“I Spy” Placemats

20 10 2017

Several days ago during mealtime, my 16 month old grandson was sitting at the table pointing to the various squares on his quilted placemat and identifying colors and shapes in baby talk. His attention and interest gave me the idea of making “I Spy” placemats for both boys. I enlisted Aidan’s help with designing, i.e. placing the thirty-five 3″ squares in a grid of 5 x 7.

For the prints, I raided my container of “I Spy” fabrics and added in tonals of the colors (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, black, and brown), cutting two of each. Aidan used a portable Olfa cutting mat/ironing surface as a design board. Once all the squares were in place, I easily transported the board to my sewing desk. Chain piecing the squares with Bonnie Hunter’s web technique kept everything in order, but Aidan was aghast. “Grandma, the placemat has holes in it!” Zoom in to see the bits of thread connecting the squares of row 1 to the squares of row 2, and so forth.

After pressing the seam allowances in the odd rows (1, 3, 5) to the right and the seam allowances in the even rows (2, 4) to the left, I sewed the rows together and pressed seam allowances to one side. I layered the patchwork with cotton batting and a large scale dinosaur print for backing and quilted a grid “in the ditch” with muted blue thread. Aidan asked for orange binding, and we plan yellow binding for David’s placemat. Incidentally, Aidan placed the prints and tonals differently for his brother’s placemat. The label on the back reads “Designed by Aidan . . . Quilted by Grandma Dolinger . . . October 2017.” Aidan and I are pleased with our projects, and I am dreaming up new “I Spy” games we can play at the breakfast table!

Click here to read a previous blog post about similar placemats designed by children.




Drawing for Free Magazine

4 03 2017

travel-plans-tableHello faithful blog readers. On Tuesday, I was so excited to tell you about the publication of my runner, “Travel Plans,” in the April/May issue of McCall’s Quick Quilts that I forgot to announce a drawing for a free magazine!

travel-plans-placematIf you would like to be in the drawing, please leave a comment below saying whether you are more likely to make the runner or a set of placemats. I will draw for two winners on Saturday, March 11.

Click here if you missed my blog post about “Travel Plans.” Click here to order the April/May 2017 issue of Quick Quilts.


Valentine Placemats

11 02 2017

Valentine’s Day is fast approaching! Although I admire heart quilts made by blogging quilters during this season, I realize that I won’t have time to make one this year. I decided instead to make a set of placemats for dear family members in Texas. I’ve been “threatening” to make something for them out of the ten gallon hat fabric for about a year. It’s perfect for placemats! Then I searched for a suitable Valentine fabric for the reverse side. Not finding what I had in mind, I purchased red and white polka dot fabric. The upside is versatility; red is great for Valentine’s Day, Fourth of July, and Christmas!


Of course I added the kids’ favorite snacks to my shipping envelope:  some Valentine candies and packages of sliced pepperoni.

If you’d like to whip up some super simple placemats, click on the “Patterns” tab above. On the Patterns page you’ll see links to all the free patterns I offer on this blog. Click on the Placemats link, print the pattern, and enjoy making placemats for your table décor.

Blog Readers Share – February FQ Challenge

17 02 2016


The participants in the Fat Quarter Challenge, an open-ended Quilt A-Long, are busy as bees!

Diane is working on a quilt for her granddaughter. She is making “stars so far; the large one is 12″ and smallest are 3,” and, yes, I’m doing ‘y’ seams. Great directions for the LeMoyne Star assembly in LeMoyne Stars Made Easy by Sharyn Squier Craig. I’m making 6 more LeMoynes and planning on an approximately 36×42 quilt top. I’ve used about 12 FQs in the stars, plus other fabrics for the right color combos. Will send more pics as I make progress!”

DSC_0251For an explanation of Stephanie’s basket made from fat quarters, travel to her blog. Click here to see how she transformed 3 FQs into a sweet basket that holds . . . fat quarters. Stephanie loves collecting fabric that pictures sewing notions like thread, scissors, pins and measuring tape. It was difficult for her to cut into those pristine fat quarters, but she’s happy to have made something useful with three of them. And, of course, some scraps remain for her sewing notions fabric “archive.”

20160209_135253Chris has been looking at some vintage fabric in her stash for years, wondering what to make with it. It’s blue and silvery white, not quilting cotton. I would call it damask wherein the design and the colors are reversed on the right side as compared to the wrong side. Chris made some simple, yet elegant placemats with the FQs of fabric, and she’s already got an idea for using more FQs in March!

Bibby Moore's SnowflakeIn October 2015 I invited you all to participate in Bernina’s “Snowflake” quilt along. The quilt was designed by Faith Jones who blogs at Fresh Lemons Quilts. Bibby recently sent a picture of her quilt top. She commented that she thinks her quilt would look more cohesive if she had chosen similar shades of orange. She had a lot of orange scraps and used a range from sienna to marigold. She thinks it is not as effective because the oranges are too different. Also she thinks it is better to have one color dominate; the teals and oranges are of similar intensity which makes it harder to see the snowflake pattern. By making this quilt, Bibby learned a lot about color and achieved a different effect than Marie’s quilt, or Sana’s quilt, or my quilt.

Congrats, Bibby, for finishing your delightful quilt top!

Do you have a picture of your project to share? Email it to aby dot quilts at gmail dot com.



