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?”

Keith’s Graduation Quilt

About five years ago my grandson began working on a Crosses and X’es quilt. But then, he grew more interested in fishing, football, and girlfriends, in that order. So the ten completed blocks and the rest of the earth tone batiks have languished in a project box in my sewing room for some time. Keith graduates from high school this week, so it was high time to finish his quilt.

Back Story:  I was inspired by a similar quilt hanging in a vendor’s booth at the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival. I was attracted by the masculine color palette and thought the slash and insert “improv” technique would appeal to my grandson. At the same quilt show, I purchased a fat quarter bundle, some coordinating yardage, and extra wide backing. We did enjoy working on the blocks together; Keith was very careful with the rotary cutter and sewed with a consistent seam allowance.

Each fat quarter yielded four 8″ squares and several 1 1/2″ wide strips. Keith slashed a block and inserted a 1 1/2″ wide strip of another color. After sewing and pressing, he slashed the block again and inserted another 1 1/2″ wide strip. Half the blocks are “wonky” Crosses, and half are “wonky” X’es. Once all forty-eight blocks were sewn, I trimmed them all to the same size and arranged them in a 6 x 8 grid, alternating Crosses and X’es. Fortunately, the extra-wide backing generously yielded border strips and binding as well.

For quilting, I chose a variegated Fantastico thread and the Bauhaus pantograph designed by Patricia E. Ritter and distributed by Urban Elementz. This modern, boxy design complements the minimalist vibe of the quilt.

Congratulations, Keith! I hope your graduation quilt communicates my love and the memories of good times we shared as we worked together on it.


Buffalo Plaid Trees

My friend Kay recently made a stunning tree quilt. The pieced white, gray and black fabric squares emulate trendy buffalo plaids. Since the patchwork blocks are quite large, only nine are needed for the throw sized quilt. The pattern is “Farmhouse Christmas” by Kristina Brinkerhoff for Center Street Quilts. Isn’t the backing fabric perfect for this quilt? Click here to see the whole quilt and/or purchase a pattern.

When Kay brought her quilt top to me for quilting, we hemmed and hawed for awhile over thread color and pantograph design. I showed her all my Christmas pantos and a few textured designs, and, one by one, she eliminated those that did not speak to her. We finally settled on a medium dark gray polyester (Magnifico) thread and the “Winter White” pantograph of snowflakes distributed by patternman.com.

We are both pleased as punch with the results!

Christmas in March?

Well . . . I am not celebrating Christmas all over again, but I have recently finished several Christmas projects that have been in the UFO pile for many months. It feels great to complete them, knowing they’ll be fun to display and use next December!

My friend Colleen made a table runner for her daughter that I admired, and I hinted strongly that I would like a small quilt made with the same bright fabrics. Isn’t this wall quilt so much fun? (Thanks, Colleen!)

Over a year ago I made this table runner with a package of 5″ charm squares. It was an alternate coloring of “Chroma Keys,” published by Quilting Quickly, Nov/Dec 2018. Click here to see the blog post picturing “Chroma Keys.”

I quilted both the wall hanging and the table runner with the “Winter White” pantograph of snowflakes and loops by Dave Hudson. I used a polyester silver gray thread which shows up nicely against the darker fabrics. (Click on either picture to zoom in for a view of the quilting design.)

Are you working on finishing any winter holiday projects?

Cloudy with a Chance of Rainbows

“What colors does your daughter like to decorate with?” I asked my friend, the mother of the bride.

“Gray,” was the response. “Her whole house is gray, so any color quilt will look very nice against the neutral background.”

“Gray” reminded me of an un-quilted table runner hanging in the portable clothes rack which holds quilts in the queue. The blocks were leftover from this quilt, published by McCall’s Quick Quilts in Feb/Mar 2018.

Since my friend felt this project would suit her daughter’s style, I layered it with batting and a gray swirl print for backing. I meandered with loops and double loops in a light gray thread. A medium gray print serves as binding.

This UFO no longer clouds my queue of projects, and I believe its rainbow pops of color will brighten the bride’s home!

“Desert Blossom” Published!

Check your newsstand for the Winter 2020 issue of Easy Quilts, a division of Fons and Porter’s Love of Quilting magazines. You’ll find “Desert Blossom” on page 52. This wall quilt or table topper was designed by my friend, Pam Dooley and modified by me. It’s so much fun to be pictured as co-designers!

Over a year ago, I developed a cutting method for efficiently using fat quarters to make Half Square Triangles and Four patches. I sent instructions to Pam and several of her friends to test while on a quilting retreat. Here is Pam’s design. Didn’t she have fun putting all the units together?


When modifying Pam’s design, I kept the hanging diamond motif and the darker triangles inserted in the diamond, but I replaced the center “Pinwheel” with a “Square in a Square.” I expanded the color selection to include two shades of green. The dark green rectangles on the outer edges of the patchwork form a border of sorts, and the triangles in the perimeter echo the hanging diamond and keep your eyes moving outward from the center.

