Starring . . . Charity Quilts

At the end of March, I taught a workshop on Zoom for the Tarheel Quilters Guild. About a dozen of us tuned in at 9 a.m. with coffee cups and fabrics in hand. After chatting for a few minutes, I explained the basics of making “Scrappy Stars.” Incidentally, “Scrappy Stars” is the first block in this year’s QAL, “Options.” You will find links to instructions for this block on the “Options BOM QAL” page of this blog.

Instead of making individual blocks from 2 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ rectangles, most of us strip-pieced 2 1/2″ x 40″ background fabric strips together with colorful 2 1/2″ x 40″ strips and cross-cut them at 4 1/2″ intervals for a speedier finish. We checked in with each other via a second Zoom meeting at lunchtime. Everyone showed her progress, and I answered a few questions. We scheduled a final meet-up at 2 p.m., but technical difficulties beyond our control preempted our plans. Lesson learned: Schedule a 45 minute beginning Zoom session to tell all instructions and tips for the entire project.

Tarheel guild members enjoy making baby quilts for the NICU of our local hospital, and our “Scrappy Stars” workshop increased the number of quilts our charity chairwoman can offer these little ones and their parents.

I recently made Sawtooth Star baby quilt of leftover fabric from the “Hello Spring” BOM I facilitated at Sew There! Quilts and More in Angier, NC in 2020. The instructions for the Flying Geese units for “Hello Spring” yielded large “waste” triangles; I used these to construct star points for my baby quilt.

The center Sawtooth Star measured about 10″ square; I increased the size to 12″ with a narrow frame. This 12″ square became the center of a 24″ Sawtooth Star to which I added three borders, bringing the size to 36″ square. I quilted the “Happy Times” edge to edge design with light pink thread and bound the quilt with fuchsia tone-on-tone fabric. This was a quick and easy way to transform an orphan block into a baby quilt. I will definitely use this idea again!

“Economy” Block – Blog Readers Share

Several “Options” block of the month participants have sent pictures of their “Economy” blocks to inspire you.

First up is Marianne K. Although she has chosen a red and black fabric palette, her blocks look so different than mine. It is interesting to see the fabrics other quilters choose! What great fabric options, Marianne!

Maridee also sent a picture of her blocks. As an aside, Maridee also made her “Sisters” quilt with brown fabrics (plus green and red), perfect for their vacation cabin. You can see her quilt as well as other “Sisters” 2020 QAL quilts in a gallery following the links to instructions for the “Sisters” blocks on the “Sisters BOM QAL” page of this blog.

Look at the ways Helga opted to modify her blocks. The mini Log Cabin is perfect for the center square, and the appliqued red circle gives just the right spot of color.

Next up are blocks by Kelly. Aren’t the pastel fabric so soft and pretty? I can’t wait to see the entire quilt!

Sarah is a busy bee and made several “Economy” blocks before I posted the simplified measurements. She made a 4″ Sawtooth Star for the centers of two blocks which means she tackled the daunting task of squaring up the Square in a Square to 6 1/8.” Way to go, Sarah! The Sawtooth Star sure is precious as the option for the center of your “Economy” blocks!

Thanks for sharing, ladies! We are inspired! (I would love to show a picture of your “Economy” blocks. Email to Remember that if you finish your blocks and comment “Done” on the April 30th blog post, you will be entered in a drawing for a free quilt magazine.

By the way, Chris S. is the winner of the drawing for those who completed Block #2, “Ojo de Dios,” by March 31st! Congratulations, Chris!

Kay’s Marvelous Ocean Quilt

Do you remember seeing the “Marvel-ous” baby quilt on my March 29, 2021 blog post? It was made with Marvel super heroes fabrics, Four Patches alternating with large scale print squares. My friend Kay modified the design to make a thank-you gift for friends who hosted her and her husband on a recent trip to Florida.

To complement the d├ęcor of her hostess, Kay purchased a package of batik 2 1/2″ strips in teals and neutrals. From this pre-cut fabric, she strip-pieced Nine Patches. She cut alternate 6 1/2″ squares from a teal print that graphically resembles ocean waves. The white-on-white border separates the interior patchwork from the outer border. Kay happily reported that she pieced the lap quilt top in an afternoon.

We deliberated on an edge to edge quilting design and color of thread. “Dune” designed by Natalie Gorman and distributed by Urban Elementz gives the sense of ocean waves swirling and curling until they reach the shore. Since I do not have a teal thread that matches the border fabric, we selected a silver gray with a slight polyester shine. The gray also looks very nice on the back of the quilt which is mostly white. Kay is binding the quilt with white fabric, adding a perfect echo of the inner border.

If you need a marvelously quick and fun project, Kay and I both recommend this quilt design. You can easily strip-piece Nine Patches as Kay did, or you can strip-piece Four Patches as I did. Add a complementary quilting design to transform a simple quilt into a treasure.

Happy Easter 2021!

Wishing you and your family a blessed Easter!

