“Garlic Knots” Hack

11 08 2017

I am a fan of Bonnie Hunter, the queen of scrap quilts. (You will find a link to her Quiltville blog in the right column of this blog.) I have purchased most of her books and have constructed nearly a dozen of her quilt patterns. Bonnie provides a mystery quilt to her blog followers each year in late fall, and she launches a Leader/Ender challenge in July. (This year’s design is “Rail Fence.”) Bonnie designs blocks for the bi-annual publication, Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks from Today’s Top Designers, and one of her ideas for blocks using scraps is regularly published in the “Addicted to Scraps” column in Quiltmaker magazine.

Currently, I am captivated by the simple block, “Garlic Knots.” Bonnie’s instructions for this block were published in the January/February 2014 issue of Quiltmaker. Click here for a diagram and explanation. You will find more photos on Pinterest and when searching “images of Garlic Knots quilts” online. In order to respect copyright laws, I will not publish detailed instructions for making this block. However, it is simple enough to figure out the math for yourself. If you want to make 6″ blocks, divide 6″ by the 4 squares in each row to reach the finished square size of 1 1/2.” If you want to use 2 1/2″ scrappy squares, you’ll end up with an 8″ finished block.

Instead of cutting oodles of 2″ squares for the blocks, I am using 2″ wide strips of Civil War reproduction fabric leftover from another project. The “hack” is strip-piecing 3 blocks at a time by cutting my 40″ long strips in thirds. To zoom in, click on the picture at the right. You will see that rows 1 and 4 are cut from the same strip-set. Row 4 is merely rotated 180 degrees. And Rows 2 and 3 are cut from the second strip-set. Similarly, row 3 is rotated 180 degrees. The 6″ blocks work up in a jiffy, and my pile of finished blocks is growing steadily. Several years ago I bought about 2 1/2 yds. of shirting which will be the background for all my blocks. When I use up all that shirting, I will quit making blocks, and my quilt size will thus be determined!

If you made a “Garlic Knots” quilt, what style of fabric would you use?


“Tumalo Trail” Finished!

1 02 2016

IMG_3868Well, I learned from my previous post, Sashing for “Tumalo Trail,” that quilters have definite opinions! Of the twenty-seven readers who commented, twenty-three felt the quilt would look best without sashing. Thanks for generously sharing your opinions; I took them to heart and assembled the quilt top without sashing. In analyzing the probable reason for your preference of “no sashing,” I believe you were trying to steer me away from making a quilt of individual scrappy blocks to making a quilt with a bold, unified diamond design. You helped me see the magnificent forest instead of focusing on each particular tree. Since this is my winter scrap quilt project (think “ski season”), I’m renaming my quilt “Black Diamonds.”

In constructing the quilt without sashing, I dreaded  matching the seams of the Nine Patches, knowing that most seam allowances were pressed in the same direction and would therefore not “lock” together. But you know, pinning at each seam intersection was not as time consuming as I thought it would be. Although I generally press seam allowances to one side, in this case, I pressed the seams open as I joined the blocks to each other. I felt this would reduce the possibility of broken needles and skipped stitches during the quilting stage.


One reason I originally planned to sash the blocks was to make a larger quilt. The sixteen unsashed blocks resulted in only a 54″ square throw-size quilt top. To bring it up to nearly twin size, I added a red inner border and a black outer border. Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough of the old, black print skirt I repurposed for this project to construct the entire outer border. Rummaging in my bin of black fabrics, though, I found two print fat quarters that would blend nicely. A scrappy quilt can accommodate a scrappy border, right?


I cut all the border strips in 5″ widths and in various lengths and sewed them together alternately. The backing is a red VIP paw-print from the 90’s from my Aunt Ruth’s stash. I quilted a ”contour ploughing with random spirals” over-all, freehand design with off-white thread The quilt now measures 69″ square and will keep someone toasty warm this winter.

The funny thing about finishing a scrappy quilt is that I want to start another one right away. Opinions, anyone, on what my next project could be?


Is It Spring Yet?

30 12 2015

Well, Christmas is over, and next comes Spring, right? Sometimes I think Winter should end right after Christmas; I am entirely willing to wish away all the cold, ice, and snow so prevalent in North Carolina during January and February.

My sewing room is one place that I can trade Christmas for Spring no matter the weather outside. This small quilt, table topper size, looks so Spring-y; the true blue and yellow colors radiate sunshine and blue skies.


Notice that there are two blue prints for star points in two of the blocks and two yellow prints for star points in the other two blocks. This was a mistake in the first block I assembled, but a happy mistake, so I opted to assemble all the blocks this way rather than rip out my mistake.

Click on the picture above to zoom in to see Morning Glory print border. This is one of the two prints I drew from a brown bag last February at a gathering of quilting friends. The other print, pictured below, contains muted colors and is reminiscent of an 1800’s chintz print.


