“Steppin’ Up” in Pink

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Marlene, who collects and distributes baby quilts to the NICU on behalf of my guild, says her stockpile is dangerously low. Each month 20-30 quilts are needed to comfort newborns with medical issues. I volunteered to teach a speedy baby quilt design in March at a guild workshop. The completion of 15-20 workshop quilts should boost the pile Marlene keeps in reserve.

In the meantime, I made “Steppin’ Up” in pink prints. The half yard of ‘Goldilocks and the Three Bears’ fabric I found in my stash made the perfect border.

You can find a link to the instructions for “Steppin’ Up” on the Patterns page of this blog. Although the pattern calls for 10 strips, I just used 9 strips each cut 4″ x 40.” The addition of a 4″ border yields the perfect size for a baby quilt. I quilted a freehand, all over design of hearts and loops in light pink thread.

The pleasing outcome of this quick project has me wondering what other fabric combinations from my stash would look great in this design. I am sure I have 9 blues, and/or 9 greens, and/or 9 reds that would work, with a fun border print, as a baby quilt. What color(s) would you use from you stash for “Steppin’ Up?”

“Dear Jane” Convenience Quilt

Lest you think I have make an intricate “Dear Jane” quilt from Civil War reproduction fabrics, let me hastily disabuse you of that notion! (Click here to read about the original “Dear Jane” quilt, and do an internet or Pinterest search for “Dear Jane quilts” to see images of hundreds of quilts made by quilters more ambitious and patient than I.) No, this is a “cheater quilt” aka a “convenience quilt.”

The center of this quilt is a panel, a photographic image of part of the original “Dear Jane” quilt. I purchased it about 10 years ago knowing that my mother-in-law liked to hand quilt panel designs. I added borders and gave it to her to finish, but evidently other quilting projects pushed it to the rear of her fabric cupboard. Recently, because of failing health, my MIL has gifted me with much of her fabric stash, and this quilt top was among the treasures.

Since I am in the mood to finish up projects that are just hanging around, cluttering my sewing space, “Dear Jane” was high on the “just git ‘er done” list. A 3 yard piece of rust colored poly-cotton, also from my MIL’s stash, served as a backing. I meandered with a brown/gold thread which blends nicely with all the fabrics. Leftover backing became the binding which was sewn entirely by machine. This quilt is destined for an assisted living facility where it is sure to warm the body and heart of an elderly resident.

What is high on your “just git ‘er done” quilting list?

“Dot Crazy” Baby Quilt Finished!

Last spring, I made “Around the Corner” from yardage, a charm square pack,  and a jelly roll of “Dot Crazy” by Benartex. Click here to read my blog post about this quilt.

After the quilt was complete, as is usually the case, I had bits and pieces and some strips left over of this very fun fabric. I decided to use them in making a baby quilt.

The close-up photo shows both the meandering loop and double loop quilting design as well the elements of one 12″ block. To compose the block, I cut 2 1/2″ squares and 2 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ rectangles. It was my goal to balance cool and warm colors within each block. A white 2 1/2″ frame around each block makes them “float” against the background.

I considered reserving the leftover “Dot Crazy” yellow strips as binding, but opted for adding them to the squares in the pieced border instead. I believe this border treatment adds interest in its simplicity.

This happy quilt will be perfect for tummy time for a baby girl, the newest addition to our church family.

Charmville, Biggie Sized

For the past three weeks I have been working diligently on a large queen size quilt that will be published in Fons and Porter’s Love of Quilting magazine this winter. Unfortunately, I can’t show you the project that has captivated my time and attention. Let’s just say it’s a beauty and you are going to love it!

Knowing that I would soon be finished with this large quilt, I began the week by planning my next project. Here is how the week went down:

Monday – I chose a project, a UFO that I began months ago in preparation for my workshop with Quilt Posse in Trenton, Kentucky. It’s time to finish this UFO and pass it along to a baby or toddler. The squares in the houses are 2″ finished and the Flying Geese roofs finish at 4 1/2″ x 9.” Click here for more construction information for this variation of “Charmville.”

Tuesday – I selected some green texture strips for grass beneath the houses, and rounded up the same cloud print for sky above the rooftops. I packed the blocks and fabric in a project box in preparation for Sew ‘N’ Sews, the Wednesday morning craft group that meets at my church.

Wednesday – At the craft group, I sewed the rows of houses and trees together, adding some spacer strips. And I added the green grass and cloudy sky strips.

Thursday – I auditioned possible border fabrics and attached 4 1/4″ border strips of my favorite.


Friday – I pieced batting (leftover from the large quilt mentioned above), pieced the backing, and loaded all three layers in the quilting machine. I quilted one row before the guys announced they were in “lunch mode.”


After lunch and grocery shopping, I finished quilting E’s and 3’s all over with light blue thread. I managed to trim away the excess batting and backing before the guys announced they were in “dinner mode.”

After dinner, I bound the quilt with a blue swirl fabric and photographed my finish in the waning evening light.

Many times, I don’t work on a project because I know I don’t have time to finish it in one sitting. Lesson learned this week: work on the project, bit by bit, step by step, day by day . . . and eventually it will be finished.

You can find me on Saturday in my sewing room selecting a project to work on in the coming week!

Friendly Monsters Baby Quilt

When daughter Trinity and I plan a meet-up, we pack several projects in progress and fabric for several more. This was the case for our mutual visit with my mother-in-law in March. Trinity and I completed the top of the raffle quilt for Pennsylvania Outdoor Veterans. (Click here to see the quilt.) And then she cut and I sewed a very fun monster quilt for a baby boy.

