Finishing Up

Happy New Year! I know we are all hoping for health and happiness (and an end to COVID) in 2022. I also wish you many happy, creative hours in your sewing space and friends to share your joys with.

Today I have three finished projects to share with you. First up is Marie’s “Sisters” quilt. “Sisters” was the Block of the Month that I offered on this blog in 2020. You can still access the free patterns by clicking on “Sisters BOM QAL” in the menu. By scrolling to the end of the list you can see a gallery of quilts made by QAL participants.

Marie’s “Sisters” Quilt

Marie used her collection of pink and brown Civil War reproduction prints to make the “Big Sister” and “Little Sister” blocks. Instead of plain 6″ alternate squares, she inserted “Four Patches.” The brown sashing wonderfully sets off each block, and the large scale print of the outer border lends elegance to the composition. Hooray, Marie. You finished it, and it is beautiful!

Marianne emailed a picture of her “Options” quilt top. I met Marianne twelve years ago at the Black Forest Quilt Guild when the Army sent us to Stuttgart, Germany. She subsequently invited me to her guild which met in Kemnat. Quilting is a fantastic bridge between nationalities and cultures; our friendship is so mutually enriching.

Marianne’s “Options” Scrappy Quilt

While many of us chose an “Hourglass” design as alternate blocks in our “Options” quilts, Marianne chose a “Sixteen Patch” design. She alternated light and dark 2 1/2″ squares, utilizing many of her scraps. The black and white diamond print for sashing and border ties all the colorful, scrappy blocks together. Marianne enjoyed the project and felt that it guided her through the CORONA year. Wunderbar, Marianne!

Melinda set a Christmas deadline for her “Options” quilt, making it as a gift for her NC State loving step-son. She augmented her collection of NC State prints with black and red tone-on-tones and prints to great effect. If you participated in the QAL, you will notice Melinda created several “unofficial” designs. She loved having the option to think and sew outside of the box.

Melinda’s “Options” NC State Quilt

Zoom in to see the football pantograph design we selected for the quilting motif. I used gray thread which blended beautifully. Bobby loved his gift, by the way.

I am so proud of Marie, Marianne, and Melinda for finishing up their projects. Their example is motivating, isn’t it? Just keep at it, keep sewing, keep moving forward, and your quilt will eventually be completed. To follow my own advice: This past year I taught “Sisters” at Sew There! Quilts and More in Angier, NC and made blocks with Christmas fabrics. I need to put them on my design wall, cut alternate blocks, and attach sashing and border fabric. Finishing this WIP (Work in Progress) is one of my quilting resolutions for 2022. If you’re not quite finished with your “Sisters” or “Options” quilt, I encourage you to work on it with renewed energy. You’ll be so pleased with the beautiful quilt you finish in 2022!

Magazine Winner

Kelly D. is the winner of a quilting magazine; I drew her name from those who commented “Done” for the November block, “Spinning Stars.”

Kelly has been making her “Options” blocks from the “Apricot and Ash” line by Corey Yoder for Moda. The blend of fresh green, peachy-apricot, and sturdy gray is lovely. Not only did Kelly stitch up her “Spinning Star” block this month, she put all the blocks together into a quilt top!

Kelly’s “Options” Quilt Top

Notice that she used the “Hourglass” alternate blocks in an interesting arrangement; they are not placed between between every block but rather in two vertical columns and one horizontal row. And the outer pieced border is a creative use of the bits and pieces of 2 1/2″ jelly roll strips. Kelly is thinking about adding a border of a solid color, so she is leaving it as a “flimsy” until she decides.

Thanks for sharing a picture of your feels-like-spring quilt top with us, Kelly! I know you are going to enjoy decorating with it and snuggling under it once it is quilted!

I would love to show a picture of your completed “Options” quilt top to blog readers. Email a digital picture to

“Options” BOM #10 Wrap-Up

Today is the day to comment “Done” if you have made the “Spinning Star” blocks for your “Options” quilt. So many of you have written to say that you enjoyed the quilt along and that you love how your blocks and quilts are turning out. Thanks for the positive feedback!

And now for some inspiration. First up are blocks from Chris. All of her blocks are stunning, and her use of striped fabric in the third block is so striking!

Helga has been working diligently on several projects this past month, not the least of which is her “Options” quilt top. I am amazed at the innovative contemporary setting she designed for her blocks!

Once you have made all the blocks you need for your quilt, be it lap size or bed size, consider how you will set the blocks together. You will find suggestions on the “Options BOM QAL” page of this blog; look for the document with layout options. I would love to see a picture of your completed quilt top; email it to

Remember to comment “Done” if you have completed your “Spinning Star” blocks. Kudos to you!

November Sew-a-Thon

Since this past summer, my friend Judy and I have been hoping for a chance to sew together for several days. And this past weekend, we made it happen. Although I have several commissioned projects with deadlines, I decided to work on a couple of my own scrappy projects instead.

