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.


“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.

“Katie’s Quilt” made by Linda

My friend, Linda G., sent me a vibrant batik quilt top to quilt. Nina, who will receive this quilt, helped Linda to select the colors/fabrics.

You can find instructions for the quilt in the Missouri Star Block magazine, Fall volume 3, Issue 5. Click here for Jenny Doan’s You Tube tutorial. The quilt is made with 2 1/2″ pre-cut strips as well as yardage of white and navy. Isn’t that mottled teal border gorgeous?

For a quilting pantograph motif, Linda chose “Bell Blossom” designed by Hermione Agee and distributed by Urban Elementz. I used teal thread to match the outer border and back of the quilt. We both love the way the quilted flowers seem to peek out of the white areas.

Not one to waste batik patches and pieces, Linda artfully created an interesting backing for her quilt.

Great job, Linda; Nina is sure to treasure this lovely quilt!

TQG Raffle Quilt on the Design Wall

I volunteered to coordinate the designing and making of the 2019 raffle quilt for my guild, the Tarheel Quilters Guild of Fayetteville, NC. After designing the quilt with Electric Quilt 8 software, I wrote instructions and asked several guild members to demo the construction of Wonky Stars at a guild meeting. We set up 4 or 5 identical demo stations around the meeting room so guild members could see and hear the instructions up close and personal. At the conclusion of the demo, all were encouraged to take home kits for 5″ or 9″ blocks. After the blocks were returned to me, Karlene and I trimmed the small blocks to 4 1/2″ and the large blocks to 8 1/2.”

Last Wednesday, Colleen helped me lay out the 113  4 1/2″ blocks with 112 alternate plain blue batik squares on my design wall. This weekend I sewed the 15 rows of 15 blocks each together. Hooray for progress!

You can find instructions for making Wonky Stars on the Patterns page of this blog.

Stay tuned, I will add several borders to this sparkling quilt.

“Heaven’s Light” Published!

Great news . . . “Heaven’s Light” is published in the October/November 2018 issue of McCall’s Quick Quilts. I know you will enjoy making this twin sized quilt as much as I did!

The home my sister-in-law and mother-in-law live in was the inspiration behind this “Log Cabin” quilt. They live at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and the oldest part of the house is a log cabin built during Revolutionary times. The yellow squares represent the welcoming candles illuminating their windows. You will find more of the story behind this quilt in the magazine.

Wilmington Prints graciously sent me the lovely batiks to make this quilt. The vibrant colors really glow like a stained glass window refracting heaven’s light!

If you would like to win a copy of this magazine issue, leave a comment below stating which color family you would choose for this quilt. The drawing will be September 1.

Symposium Inspiration

Have you ever walked through the campus of William Peace University in Raleigh, NC? It’s just beautiful and so peaceful, right in the heart of the city. The brick architecture is flanked by ancient shade trees, and brick walkways curve between the dorms, educational halls, and dining facility. Splashing fountain and twittering birds complete the serene picture. The college founder, in bronze, seemed a little cold, so I lent him my “Get the Point” quilt.

At the North Carolina Quilt Symposium this past weekend, I enjoyed chatting with “old” friends and meeting new ones. It was fun to share my favorite quick cutting techniques as a hands-on lecture. The evening programs, which all retreat-ers attended were entertaining, inspirational, and informational. Some of the quilters from my local guild (Tarheel Quilt Guild in Fayetteville, NC) met in our dorm lounge after hours to sew and chat together. Fun and laughter, all around.

Here are some pictures from the six hour workshop on “Get the Point.” (This block, designed by Carrie Nelson, was published in Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks from Today’s Top Designers, vol. 3. I modified the instructions so that 2 1/2″ strips are used throughout.) Since the 6″ quarter-block is shaded diagonally, half dark and half light, it functions much like a “Log Cabin” block with many possible layouts. For example, the blocks could be arranged as “Straight Furrows” or “Pinwheels.”

Gwen borrowed batik squares made by four workshop participants to plot an off-set hanging diamond on the design wall. And Marva chose a dark brown rather than a light (white) background. The quilters enjoyed  chatting and encouraging each other as they sewed together.


Durham/Orange Quilters, host of this year’s Symposium, organized a quilt show and vendors’ mall. When planning to attend a quilt show, I anticipate being inspired by a quilt or two. Sometimes I am awed by amazing quilting or motivated by an unusual yet pleasing color combination. Sometimes the story behind the quilt draws me in. This quilt show did not disappoint. While I admired many, “Confetti” most inspired me. My friend Nancy was also captured by the I-should-make-this-scrappy-quilt sentiment. In our enthusiasm, we planned a sew day for our guild to get started on the bazillion Four Patches required. If you live locally and wish to join us, we’ll be at the North Regional Library (855 McArthur Rd., Fayetteville) from 9 to 5 on Friday, 2 June. Comment below if you need more info.

