“Economy Block” on Steroids

This April/May 2021 issue of Fons and Porter’s Quick + Easy Quilts has been floating around my living room for two years and finally landed on my night stand for thumbing through, yet again, at bedtime. (Click here to purchase a digital copy of the magazine.)

Jen Schafer’s quilt, “Squared Again,” recently caught my attention (pp. 16-19). It’s an “Economy Block” within an “Economy Block,” within an “Economy Block” . . . like ripples in water. Indeed, lake ripples caused by one raindrop inspired Jen when making her quilt.

Since our BOM for May is “Economy Block,” I decided to make a baby quilt similar to Jen’s. I used fabrics on hand and downsized a bit to achieve the 36″ – 40″ size for a NICU quilt. Aren’t those colorful ladybugs the cutest?

For the quilting motif, I took a cue from the light print with squiggly blue, green, and purple lines. I used lime green thread which blends perfectly with the lime green ladybug print used on the front as well as the back. Meandering with loops suits this quilt to a T.

Annika’s “Nine Patch” Quilt

An “old” friend from Germany visited us over the Easter weekend, and she brought her family. The mom, Rebekka, is about the age of our sons; she, her sister, and parents were so welcoming when we lived in Gelnhausen more than twenty years ago. We kept in touch with occasional emails and Christmas cards. And now Rebekka is grown up with a family of her own, and they are spending this school spring break exploring the east coast.

Annika, Rebekka’s daughter, attends an “Upcycling” club once a week at her school in Germany. The teacher encourages the students to repurpose textiles, making something new out of something old. Annika showed me a small patchwork tote bag she made for her mom out of denim jeans. Prior to their arrival, Rebekka told her daughter about my quilting hobby, so she was primed to enjoy my sewing studio. When I asked if she would like to sew something during her visit, she responded with alacrity.

We opened a charm pack of “Sincerely Yours” designed by Sherri and Chelsi, and Annika chose nine squares for her quilt. She loved the heart and daisy prints. I asked if she would like to make a tote bag or a pillow, but she decided to make a wall quilt. We talked about 1/4″ seam allowance and the Star Wars technique of “pressing to the dark side.” She chose a lilac fabric from my stash for a border and backing. Rather than quilting in the ditch or echoing the seam lines with straight stitching, Annika chose a loopy decorative stitch and white thread. Zoom in to see the cuteness this adds to the quilt. The zigzag stripe fabric of the binding pulls together all the colors of the quilt center, and there’s a hand-stitched hanging sleeve on the back. This spring break souvenir project is ready to hang in Annika’s room when she returns home.

It is so rewarding to share my stash and skills with an enthusiastic learner!

And now . . . to figure out what to do with the rest of that charm pack of pink, coral, red, and low volume prints. Do you have a suggestion?

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

I’m wearing green, are you? And I’m sewing with green, too. A sweet, twenty-something, medium green print in my stash claimed my attention and suggested the perfect project – a Buffalo Plaid table topper in green. Referring to a previous blog post, I cut strips 3″ x 21″ of medium green print, white on white, and dark green curls. I strip-pieced and pressed all seams toward the medium green print in both strip-sets.

I cross-cut at 3″ intervals and sewed the top together, alternating the strip-set sub-cuts. Because all seams were pressed toward the medium green print, the seam allowances nested nicely.

After layering the patchwork with batting and backing, I quilted 3/8″ from all seam lines with light sage thread. The straight line grid quilting accentuates the plaid patchwork wonderfully. Bound in the dark green print, the quilt is ready for my table for St. Patrick’s Day and for the spring season.

Remember to check the Sew There! quilt shop Facebook page (Angier, NC) Saturday morning at 9 a.m. EST for the first clue of a mystery table runner that I designed especially to celebrate National Quilting Day 2023.

“Racing in the Fast Lane” Published!

Have you seen the April/May 2023 issue of Quick + Easy Quilts? It should be in your mailbox if you subscribe, or at your favorite purveyor of quilting magazines if you have not yet subscribed.

The editors selected several quilts with a NASCAR or auto racing theme for this issue. Don’t you love the cover quilt designed by Annette Falvo? I submitted an easy-to-construct design that lets the fabric do the talking. “Vroom!” from Michel Miller Fabrics features race cars, black and white checkered flags, guages, stoplights, and trophies.

Here’s the story I provided the editors: “As a toddler, my grandson loved miniature cars. He collected over 100 and would always pick the fastest when racing Grandma’s car arund and around the patio table. I will never forget the Christmas when Santa left “the ultimate garage” under the tree. He toddled into the family room early Christmas morning and found the longed-for toy beneath the lit branches of the tree and said in hushed tones, “the ultimate garage.” What fun he had on Christmas day and many days thereafter parking all the cars, raising them up and down on the elevator, and rolling them down the spiral ramp.”