Lori Holt’s “Spare Squares” design for her Sew Your Stash #16 appeals to me. Click here to watch her You Tube tutorial. I’ve made over sixty blocks since the spring, using 1 1/2″ and 2 1/2″ scrap squares. I brought the pieced blocks along with 6 1/2″ squares of white fabric to Judy’s studio. Determining that an 11 x 13 grid would yield a sizeable quilt, I arranged the blocks on the design wall and sewed them into rows. I made fantastic progress on the quilt top and discovered that I need to make blocks for only one more row.

“Spare Squares”

Judy and I think the quilt needs a narrow white inner border, and I found an aqua tone-on-tone in my stash that will serve nicely as an outer border. I am happy to be on the road to completion, but the project will now be on the back burner while I finish my quilts with deadlines.

I also took a pile of forty scrappy 10″ blocks to Judy’s for our Sew-a-Thon. These were inspired by a design Bonnie K. Hunter is working on. There is no published pattern yet, but perhaps there will be by the time I finish my rendition of the patchwork design. I am calling my quilt “Trip Around the Block” because the arrangement of the fabric looks so much like a “Trip Around the World” quilt. Click here to see images of “Trip Around the World” quilts.

I arranged the blocks in a 6 x 7 grid and discovered that I needed two more blocks. I made one at Judy’s and will made the other soon. I cut sashing, but I’m hunting for the perfect fabric for cornerstones. These blocks have returned to the project box with my promise to work with them in 2022.

While I worked diligently on these two scrappy projects, Judy finished binding her “Options” BOM quilt. She gets a gold star for executing an unusual setting for her 12″ blocks! (Judy enlarged the 8″ “Options” blocks to 12.”)

Judy’s “Options” Quilt

The pattern “BQ” by Debbie Bowles of Maple Island Quilts inspired Judy for the unique setting arrangement. Notice that the colors of the scrappy narrow inner border correspond to the colors in the adjacent patchwork blocks. Many of the fabrics in this quilt were designed by Tula Pink.

Wishing you a lovely Thanksgiving with time to sew as well as time to visit with family!

“Spinning Star” – BOM Participants Share

I am so excited about today’s blog post! Besides receiving pictures of several “Spinning Star” blocks, I have entire “Options” quilt tops to show you. “Spinning Star” is the tenth and final block in the “Options” Quilt Along for 2021. You can find instructions for all the blocks on the “Options BOM QAL” page of this blog.

Tina sent a picture of her red, white, and blue star blocks. She has made four blocks each month and plans to give half of them to a quilting group that makes Quilts of Valor. She will make a quilt for her family from the other twenty blocks.

Trish sent pictures of her blocks made in shades of blue. The textures and shades are just right, accentuating the patchwork designs so nicely!

And Judy B., who is making only one 12″ block per month, chose one of the options for her block. Love those lavenders!

And now for some completed quilts. First up is Emily’s quilt. She worked with a layer cake and a jelly roll purchased several years ago at a garage sale. Aren’t the muted colors so lovely? She gave the quilt to her daughter-in-law who raved about it.

Emily’s “Options” Quilt

Judy M. made twin quilts for her granddaughter’s bunk beds. The “N” block in the center stands for “Nora.” Notice the coloration of the “Hourglass” alternate blocks: some are aqua and gray, some are white and gray, and some are aqua, white, and gray. This treatment helps the center of the quilt to shine. All in our church quilting group agree that the narrow black inner border really sets off the patchwork well.

Judy, ever the innovator, spelled a message with squares on the back of Nora’s quilt. After adhering the squares to a black background, she secured them with decorative stitches, raw edge applique style.

Lisa has also finished her “Options” quilt top. I love the way the colorful striped border pulls together all the colors she used in the patchwork blocks!

Melodie also used striped fabric in her quilt. The theme print is of old fashioned campers in colors her sister adores. This “Options” quilt made a wonderful gift for Melodie’s sister who will use it in her fifth wheel.

Jane’s quilt top is also finished, and she loves the way it turned out. It looks like “Winter Wonderland” to me. Compare the neutral gray sashing that Jane used with the lime green sashing Lisa used in the photo above. It is so interesting to study the differences color makes in our patchwork projects!

Ladies, thanks for sharing pictures of your blocks and quilts!

If you haven’t yet made your “Spinning Star” blocks, I hope you’ll carve out an hour or two in this latter part of November to work on them. On the 30th, I will provide an opportunity for you to comment “Done,” and your name will be entered in a drawing for a free quilting magazine.

Magazine Winner

Each month I draw a winner’s name from those successfully participating in the “Options” block of the month Quilt Along. The winner for the month of October is Marianne K. who finished her “Birds in Flight” blocks on time. Congrats, Marianne!

Marianne sent a picture of part of her quilt top, constructed before the release of the November BOM. She wanted to make a gift for a gentleman who has been so helpful driving her brother to appointments, and she needed a manly fabric palette. Her blocks in red, white, and black fit the bill perfectly. I love her on-point setting and sashing of light and medium gray fabrics. And the dark gray grunge as setting triangles really focuses my eyes on the patchwork blocks. Very nice work, Marianne!