Quilting Class for Kids, Part 4

3 08 2015

Tuesday was the fourth and final class of “Introduction to Patchwork Quilting Design” I taught to 20-plus youngsters while their moms studied the Biblical book of Ruth at a Ft. Bragg chapel. This week’s traditional patchwork block, “Cross and Crowns,” was inspired by the Bible story of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection.


After the Bible story and discussion, the kids were overjoyed to receive their completed placemats. I called them forward in groups for a show and tell session about the design elements employed in their art work. Most arranged thirty-five squares randomly like the sample I showed them on Day 1. Arranging variously colored squares randomly keeps the viewer’s eye moving around the composition, making the artwork more interesting.



Some of the children selected a monochromatic design approach. We talked about “accent colors or elements” within a composition. Even monochromatic quilts can have a zinger. Most of the pinks are subdued hues in Rachel’s quilt, but the few brighter pinks add interest. In Abby’s quilt, above center, the aqua kitty cat square is the accent. Keona started out with an all navy placemat until I asked, “Wouldn’t you like to add a contrasting color?” She immediately said, “Red.” I thought she would alternate red and blue squares, but she alternated two red prints for a border around her navy squares. Very striking!


Several children chose a favorite main color and an accent color. Click the photo below, zooming  in to examine the fabrics. Sarah’s placemat, on the far left, contains lots of blue textures and red textures. Various textures in a composition increase interest. Marcus (third from the left) added neutrals to his blue/green composition with a red zinger and a half square triangle for  an interesting geometric difference. The fourth placemat, also blue, has red accent squares and a couple of bright yellow zingers. It is so intriguing to analyze the design elements the children employed!


Some arranged their chosen squares as a checkerboard, alternating colors. Favorite colors, favorite cartoon characters, favorite fabric motifs, all promoted creativity.


My favorite placemat (shhhh! don’t tell the others) is Caleigh’s. She was not motivated to design a placemat at all until she spied the bright flip-flop fabric squares in my bin. Then she excitedly pulled pink/purple chevrons, red polka dots, pink flowers, and teal and purple tonals for a summer theme.


A couple of the children plan to use their placemats as blankets for their American Girls dolls or stuffed toys. The youngest (age 6), quietest child had the biggest dream, that of making a lap quilt to snuggle in. She worked extra time to design six placemats which I joined with lilac sashing and borders. Jasmine was so happy to receive her kid-size quilt! (And now her three older sisters have the vision of making kid-sized quilts, too.)


What a joy to share my love of design and quilting with youngsters! It was a bit challenging for me to direct the children without dictating their fabric choices and placement. In the process I learned a lot, too.

Have you taught a child to quilt? What project did you begin with?

Quilting Class for Kids, Part 3

26 07 2015

During the month of July, I am teaching 8 to 13 year-old children about patchwork design during the women’s Bible study at Fort Bragg. I’m combining a Bible story lesson with design ideas via traditional blocks named for Bible stories. Read about Week 1 here and Week 2 here.

PWOC Baby quilt

For the Early Bird activity I challenged the children to creatively arrange simple squares each made of a colored rectangle and white rectangle. Most seemed to favor a “Simple Pinwheel” arrangement. I am sewing the blocks together and will assemble them into a baby quilt for the NICU of a local hospital. (For instructions in making a “Simple Pinwheel” quilt, click “Patterns” on my blog header. Scroll nearly to the end of the page to find the “Simple Pinwheel Charity Quilt” link.)

This week’s lesson revolved around the Bible story of the Wisemen who followed the star to Bethlehem to worship baby Jesus and give him priceless gifts.


In my research I discovered that many quilt block designs are called “Star of Bethlehem;” I chose a simple one for my sample.

Besides discussing the Bible story, the kids were also involved in pinning their placemats right side down to batting and backing fabric. Karlyn sewed all around the four sides, leaving a 4″ opening for turning right side out. She also gave a running commentary on how sewing machines work and why a seam ripper is a valuable tool and why you should keep your fingers a safe distance from the machine needle. The girls then used shears to trim away excess batting and backing. Once the corners were clipped diagonally, they were ready to turn their placemats right side out.

Pwoc trimming placemat

I’m thankful Karlyn and Karlene could come to my house on Friday to sew the turning openings closed and to machine quilt all 23 placemats. Most are stitched in the ditch for simplicity’s sake.


It was so interesting to evaluate the design elements employed by each child even though they only used squares, the simplest of all quilt shapes. Stay tuned for a blog on this subject!

Quilting Class for Kids, Part 2

16 07 2015

During the month of July, I am teaching 8 to 13 year-old girls about patchwork design during the women’s Bible study at Fort Bragg. I’m combining a Bible story lesson with design ideas via traditional blocks named for Bible stories. Last week, we looked at “The Garden of Eden.” This week, we talked about “Jacob’s Ladder.”


Besides learning about Jacob’s vision of a ladder reaching from earth to heaven with descending and ascending angels and God’s promises to Jacob, the girls put together construction paper puzzles of the block. I encouraged them to experiment with the shapes prior to showing them the tradional “Jacob’s Ladder” block. This design has possibilities!

Paper puzzle

Another activity was designing a placemat with 35 squares from my 3″ square bin of scraps. (After 20 girls rummaged in the bin, it now contains mostly dark “ugly” fabrics!) I asked the girls to attach each square to a sheet of newsprint with a dab of washable glue.


My job is carefully removing the squares and sewing them  in the proper order into placemat tops. If you live locally and have time to help me with the sewing, give me a call!