String-Pieced Pumpkins

20 09 2017

Grandson Aidan’s birthday is near Halloween, and he is enthused to decorate (already) for both celebrations. We decided a pumpkin quilt that he could keep “forever” would be fun to make. For inspiration, we used Bonnie Hunter’s string-pieced pumpkin design published in the Quiltmaker September/October 2017 issue. You can see pictures of a table runner Bonnie made with string pieced pumpkins here.

To begin with, we dumped my shopping bag of strips and strings on the sewing room floor, searching for all the orange, rust, tan, and green. After ironing the selected strips and cutting paper foundations from an old phone directory, I changed my sewing machine needle to size 90 and decreased the stitch length to 1.5. Piecing the four pumpkin blocks on the paper was quick and easy; in a couple of hours, all were complete.

Aidan decided he would prefer a long, skinny wall hanging rather than a Four Patch style block layout as pictured above. This layout makes the quilt more versatile as it can also be used as a table runner. Sashing and border strips were cut 2 1/2″ wide from Wilmington Prints black “Criss-Cross.” The quilting design is a spider web pantograph with metallic gold thread. (I suggested metallic silver thread, but Aidan’s choice of gold turned out just fine! Click on the picture, zooming in to see the quilting details.) Lime green binding makes a lively finish. With a hanging sleeve on the back, we are ready to decorate for fall and Aidan’s birthday!



Magazine Winner

18 09 2017

Thanks to those of you who commented on the previous post thereby dropping your name in the hat for a drawing for a free magazine. The winner of a copy of Quilts from Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks is Kathryn L. Congratulations!

If your newsstand does not carry the magazine, you can click here, linking to the Quilt and Sew Shop. You will love the quilts in this Fall 2017 issue! Interestingly, two of my blocks are featured in the magazine. “Linked,” as pictured here, is based on block #1265 from Vol. 13 and is printed on page 45 and following. “Seeing Red,” on page 6, is based on “Inside Out,” block #1173 from Vol. 12. Denise Stark and Hatty Brown worked together to create this striking quilt.

Miniature Block Exchange

14 09 2017

Earlier this summer my friend Lori organized a 4″ block exchange among five quilting friends. We used the Simple Friendships book by Kim Diehl and Jo Morton as our guide. (Click here to view the book on We are making blocks for the row by row sampler quilt on page 100. While the book gives instructions for using only brown Civil War prints and tan shirtings, we are using various colors with the shirtings. The only stipulation was that we must use fabrics from our stashes (i.e. not purchase any new fabric). This rule was hard to abide by because I found some gorgeous medium blue with small white paisleys and a lovely tiny floral with mustard yellow background at Loving Stitches quilt shop. (I bought fat quarters anyway to use in a future Civil War repro quilt.)

There are six different blocks in the sampler, so Lori settled on a six month exchange scheme. We are to mail three of the blocks to the other participants in September. Enthused about the project, I made five each of four of the blocks right away. Then summer activities and other quilts distracted me. September rolled around, and I realized that the two blocks I procrastinated in making are supposed to be mailed this month. Arrrgh!

A couple of hours of concentrated cutting and sewing, and they are done! It will be so much fun to see the fabrics my friends have used in their sampler blocks. Although the blocks and the wall quilt are small, the exchange project stretches over several more months, so you probably won’t see the finished quilt until the new year.

Are you currently participating in a block exchange?

“Linked” Published!

11 09 2017

Exciting news! My quilt, “Linked,” based on the “Everlasting Chains” quilt block was recently published in the bi-annual magazine Quilts from Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks, Fall 2017. (My block design, “Everlasting Chains,” is in Vol. 13 of Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks from Today’s Top Designers published in May 2016. It is block #1265. Click here to read my blog post about the block.)

I drew a computer diagram of the quilt idea to demonstrate how multiple blocks of the unusual yet simple block would form horizontal and vertical interlocking chains. Using two saturated colors helps the horizontal and vertical chains show up equally on the light background fabric. I submitted this quilt idea to the Quiltmaker editors.


All well and good, but the editors wondered if I could make the links look “braided.” I used my Electric Quilt computer program to sketch several ideas for accentuating the interlocking design. To tell the truth, even though the editors approved, the designs were complicated and would be time consuming to construct. About a week later, a better, easier idea hit me. I could use two shades/prints each of aqua and purple and make a “Pinwheel” as the block center and color the basic block two different ways . . . and the links would look more braided or twisting.

