“Painted Ladies” Finished!

In 2021, from January through August, I exchanged house blocks with three friends and my daughter, Trinity. The pattern is “Painted Ladies” produced by Eye Candy Quilts. (Be sure to click on the name of the pattern to see what the quilt is “supposed” to look like.) We purchased a bolt of light gray textured fabric to divide among ourselves so we would have a common background, and we agreed on a palette of relatively bright fabrics. Each of us chose a different color for all the doors of the houses we made. For example, all the doors of the houses I made are royal blue.

I decided to enlarge the quilt by adding two borders. By adding an inner border of the background fabric and an 6″ outer border of bright “Piano Keys,” my quilt will fit a double bed or will serve as a generous throw quilt. To make the “Piano Keys, I strip-pieced 3″ x 40″ bright strips and cross-cut them in 6 1/2” increments.

I considered using the strippy border at the four corners of the quilt as shown below, but I decided a purple square looked better planned and much nicer. The dark purple color recedes and does not draw attention to itself. Zoom in to see the stay-stitching on the border at the bottom of the quilt. Stay-stitching keeps the cross-cut “Piano Key” seams from popping open. Tip: Stay-stitching the outer edge of the border prior to adding it to the quilt is less cumbersome than stay-stitching after the pieced border has been sewn to the quilt.

I debated on a suitable quilting design and thread color. Since “Painted Ladies” is a contemporary design; I could quilt the “modern squares” pantograph design. Alternately, there is ample “sky” between the houses; I could quilt Es and 3s to simulate clouds. But in the end I chose “Tea Time” designed by Dave Hudson (patternman.com). Why “Tea Time”? How does the design relate to my house quilt?

I have enjoyed sipping tea in the homes of each of the ladies I exchanged “Painted Ladies” blocks with. I enjoyed Cranberry herb tea with Trinity while watching the sunrise on her front porch in Texas. And one Thanksgiving weekend while driving from northern Virginia to my home in North Carolina in the midst of a terrific rainstorm, I was calmed by tea and conversation with Lori in southern Virginia. My friend, Pam, is all about hospitality, tea and cookies, and her loveable/frolicsome dogs. And Judy and I have enjoyed several sewing getaways replete with tea, quiche, and stacks of inspiring quilting magazines. Besides, china tea pots and cups go hand in hand with the Victorian homes perched on a hill in San Francisco for which the pattern is named.

My husband, Ran, is the expert quilt holder!

It was so much fun to receive happy mail each month from my daughter and friends; the brightly colored houses we exchanged delighted us all from month to month. And now we have beautiful quilts to snuggle under.

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.


“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.

More on “Scrap Vortex”

Have you located a copy of McCall’s Quick Quilts that contains my “Scrap Vortex” design? The quilt was a ton of fun to make and put so many of my colorful scraps to very good use.

I have several additional pictures of the quilt designing process which reveal an unexpected discovery and illustrate tips for making string-pieced quilts.

After making the central patchwork block, I discovered that I really like the block. The black print squares not only make the colors of the narrow strips “pop,” they add playfulness to the design that a solid black fabric could not. I think an entire quilt of these blocks would be very striking.

Tip #1: It was immeasurably helpful to place the foundation pieced strips on the design wall as I made them. I aimed to balance colors all around the quilt.

Tip #2: You can see from the photo below that I didn’t foundation piece ALL the strip pieced units. Instead, I sewed several of my longer strips together, and, after pressing, I cross-cut them to the desired width. Most of the time, the strip sets were long enough for 4 units which meant I could place one of the cross-cut pieces on each of the four sides of the quilt.

Tip #3: After adding each strip-pieced border, I stay-stitched all around the quilt. Stitching 1/8″ away from the edges stabilized the seams, preventing them from popping open during handling as I added the succeeding borders. Turning the quilt wrong side up during the stay-stitching process ensured that all the seam allowances remained flat in the direction they were pressed.


So, tell me, if you made “Scrap Vortex,” who would you make it for? I’ll choose a winner among the blog commenters on May 27 and send her a copy of the magazine.

“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.

“Flying Geese” Special Exhibit

February 27 – March 2 saw the unveiling of the “Flying Geese” quilts made by The American Samplers at the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival in Hampton, Virginia.

Two years ago, Lynne and Dwanna organized an exchange of 2 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ Flying Geese blocks make with bright fabrics and Kona “Snow” for the background. The thirteen of us in the exchange each made 640 blocks, 4 of each fabric. (I contacted the Mancuso Quilt Festival special exhibit coordinator and explained our wish to display our quilts in 2019; we were accepted.) One year ago, we exchanged the blocks and began scouring Pinterest and quilt magazines for design ideas. We decided to keep our designs secret from one another. The secrecy made the unveiling this year at our retreat so much more exciting!

I drew inspiration from Linda Collins’ quilt made with Civil War reproduction fabrics, a picture of which I found on Pinterest. I separated my blocks into warm colors (red, orange, yellow) and cool colors (purple, blue, and green). In “Migration,” the warm colored geese are flying northwest to a cooler climate in the summertime, and the cool colored geese are flying southeast in the wintertime.

Ironically, Kathy was inspired by the same quilt. She made “Going Home” as a reference to her many journeys to Washington, her state of origin. Isn’t is interesting how different our quilts are although inspired by the same quilt design?

Pam made “Geese on the Farm,” inspired by the Canadian Geese that make migratory stops near her home in Maryland. In her write-up, Pam expressed thankfulness for her friends and family that flock together to help each other in the journey of life.

Lori made “Flying Geese Out the Ying Yang.” Granted, 640 is a lot of geese blocks to exchange! The black and white triangles reminded Lori of the Asian Yin and Yang symbol for balance. The quilt design reminds her to work at balancing all the changes and challenges in her life right now.

Alicia, the octogenarian in our group, loves birding and bird fabric. Zoom in to see the bird prints she fussy cut for the centers of each block, and note the goose square near the center. Alicia was inspired to make “Wild Geese and Water Birds” by a block designed by Bonnie K. Hunter for Quiltmaker magazine.

Patti arranged her geese in color families. “Flying Colors” is the perfect name for her quilt. Zoom in to see the awesome quilting designs executed by Lori.

Linda’s quilt, “Flying Geese, Fly Away,” is so much fun! Some viewers see houses, others see pencils. What does her design remind you of?

Trace the flight path of Dwanna’s geese with your finger. Isn’t her spiral ingenious? Dwanna calls her quilt “Friendly Flock.”

I am partial to Marie’s quilt, “Geese, Geese, and More Geese,” because I love the bright royal blue sashing.

Diane, bless her heart, used all 640 geese exchange blocks plus 6 more to make her color saturated quilt. It’s like a waterfall of color! “Birds of a Feather Flock Together.”

Do you have a favorite, or do you love them all? I was so proud of our group; our exhibit certainly provided a feast for the eyes of show attendees!