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?


House Block Swap Quilts

6 06 2018

Several months ago I posted about my quilt made from house blocks I swapped with friends, most of whom live in Germany. “Mi Casa es su Casa” hung in the March quilt show in Nuertingen, Germany along with six other quilts made from the swapped blocks. Would you like to see pictures of the quilts? (Photographer – Conny S.)

Working from right to left, first up is Elaine’s “House of Houses.” The gray background fabrics furnish an unassuming backdrop for the brightly framed houses. I love the tree and flower details! Be sure to look for the cat in the window on each of the house blocks that Elaine, our feline-loving friend, made.

Martina’s “Zwischen unseren Haeusern” (Between our Houses) hung next to Elaine’s. The double quilt wall hanging was a neat way to display all the various sized blocks.

Susy’s title, “Im Schutz der Baumkrone,” is quite poetic (In the Protection of the Treetop). The blue sky background lends the suggestion of light, and the circular leaves add whimsy.

Angela added several miniature quilt blocks and a funky flower for interest. I like the movement of the black print separating the rows of houses. Her quilt is simply titled “Houses.”

Helga’s “Die Hauser meiner Freunde” (The Houses of My Friends) gives the impression of a neighborhood. She added the detail of an ambulance rushing away from the hospital. Zoom in to find a pirate, a whale, and two tiny birds.

The black polka dot fabric Ingrid used in her “Houses Swap 2017” keeps my eyes moving around the quilt! Purple Pinwheels and various widths of colorful sashing also spell “fun.”

Isn’t it interesting that we all received the same (or nearly the same) blocks, but we all interpreted them/set them in different ways? To see the differences and applaud the creativity makes participating in block swaps and round robins so enjoyable and worthwhile. Did you spot all the kitty cats?

I hope you enjoyed the show!

Saturday Scrap Strategy #2

14 04 2018

Donna H. is the Block of the Month chairman for the Tarheel Quilters Guild this year. She designed this month’s “Flowers in the Pane” block and gave me permission to share it with you. This “Windowpane” block may serve to help focus your scrap cutting strategy today.

Donna asked guild members to cut 3″ squares of a floral fabric and surround them with a contrasting or coordinating tone-on-tone. Besides the floral squares, from tonal fabric you’ll need 2 strips 1 1/2″ x 3,” 1 strip 1 1/2″ x 6 1/2,” for the block interior. After sewing the strips between the floral squares, press and then frame the patchwork with 2 strips 2″ x 6 1/2″ and 2 strips 2″ x 9 1/2.” The block measures 9 1/2″ square with seam allowances and finishes at 9″ square.


I really like Donna’s “Flowers in the Pane,” but I wondered how the block would look made with 2 1/2″ squares (since most of us have an abundance of leftover charm squares and bits of Jelly Roll strips that can easily be trimmed to 2 1/2″ squares). I tested my idea by using just one 2″ x Width of Fabric strip (2″ x 40″). I found that all the sashing and framing pieces can be cut from one 2″ x WOF strip. This block finishes at 8 1/2″ square.

The ingredients for this “Windowpane” block are as follows:  From Fabric A – four 2 1/2″ squares, From Fabric B – two 2″ x 2 1/2″ rectangles, three 2″ x 6″ rectangles, two 2″ x 9″ rectangles.

I can think of several other fabric styles that “Windowpane” would showcase beautifully. You could make an “I Spy” quilt with squares of novelty fabrics, or utilize earth tone scraps for a very neutral quilt. Black and white prints with one other color would be striking. Civil War prints framed with tans or shirtings would be simple, yet effective. With or without sashing, “Windowpane” would utilize many scraps, be quickly constructed, and would be visually interesting and appealing.

Would “Windowpane” work for your current scrap bag contents?

“Daffodil” Table Topper

10 04 2018

My grandmother, who loved spring flowers, often recited a nursery rhyme about daffodils:

“Daffy-down-dilly has come to town in a yellow petticoat and a pretty green gown.”

Do you remember that one? Click here to see some sweet vintage pictures of Daffy-down-dilly as they appeared in nursery rhyme books.

The arrival of spring and the blooming of daffodils inspired me to make a cheery yellow and white table topper from “Pepper & Flax” fabrics designed by Corey Yoder for Moda. If you would like to make one, too, you’ll need 1/8 yd. each of two different shades of yellow, 1/4 yd. of white fabric, and 3 green strips (2 1/4″ x 40″) for binding.