From a distance the quilt looks like “Double Wedding Ring” and would make a wonderful wedding or anniversary gift for a modern couple. The bonus for you is skipping the curved piecing required by the traditional “Wedding Ring” design.

My friend Linda quilted “Linked” for me since my longarm was disassembled for moving during the construction of this quilt. Because I wanted the chain links to flow off the sides of the quilt, I faced the quilt rather than binding it. This was the first quilt I have faced, and I am pleased with the results. Click on the picture to zoom in. If you’d like to learn more about this modern finishing technique, click here or visit and click on articles, Quilt Techniques and “Let’s Face It’ under Lessons.

Would you like to win a copy of the magazine? Leave a comment below stating what two colors you would use to make “Linked.”

The drawing will be September 18.


More Ideas for Layer Cake Quilts

7 09 2017

Did you know that McCall’s Quilting has a blog? I “follow” the weekly posts and was pleasantly surprised to have two of my layer cake designs featured on Wednesday, August 23. Our 3rd quarter challenge is to make a layer cake quilt; if you need more pattern design ideas simply click here to travel to the blog.

The first quilt shown is “Aunt Lucy’s Baskets” which first appeared in the October/November 2009 issue of Quilters Newsletter. The McCall’s blog gives details on how to order a digital pattern. Following the picture of the basket quilt are links to several videos about using pre-cuts. The final quilt featured is “Berry Patch” which was published in the August/September 2013 issue of Quilters Newsletter. Similarly, details are given for ordering a digital pattern.

Are you working on a layer cake quilt? I’d love to see a picture of your project! (

Magazine Winner

5 09 2017

Thanks to all who commented on my blog post regarding the publication of “Scrappy Patch” in the Oct/Nov 2017 issue of McCall’s Quick Quilts. There were some great suggestions about limiting the color palette: fall colors, Christmas fabric scraps, black and white with a pop of red, blues and denim, lilac/purple on a cream background, reds and blues. The funniest comment was from Debbie R. who said, “I would probably start going scrappy and then my OCD would kick in and I would end up doing a controlled color !!”

The winner of the magazine is Trudy with comment #27. Congratulations!

If you didn’t win this time, and your newsstand does not carry McCall’s Quick Quilts, click here to link to the Quilt and Sew Shop to order your copy of the magazine. You may also simply order a digital copy of the pattern. For those of you with a Go! Cutter, take note that the magazine includes instructions for cutting all the pieces for the quilt using your cutter.

Stay tuned for another chance to win a magazine . . . soon!

Aidan’s Quilt

2 09 2017

A Step-by-Step Photo Journal

In July four-year-old Aidan and his family visited for a long weekend. It happened to be the weekend his cousins Kaleb and Krystine had finished their summer quilt projects and were ready for a photo shoot. “Could I make a quilt, too?” he asked. Absolutely! There is no better question to bless a quilting grandma’s heart!

We looked in my bin of juvenile prints and he selected a rocketship print and an seaside print (thinking he might make two quilts, one for himself and one for his little brother). Grandma Aby decided to focus on one project at a time.

We selected colorful tonals that coordinated with the rocketship print. The patchwork design is a variation of my “Steppin’ Up” quilt found on the Patterns page of this blog. Instead of cutting ten 4″ x 40″ strips, I cut eight 5″ x 40″ strips. Then we arranged the strips in color order.

Next, we sewed the strips together on the long sides, joining the first and the eighth strip to make a tube. Note whose toes are operating the sewing machine’s foot control.


I cross-cut the tube in 5″ increments and un-sewed one seam of each unit to make a “Steppin’ Up” design. We placed the rows on the design wall so Aidan could see what his quilt would look like.

I pinned and sewed the upper four rows together and then the lower four rows together. “Yes!” we are making progress!

After sewing the upper rows to the lower rows, Aidan joined his cousins for the photo shoot. If you missed it, you can see Krystine’s and Kaleb’s quilts on this blog post.

In order to make the quilt a little larger for this would-be astronaut, I added a narrow black border, a scrappy border made from 2 1/2″ wide strips, another narrow black border, and a 5″ wide red outer border. Aidan was enthusiastic about the “Blast Off” pantograph from Lorien Quilting which pictures a rocketships, stars, and Saturns. He selected a variegated thread of primary colors. Black binding completes the project modeled here by one happy boy!