A passing glance at the quilt leads you to believe the sashing creates the secondary design of yellow and black Nine Patches. But look again . . . each red and blue print square is framed with black strips and yellow corner squares. The sashing only provides the black square at the center of the Nine Patches. It follows then, that strip-piecing of the blocks and frames speeds the construction process of this quilt. If you are not a fan of cars and racing, you could use this pattern with other large scale prints or specialty fabrics. How about florals, or hobbies (sewing, cooking, reading), or animals (dogs, cats, jungle safari).

I hope you’ll check out the April/May 2023 issue of Fons and Porter’s Quick + Easy Quilts with the theme “Race to the Finish with 9 Speedy Quilts.” You’ll love the line-up of several easy designs, like Nine Patches, Crosses, Pinwheels, Flying Geese, and Jelly Roll rectangles, all perfect for “ready-set-go” on this February weekend! Here’s the link for purchasing a digital copy from Quilting Daily: https://www.quiltingdaily.com/product/quick-easy-quilts-april-may-2023-digital-edition/

“Be Mine” Table Runner

Chocolates in a heart-shaped box, fresh flowers, a Valentine card from your sweetheart . . . all that’s needed is a table runner with hearts to complete your February 14th celebration.

This project is quick and easy! To make the hearts, you can use a 2 1/2″ x 42″ strip of red, pink, or purple, or you can cut the pieces for one heart from a 5″ charm square. You could make hearts of different colors, or you could use a couple of fabrics of the same color in each heart. If you wish to display your runner on a shorter table, simply make four hearts. Additionally, you could make a wall quilt by arranging three hearts vertically or horizontally.

These heart blocks, set on-point with triangles, measure 6 1/2″ unfinished, so you could use them in the “Rows Parade” Block of the Month instead of appliqued hearts.

My runner is quilted freehand with a hearts and loops design. I used pale pink thread, and I am particularly pleased with the look of the plaid binding cut on the bias.

You will find instrustions for the “Be Mine” table runner on the Patterns page of this blog. Just click “Patterns” in the menu.

Wishing you a lovely Valentine’s Day! — Aby

Four Crown Royal Quilts

I have been working on completing four quilts for my friend, Kim, this week. Here’s the story behind the quilts. Knowing her father’s eightieth birthday was approaching, Kim wanted to create a special quilt that embodied a wonderful memory for him. During his working years, Kim’s father supervised construction crews. Each Christmas he gave each man a bottle of spirits which “was the most expensive and grand gift.”

Kim bought the empty Crown Royal bags on Ebay and recommends purchasing the larger bags because the fabric doesn’t fray as badly. She washed the bags prior to cutting them apart. (I would suggest pressing a lightweight stabilizer on the wrong side of the bags’ embroidered words.) Kim centered a 2 1/2″ wide ruler over the embroidery and cut pieces approximately 2 1/2″ x 4 1/2.” If you include the gold chain stitching, be advised that it melts when pressed.

Kim purchased “Aurora” 2 1/2″ wide strip packs of batiks from Northern Threads; click here for the link. She cut the strips into various lengths and inserted the Crown Royal embroidered pieces. She had fun sprinkling the embroidery throughout the quilt. As per her request, I added a blue border on this quilt and quilted it freehand with a variegated thread. The backing is fleece with a large pineapple motif. The pineapple reminds Kim’s family of the Christmas they lived in Hawaii and used a pineapple plant as their Christmas tree.

When Kim presented her dad with the quilt top several months ago at his “well aged” party, several other friends and relatives, including her husband, begged her to make one for them. Thus, we have been collaborating on four Crown Royal quilts.

“Rows Parade” Block #1 – Simple Windmill

Happy New Year! If you plan to view the Rose Parade on TV tomorrow, why not begin selecting, cutting, and sewing fabrics for your very own “Rows Parade” while you watch. We begin the 2023 free Block of the Month Quilt Along with a quick and easy block, Simple Windmill.

If you are making the queen size quilt with horizontal rows, you need to make nine Simple Windmill blocks in January. If you are making the throw size or twin size quilt, you need to make six blocks. Don’t be put off by the amount of blocks you need to make each month; they can all be constructed in a couple of hours.

