Stephanie’s “Daffodil” Table Topper

2 05 2018

My friend, Stephanie, has joined me in making seasonal square table toppers this year. She made one for February’s Valentine’s Day, and a green one for March’s St. Patrick’s Day, and now she has completed a yellow “Daffodil” topper made with Half Square Triangles to celebrate spring! I love the cross-hatch quilting design.

Click here to view my blog post with instructions for this quilt.

At a recent quilting workshop with Logan Lap Quilters, Stephanie asked me if I already had plans for a Memorial Day table topper. What a great idea! I am passing the challenge on to you. We’ll have a contest with two winners. One prize for the table topper I select (judge’s choice) and another prize for another one of the participants, drawn randomly.

Memorial Day table topper contest guidelines: Your quilt should measure 18″ – 36″ square with a patriotic theme. If you use a commercial pattern, you must cite the pattern name and designer’s name. Send a picture of your quilt to me on or before 20 May, 2018. ( I can’t wait to see your creations!


Trinity’s “Farm Girl Vintage” Finished!

30 04 2018

About two years ago, Debby, long time member of Tarheel Quilters Guild, initiated a “Farm Girl Vintage” bee. My daughter Trinity was visiting at the time, and we decided to join the fun. We followed instructions in Lori Holt’s book of the same title. I made 6″ blocks, and Trinity made 12″ blocks. You can see a picture of my quilt if you click here.

Most of the blocks in the quilt pictured above are in Lori Holt’s book, but Trinity also included some that were offered online: cow, pig, honeybee, corn and tomatoes. Aren’t those tractors a fun addition? Trinity says they are what motivated her to make the quilt in the first place.

We considered several edge to edge quilting designs. For 1930s reproduction quilts, I generally suggest “Clamshell” or “Baptist Fan,” but neither seemed appealing to Trinity for this quilt. I happened to recall that I have a tractor pantograph, and Trinity was tickled to choose this design. Just a bit quirky, it makes the quilt a little less girlie. I used pastel variegated thread which blended nicely with the colored areas of the quilt as well as with the very light background and sashing. Click on the picture to zoom in an view the quilting stitches.

Trinity is so proud of finishing this UFO; she plans to put it on her bed right away!



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?”

Mystery Quilt Workshop with LLQ

23 04 2018

Last Tuesday daughter Trinity and I spent a delightful day with Logan Lap Quilters in Columbia, SC. Trinity was my sewing/pressing demonstrator while I handed out clues for the mystery quilt. Conversation flowed as the ladies sewed Half Square Triangles, Nine Patches, and Square in a Square units.

The instructions allow for individual interpretation as can be seen in the photos below.


Trinity, with great foresight, bought more than the required multi-colored print fabric. By playing with the units and adding sashing and borders, she expanded a baby quilt design into a lap quilt. She is rightfully proud of her quilt and plans to give it to a friend who needs a lot of comfort at this time.

I quilted the quilt with dark brown/red/blue variegated thread using “Lorien’s Splendor” pantograph designed by Hermione Agee. Click on the picture to zoom in to see the quilting design in the large tan areas. At my suggestion, Trinity used the wrong side of Tan fabric #2 because the wrong side displayed the same tone as Tan fabric #1. Why not? She paid as much for the wrong side of the fabric as she did for the right side!

Have you made a quilt without first seeing a picture of the final outcome, sewing clue-by-clue? Was it unnerving or did you eagerly embrace the adventure?

Saturday Scrap Strategy #3

21 04 2018

One of my favorite of all time scrappy Leader/Ender patchwork blocks is a variation of “Sheepfold” (c.f. Barbara Brackman’s Encyclopedia of Patchwork Blocks, #2020). According to the Encyclopedia, “Sheepfold” is an Uneven Nine Patch with a large square in the center. I modified the block by placing a “Four Patch” in the center. Some quilters call the block “Ups and Downs” due to the diagonal placement of matching squares that criss-cross like stair steps in the central “Four Patch.”

