“Pick Up Sticks” Small Quilts

At a quilt retreat in September, Colleen demonstrated the “insert” style of improv piecing. We each made several blocks using 1″ strips and light green background squares. The plan was to make small quilts to put into Operation Christmas Child “shoeboxes.”

Since the retreat, Colleen has trimmed the blocks to a uniform size and sewn them into three quilt tops. She passed them to me for machine quilting and binding. If you zoom in, you can see the quilting designs I chose: loops and meandering, “Paper Dolls” pantograph, and freehand contour echoing.

Each quilt measures about 36″ square, and we hope to roll each tightly, fitting it into an OCC box along with a small doll, dolly blanket (from more “Pick Up Sticks” blocks), hygiene items, and other small toys. It is our prayer that these group-made quilts bless children in need of comfort, joy, and the gospel of Christ.

“Roman Stripe”

“Come sit a spell, and if you are chilly, cover your lap with this quilt!”

I made the patchwork for this quilt several years ago. Since then it sat in my UFO pile while I debated about whether or not to make it larger and add patchwork star borders. Each 3” block is composed of three 1 1/2” x 3 1/2” strips, two matching lights and a dark blue or red. This is a value reversal of many Roman Stripe quilts; most of the time a lighter strip is flanked by two darker strips. The blocks are arranged in a 10 x 10 grid. I like the over-under woven look.

By adding a 2” wide inner border of light print and a 4” border of navy solid, the quilt is a perfect size for a vet at our local VA hospital. I freehand quilted stars and loops over all with royal blue thread. A red print binding echos the red patchwork strips nicely.

What project in your UFO pile do you want to finish this month? Leave a comment below; I will be your cheerleader. It feels great to transform a top into a useful quilt that will bless the recipient!

Retirement Signature Quilt

Our pastor’s wife recently retired from thirty-four years of teaching mathematics, and the ladies in the church quilting group put their heads and fabrics together to make a signature quilt for her. After learning that blues are her favorite color to decorate with, we pooled 2 1/2″ wide strips of blue prints and tone-on-tones from our stashes. We decided on a simple framed square design, and cut 4 1/2″ squares of very pale gray fabric for the centers of the blocks.

During one of our sew days, we sewed about 70 blocks and pressed the wax side of a 4″ piece of freezer paper on the wrong side of the gray squares. The freezer paper stabilizes the fabric as well-wishers sign the blocks. Several of Vanessa’s friends planned a surprise retirement party, and the blocks along with gel roller fabric pens were displayed there on a table for guests to sign.

After the party, the blocks were collected and brought on our quilt group retreat. I removed the freezer paper and trimmed them all to 8 1/4″ square; we arranged and rearranged them on a design wall until the shades and textures pleased us. Sewn together in an 8 x 8 grid, the size is perfect for snuggling on the sofa.

At the Raleigh Sewing and Quilting Expo I found the perfect backing fabric of physics formulas, from the “Science Fair” line by Robert Kaufman. I expanded the backing by including several bands of signature blocks.

Keeping with the math theme, I quilted the “One, Two, Three” pantograph by Dave Hudson with pale gray thread. We know Vanessa is going to love this quilt signed by her friends and colleagues.

In the Quilting Room

“It’s not a quilt until it’s quilted!” So I’ve been working diligently to quilt and bind the tops I sewed while on a recent quilting retreat. First up is a table runner for a young couple’s wedding gift. Typical of many brides today, she plans to decorate with gray as the predominant color. I begged her mom for an accent color that I could throw into the mix, and blue was the answer.

I like the juxtaposition of elaborate quilting and the simple patchwork in shades of gray. The color (or non-color) allows the quilting to shine. The quilting design is “Calliope” by Patricia E. Ritter. My quilting consultants advised that the blue binding would add a needed accent. I am pleased with the outcome, but if I make this style of table runner again, I will add a blue diamond in the center square of the “Churn Dash” blocks for more color contrast.

I’ve also completed four baby quilts. Two owl quilts will be perfect for twins spending time in the NICU. The babies will receive quilts of the same owl fabric theme yet different patchwork designs. Owls plus orange plus blue are a gender neutral fabric/color scheme, making these quilts versatile for either boys or girls. Since the fabrics contain large circles, I freehand quilted loops and double loops over all. I used tan thread on the first quilt and orange thread on the second quilt. (I am really liking the jazzy orange thread that blends with the border yet shows up jauntily on the white background!)

