“Chinese Coins”

For the past couple of weeks I have been sewing samples for my upcoming class on String Piecing Tips and Techniques at Sew There! Quilts and More in Angier, NC. I used a bundle of selvage end scraps from Pineapple Fabrics to make a sweet quilt for a little girl.

Hindsight is always better than foresight. After finishing the quilt top, I wished I had used a lighter pink for the sashing and borders, in keeping with the pastel nature of the prints. I am such a dyed in the wool high contrast quilter, always gravitating toward the darker hue. It is difficult for me to make a blendy quilt with all medium values.

To compensate for my darker-than-desired fabric choice, I used light pink thread so the quilting design would show up better. I like the way the dragonflies flit between the flowers. (The pantograph is “Dragonflies and Flowers” by Dave Hudson.)

Another “Chinese Coins” design class sample is a simple, colorful table runner. These strips are also selvage ends from Pineapple Fabrics.

To add some color in the border and texture overall, I chose a polyester Magnifico variegated thread and quilted freehand spirals. The circular spirals add movement and interest to the plain and straight patchwork.

Are you presently working on a string pieced quilt?

“Bricks” Quilt for Maggie

Grandma Denise made a “Bricks” quilt top for baby Maggie, and my friend, Maggie’s mother, asked me to quilt it. Neither the fabrics nor the size are particularly baby-ish, but appreciation for this quilt will grow with Maggie. She will enjoy using it for years to come.

The bricks measure 2 3/4″ x 5 3/4″ finished, and the fabrics are a mixture of scrap bag findings and newly purchased prints. I am sure Denise added the stag prints as a nod to her son, an avid outdoors-man. Since the backing is a sage green and ecru leaf print, I chose sage green thread and quilted heart-shaped leaves and loops all over.

Notice that the rows of rectangles are staggered like brickwork; every other row begins and ends with a half brick. However, Denise sewed full bricks in rows, leaving half brick flaps on the sides of the quilt. After trimming away the half bricks, I cut them all to 2 3/4″ square and added some squares from my stash to make a dolly quilt for Maggie. I used leftover backing print for borders and backing. With sage green thread I quilted an X through each square and meandered in the border. There remained just enough tan binding from the large quilt to finish the doll quilt.

When I first looked at this “Bricks” quilt, I thought of it as a very scrappy utility quilt, colorful but certainly not beautiful. On further consideration, I see it as an heirloom from Grandma Denise to her precious granddaughter. Made with love and the thriftily saved scraps from other projects, it is not a quilt for the cedar chest, brought out for special occasions. Rather, it is a quilt to be used every day, reminding Maggie that Grandma Denise loves her dearly. What better beautiful legacy could there be?

Do you own a scrappy quilt that you consider an heirloom?

Hearts for Baby

My nephew and his wife are expecting a baby girl next month, and I want to make a bright quilt for the wee one. At a quilter’s estate sale, I purchased a package of fifteen “Hello Jane” fat eighths (9″ x 21″ each). The line was designed by Allison Harris who blogs at Cluck Cluck Sew. I purchased Riley Blake polka dot prints as block backgrounds from the Fat Quarter Shop.

Hand appliqueing the hearts was a great movie-watching and relaxing-by-the-lake project. I cut the polka dot background rectangles at 6 1/2″ x 7,” but honestly, I should have cut them 6 1/2″ square. The smaller measurement would have given me some wiggle room when cutting the block frame strips and corner squares since some of the fabrics were not quite 9″ wide.

For each pair of blocks, I chose two coordinating fabrics that differ in color and texture, for example “floral print” and “red tone-on-tone.” The floral print was used for the heart and corner squares for the block framed in red, and vice versa. I cut the framing strips and corner squares 2″ wide.

To date, I’ve made the sixteen blocks. The next step is sashing and bordering them with light polka dot fabric.

Which fabric shall I use for cornerstones? (I do have an unused navy print; would that be too dark?) If you have an opinion, please leave it in the comments below.

“Giant Star” Published!

Exciting news . . . the Quilting Daily company has produced a brand new magazine, Fons and Porter’s Quick + Easy Quilts, and my “Giant Star” quilt was selected for publication in the inaugural issue! The magazine editors have included quiltmaker’s stories related to the quilts as well as several yummy recipes.

This is a fat quarter friendly quilt; you need just four fat quarters and 3/4 yd. of background fabric to make the quilt top. Leftovers from making triangle-squares are used for the border. At 37″ square, the quilt is perfect for a wall quilt or a baby quilt.

“Cosmo” from Northcott Fabrics is the line my editor requested for the teal and gray quilt. I quilted Es and 3s freehand overall with gray thread.

I enjoyed making this quick and easy quilt so much that I made a second quilt and persuaded my editor to print a picture as an alternate colorway – “Branded” by Sweetwater for Moda. I ordered a tan fabric for the background and plaid fabric for binding, but my daughter, Trinity, suggested that I use plaid as the background instead of the tan. I love the effect! Trinity quilted Whole Lotta Stars edge to edge (designed by Patricia E. Ritter, distributed by Urban Elementz) with navy thread on this quilt.

Look for this magazine at your favorite newsstand, or click here to link to the Quilting Daily store’s selection of magazines. A digital edition is available for sale.

Pop Quiz!

Yes, this blog post is a Pop Quiz for you. What, in your opinion, makes this quilt successful?

My friend, Gigi, sent this lap quilt to me for longarm quilting. We collaborated on a thread color and quilting design, choosing burgundy thread and “Abigail” designed by Sarah Ann Myers and distributed by Urban Elementz.

