. Sewing squares together in between other projects, I made 25 blocks. The centers were cut 3 1/2″ square and were surrounded by 2″ squares. Once I completed these 25 blocks, I placed them on my design wall. If blocks are on the wall rather than in a box, they are more likely to become a quilt. Seeing them is motivation to work on the project!

I chose a simple design for alternate blocks that utilizes Four Patches leftover from my “Confetti” quilt. Click here and here to see the “Confetti” quilt. The colorful squares were cut 2″ x 2″ and the white strips were cut 2″ x 3 1/2″ and 2″ x 6 1/2.” Here’s a close-up of a section of my “Scrappy Squares” lap quilt.

It is so exciting to see “Scrappy Squares” coming together. I might be tempted to complete the alternate blocks in one sewing session rather than piecemeal as leaders/enders.

What motivates you to finish a long-term project?


“Patriot Stars” Finished!

24 09 2018

Following Hurricane Florence, after power was restored, I quilted “Patriot Stars.” I began this quilt as a Leader/Ender project at the prompting of Bonnie Hunter, scrap queen extraordinaire. This block design is the “Jewel Box Stars” Leader/Ender challenge she issued in July. You can read about the beginning of my project by clicking here.

I made nine 16″ blocks which, with sashing and border, make a nice sized lap quilt. Most of the fabrics are leftovers from various patriotic quilts I’ve made with Wilmington Prints strip packs for magazine publication. It feels great to give these vibrant, Americana scraps a place to shine!

For quilting, I used a light blue variegated thread and “Becker’s Shooting Star” pantograph distributed by Urban Elementz.

By clicking on the picture, you can zoom in to see the quilting design. I love the contemporary feel this stitching brings to the quilt.

Practical Life Insight: I blogged about a scrappy Leader/Ender project that I began prior to finishing “Patriot Stars.” I hesitated sharing the new project for fear that you would chastise me for having too many scrappy irons in the fire.

And not one of you, my faithful blog followers, called me on the carpet for beginning a new project before finishing an old one. Not one of you judged me for my enthusiasm on the one hand and procrastination on the other.

This makes me wonder how many of us won’t begin something new or won’t share our excitement for something new because we are afraid of other people’s comments. When the truth is, most people don’t pay that much attention to how many projects are on our to-do list; they are only concerned with their own spread-sheets. The people who love us will applaud our excitement with a new endeavor, and they will encourage us along the way.

Now I’m not advocating abandoning your “old” projects and never completing them, but I am encouraging you to put fear aside and follow your creative instincts. I certainly won’t be the one to judge you!

“Stacked Coins” Baby Quilt

13 08 2018

Most of you remember seeing my “Roman Stripe” quilt finished this summer.

As happens with most scrappy quilts, there were a few blocks and lots of 2 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ rectangles as well as 1 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ strips left over. To use some of these scraps, I decided to make a “Stacked Coins” baby quilt.

Last summer I purchased the black polka dot for sashing and borders as well as the trucks print for backing. Indeed, I purchased enough fabric for two quilts but only got around to making one with grandson Kaleb’s help. It feels great to finally use this fabric for its intended purpose! If you zoom in, you will see several orphan blocks from the “Roman Stripe” quilt, and you will see the quilting design in variegated thread. Loop-loop-meander adds curvy whimsy to the very structured quilt, and the colorful thread brightens the dark sashing and border. The yellow/orange print makes a happy binding that blends well with the primary colors of the quilt backing.

Tip: It’s way too easy to stretch columns of rectangles when pressing. Mathematically, each column of my quilt should measure 30 1/2.” I cut the sashing strips 4″ x 30 1/2″ and the side border strips 5″ x 30 1/2.” Placing a sashing strip on the ironing board, I pressed each pieced column to match the length of the 30 1/2″ long strip. This pressing tip ensured that all the columns would be the same length, making quilt assembly a snap.

Have you made a “Stacked Coins” or “Chinese Coins” quilt? If so, what color sashing/borders did you use?

“Lieutenant” Published!

23 07 2018

Great news! My patriotic quilt, “Lieutenant” was published in the Fall 2018 issue of Easy Quilts. Easy Quilts is published quarterly and is a subsidiary of Fons & Porter; both are under the umbrella of The Quilting Company.