The pattern is “Disappearing Nine Patch.” You might be shaking your head in disbelief because many “Disappearing Nine Patch” quilts contain white or other light background fabric. However, for this quilt, Trinity chose all color-intense fabrics. Isn’t the result marvelous? My eyes keep moving around the quilt, first focusing on the brown print, then on the orange dots, then on the light blue print, etc. all over again.

I used orange thread to quilt a “dwirling” design overall. Leftover striped backing fabric became the binding. We donated this quilt to the NICU at Cape Fear Valley Hospital in Fayetteville, NC via the Tarheel Quilters Guild charity quilt committee.

“Scrap Vortex” Published!

Raise your hand if your scrap bin of strips and strings is overflowing. “Scrap Vortex” was designed with you in mind! You will find instructions for this quilt in the June/July 2019 issue of McCall’s Quick Quilts.

As you can see from the picture, there are three borders of strips and strings, 3 1/2,” 4 1/2,” and 6 1/2″ in width. I pieced these on a paper foundation, using pages of an outdated phone book cut to the desired widths. When piecing on a paper foundation, I shorten my machine’s stitch length and use an #80 or #90 needle. Using a sew and flip technique and pressing after each addition, I fill the paper with strips of various widths, colors and prints. I cut the strips to the exact length after the paper is filled; I use the width of the paper as my guide for trimming off the minimal excess. Then I remove the paper foundation. Of course, phone book pages are not as long as the borders of this quilt, so I joined several pieced strips together to achieve the length needed for each border.

Tip: I organize my scrappy strips and strings by color and store them in a large, flat, plastic container that will fit under a bed. I save strips that are more than 1″ wide.

I quilted an edge to edge, freehand spiral design in gray polyester thread. I feel the curves of the quilting reinforce the contemporary vibe of the quilt as well as soften all the straight lines. The viewer’s eye swirls from the outer, darker borders of the quilt to the innermost light border, vortex fashion.

“Scrap Vortex” is perfect for summer decorating, taking to a picnic or ball game, or giving to a graduate or new home owner.

If your newsstand is sold out of McCall’s Quick Quilts, click here to link to The Quilting Company’s online shop to order a copy.

Finished Baby Quilt

Friday afternoon found me with several hours of free time. For me, free time means “time in my sewing studio.” Looking around the room, I saw more than five unfinished projects begging for attention. “I just want to finish something!” was my silent scream. Do you ever feel that way? Too many unfinished projects is stifling, debilitating. Finishing a project will help me believe I am moving in a positive direction.

What to pick? One of four quilt tops that simply needs quilting? A kid’s quilt of nine houses with trees? A four block patchwork project made from leftover 2 1/2″ strips? A sunflower table runner? See what I mean – it’s hard to focus when there are too many unfinished projects!

Then I spied the four blocks I sewed as demo blocks during the Fat Quarter Fun workshop last week with the Lee’s Summit Quilt Guild. They only need sashing and a border, the perfect project for a rainy afternoon.

I quilted and bound the quilt on Saturday. And now I’m motivated to pick another UFO and get ‘er done!

Are you working on an unfinished project . . . or three?

Fun Times in Missouri

This past week I have been a guest of my long time quilting friend Pam D. On Monday I presented my “Cutting Up” lecture to her guild in Lee’s Summit, MO. And on Tuesday seven guild members made blocks in my workshop, “Fun with Fat Quarters.”

Would you like to see pictures?

Heather’s blocks from 1930’s repro prints will make a special welcome quilt for a new baby.


Pam’s lovely lavender fabrics will herald spring as a table topper.

Edwina plans to make several more blocks for a Quilt of Valor.

Great fun was had by all participants as they learned an efficient way to cut and sew fat quarters!

On Wednesday Pam drove her daughter and me to Hamilton, MO, home of Missouri Star Quilt Company. We did not see Jenny Doan, of you tube tutorial fame, but we did shop in about eight fabric venues housed in refurbished store fronts.

Of course I purchased some yardage and several packaged pre-cuts as souvenirs!

Charming Baby Girl Quilt

Raise your hand if you have a partial package of 5″ charm squares. Totally coordinated, but difficult to match with stash fabric, and certainly not enough to make a small quilt. This was my dilemma. I had “For You” charms left over from another project. (Click here to see portions of that quilt top.)

Blogger Katy came to my rescue when she posted pictures of a baby quilt she made for a Habitat for Humanity auction. Click here to see her quilt. The discerning among you will point out that my design is not exactly like Katy’s, but her quilt was my inspiration.

By adding white 5″ x 9 1/2″ rectangles and 5″ squares, I was able to stretch my partial charm pack into a fun quilt for a baby girl. In my stash I found a perky bird print in just the right colors to back the quilt. I added interest to all the “negative space” (white areas) by quilting a “Modern Squares” pantograph in light pink thread. A whimsical bright pink fabric for binding finishes the quilt perfectly.

What ideas do you have for using partial packages of pre-cuts? Please share your tips in a comment below.

String Pieced HST Options

During the past month, I have been string piecing black and gray strip sets with a view toward cutting triangles from the strip sets and combining them with red triangles for a charity quilt.

After sewing the red print triangles to the string pieced triangles and pressing toward the red print, I squared all of them up to 6 1/2.” And then the fun of arranging them began!

My initial plan was to orient all the red print triangles in the same direction.

But my friend, Colleen, suggested several innovative ideas. I could make nine large blocks with 4 HSTs each. Sashing between the blocks as well as an outer border would help the viewer’s eye to focus on the Square in a Square pattern.

On the other hand, giant zigzags are a novel idea!

Which is your favorite? Or perhaps you have another option for arranging these string pieced HSTs . . .