The colors of this quilt remind me of a potted Christmas cactus that my grandmother kept on her corner sofa table. In elementary school, one of my teachers had us glue shell macaroni on a empty tin cans. She then sprayed our art projects with dark green paint, filled the tins with potting soil, and inserted a cactus sprig into each pot. Miraculously, the springs rooted and bloomed in time for Christmas gift giving! 

Design ideas and modifications are always evolving and revolving in our brains, aren’t they? For example, instructions in the magazine yield a 32″ x 32″ quilt. If you add a border or two, and change the fabrics to juvenile prints, you’ll have a sizable baby or toddler quilt. If you would like to win a copy of this magazine, leave a comment stating how you might modify either of these quilt designs. The drawing will be on November 25.

“Misty Mountain” Published!

Have you procured your copy of the July/August issue of Pre-cut Patchwork?

All the quilts patterned in this issue are fabulous, but I am particularly excited about “Misty Mountain,” designed by Michelle Dillon and me. You, too, can make this quilt for nature lovers of your acquaintance; it’s composed of a bear panel (Hoffman of California) and several hundred half square triangles.

The back story of this quilt design: Michelle and I attend our church’s quilting/craft group, and we spear-headed making a wedding quilt for the daughter of a group member. After learning that the bride decorates with neutral gray and white, we scoured Pinterest for simple gray and white quilts. We knew a simple design would entice group members to sew units for the quilt. We pooled gray textures and white tonals from our stashes . . . and then the bride’s mother asked if we could include a bear since black bears are a favorite with her daughter and future son-in-law. Our LQS, Sew There! Quilts and More, stocks naturalistic animal panels and came to our rescue. Our group made the quilt; the bride and groom loved it and carried it to their new home.

Because the quilt was so well received, I decided to pitch the idea to Lori Baker, acquisitions editor for 6 of your favorite quilting magazines. Happily, the quilt was accepted for publication in Pre-cut Patchwork because the half squares can be made with 5″ squares. So then, the quilt had to be re-made! All fabrics for this quilt are from Hoffman of California.

I gave this second bear quilt to my sister-in-law whose backyard is often visited by a curious and hungry bear. She is ecstatic and enjoys showing it to fellow nature lovers who visit her mountain home.

A Finish and a Start

I have a fabulous finish to show you today – – the 2019 raffle quilt of the Tarheel Quilters Guild. I designed this quilt last fall, shopped for the blue batik fabric at Pineapple Fabrics warehouse sale, cut kits for members, and arranged demos of Wonky Star blocks at a guild meeting. My friend Karlene helped me square up the blocks, and Colleen helped me arrange them on the design wall. Irene and Pat paper pieced the outer border and Kelsey of Grice Farm Quilts employed her amazing machine quilting talents. “Sparkling Pinpoints” was truly a group project, and we are all proud of our queen size quilt!

Let me know how many raffle quilt tickets you’d like to purchase. The drawing will be at the guild’s annual Christmas party in December.

And since I finished two projects recently, I authorized myself to begin a new quilt. Here’s a picture of the fabrics, but I can’t divulge the quilt design. You will just have to wait for the Christmas holiday issue of Quiltmaker magazine! The fabrics are from Benartex:  Jubilee and Jubilee Holiday by Amanda Murphy.

“Pathways” Published

In the May/June issue of McCall’s Quilting you will find an interesting feature article, “Heirloom Remakes:  Family Quilts Reimagined.” You will enjoy seeing three vintage quilts, reading about their makers, and perusing patterns for three current spin-offs of the vintage designs.

For this feature article, I submitted a “Grandmother’s Fan” quilt that was pieced by my paternal grandmother and hand quilted by both my grandmothers and me (at age 16). This quilt is one of my prized possessions since all three of us worked to complete it.

My modern remake was based on the “Candy Ring” block printed in the May/June 2014 issue of McCall’s Quilting magazine. Instead of arranging four fans in a circle as the pattern suggested, I tried various arrangements, settling on a serpentine medallion with fans in the corners.

Along with my fan quilt, you will see Bev Getschel’s “Family Tree” and Connie Kauffman’s “Baby Blue Baskets.” Their heritage stories and remakes are equally interesting.

I would love to send each of you a copy of this magazine, but I only have one copy to give away. To be in the drawing, leave a comment telling about your most treasured quilt. The drawing will be May 1st.

Charming Baby Girl Quilt

Raise your hand if you have a partial package of 5″ charm squares. Totally coordinated, but difficult to match with stash fabric, and certainly not enough to make a small quilt. This was my dilemma. I had “For You” charms left over from another project. (Click here to see portions of that quilt top.)

Blogger Katy came to my rescue when she posted pictures of a baby quilt she made for a Habitat for Humanity auction. Click here to see her quilt. The discerning among you will point out that my design is not exactly like Katy’s, but her quilt was my inspiration.

By adding white 5″ x 9 1/2″ rectangles and 5″ squares, I was able to stretch my partial charm pack into a fun quilt for a baby girl. In my stash I found a perky bird print in just the right colors to back the quilt. I added interest to all the “negative space” (white areas) by quilting a “Modern Squares” pantograph in light pink thread. A whimsical bright pink fabric for binding finishes the quilt perfectly.

What ideas do you have for using partial packages of pre-cuts? Please share your tips in a comment below.