All the quilts in this issue exemplify the motto of Easy Quilts, “Quick/Simple/Fun.” Several were designed for children, a couple cater to cat lovers, and mine meets the measurement requirements for Quilts of Valor. You will love them all!

In addition to the featured patterns, the magazine contains a “Sew Easy – How to Make a Quilt” section. Tutorials include Quick Hourglass Unit, Row Alignment, Paper Foundation Piecing, Windowing Fusible Applique (helpful info for the “Lieutenant” quilt!), Quick-Pieced Flying Geese Units, and Quick Triangle-Squares.

This issue goes on sale July 24. If your newsstand does not stock Easy Quilts, you can order a copy or sign up for a yearly subscription at The Quilting Company.

The Quilting Company graciously sent a copy of the magazine for a lucky blog reader. Leave a comment below if you would like to win. The drawing will be 31 July.

String-Pieced “Churn Dash” Finished!

25 06 2018

I’m happy to report that the String-Pieced “Churn Dash” has been quilted, bound, and is ready for use! If you remember, this project was featured as Saturday Scrap Strategy #11. I used the same black polka dot fabric for half square triangles in the blocks, as corner squares in the border, and as binding. The black polka dot fabric acts as a resting place for our eyes as they dart from one cheerful print to the next.

I planned to use white quilting thread since the extensive background is white, but at the last minute, I decided to use pale gray. On the white areas, pale gray thread looks white, and it blends better than white would have in the colorful areas of the quilt. The quilt design is “loop-loop-meander” in an all-over freehand.

This project gains extra points in the scrap-using category:  I pieced together a backing leftover from another quilt project and I used batting scraps by machine zig-zagging trimmed, wide strips together. You would think that my stash is shrinking significantly as scraps are turning quilts, but, alas, the fabric bins are still overflowing!

It’s time to plan my next scrappy project! I need some suggestions. What scrap project(s) are you working on?

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.

Saturday Scrap Strategy #11

16 06 2018

How are you progressing on our Second Quarter’s challenge of cutting up your scraps into usable squares and strips? Just when I think I’m about finished cutting through one scrap container, another bag or box that needs attention surfaces. I am definitely going to need a new rotary cutter blade!

Beneath my sewing table sits an overflowing bag of strips and strings which I am gradually sorting by color into a large, shallow, plastic container. Most of the strips are too narrow to cut into squares. (The smallest square I save is 1 1/2.”) However, these strips are perfect for string-piecing projects, and I recently saw a “Churn Dash” comprised of lots of tiny, scrappy squares and rectangles on the Crazy Mom Quilts blog that I wanted to try. Do check out Amanda Jean’s blog post – her Churn Dash blocks are really cute!

I decided to construct the multi-fabric rectangles by string-piecing  on a phone book paper foundation. I trimmed the width of the papers to 6 1/2″ and sewed and flipped, sewed and flipped, until the paper was covered. Of course, I decreased my stitch length so the paper would be easier to remove. I decided to make 4 blocks, and figured I could cross-cut each fabric covered page in four equal pieces. Since each “Churn Dash” requires 4 rectangles, I needed 4 foundation papers.

Prior to removing the paper, I sliver-trimmed the width to 6 1/2″ and divided the height of the phone book page by 4. I found I could cross-cut the string-pieced fabric in 2 3/4″ segments. After cross-cutting and removing the foundation paper, I cut 2 1/4″ x 6 1/2″ white rectangles and sewed them to the 2 3/4″ x 6 1/2″ string-pieced units, pressing toward the white rectangles. Since these patchwork units measure 4 1/2″ x 6 1/2,” I cut 6 1/2″ white block center squares and made a total of 16 black/white half square triangles that measure 4 1/2,” unfinished. On my worktable, I laid out the components of the blocks and assembled them in three rows of three units each.

It was fun to see these four blocks come together! I gave them some “personal space,” separating them with white sashing and surrounding them with a white border. With so many strips and strings on hand, a scrappy string-pieced border is in order. I’ll post a picture of the finished quilt in a week or two.

Have you tried string piecing on a paper foundation? What have you found to be the pros and cons?