Two sailboat quilts were next in the queue. With all the string-pieced blue fabrics, I imagine these quilts finding homes with baby boys. My inspiration for the underlying quilt was “Blueberry Crumble” designed by Megan of the Tiny Orchard Quilts website and You Tube channel. (BTW, I highly recommend Megan’s You Tube channel!) Using the theme fabric as a guide, I used medium blue thread to quilt “Sea Worthy,” a sailboat and anchor pantograph on both quilts.

There are several more retreat project flimsy finishes that need my attention, so I am off to my quilting room!

“Giant Bloomer” Published!

Have you seen the October/November 2021 issue of Fons & Porter’s Quick + Easy Quilts? It is crammed full of fun projects perfect for fall sewing. I love the bright and cheerful cover quilt, don’t you? “Sunshine in the Cabins” is layer cake friendly and made by Tracy Mooney, editor of the magazine. (A layer cake is forty-two 10″ squares from a particular fabric line.)

Flip to page 40 and you’ll see the style shot of my “Giant Bloomer” design, also layer cake friendly. If you remember, my “Bloomer” design made with a charm pack of 5″ squares was published in the Feb./Mar. 2021 issue of Quick + Easy Quilts. After completing it, I wondered if the comparative measurements and sewing methods would translate to 10″ squares. “Giant Bloomer” is the affirmative result. For this quilt I purchased a layer cake of “French Bees” designed by Renee Nanneman for Andover fabrics.

I also made a winter holiday “Giant Bloomer” with “Joyful” fabrics from Maywood Studio.

Maywood Studio generously sent me more fabric than I needed, so I have “Joyful” prints to send to a blog reader. If you would like to be entered in the drawing, leave a comment below. You must promise to make “Giant Bloomer” or other layer cake friendly quilt with the fabric and send me a picture of your project. The drawing will be on October 1.

Anita’s Pinwheels

My blog post of April 29 showed rows of “Pinwheel” blocks handstitched by Anita when she was a girl under the tutelage of her grandmother.

I trimmed all the blocks to 9″ square and sashed them with a white tone-on-tone fabric. For corner stones, I chose a navy floral print from my inherited stash of vintage fabrics. The colors of the flowers blend fairly well with the colors in the “Pinwheels,” yet the overall appearance of the print is more subdued than the pieced blocks, allowing them to shine.

I quilted an all-over freehand spiral design with very pale silver gray thread. Then it was back to searching inherited stash for a poly/cotton navy fabric for the binding. I felt a solid navy would coordinate well with the corner stones, and I didn’t feel guilty using poly/cotton since many of the “Pinwheels” were made with cotton and polyester blends.

I am pleased with the outcome of this quilt, and I know Anita will be, too. We transformed a stack of vintage blocks languishing in her cedar chest into a usable quilt. She plans to fold it and display it at the end of her bed to remind her of good times stitching with her grandmother.

Patriotic “Adventure Time”

Six quilting friends and I got together for a reunion/retreat last week. Making a quilt for a veteran was one of the planned activities. We based our design idea on Trinity Sander’s “Adventure Time” quilt published in the May/June 2021 issue of Quiltmaker magazine.

Since the design calls for five 12″ squares, five of us brought red, white, and blue patchwork squares to the retreat. We also furnished Nine Patches as well as fabric pieces for the small squares and rectangles in the quilt. We expanded the quilt’s size by adding two narrow rows, a pieced border, and a navy tone-on-tone border.

After placing all the pieces on the design wall, I cut navy strips for sashing. Three of the quilters were on hand to construct the three columns of patchwork. I pinned sashing and pressed after each square or rectangle was added, keeping all three sew-ers busy.

We all had so much fun experimenting with this design and working on this group project, and we were amazed by how quickly the quilt came together. I chose Becker’s Shooting Star for the edge to edge quilting design, and I used gold thread which shows nicely in the navy border yet blends well with the interior patchwork.

Alicia took the quilt home, planning to bind it in red and to honor a veteran or veteran’s family with our quilt gift.

