Lake Gaston Piecemakers

Last Tuesday I was happy to present a “Hearthside Stars” table runner workshop for the Lake Gaston Piecemakers near Bracey, VA. The ladies had a great time sewing and chatting together as you can see from the photos below.

The original design calls for a charm pack of 5″ squares as well as background fabric, but Cindy and Gail are using fabrics from their stashes.

The pattern is five faux-Sawtooth Stars, but Linda is making a longer runner which will look fantastic on her large dining table. We all loved the theme fabric–vintage trucks hauling Christmas trees.

Mary is also making a Christmas/winter themed runner with lovely geometric batiks.

This runner is made from a charm pack by Judy. The fall prints are from an older line by Sandy Gervais.

Bonnie admits to having a stash of pre-cuts in which she discovered a charm pack of Christmas prints perfect for this project. Isn’t her runner lovely?

For my project, I used a charm pack of “At the Helm” designed by Danhui Nai for Wilmington Prints. I plan to quilt a pantograph of sailboats and anchors with medium blue thread. And I am thinking a solid navy binding would frame the project nicely.

If your guild or sewing group would enjoy making “Hearthside Stars” runners in a three hour workshop, please contact me at

String-Pieced Beverage Gift Bag Published

You are going to love the December/January issue of Fons & Porter’s Quick + Easy Quilts! From festive quilts to baskets to bags, the issue is sure to spark your creativity. As a bonus, the project designers share holiday traditions and recipes. If you are an Aby pattern collector, this issue gives you two for the price of one. My string-pieced beverage gift bag is pictured on the cover, and my “Sparkling Pines” runner is patterned on page 90.

“The beverage gift bag combines two of our family holiday traditions. The first tradition is using and re-using fabric gift bags. Through the years, I have made simple fabric gift bags which come out of the attic each December. Some have lace or braid at the open edge; some have ribbon or cording for ties. The largest, made from half-yard cuts of fabric, notoriously contain clothing gifts. Smaller bags are tailored to the size of gift they contain. Family members reluctantly return the bags once the gifts are opened. That’s the rule . . . then I can use them again the following year. The second tradition is enjoying sparkling grape juice or apple juice during Thanksgiving and Christmas meals. Even the youngest can raise a toast to the occasion with this delicious fizzy treat!”

The magazine instructions and diagrams show exactly how I made the bags, and the three examples I sent were photographed to best advantage. I know you will enjoy making this project, perfect for gift-giving. Tip – using French wire ribbon for the bow ensures a pretty finish. And the quilt batting cushions the glass bottle during transport.

If you are a long time subscriber to Quilting Daily publications, “Sparkling Pines” will seem familiar. It was originally published six years ago in McCall’s Quick Quilts. I’m glad it was selected for re-publication; it is such a quick and fun project.

QQ dec jan 14 Sparkling-Pines-FLAT-600px
Sparkling Pines

What quilt-y family traditions do you look forward to enjoying during the holiday season?

In the Quilting Room

“It’s not a quilt until it’s quilted!” So I’ve been working diligently to quilt and bind the tops I sewed while on a recent quilting retreat. First up is a table runner for a young couple’s wedding gift. Typical of many brides today, she plans to decorate with gray as the predominant color. I begged her mom for an accent color that I could throw into the mix, and blue was the answer.

I like the juxtaposition of elaborate quilting and the simple patchwork in shades of gray. The color (or non-color) allows the quilting to shine. The quilting design is “Calliope” by Patricia E. Ritter. My quilting consultants advised that the blue binding would add a needed accent. I am pleased with the outcome, but if I make this style of table runner again, I will add a blue diamond in the center square of the “Churn Dash” blocks for more color contrast.

I’ve also completed four baby quilts. Two owl quilts will be perfect for twins spending time in the NICU. The babies will receive quilts of the same owl fabric theme yet different patchwork designs. Owls plus orange plus blue are a gender neutral fabric/color scheme, making these quilts versatile for either boys or girls. Since the fabrics contain large circles, I freehand quilted loops and double loops over all. I used tan thread on the first quilt and orange thread on the second quilt. (I am really liking the jazzy orange thread that blends with the border yet shows up jauntily on the white background!)