“Spinning Star” – Options BOM QAL

“Spinning Star” is the tenth and final block in our QAL for 2021. This has long been a favorite patchwork design of mine. I love the movement created by the parallelograms, and I can imagine a bed quilt made with these swirling blocks. Click on “Options BOM QAL” in the menu to access the instruction page for all the blocks. Scroll to the bottom of the list for this month’s block.

“Spinning Star”

As when making all the blocks for our QAL, you have “options.” You can vary the fabrics, play with shading, rotate the quadrants, and substitute other patchwork shapes. I can’t wait to see where your creativity leads you! Please send a picture of your blocks to I would love to share your take on “Spinning Star” with blog readers.

Happy Quilting! — Aby Dolinger

“Birds in Flight” BOM Wrap-Up

Happy Halloween and congratulations to those of you who have completed your “Birds in Flight” blocks for the “Options” Block of the Month Quilt Along! Yes, today is the day you should comment “DONE” if you are on schedule with your blocks. (If you are not quite finished at this moment, perhaps you can squeeze in some stitching between giving candy to costumed trick or treaters this evening. I’ll wait until Nov. 2nd to draw a winner from the commenters.)

Some quilty “eye candy” from Chris. Admire the fabrics and applaud her piecing accuracy. (I can see 1/4″ seam allowance beyond all the points of the triangles!)

Joy also sent pictures of her “Birds In Flight” variations. It is instructional to see all three blocks made with the same fabrics. I like them all and can’t pick a favorite.

Some of the QAL participants have already set their “Options” blocks together, and some have finished quilting and binding. I know you will find pictures of their work motivational.

First up is Renee’s quilt, a Christmas gift for her sister who loves flowers. Zoom in to appreciate all the floral prints Renee used. She plans a floral quilting motif and yellow binding.

Next up is a patriotic-themed quilt by Michelle. Notice the partial red frames on two sides of each block that produces a 3D effect. Hats off to Michelle who successfully managed the directional text print for sashing and first border.

Sarah completed her quilt in record time. I love the twisting border of half square triangles. The various gray fabrics used in the Hourglass blocks add interest. By using the same light background fabric in the patchwork blocks and in the Hourglass blocks, Sarah created a secondary design of light diamonds around some blocks and dark diamonds around the others.

Thanks, ladies, for sharing pictures of your lovely blocks and quilts! We are inspired!

Remember to comment “Done” if you have finished your blocks, and come back tomorrow for an explanation of our final block in the “Options” QAL.

“Options” QAL BOM – Participants Share

Time marches on! It’s mid-October and time for me to share pictures of our Quilt Along participants’ blocks. First up are blocks from Trish. She sent September’s lovely blue “Four Patch Morph” blocks. I am learning so much from the way Trish chooses fabrics for her monochromatic quilt. She is varying scale, and shade, and texture, and she is fussy cutting larger scale prints for a fantastic effect.

Trish also sent a picture of her October “Birds in Flight” blocks. The block on the right looks different than those I made. Because she used all dark fabrics, the large triangles blend into the small triangles of adjacent units, making a design that reminds me of folded paper sailor hats made from newspaper. So interesting!

Next up are blocks from Joan. The greens and pinks are so soothing, and I love the textured background she chose. Comparing Trish’s block on the right with Joan’s block on top, you can see that the “paper hats” shape is not as evident since Joan used different colors for her large and small triangles.

I also have a picture of Judy’s block. Remember that she up-sized her blocks to 12″ and is just making one per month. I enjoy seeing the vibrant color combinations in Judy’s blocks.

Judy and Mary are in the same quilt guild, and I thank them for challenging other guild members to participate in the “Options” QAL. Mary’s quilt is going to be so interesting with the mixture of bold colors and gray textures and the light background sprinkled with birds, stars, and dots.

I always enjoy studying Helga’s blocks. The position of colors and shades is intentional, and the fussy cutting is subtle.

Thanks, friends, for sharing pictures of your blocks!

Believe it or not, “Birds in Flight” is the next to last block in our “Options” Quilt Along. I am proud of those who are keeping up with the schedule! And if you are a bit behind, I hope you will have several hours this week and next to devote to catching up. If you are new to the blog and would like to participate, click “Options BOM QAL” in the menu. You’ll navigate to a blog page with all the introductory info and free monthly patterns available for download.

BOM QAL Block #9 -“Birds in Flight”

If you are looking at the picture and thinking, “that is a lot of half square triangles,” you are absolutely correct. However, I think you’ll have a lot of fun planning colors/fabrics for your blocks as well as twisting and turning the units to make the various options. As usual, the instructions prescribe oversize cutting measurements so you can trim after sewing the HSTs for greater accuracy. Click on “Options BOM QAL” in the menu. Once on the page, scroll down to the black Download button for Block #9. Click Download, then print the instructions.

While you sew, glance out your window to spy birds in flight. Do you see Canadian Geese wending their way to a warmer winter climate? Do you see doves, cardinals, or chickadees flocking to your birdfeeder? Hubby and I are always tickled to see our four teenage ducks that hatched on Easter now circling the lake just for the joy of flying.

I would love to share a picture of your block(s) with blog readers. Send a digital picture to