For holidays, I like to share songs or hymns that reverberate in my heart with hope that they speak to you as well. On Palm Sunday our pastor’s message centered on the cross, Jesus’ selfless sacrifice for our sins. And the praise team sang “The Old Rugged Cross,” with poignant meaning. Click here to hear Alan Jackson sing this time-honored hymn. I also enjoyed Rosemary Siemens’ rendition as she sang and accompanied herself on piano and violin.

Comment with the songs that have been playing in your mind this season.

“Options” Block #3 – “Economy”

Hooray, it is April 1st, and the link for the instructions for Block #3 in our quilt along is on the “Options BOM QAL” page. No fooling! Click the tab in the menu to navigate to the page.

Economy, Simplified

When you read the instructions carefully, you will discover that I have simplified the measurements to make squaring-up easier. (Please read the instructions, and don’t just look at the diagrams and pictures . . . like I usually do.)

If you are an experienced quilter and “do the math,” you will maintain that the center square should be cut 4 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ in order to finish at 4″ x 4.” But using this proper measurement means that after adding the first round of triangles, you must square up to 6 1/8.” This is difficult to do, because you need to place the 3 1/16″ lines of the ruler on the center of the center square. So I have simplified the pattern by instructing you to cut a 4 1/4″ center square. After adding the four triangles, square up to 6″ (much simpler than 6 1/8″). Add the next round of triangles, and square up to 8 1/2.” Notice in the photo below that the seams joining the white triangles to the Four Patch do not exactly cross the corners of the squares; there is more than 1/4″ seam allowance causing the Four Patch to float.

One of the options for the Economy block involves making an Hourglass block for the center square. As you know, I prefer cutting triangles oversize and trimming the unit to the correct measurement after sewing them together. To that end, I have created an “how to” document for squaring-up Hourglass blocks. The link is on the “Options BOM QAL” page listed just before Block #1. These instructions will likewise be helpful if you opt for Hourglasses as alternate blocks for your quilt.

I hope you enjoy making Economy blocks for your “Options” quilt! Plan ahead when coloring your blocks. For my quilt pictured in the blog header, I needed to cut the outer (large) triangles from light background fabric to coordinate with the other blocks in the quilt. However, take a look at the quilt pictured below. Every other block is an Economy block with colorful large triangles. These colorful triangles nicely separate the other blocks that utilize light background fabric. The way you color your Economy blocks could hinge on the setting you are planning for all the “Options” blocks.

I would love to share a picture of your Economy blocks with blog readers. Send a photo to You can also post a picture on Instagram with #optionsqal.

“Options” #2 Wrap-Up

With the end of March comes the end of the first quarter of 2021 and the finish line for “Ojo de Dios,” the block for the month. Many of us have been waiting for the local health agencies to announce that vaccines are available for our age and category. Perhaps while you have been waiting, you have had time to sew blocks for your “Options” quilt. I often find that my patience can stretch a bit further if I have something creative to take my mind off imminent issues. Do you concur?

Several Quilt Along participants shared pictures of their blocks to inspire you. First up are Blocks #1 and #2 by Melody. Zoom in to see the fabrics she chose. She is making a quilt for her sister who has a camper and whose favorite color teal, so the camper theme fabric is perfect. I really like Melody’s use of the stripe fabric in her blocks.

Joy also shared a picture of “Scrappy Stars” as well as “Ojo de Dios” blocks. The fabric combinations are so interesting to study. We all see color and pattern a bit differently, so it’s instructional to view someone else’s ideas!

Colleen is basing her quilt on happy colors and coordinating floral fabrics. She enjoyed modifying “Ojo de Dios” to suit her muse.

Judy continues with her project of making twin size quilts for her granddaughter’s bunkbeds.

Well done, ladies, and thanks for sharing!

Now it’s your turn . . . if you have made the “Ojo de Dios” blocks, type DONE in the comments below. Everyone who has made blocks will be entered in a drawing for a quilting magazine.

It’s not too late to join the fun of our “Options” block of the month quilt along. Click on “Options BOM QAL” in the menu. You will navigate to a page with links for an introduction of the project as well as instructions for Blocks #1 and #2. Instructions for blocks are posted on the first of each month, so come back tomorrow for Block #3!

A Marvel-ous Baby Quilt

My daughter-in-law’s sister and her husband are expecting a baby boy, and they have chosen to decorate the nursery with Marvel characters in general and Spiderman in particular. It was fun to collaborate with my DIL as we searched Etsy to find the perfect fabric. (Come to find out, Walmart stocks several super hero fabrics as well.)

I envisioned a simple patchwork design so the large scale print of Marvel characters could “do the talking.” If you look on the Patterns page of this blog, you will find “Vroom, Vroom,” a fat quarter friendly baby quilt. I changed the pattern just a bit by increasing the size of the squares and deleting one of the borders.

I quilted a spiderweb design with thin black thread and bound the quilt with the red “baby spidey” print. It was fun to make a quilt that is sure to please the new parents, and no doubt the baby will be attracted to the bright and bold prints!