Kay’s Marvelous Ocean Quilt

Do you remember seeing the “Marvel-ous” baby quilt on my March 29, 2021 blog post? It was made with Marvel super heroes fabrics, Four Patches alternating with large scale print squares. My friend Kay modified the design to make a thank-you gift for friends who hosted her and her husband on a recent trip to Florida.

To complement the décor of her hostess, Kay purchased a package of batik 2 1/2″ strips in teals and neutrals. From this pre-cut fabric, she strip-pieced Nine Patches. She cut alternate 6 1/2″ squares from a teal print that graphically resembles ocean waves. The white-on-white border separates the interior patchwork from the outer border. Kay happily reported that she pieced the lap quilt top in an afternoon.

We deliberated on an edge to edge quilting design and color of thread. “Dune” designed by Natalie Gorman and distributed by Urban Elementz gives the sense of ocean waves swirling and curling until they reach the shore. Since I do not have a teal thread that matches the border fabric, we selected a silver gray with a slight polyester shine. The gray also looks very nice on the back of the quilt which is mostly white. Kay is binding the quilt with white fabric, adding a perfect echo of the inner border.

If you need a marvelously quick and fun project, Kay and I both recommend this quilt design. You can easily strip-piece Nine Patches as Kay did, or you can strip-piece Four Patches as I did. Add a complementary quilting design to transform a simple quilt into a treasure.

“Bloomer” Published

Have you seen the latest issue of Fons & Porter’s Quick + Easy Quilts? Nothing will chase away the winter doldrums and breathe spring into your sewing room like the February/March 2021 issue. And I am thrilled to say that my wall quilt, “Bloomer,” is included in the publication!

You’ll find the article on page 76. This project is made from a charm pack of 5″ squares plus background fabric and finishes at 24″ square. Maywood Studio graciously sent me the fabric for both quilts. “Sunlit Blooms” reminds me of a sunny meadow filled with blooming wildflowers, while “Moongate” prompts images of color in outer space. It is interesting to see the same patchwork design with both a light and a dark background. Color sways the mood of the quilts, doesn’t it?

The editors categorized “Bloomer” as a Weekend Warrior project because it is quick and easy, doable in a weekend. So pick your favorite pack of charm squares, open it, and begin sorting the fabrics. The goal is achieving color balance even if the prints are slightly different. Because of its size, “Bloomer” also doubles as a table topper. I’m displaying the “Moongate” piece on my coffee table this winter and will switch it out for “Sunlit Blooms” as spring approaches.

Spin-off Idea: I wonder what the project would look like “biggie sized.” Wouldn’t it be fun to use 10″ squares of a Layer Cake as a basis for a lap quilt?

Christmas “Cobblestones”

My Christmas “Cobblestones” quilt is complete! And I love it. It is so interesting to look at; the various holiday fabrics keep my eyes moving around the quilt.

The idea for this quilt stemmed from a YouTube video on easy scrap quilt blocks by Karen Brown (Just Get It Done Quilts). After showing a sample block or two to the BOM group I facilitate at Sew There! Quilts and More in Angier, NC, the ladies decided we should have a block exchange. The first exchange was blocks with a light center square and a dark frame. The second month, we exchanged blocks with a dark center square and a light frame. By making and exchanging an even number of darks and lights, we could alternate them in our quilts. Most of us made extra blocks with reds, greens, and Christmas or winter-themed prints so we could make lap quilts instead of a wall quilt or table runner.

I assembled my blocks in a 7 by 9 grid, alternating light and dark blocks. Tip: I turned every other block 90 degrees so I didn’t have to match seams.

My friend, Kathy, set 80 blocks in an 8 by 10 grid and did not add borders. Paula is adding a label to her quilt that lists all the participants’ names. Valerie will finish her project as a wall quilt to hang near her front door. In years to come, our quilts will help us recall the fun we had sewing together in 2020.

For backing, I chose a candy cane ticking inherited from my mother. I expanded the width with a green tone-on-tone, extra “Cobblestone” blocks, and red sashing.

Simple, curvy quilting with light tan thread draws the angular blocks together, and a black and white polka dot binding finishes the quilt nicely. I am pleased and amazed that such an easy patchwork design translates into such a cozy quilt! (You can read about the beginning of this project here.)

Thinking about making a “Cobblestone” quilt? If so, what color palette will you use?