“Postage Stamp” Quilt – a Graduation Gift

7 06 2017

My young friend Emily has reached a milestone – graduation from high school!

I love to make “Postage Stamp” quilts for graduates. All the tiny squares can symbolize the bits of knowledge they’ve crammed into their brains for the past 12 years. Amazingly, the bits and pieces combine together to make a beautiful and useful whole. I encourage young people to keep on learning.

“Postage Stamp” quilts are also a metaphor for keeping friendships alive by corresponding. Yes, it is an effort to keep up with friends long distance after graduation, but long-time friendships are worth preserving.

I made this quilt with 1 3/4″ squares that I cut from scraps and save in a box. My friend Linda made a portable design board for me by covering a sturdy piece of cardboard with batting and then with gridded flannel. As I lay out pieces for the wall quilt, my squares will easily stick to the flannel . . . unless I’m outside and it’s windy like on Memorial Day. In that case, I pinned each square to the design board, securing them until I sewed the squares into rows. I think alternating light and dark squares helps the eye to focus on the motifs of the dark fabrics. I arranged the 99 squares in 11 rows with 9 squares each. Click here to see a “Postage Stamp” quilt completely made with bright/dark squares.

The following picture shows how I pressed the seams so they would lock together when I joined the rows. Every other row is pressed to the right; the alternate rows are pressed to the left.

I obtained insider information from Emily’s mom for the border color; her favorite color is turquoise blue. I cut the inner solid border 2″ wide and the outer tone-on-tone border 3 1/2″ wide. The wall quilt measures 20 1/2″ x 23.” Straight line quilting with white thread in a cross-hatch design through the squares is simple, yet enhances the patchwork. I echoed the seam lines with white thread in the inner border and meandered with turquoise thread in the outer border. A congratulatory label on the back completes the gift.


Happy Independence Day!

4 07 2015

DSCN7462How are you celebrating? We’re having a houseful of company some of whom are learning how to scuba dive in our quarry-lake. This means lots of cooking in the kitchen and grilling on the porch. I’m anticipating talking and laughing with friends and family.

On this Independence Day, my thoughts about my country turn me to prayer:  prayers of gratefulness for freedom, safety, and plenty; prayers for wisdom for our leaders; prayers for deployed soldiers and their families who miss them; prayers for our youth, the next generation.

And now, a little bit about the pictured quilt:  It’s a combination of a “Postage Stamp” quilt and “Star Bright” quilt. The squares were cut 1 3/4,” so with 3″ borders the project is only a bit larger than a placemat. “Postage Stamp” is my favorite quilt for graduates. It’s a visual reminder to keep in touch with old friends while making new connections at college or on the job. Sometimes life feels like lots of contrasting pieces, but sewn together with balance and purpose the pieces make a beautiful creation.

Hoping your celebration is joy-filled . . . with a little time for quilting!

Lake Gaston Piecemakers

29 04 2015

Lake Gaston 4 patchesLast week I was privileged to teach a workshop and give two lectures to the Lake Gaston Piecemakers. What a delightful group of women! They were good sports, jumping in with both feet on “Pinwheel Play,” a Layer, Cut, Swap, and Sew project.



Pat’s and Margaret’s blocks turned out great!

   Lake Gaston Pat and Margaret

Kate selected lovely yellow and gray coordinating prints for her project.

Lake Gaston wkshop 2

Randi’s project is absolutely eye-catching!

Lake Gaston wkshop 3

I can’t wait to see the twenty-four finished quilt tops, Piecemakers! Please send me a picture of your quilt. (aby.quilts@gmail.com)

For a special eye-candy treat, Jean showed me the “Postage Stamp” quilt she designed for her husband. Made of 1″ finished squares, it’s extra long so hubby can tuck it around his feet as he views TV. It was so much fun to look at all the tiny images captured in the 1″ squares.

Lake Gaston Jean Bell

Thanks for your hospitality, Lake Gaston Piecemakers, and best of luck on finishing your Pinwheel quilts.

Patriotic Postage Stamp QOV

22 10 2014

From time to time, I longarm quilt tops made by members of the Fayetteville Quilts of Valor group. You can read about the Quilts of Valor Foundation here.


This remarkable quilt top was made by Susan. It contains over 700 2″ squares which she cut from the small scraps left over from other QOVs. Susan espouses Bonnie Hunter’s method of cutting her scraps into strips and squares of useable, standard widths.

Did you notice the wonky gold stars sprinkled throughout the quilt?

The quilting design is freehand meandering with five-point stars in honey colored polyester thread.

Any soldier would be proud to receive this wonderful quilt!

Graduation Gift

13 05 2013

One of the teen girls in our chapel congregation is graduating from high school in June, and I decided to make her a quilted gift.

My favorite small wall quilt design for high school seniors is “Postage Stamp.” I write this on the accompanying card: “This ‘Postage Stamp’ quilt symbolizes all the many-colored friends you have made.  So many people have encouraged you along your life’s journey. In the future, it will require effort to keep in touch with them, but the effort and postage stamps you expend will be so worthwhile.”


To make the 13 1/2″ X 16″ quilt, I rummaged in my container of 1 3/4″ scrappy squares, selecting the bright and interesting. Can you spot Tigger, the green frog, teddy bear, and soccer ball?

There are 9 rows with 7 squares each and a 2 1/2″ wide black border. Construction tip: Press the seam allowances in the odd rows to the right, and press the seam allowances in the even rows to the left. This enables the seam allowances to nest or mesh.


Our graduate plays guitar in the praise band, so I backed the quilt with some musical fabric. I quilted the interior patchwork with a meander design in variegated thread. Loops of variegated thread show up nicely in the black border.