Two sailboat quilts were next in the queue. With all the string-pieced blue fabrics, I imagine these quilts finding homes with baby boys. My inspiration for the underlying quilt was “Blueberry Crumble” designed by Megan of the Tiny Orchard Quilts website and You Tube channel. (BTW, I highly recommend Megan’s You Tube channel!) Using the theme fabric as a guide, I used medium blue thread to quilt “Sea Worthy,” a sailboat and anchor pantograph on both quilts.

There are several more retreat project flimsy finishes that need my attention, so I am off to my quilting room!

“Autumn Day” Table Runner

I am really excited about my latest “charm pack friendly” table runner design!

The fabric line is “Autumn Day” designed by Kathy Mink for Wilmington Prints. The pumpkins, plaids, leaves, and berries definitely say “fall.” I purchased a newly arrived charm pack of forty-two 5″ squares from Sew There! Quilts and More in Angier, NC. (I know the shop has plenty of charm packages, and Bonnie would be happy to mail you the fabric for this project.)

I am working on writing instructions for the table runner which uses ALL the squares of a charm pack plus some light fabric for sashing and first border. The Churn Dash blocks were quick and easy to assemble; dimensions were simple due to using 5″ pre-cuts. Tan tone-on-tone separates the blocks, and a scrappy border accentuates the homey appearance. An all-over quilting design of various leaf shapes with gold polyester thread compliments the fall theme. I considered making the binding from an orange tone-on-tone fabric, but opted for black grunge. I felt that while orange contrasts nicely with the prints in the runner, it wouldn’t show up well against my oak dining table. On the other hand, if your dining table is black or dark brown, an orange binding would be perfect.

Would you be interested in making this table runner design? Would you have time to participate in a Quilt Along with other abyquilts blog readers this fall?

“Pretty Blossoms” Published

Raise your hand if you are tired of Winter and ready for Spring. Me, too! While you wait for sunshine and green foliage and cheery flowers, why not sew a warm-weather inspired table runner?

“Pretty Blossoms”

“Pretty Blossoms” is published in the March/April 2021 issue of McCall’s Quilting magazine. I was inspired to make this quilt by the lovely memories of visiting my grandmothers in the summertime and seeing the colorful flowers they planted in the borders surrounding their homes and in the first row of their vegetable gardens: gladiolas, zinnias, petunias, impatiens, and sweet William. When designing the runner, I wanted the flowers to float in a field of green leaves and grass. I felt I should use two shades of green for interest; the runner would be too boring if I used only one green fabric. I chose pink and purple for the flowers, but you could choose your favorite floral colors. Incidentally, the vibrant fabrics I used are from Wilmington Prints.

This project utilizes a Quilt As You Go (QAYG) technique, so once you have completed piecing the runner, you have also completed the quilting. (Consult the magazine for detailed diagrams and explanation, pg. 48.) I added extra color on the runner perimeter by enclosing jumbo rickrack in the binding. You can see the placement of the rickrack in the picture below. I used double-sided, water soluble basting tape to hold the rickrack in place. To reduce bulk in the binding, I snipped away the rickrack curves that extended past the edges of the runner.

Rickrack detail

I love the magazine photographer’s suggestion of using “Pretty Blossoms” on a kitchen island. It’s the perfect complement to a springtime luncheon. In a comment below, tell what floral colors you would use in your table runner to reflect your favorite blossoms.

“Chinese Coins”

For the past couple of weeks I have been sewing samples for my upcoming class on String Piecing Tips and Techniques at Sew There! Quilts and More in Angier, NC. I used a bundle of selvage end scraps from Pineapple Fabrics to make a sweet quilt for a little girl.

Hindsight is always better than foresight. After finishing the quilt top, I wished I had used a lighter pink for the sashing and borders, in keeping with the pastel nature of the prints. I am such a dyed in the wool high contrast quilter, always gravitating toward the darker hue. It is difficult for me to make a blendy quilt with all medium values.

To compensate for my darker-than-desired fabric choice, I used light pink thread so the quilting design would show up better. I like the way the dragonflies flit between the flowers. (The pantograph is “Dragonflies and Flowers” by Dave Hudson.)

Another “Chinese Coins” design class sample is a simple, colorful table runner. These strips are also selvage ends from Pineapple Fabrics.