If you would like to make a Marvel-ous baby quilt, you will need the following fabrics:

  • 2 or 2 1/4 yds. large scale theme print for large squares, outer border and backing
  • 3/4 yds. bright (red) small scale print for small squares and binding
  • 1/3 yd. white solid for small squares
  • 3/8 yd. dark (black) print for inner border

Basic cutting and sewing directions are as follows:

  • Large scale theme print – cut {2} strips 6 1/2″ x WOF (width of fabric). Sub-cut into {12} 6 1/2″ squares. Cut {4} strips 3 1/2″ x WOF for outer border. Use the remainder of the fabric for backing.
  • Bright small scale print – cut {3} strips 3 1/2″ x WOF. Cut {4-5} strips 2 1/2″ x WOF for binding.
  • White solid – cut {3} strips 3 1/2″ x WOF. Sew each together with a Bright 3 1/2″ strip; press seam allowance toward the Bright strip. Sub-cut in 3 1/2″ increments and use the two-patches to make {13} Four Patches.
  • Dark print – cut {4} strips 2 1/4″ or 2 1/2″ x WOF for inner border.
  • The quilt top is about 41″ square.

Colleen’s “Twin Star” Quilts

Did you know that the 12″ and 6″ block patterns for the 2020 “Sisters” Quilt Along are still available for your use? Just click on “Sisters BOM QAL” in the menu and scroll through all twelve designs.

Recently my friend, Colleen, wanted to honor a policeman friend by making a wall quilt for him. Since she had purchased a panel with police related icons and images, she hoped to use them in some way. We measured and determined the images were about 4 1/2″ square. I suggested that she consider the “Sisters” patchwork designs since several have 4″ finished center squares. “Twin Star” seemed the perfect design for the quilt!

One of our quilt guild’s charities is the NICU at Cape Fear Hospital, and our baby quilt chairman is pleading for more quilts. Colleen found an hilarious theme print sure to bring smiles to a baby’s face. Zoom in to see the sharks eating cookies and submarine sandwiches.

Thanks for sharing your quilt projects, Colleen. It’s great that you used the quilt design beyond your “Sisters” sampler quilt project.

“Options” – Ojo de Dios – QAL Participants Share

Participants of the “Options” Block of the Month Quilt Along have been as busy as spring-time bees! And they have been exercising their options admirably.

My friend, Cheryl, added strips to the sides of some of her blocks, turning them into placemats. “I wanted new placemats, and I have a lot of material, so I decided to make some placemats rather than buy them.” Great idea, Cheryl!

Helga’s use of texture to add contrast to her blocks is splendid! The fussy cutting of the rectangles in the block on the left is superb.

Tina used some of the cut-off triangles to make tiny Pinwheels for the centers of two of her “Ojo de Dios” blocks. What a fantastic idea! Notice, too, her variations of fabrics in the large triangles. That she didn’t use the same fabric for all four triangles adds to the scrappy nature of the blocks.

Sarah also added a design to the center of her block – a tiny Hourglass is perfect for the 2″ square.

Sarah also sent a mock-up of the layout for her blocks. She will use various gray prints in the alternate Hourglass blocks.

Thanks for sharing, ladies. Your Options blocks inspire us! You can see more blocks on Instagram #optionsqal. In addition, I would love to show your blocks on the blog, so send pictures to

On another note, Kim K. is the winner in our St. Patrick’s Day drawing for green and cream batik fabric. Congratulations, Kim!

2021 National Quilting Day Wrap-Up

How did you celebrate Saturday, March 20 — National Quilting Day? I hope you had some time to devote to your favorite hobby. Happily, I made great progress on several projects.

First up is another sample of an “Options” quilt. As you can see in the header picture of my blog, the first quilt has a limited palette of red, white, black and gray, and the alternate blocks are an “Hourglass” design. The second quilt is colorful and scrappy with framed “Nine Patches” as alternate blocks. I made most of the blocks last fall but only recently carved out time to set the blocks together and add borders to this lap size quilt. Quilting and binding this quilt was my primary goal for National Quilting Day 2021.

Once I finished the “Options” quilt, I loaded a quilt in the longarm machine to work on during the coming week. Completing this “Carolina Lily” quilt was on my February to-do list, but I was side-tracked by other projects. However, I’ll settle for a March finish of this long-standing UFO.

After dinner I cut and sewed the top of a quilt for my daughter-in-law’s sister’s expected baby boy. A Spiderman nursery theme is planned. The fabric does the talking in this super simple quilt. (You really can make this quilt in a day!)

And that wraps-up the pictorial explanation of my celebration of National Quilting Day 2021. During the next week or two, I’ll share more details about each project pictured here.

Did you work on a quilting project Saturday? If so, please leave a comment below.

If you weren’t able to sew or quilt on Saturday, don’t worry, the entire month of March has been designated to celebrate our hobby and its history!