As I evaluate my scraps, I purposely look for fabric from which I can cut 2″ wide strips or 2″ squares. This 6″ finished block requires three coordinating fabrics, one for four 2″ x 3 1/2″ rectangles, another for four 2″ squares, and a third for four additional 2″ squares. A 2″ x 14″ strip yields four 2″ x 3 1/2″ rectangles. I can cut the 2″ squares piecemeal, from a 4″ square, or from a 2″ x 8″ strip. Once I cut the four rectangles or four matching squares, I pin them together. Every once in awhile, I sort through the pile of rectangles and squares to see if I have some coordinating fabric sets on hand. Currently, I have more rectangles than squares, so I raided my stack of 4″ squares that I’ll cut into the four 2″ squares needed. Sorting and matching and pinning is a TV viewing or car trip pastime.

Looking at the photo above, on the left you see rectangles and squares of the correct size pinned together with 4″ squares. I will soon cut those 4″ squares into four 2″ squares. In the plastic container you see stacks of 2″ squares or 2″ x 3 1/2″ rectangles just waiting to be grouped with coordinating fabric pieces. At the bottom right of the photo, you can see rectangles pinned together with the two sets of squares required for the block. Each pinned set makes one block.

I place several pinned sets to the right of my sewing machine. These “Sheepfold” blocks will be my secondary patchwork project. Then, as I come to the end of a seam on my primary patchwork project, I sew squares together to make the “Four Patch” center and add rectangles as I progress on my primary project. I like this block as a Leader/Ender block because it is uncomplicated in construction. I don’t have to think about how to sew it together; I can concentrate instead on constructing my primary project.

I keep a shoebox of completed “Sheepfold” blocks on hand. They are useful in expanding a quilt backing.

And the blocks can also be used to construct an entire quilt. One summer, grandson Kaleb raided my bulging shoebox and sewed together the top for what he affectionately calls his “Fall Quilt.”

Do you have a favorite scrappy patchwork block?

Library Tote – Made by Judy S.

18 04 2018

Judy S., blog reader and recent winner of a McCall’s Quick Quilts magazine, sent me a picture of the library tote she made from purple, green, blue, and magenta strips leftover from another quilt project. Isn’t it darling?

Click here to find measurements and instructions for this small bag on the blog post for January 4, 2016; you can read about the library tote I made from fat quarters for my grandson. Besides using strips instead of fat quarters, Judy also modified the instructions by leaving an opening in the lining (instead of around the upper edge) for turning the bag right side out. Judy is so pleased with the outcome that she is considering making totes for her seven children, choosing fabric each will enjoy.

Instructions for a simple, full-size quilted tote bag can be found on the Patterns page of this blog. Check out Unlimited Possibilities Tote Bag!

Wall Quilt for VA Hospital

16 04 2018

The Chief of Voluntary Services of our local Veterans’ Administration Hospital requested a patriotic wall quilt to hang in or near her office. I volunteered to make one for her. A plaque honoring the Tarheel Quilters Guild will accompany the quilt because our guild has provided lap quilts for the veterans for more than 30 years. We make quilts throughout the year and present them either in December (formerly) or February (recently).

Those who view the quilt as it hangs in the hospital will not realize all the symbolism it embodies, but I will give you the inside scoop. To celebrate our guild’s thirty years of volunteer service, I fused old quilt styles with new ideas and fabrics. “Saw Tooth Star,” “Four Patches,” and “Postage Stamp” are all time-honored patchwork designs; however, I floated the star in negative space, and the quilt has no border which characterize some modern quilts. The tan background depicts Civil War soldiers with patriotic as well as Scriptural text – very appropriate for veterans. Some of the “Postage Stamp” squares are Civil War reproduction prints and some, like the yellow flower, are contemporary. For quilting designs, I chose cross-hatching (an old-fashioned motif) and meandering (a machine quilting favorite). I elected to hand quilt the points of the stars because thirty years ago all of us Tarheel Quilters were hand quilting! We were also using Mountain Mist polyester batting then, but I used today’s preferred Warm and Natural cotton batting.

As a U.S. Army chaplain’s wife and the mother of a veteran, I gladly volunteered to make this quilt which honors both our quilt guild and the service members they have comforted for thirty-plus years.

Tip:  I drew a chalk line 1/4″ away from the edges of the “Four Patches.” I pivoted my cross-hatching machine stitching when I reached the line. I cut binding strips 2 1/4″ wide, joined them, pressed them in half, and applied them with a 1/4″ seam allowance so as not to cover the pivot points of the cross-hatching.