  • From each of the two yellow fabrics, cut nine 4 1/4″ squares; from the white fabric, cut eighteen 4 1/4″ squares. Granted, 4 1/4″ is an unusual size, but it’s calculated for efficient fabric use in making a table topper size quilt.
  • Draw a diagonal line on the wrong side of each white square.
  • Pair the white squares, right sides together, with yellow squares. Sew 1/4″ away from both sides of the drawn line on each pair.
  • Cut apart on the drawn lines. Each pair of squares yields two half square triangles (HSTs).
  • Select the HSTs made with the darker yellow fabric and press the seams toward the yellow triangles.
  • Then select the HSTs made with the lighter yellow fabric and press the seams toward the white triangles.
  • I did not “square up” or trim my HSTs since they were all the same size (3 7/8″), but you could do so.
  • Lay out the HSTs as per the photo. Sew HSTs together to make six rows. Press seams open.
  • Pin the rows together. By using sharp, thin pins and leaving them in place as I sewed, the seams remained aligned. Please do not tell the quilt police that I sewed over pins. Sew and press seams open. The quilt is 20 3/4″ square.
  • Quilt the project:  I quilted 1/4″ away from both sides of all seam lines.
  • Bind with green fabric. I cut the binding strips 2 1/4″ wide, joined them with diagonal seams, pressed the strip in half width-wise, and sewed the binding to the quilt with a 1/4″ presser foot.

Of course, once I made the table topper, I began thinking “what if?” What if I substituted two shades of green in the rows of three triangles near the corners? With Electric Quilt software, it’s easy to draw and color my design imaginings. What a beautiful daffodil quilt this would be!

If you made a table topper like this from HSTs, would you use yellow or some other color combination?


“Chopped” Finished!

19 02 2018

“Chopped,” a pattern designed by Joan Ford, has been languishing in a project box for about two years. Last February, at a quilting retreat, I pledged to complete it by retreat time 2018. Of course, I envisioned working on it last summer or in the fall, at the latest. But family commitments and deadlines for quilting magazines took precedence, and here we are, down to the wire in a race against time.

An impromptu “sew day” last week with my friend, Karlene, afforded me the opportunity to work on the quilt uninterrupted by other appealing/urgent projects on my cutting table at home. I must admit, I read the instructions, which weren’t as hard as anticipated. But I did not follow them 100% because I questioned the necessity of spinning half the blocks clockwise prior to the second “chop” and spinning the other half of the blocks counter clockwise. I could not tell from the quilt layout diagram why this would be necessary. However, I discovered the purpose for the enigmatic instructions when I began piecing the border out of the patchwork which had been chopped away from the Pinwheel blocks! As the result of revising the instructions for convenience sake, I did not have enough reverse pieces to make the pieced border per Joan’s pattern.

This called for a re-design opportunity! I used all the correctly chopped patchwork pieces, wrapping them around opposite corners of the quilt. More cream grunge background fabric strips filled out the border. I thought a “Broken Dishes” block would work nicely as a corner square in the border.  Oooops! Not quite. Can you see that the emerald green triangle touches a light blue triangle instead of a grunge background triangle? Through experiment, I discovered that a small “Pinwheel” block does the trick.

The backing fabric is a muted batik, blue with tan squares. Hoping to color coordinate with the back and the front of the quilt, I selected a light blue thread and quilted a ribbon pantograph design by Keryn Emmerson. The quilting design shows up nicely in the grunge wide sashing and first border. I selected a solid wine fabric for the binding.

I like the quilt more than I thought I would, and I can’t tell you how happy I am to have completed this “serious” UFO prior to the quilting retreat. (I have thus avoided “paying” everyone else a fat quarter.)

Have you recently had occasion to re-design a quilt project?

House Quilt Finished!

2 02 2018

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!

Sarah’s Chevron Quilt

18 08 2017

Just wondering, do you save back issues of your quilting magazines? My grandmother did; she stored them in stacks under the guest room bed. When I was a teenager, I loved leafing through her Quilters Newsletters and imagining how I would color in the diagrams with fabric.

Here’s the story of another grandma, Anna, who saves her quilting magazines and encourages her granddaughter to translate quilt patterns into her favorite colors. The quilt shown here is based on my pattern, “Chevies on the Levee,” published in the September/October 2014 issue of McCall’s Quilting. Click here to see a picture of the original quilt.

Meet Sarah.  “I play travel volleyball, take piano, and I love to sew!  When I was five I made my first quilt with my grandmother.  I got tired of my old quilt so I set out to find a more modern design.  I was thinking about a chevron quilt, and my grandmother found one in your 2014 September/October Magazine!  I decided I wanted the colors aqua, coral, white and gray.  My grandmother cut the pieces and I sewed everything together.  We added a beautiful label to the backing and finally started to quilt.  It was my first time quilting a quilt all by myself!”

Please comment with encouraging words for Sarah: