“Star-Crossed” BOM Lap Quilt

As an active member of Tarheel Quilters Guild, I enjoy participating in the block-of-the-month activity. The parameters are simple: 1) the BOM coordinator chooses, prints, and distributes a pattern, 2) guild members who wish to participate make one or more blocks in the size mandated and with the colors stipulated, 3) for every block I make, a slip of paper with my name on it goes “in the hat,” 4) at the next guild meeting, a winner’s name is drawn “from the hat,” 5) the winner takes all the blocks and rises to the challenge to make a quilt with them.

Star-Crossed Lap Quilt

Due to the pandemic of 2020 our guild did not often meet in person, and participation in the BOM activity was not up to par. If you are a quilt guild or club or bee member in your locale, I am sure your group experienced similar circumstances. For the month when “Star-Crossed” was the BOM, we mailed our blocks to the guild president, and she drew a winner’s name. I contributed two blocks and won eight!

After making a ninth block, I set them together in a three by three grid. With sashing and a border, this is the perfect size for a lap quilt for a veteran at the VA Hospital in Fayetteville, NC. The VA is one of the charities our guild sponsors.

A close look at the blocks reveals that some of the makers used two different reds/blues, and others used the same tone-on-tone. (Whether or not to use the same tone-on-tone was not stipulated in the instructions.) In my opinion, the blocks with two different fabrics manifest a subtle shading. The sashing between the blocks resembles a window with nine panes and adds depth to the quilt. Admittedly, the hues of the sashing and border are more muted than the blues, reds, and yellows of the blocks; I used what I found in my stash. But it’s not all bad; the subdued sashing and border allows the bright blocks to shine brilliantly.

While visiting Trinity last week, she set up her computerized Handi Quilter to stitch “Becker’s Shooting Star” edge to edge design with pale yellow thread. We felt pale yellow would blend nicely with all the colorful fabrics yet show up on the white background. Hooray for the red, white, and blue! And hooray for another finished UFO!

How did your guild, group, or bee maintain fellowship and momentum in the midst of “stay at home” orders?

“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?

“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.

“Chandelier” at the Ark Encounter

Last weekend, Hubby and I accompanied a busload of folks from several Ft. Bragg chapels to the Ark Encounter in Williamstown, Kentucky. We were impressed with the sheer size of the structure, built according to the dimensions God gave Noah (Genesis 6). It was eye-opening to read the listed scientific names of all the animals, extant and extinct, and to realize that they all could have fit on an ark of this size!

The interior of the ark was crafted from beautiful timber, and cages housed models of dinosaurs. We watched several films and read many plaques as we walked through the largest timber-frame structure in the world. Our imaginations were stirred as we considered how Noah’s family must have felt to hear rain drumming on the roof for 40 days and nights. How tired they must have been to care for all those smelly and demanding animals day in and day out for a year!

For the long bus trip I packed a lap quilt made from leftover blocks from my “Chandelier” quilt. After hand stitching the binding on the way to Williamstown, I used it as a pillow or lap warmer on the way home.

The Ark Encounter is an adventure we will long remember!

String-pieced Lap Quilt

Lillington, NC where I live is about 1 1/2 hours from Archdale, NC. You may ask, “What is in Archdale?” The warehouse of Pineapple Fabrics! And several times a year they host a sale which is well worth going to. And they offer boxes of scraps to groups that sew and donate quilts to those in need. (Management prefers an email prior to the sale if you would like to be on the list to receive scraps.)

At a recent sale, one of the ladies in my church quilting group requested a scrap box since our group makes quilts for young ones as well as the elderly. Pineapple Fabrics gave us “a boatload” of selvage ends from their kit-cutting process. The strips or “strings” are pinked one one side and have selvages on the other with about 1″ width of usable fabric.

I used two fistfuls or hanks of black and gray print strips when making this lap quilt. I used about 1 1/2 yd. of electric blue fabric for the sashing, border, and binding. I quilted spirals all over and gave the quilt to Johnny, who lives at an assisted living facility.

Tips for sewing with selvage end strips:

  • Sew the strips together prior to trimming off the selvages.
  • Begin in the center of the strip set and work outward, adding strips to both sides as you go. This will economize your time in making trips to the ironing board.
  • Sew the pinked edge of one strip to the pinked edge of another.
  • Likewise, sew the selvage edge of one strip to the selvage edge of another, allowing as much of the print as possible to show. Trim off the selvages, leaving 1/4″ seam allowance.
  • Press seams to one side as you go.
  • Determine the width of the string-pieced strip set that will economize with the length of strips you are working with. For example. all my strips were about 31″ long. I calculated that I could cut four 7 1/4″ squares from this length with about 2 1/2″ to spare. So I string-pieced 7 strip sets that were at least 7 1/2″ wide. (Given this 31″ length, I could have made strip-sets that were at least 6″ wide and cut five 6″ squares from each strip-set.)
  • The next step is cutting squares from the strip-sets with rotary cutting equipment.
  • Cut the (2 1/2″ wide) sashing pieces the same length as the string-pieced squares, 7 1/4″ in my case.
  • Choose cornerstone fabric that draws some attention to add secondary interest to the quilt.
  • When attaching sashing strips to blocks (or sashing rows to block rows), pin and sew with the sashing uppermost because all the seams of the string-pieced blocks tend to stretch and spread when they are uppermost.

Are you working on a strip-pieced project? If you would be willing to share your idea with blog readers, send me a picture, please.  aby.quilts@gmail.com.

Quilts Published!

Exciting news! Two wonderful quilts from my studio were published in the June/July 2018 issue of McCall’s Quick Quilts! You can find this issue now on newsstands and in fabric stores.

“Americana,” a 64″ x 40″ wall or lap quilt is on the magazine cover. It was constructed entirely from half square triangles – how easy is that! And you can use charm packs of 5″ squares from Wilmington Prints as I did. Wait until you open the magazine to page 28 and see the flag photographed as a wall quilt along with the instructions. You will love it!

Super exciting for our family is the publication of “Skipping Stones,” a quilt designed by my daughter Trinity and me. It’s our first quilt published as a “design team,” although Trinity usually gives me candid feedback on most of my design ideas. You’ll find “Skipping Stones” on page 8.

Trinity stays particularly busy in the fall and winter as a substitute mail carrier, so I undertook the construction and quilting of this quilt last fall. Moda graciously provided quarter and half yard cuts of a variety of yellow, green, gray, and black prints from “Pepper & Flax” designed by Corey Yoder. I employed a speedy technique for making the “square in a corner” units. Check it out!

McCall’s provided me with two copies of the magazine to give to lucky blog readers. If you’d like to be in the drawing which will occur on May 15, leave a comment below stating which quilt you would make first, “Americana” or “Skipping Stones.”


“Four Patch X” Finished!

“I’ll take the rest of the bolt.” Do you ever say that at the fabric store? Here’s the bolt that came in handy for my “Four Patch X” quilt.


I love to shop the Red Tag clearance section at JoAnn’s Fabrics and Crafts. I especially love it when the Red Tag clearance is marked down an additional 50%! That is when I search for premium quilting fabric yardage for backing my quilts. Sometimes I have a needy quilt top in mind; many times I’m buying in advance even of planning the quilt. It’s just nice to have yardage on hand; and bargain shopping stretches the fabric budget immensely.


You can read about the beginning of my “Four Patch X” quilt here. After making 24 scrappy blocks, I trimmed them to 7 3/4″ square. (Who says blocks have to measure 12 1/2,” unfinished?)


 Then I  began searching in my stash for sashing fabric. I considered yellow, the suggested color in the Sept./Oct. 2010 Quiltmaker magazine. I also searched among my blues because Bonnie Hunter used a light, vaguely stripe-y blue in her quilt pictured in her book “More Adventures With Leaders and Enders.” Nothing in my stash enthused me until I spied my bargain bolt leaning nonchalantly against my fabric shelving.

Four Patch X, design wall

 At first, I didn’t like it; the fabric was so different than the other pictured quilts. But with orange cornerstones, it turns out being just right for my quilt.

Four Patch X, needs borders

With print borders, meandering quilting with orange thread, and orange binding, this quilt is ready for snuggling under!

Four Patch X, finished 2

Just wondering what bolts of fabric you have purchased. Have you found a use for them, or are they stacking up in your sewing room?

Bible Study Quilt #3


This fall I was a group leader in a Bible study of the book of Luke (with Protestant Women of the Chapel). Each week I proposed an ice breaker question for our group of 20+ ladies. I asked them to each select a 3″ square of fabric that related to their answer of the question. For example, I asked “Was your Thanksgiving ‘same old, same old’? Did everything go as planned, or did something different or unexpected happen?” I drew a parallel to Christ’s resurrection (in Luke 24). All of the people who watched Jesus die on Friday expected Him to stay dead . . . but something unexpected happened . . . His miraculous resurrection on Sunday morning. Granted, none of us in class witnessed a resurrection over Thanksgiving, but for most of us the holiday did not exactly play out as we planned.

Each week, after everyone had a chance to share her answer to the question, I collected the squares and sewed them into “Shaded Nine Patch” blocks.  Most of the squares that I took to class were dark or bright prints and tonals. When assembling the blocks, I added light tonals and prints from my container of 3″ squares. I used the same red tonal for the center squares of all the blocks.


The quilt is composed of 64 blocks arranged in an 8 x 8 grid.

I experimented with several layout options. Four blocks could be sewn toether with the darks toward the center.


A “Streak of Lightnening” setting is achieved by zigzagging the darks and lights.


By rotating four blocks around a center point, I could make a “Pinwheel.”


In the end, I settled on the “Hanging Diamond” setting. The over-all dramatic effect is fantastic!


In stitching the blocks together, I did not arrive at a fool proof method for pressing the seams so that one block would mesh with another at the junctions of seam allowances. Many of the seam allowances were pressed the same way as one block joined another, but fortunately my longarm machine could handle the extra thickness.

I selected a yellow thread since it would blend better over all than either a stark white or dark red. The quilting design is spirals and meanderings. I bound the quilt with a Kona solid navy fabric.

Isn’t the heart-y label on the back perfect?


In determining a winner for the quilt, the number of chances was determined by attendance. In other words, for each class a participant attended this past semester, she received a ticket. If she attended 10 of the 12 classes, she wrote her name on 10 tickets. All the tickets from all the participants were placed in “the hat,” and one ticket was drawn for the lucky winner.

And the winner was . . . Jean!


Here we are, holding the quilt together .


You can read about two other Bible study quilts I made here.

“Balance” – a Modern Quilt


“Balance” is the result of a two-fold challenge: make a modern quilt and use samples of men’s shirt fabrics. The challenge was issued by the Modern Quilt Guild of Stuttgart. You can visit the MQGS blog here. I am such a traditional quilt maker, it is hard to think outside of the box. It’s hard to imagine making a quilt without even-sized, traditional blocks: Stars, Flying Geese, Shoo-fly, Monkey Wrench, Dresden Plate, etc. But I’m trying to keep current, and experiment with simple, geometric shapes and lots of negative space.

I constructed this quilt in horizontal rows, sewing a 2″ strip between each rectangle of shirting fabric. I varied the sizes of the rectangles and tried to balance the color placement throughout the quilt. The blue strips sewn between the horizontal rows range from 1 1/2″ to 3″ in width.


As you can see in the photo above, I didn’t square up the quilt prior to quilting, but I am not sure it was an easier task later. I had to measure and trim several times.

I tried a new quilting motif -freehand concentric squares and rectangles in all the navy blue background areas (i.e. negative space). This was a lot of fun and easier than I thought it would be.DSCN4424

I quilted various fillers, one per horizontal row, in the shirting fabric with white thread. And I re-purposed a plaid shirt for the bias binding.


A visit with the in-laws over the weekend provided wonderful backdrops for photographing the quilt. And I discovered that modern quilts keep you just as warm as traditional quilts!DSCN4449