The brown bag challenge was to use both prints, randomly drawn, in the same quilt. I thought about adding a very narrow accent border of the muted fabric to the Morning Glory Star quilt, but I just couldn’t. The print is too large with various colors, and the shaded tones will not look right with the clear blue and yellow. The only way to use these two fabrics in the same quilt successfully is to make a very scrappy quilt which contains true and muted colors. If you look very carefully, you might find both fabrics in the Nine Patch border of my “Crabapples” quilt. (Read more about this project, designed by Bonnie Hunter, here.)


So, technically, I have fulfilled the challenge requirements, but I want to make a table topper size quilt with the 1800’s reproduction fabric as well. Wish me studio time and ingenuity!

A Reply to the Comments for “Tumalo Trail” Sashing

29 12 2015

Thanks so much for your thoughtful comments on sashing possibilities for “Tumalo Trail” (posted yesterday). Your suggestions gave me a lot to think about! I planned a light sashing because Bonnie Hunter’s original “Tumalo Trail” was sashed with off-white fabric. But your comments have encouraged me not to limit the possibilities.

I hesitate to set the blocks together without sashing because of all the seams of the Nine Patches I’d have to match. I hesitate to use really colorful or dark sashing because the viewer’s eye would focus on the sashing rather than the various colors of the scrappy Nine Patches. Hmmmm! I will definitely have to think about this  some more. . . and probably go shopping for the perfect fabric to sash and border the quilt.

After I make all the blocks, I’ll show layouts of them on the blog. We’ll audition various setting options, and I’ll solicit your comments and opinions again. Stay tuned!

“Tumalo Trail” Progress Report

28 12 2015

IMG_3717“Tumalo Trail” is the scrap quilt project I’m working on this winter. You can read about the beginning of this project here. This quilt, designed by Bonnie Hunter, works well as a Leader/Ender project. But I am not strictly sewing the pieces together only when I need Leaders/Enders. Sometimes I just want to sit a few minutes and sew something simple. The Half Square Triangles and scrappy Nine Patches are perfect for filling spare minutes in my sewing room.

I am happy to report that I’ve made 8 blocks so far. Since I plan a 16 block quilt, I’m half finished! Hitting the halfway mark motivates me to begin thinking about sashing fabric. The picture below shows off-white sashing. What do you think? The strips are the same shade as the light tone-on-tone used in the Half Square Triangles.


Or, what about a light gray for sashing? I auditioned several light grays from my stash, and the one pictured below is my favorite. I think using gray adds a subtle shading that adds sophistication to this very scrappy quilt.


What is your vote for sashing? Off-white or light gray? And what color cornerstones would you suggest?

Marie’s Mug Mats

9 12 2015

Do you need last minute, fun-to-make, inexpensive quilted gifts? After reading my Mug Rug post on November 25, Marie decided to make some for the ladies in her neighborhood who gather for dinner each month.

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She found a cute paper-pieced tree pattern, “Tannenbaum Mug Rug,” on Bonnie Hunter’s website (quiltville.blogspot.com) under the Free Patterns! tab. Marie’s explanation:  I used all my scrap greens and white/off-whites for the trees and background, and I used bits and pieces of Christmas fabrics for the borders, backs and bindings. I used odd scraps of batting, some of which were pieced. Each mug mat took about two hours to make. I think they turned out nicely and my guests will be surprised to take one home with them.

Thanks for sharing a picture and the source for a great idea with us, Marie. (Bonnie would be proud of you!)

“Tumblers” Quilt Finished!

4 11 2015

Tumblers quiltI am so excited . . . my “Tumblers” quilt is finished! Two quilting friends motivated me to make this quilt. First, Bonnie Hunter, who sponsored a Quilt A-Long at her blog quiltville.blogspot.com. Click on the picture of a vintage “Tumblers” quilt on the right-hand sidebar. This links you to her explanatory blog post; it’s not too late to join the fun. My second motivator was Karlene who, along with her grandson, cut out all my “Tumblers” shapes with her AccuQuilt GO! fabric cutter. Karlene also graciously shared her fabrics with me. Thanks, ladies!

Before loading my quilt on the longarm machine, I did not trim the jagged edges. I trimmed them after quilting as I squared up the quilt in preparation for binding.

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I deliberated about the quilting design. Since the quilt is quite busy with very blendy colors for the most part, a complicated design would not be noticed, so I decided to meander in gold thread. I raided my stash for the binding, selecting three fat quarters of a gold print that I purchased for $1 each years ago at a quilt show.

Pressing Hint: If you make “Tumblers,” alternating light and dark fabrics in each row as I did, press the seam allowances toward the dark “Tumblers.” When joining the rows, the seams will nest quite nicely. I pinned at each seam allowance intersection which is a bit time consuming, but the results are worth the tedium.