To add some color in the border and texture overall, I chose a polyester Magnifico variegated thread and quilted freehand spirals. The circular spirals add movement and interest to the plain and straight patchwork.

Are you presently working on a string pieced quilt?

“Star Baker” Published!

Guess what showed up in my mailbox this past week?! The May/June 2020 issue of McCall’s Quilting is hot off the press, and I’m excited to say that my table runner design is included.

I made the runner with a charm pack of 5″ squares of “We Whisk You a Merry Christmas” and some solid black yardage. The editors suggest that spring is the perfect time to steal a march on holiday sewing for your own decorating or gift giving. You might even have a charm pack or two lurking in your sewing room just begging to be used. “Star Baker” is a quick and easy project; I know you will love the results!

Here’s Karen showing her runner in yellow and blue florals – so popular just now.

Quilting Daily has graciously provided me with two copies to give away to blog readers. If you would like to be entered in the drawing, leave a comment below stating what colors or theme you envision making “Star Baker” with. The drawing will be March 30.

Christmas in March?

Well . . . I am not celebrating Christmas all over again, but I have recently finished several Christmas projects that have been in the UFO pile for many months. It feels great to complete them, knowing they’ll be fun to display and use next December!

My friend Colleen made a table runner for her daughter that I admired, and I hinted strongly that I would like a small quilt made with the same bright fabrics. Isn’t this wall quilt so much fun? (Thanks, Colleen!)

Over a year ago I made this table runner with a package of 5″ charm squares. It was an alternate coloring of “Chroma Keys,” published by Quilting Quickly, Nov/Dec 2018. Click here to see the blog post picturing “Chroma Keys.”

I quilted both the wall hanging and the table runner with the “Winter White” pantograph of snowflakes and loops by Dave Hudson. I used a polyester silver gray thread which shows up nicely against the darker fabrics. (Click on either picture to zoom in for a view of the quilting design.)

Are you working on finishing any winter holiday projects?

“Twisted Hexies” Published!

Have you seen the March/April 2020 issue of Fons & Porter’s Love of Quilting magazine? On the cover is Scott Flanagan’s gorgeous “Fresh Grapes” (based on a “Carpenter’s Star” design) made in batiks from hundreds of diamonds. And if you flip to page 36, you’ll see my table runner design, “Twisted Hexies.” I made it from Civil War repro colored print fabrics and shirtings from my stash.

When I saw the patchwork block on Pinterest, the great quilting research tool, I thought it would be very complicated and time consuming to make. However, it is surprisingly easy to construct. Attach the first trapezoid to the center hexagon with a partial seam, and the other five trapezoids are quickly added.

I enjoyed making this project and hope you will try making some “twisted hexies.” The editors and graphic artists for Love of Quilting are awesome, writing clear directions with plenty of explanatory diagrams. You will have lots of fun making this design! I have a free magazine for one lucky blog reader. Just leave a comment below stating what style or color of fabrics you would use to make a “Twisted Hexies” table runner or quilt. The drawing will be Feb. 12. I can ship to a U.S. address only.

Don’t think, “I never win anything; why bother adding my name to the drawing?” Did you know, only 12 people entered the previous drawing for the March/April issue of McCall’s Quilting? So you have a great chance of winning. By the way, Karlene’s name was drawn as the winner. Congratulations, Karlene!

Karla’s Scrappy Makes

Karla sent several pictures of scrap projects made over a rainy 4th of July holiday. She tackled her overflowing bin of orange and black fabrics and produced a table runner, His and Hers place mats, and “Charmville” mug rugs.

First up is the Log Cabin table runner – decorative for a fall table or Halloween celebration. Made with college team colors, wouldn’t this be a fun gift for a dorm-living student?

The idea for place mats was presented as a freebie with my “Travel Plans” table runner published in McCall’s Quick Quilts April/May 2017. I love the lime green rectangle in the center, don’t you?


And now for the cutest of all . . . “Charmville” houses mug rugs. “Charmville” was the cover quilt for McCall’s Quick Quilts, February/March 2014. It’s still a favorite design with many of my quilting friends!

Thanks, Karla, for sharing pictures of your inspiring projects!

Read more about these projects on Karla’s blog,

I would love to see what you are working on, be it a scrappy project, a UFO, or a WIP (Work in Progress). Email pictures to aby dot quilts at gmail dot com