“Fresh Fig Favorites” is the fabric line I selected, and I purchased a stack of fat quarters for the project. My initial thought was to use just two colors per row, hence the teal and green fabrics pictured above. As you can tell from the picture of the finished quilt, I deviated from that idea and used all the colors in most of the rows. You might like to do the same. If you are using a bundle of fat quarters, your quilt will be “planned scrappy.” All the colors and prints will look pleasing when used together in your quilt. However, work on spreading the colors evenly throughout the quilt.

As you begin constructing the blocks, be sure your seam allowance (slightly scant 1/4″) yields the prescribed sizes of units and blocks. We want each of the rows of your quilt to measure the same length. Measuring carefully as you go will mean less frustration in the final assembly of the quilt.

Click on “Rows Parade” BOM 2023 in the blog menu. Print the Fabric Requirements document and the Line Drawings document. And then locate and print the instructions for Simple Windmill.

I would love to see a picture of your completed blocks. I often share the pics on this blog to inspire readers to participate in QALs. Email me at aby.quilts@gmail.com.

Excitement is Building for “Rows Parade!”

Join the “Rows Parade” Block of the Month Quilt Along that begins January 1st. You will find fabric requirements and line drawings of the proposed row quilt options under the menu tab “Rose Parade” BOM 2023. By arranging your blocks in rows, you can make a queen size quilt as I did . . .

. . . or make fewer blocks and arrange them in columns as Sarah Y. did.

Sarah, with the help of EQ8, sketched a third option for a twin size quilt. She mocked up Wild Meadow fabrics by Jackie MacDonald of Sweetfire Roads. You can use a layer cake of 10″ square plus some additional coordinating yardage for both of the smaller quilts.

Join the Quilt Along Fun. The blocks are quick and easy . . . I promise!

Amana’s Doggie Quilt

Our “adopted” granddaughter, Amana, visited us this past summer during the week of Vacation Bible School. We particularly arranged her visit for the third week in June because we knew she would have a fantastic time learning new skills and having fun with children her age. Since our church has VBS in the mornings, I thought, perhaps, we could make a quilt together in the afternoons. She chose some coordinating fat quarters with a doggie theme which I cut into 6″ squares. We got no further than arranging the squares on the design wall because we invited David over to play each afternoon. I promised Amana I would finish the quilt, and I plan to send it to her for Christmas.

Alas and alack, two squares of the theme fabric had short slits which I did not notice until after the quilt was quilted. What to do??? I machine appliqued hearts of coordinating fabric over the rips.

Of the chosen fabrics, the teal and the chartreuse were the least busy and therefore perfect backgrounds for quilted doggie footprints and names of our dogs, past and present. Zeus, Zena, and Bruno are dogs Amana and her mom have owned and loved; Mercy, Prince, and Sugar Plum are dogs who made their home with Ran and/or me. Black thread best shows the paw prints and names.

I quilted Amana’s name and a little heart in the border. I know she will cherish this quilt . . . almost as much as she loves her doggie!

“Economy Block” Baby Quilt Finished

Thanks to everyone who left comments on Monday’s post which showed the following picture of nine “Economy Blocks.”

I asked for suggestions of colors for the sashing and border. The answers: yellow/red, green/yellow, green, fuchsia (to match the number “1” in the taupe print), yellow/blue, medium gray or blue, yellow/gray, pale pink. I had fun imagining how each combination would look! I decided on yellow sashing, green print cornerstones, and a scrappy border of leftover sample fabrics with a base of blue batik.

The yellow sashing contrasts well with the outer triangles of all the blocks, and I followed Lyna’s suggestion of throwing a little green in the mix. I had enough green floral for the cornerstones as well as for rectangles in the outer border. Planning a scrappy border allowed me to use the half-bear-blocks cut from the two sample panels as well as bits and pieces from the other fabrics in the sample pack.

For quilting thread color, I considered royal blue (which would show up strongly against the lighter fabrics), gray (which would blend fairly will with all the fabrics), and pale yellow (which would sink into the lighter fabrics but would show up against the blue and red). I chose yellow and quilted a meandering pattern with loops. More blue batik serves as the binding. The back is a navy flannel, inherited from my mother-in-law’s stash. Of course, the yellow thread shows up really well against the navy, LOL. The NICU at a local hospital actually prefers dark backings on the quilts we donate since they are calming for the preemies.

I enjoyed making these “Economy Blocks” following my own stress-free instructions which are found on the “Favorites BOM QAL” page of this blog. Stats: Blocks are 8″ finished, sashing is 2″ finished, outer border is 4″ finished, quilt is 40″ square.

If you are quilting along on the “Favorites” project, please send a picture of your “Economy Blocks” since I plan to post some pics of your progress next week. aby.quilts@gmail.com