I like this quilt and bet you do, too. Let’s analyze what is appealing. Think about good design elements. Think about what pleases you in the quilts you see or make. And make a comment below – what makes this quilt successful?

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.


Sports Baby Quilt Finished

What to do with the 2 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ rectangles I’ve been hoarding . . . choose the bright or juvenile prints and tone-on-tones and make a baby quilt!

Last year I won sport related fat quarters at my guild meeting. Two were of the same football print, so I pieced them together for the border. There are 16 blocks which use 4 “bricks” each, and I used 1/2 yard of tan “grunge” as light background. I pieced the blocks together as leaders and enders between making face masks. Each block uses 4 colorful rectangles and 2 2 1/2″ x 8 1/2″ strips of “grunge” sewn to both sides of the pieced bricks.

Finding appropriate backing fabric in my stash was a challenge. Nothing seemed the right size or color. After rummaging extensively, I came up with pieces of a green print leftover from backing another quilt; it is similar in hue to the green football print. I pieced more bricks together to expand the quilt’s width and added some scrap red strips to lengthen it.

For quilting, I chose the “Sports” pantograph designed by Dave Hudson (patternman.com). It features basketballs, baseballs, and footballs. Yellow binding makes a cheerful finish. Won’t some little guy love this quilt?

“Magical Squares” Published!

My quilt, “Magical Squares,” is the cover quilt for the May/June 2020 issue of Quiltmaker magazine.  I am sew excited! You are going to love the quilts in this issue; from cover to cover, the colorful quilts are a delight to see and to contemplate making. To encourage your purchase of this issue with the “Hip to be Square” theme, I’ll show you two pictures taken while making this charm square friendly toddler-sized quilt.

You have got to admit, it is so easy to assemble a quilt of charm squares and sashing with cornerstones. What could be simpler?

After assembling the quilt top, the magazine diagrams how to cut it apart, move pieces, sew together, cut it apart, move pieces, and sew together again. And the result (plus two borders) is . . .

This truly is a magical technique, and I hope you’ll try it! Admittedly, is it a bit unnerving to cut apart a perfectly fine quilt top, but the results are so worth it. And you don’t have to fiddle with setting triangles or assembling the quilt in diagonal rows. Some of you have made my “Prest-O, Change-O!” quilt; the technique is the same, but the addition of sashing and cornerstones jazzes up the presentation.

I have one copy of the Quiltmaker magazine to give away to a blog reader. To be entered in the drawing, leave a comment below stating the name of the charm square package you’d use for this quilt. (I bet you have a spare charm pack lying around in your sewing area!) The drawing will be April 16.

Cowboy Quilts for Twins

The NICU of our local hospital is not currently receiving donated baby quilts due to the COVID-19 epidemic. In fact, hospital staff is not encouraging people to visit patients at all. But when they open their doors again, these two quilts will be in the bundle delivered to the tiny babies who need extra medical attention.

In mid-March, I taught a “Giant Churn Dash” baby quilt workshop to members of my guild, the Tarheel Quilters. My friend Karlene gave me the FQ stack of cowboy themed fabric (an older Riley Blake line). I made one quilt in the workshop, sewing along with my students, and I made the other a week or so later. It is a quick and easy pattern; you will find a link to the instructions on the Patterns page of this blog. You guessed it – the quilt design utilizes 2 1/2″ strips, and I bet you have some in your stash just begging to be used.

Generally I match the quilting thread to the color of the background fabric, tan in this case. But this time I chose a high contrasting dark brown so the quilting design would show up well. Can you see the cowboy boots and hats? (The pantograph, “Stetsons and Boots” was designed by Dave Hudson of patternman.com.)

Have you made a baby quilt lately? What pattern/design did you use?

“Irish Chain” Finished!

Here we are on Friday the 27th, heralding the final weekend of March. Will you have some time to sew/quilt? Will you be working on your “Churn Dash” blocks for the “Sisters” BOM QAL? (If you are new to the blog, click on the “SISTERS BOM QAL” tab to see the first three blocks in our 2020 quilt along. All the participants attest that the blocks are not too difficult, so you can easily catch up and quilt along with us.)

I’m happy to report that my UFO, “Irish Chain,” is finished. Since I intend to gift it to a senior at the VA Hospital or a local nursing home, I thought about quilting a meandering motif all over. This would be a simple and quick design. But then I took a closer look at the floral and vine print in the “Nine Patches” and thought of free- handing heart-shaped leaves and loops. I really do enjoy quilting this design; I can quilt it at an even speed and don’t even engage the stitch regulator feature for my longarm! I used a medium dark gray thread which blends nicely in the darker fabrics and adds a bit of texture to the light gray background squares.

I bound the quilt with the same red print as the setting triangles (an older VIP Cranston print transferred from my mother-in-law’s stash to mine; thanks, Cynthia!). Tip:  If you apply both steps of binding by machine as I did on this quilt, make sure the bobbin thread matches the color of the border on the front of the quilt. For example, my border triangles are dark red, so I used dark red thread in the bobbin as I applied the binding first to the back of the quilt. By doing this, the machine stitches of Step #1 won’t show glaringly if I fail to completely cover them when I fold over the binding to the front of the quilt for Step #2 stitching.

While sewing this quilt, I found myself humming and singing a favorite hymn, “O God, Our Help in Ages Past.” We surely can rely on His help during this COVID-19 pandemic. How comforting to know He has the whole world in His hands! Click here to listen to this hymn via You Tube.