“Confetti” was designed by Augusta Cole. You can order a pattern from her website

“Gemini” Lap Quilt

DSCN7846Kathy H. sent me a lap quilt to longarm which she made in memory of her mother whose favorite color was green.

Kathy writes, “I used a pattern–actually one of those post card type patterns–called Gemini by Villa Rosa Designs. It uses 20 – 2 1/2 ” strips–so just half of a jelly roll– plus 2 yards of background fabric.”

Several of the batik prints are foliage in nature, and the quilt back is a swirly fern green-on-green batik. The images on the fabrics gave me the idea to quilt fern fronds across the face of the quilt. You can tell at first glance that the design of the quilt is vertical columns of offset “boxes.” I could have loaded the quilt into my machine sideways and quilted stems of ferns that would follow the vertical theme. However, I felt the columns were too wide to effectively quilt this, so I decided to quilt fern fronds horizontally across the quilt using the 6″ wide rows as my visual quilting guide. This orientation gives the viewer’s eye two movements to consider–vertical and horizontal. Here is how I developed the design:


Using my Wave Edge ruler (which is actually for rotary cutting), I drew a line approximately through the center of each row. On the light areas, I used a green chalk; on the darker fabrics, I used a white powder chalk (chalk-o-liner). I then quilted across the quilt on the drawn line.


Next, I quilted a wavy line about 3/4″ above the drawn and quilted line, eye-balling the ups and downs. These two lines form the stem or main vein of the fern. (I have experimented with only one line for the vein, but feel the double lines define the design much better.)

The fun part was filling in the fern leaves between the wavy line. “S” curves, “C” curves, “moustache” curves, and curls were all useful in this step. Some of the leaf tips and curls point left while the others point right. By quilting this way, I achieved my goal:  there is not a definitive left or right, top or bottom of the quilt.


Green is always so soothing, comforting, and calming; I know Kathy will enjoy snuggling under this quilt. Perhaps the fern quilting design will conjure images of lush, cool forest glens, welcome respites from arid summer weather.

Batik Bed Runner

IMG_20160525_132339_541I am absolutely smitten with this bed runner! Linda G. made it for a former co-worker who is a long time friend. The batiks she selected glow like stained glass on a summer day. Did you recognize the “Disappearing Nine Patch” design? This is proof positive that even a simple patchwork design combined with the right fabrics yields an awesome quilt.

Many of the batiks have floral or leaf designs, so Linda asked me to quilt flowers and leaves all over the 19″ x 87″ runner. I also quilted two coordinating pillow tops made with 2 1/2″ squares. Can you imagine the runner and pillows resting atop a white or light gray bedspread? Gorgeously colorful!

“Chevies on the Levee” Published!

Cover sept oct 2014 mccalls

My subcription copy of McCall’s Quilting Sept./Oct. 2014 arrived in my mailbox last week. I was happy to see my quilt, “Chevies on the Levee,” pictured beautifully, draped over a boat with flipflops in the foreground and a lake in the background. The staff photographers at McCall’s are awesome; they imaginatively stage each quilt, inviting quilters to read the instructions and make the quilts!


Click on the picture of the magazine; it is linked to the McCall’s website. Once there, you can order the magazine and see pictures of other projects it contains. Click on the picture of the quilt; it is linked to McCall’s description of my quilt.

McCall’s graciously sent extra copies of the magazine issue for me to share with my blog followers. If you would like to be in the drawing for a copy, “follow” my blog and leave a comment below saying which quilt in the issue most appeals to you. I’ll draw four lucky winners on August 2, 2014.

Alternate construction method: Instead of assembling the strip-pieced blocks in diagonal rows as the magazine shows, you can try an alternate and innovative piecing and cutting method. I’ll describe this method in my next blog post.

A Cooperative Quilt


Stacy and I worked together to make this “Disappearing Nine Patch” quilt. She pieced the top, I quilted it, and she bound it. It will be presented to a veteran as part of the Quilts of Valor program that we both support.

Believe it or not, the blocks in this quilt were once giant Nine Patches! Stacy cut 5″ squares from batik fabric:  dark blue, light blue and red. She sewed 20 giant Nine Patches, placing the colors for all the blocks as shown below.


Then she cut all the blocks in quarters and rearranged the pieces, placing them on her “design wall.”


I love the way the small red squares move across the surface of the quilt! Stacy sewed the blocks into rows and then joined the rows to make the quilt. Red binding finishes off the project. You can read more about this quilt on Stacy’s blog  here.


Click here to find out more information on the “Disappearing Nine Patch” technique.