“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.


2016 Fat Quarter Challenge – February

15 02 2016

This year I’m doing my best to turn my burgeoning stash of Fat Quarters into quilts. I hope you’ll join me in this quest; accept the Fat Quarter Challenge! Here are some projects which utilized FQs.

First, I used a brown and pink print FQ that I received at Christmastime to make our guild’s February BOM, Jacob’s Ladder. The Block Of the Month coordinator stipulated brown and pink prints, so my FQ fit the bill.


IMG_20160208_110239_576-1I used leftovers from the print as well as several other pink and brown FQs and scraps to make “Steppin’ Up,” one of my all-time favorite baby quilts. Notice that the border print is augmented with two other prints; I turned a shortage of fabric into a “design opportunity.” I used brown/pink variegated thread in a freehand meandering quilting design. Don’t you love the striped binding? (A link for instructions to “Steppin’ Up” is on the Patterns page of this blog. I modified the pattern by cutting my strips 4″ wide rather than 3 1/2″ wide.)


Something about fat quarters makes me think of making baby quilts. I suppose that’s because a fat quarter is a small-ish piece of fabric, just right for making a small-ish quilt.


This quilt incorporates two FQs I received in December from two quilting friends. Anne gave me the sweet Beatrix Potter print which I used in Four Patches on the front of the quilt. Peggy gave me the clown print which was just the right size for completing the backing. Click on the picture to zoom in; you’ll see the pastel prints and quilting design in more detail.


I combined the fat quarters with pinks and greens from my stash to bless a preemie in the NICU at our local hospital.

How will you use your FQs this month? Send me a picture of your project, and I’ll share it with blog readers. aby dot quilts at gmail dot com

Busy Bees Workshop

17 08 2015

On 12 August I helped the Busy Bees of Fountain Inn, SC construct “Prest-O, Change-O” quilts. Everyone attended the workshop having completed the required homework. All the quilts started out looking like this:

Presto Changeo straight set

After stay-stitching, we cut the quilt tops diagonally, rearranged the pieces and re-sewed. We made second diagonal cuts through the quilt tops, and again rearranged the pieces and re-sewed. We had a lot of fun, and everyone made great progress on their quilts. It was so interesting to compare fabric choices. We had totally scrappy from stash, Christmas prints, Kansas Troubles, batik blues and greens, as well as purple and green prints. As you can see, all the choices yielded lovely quilts!

Busy Bees 1

Thanks for enthusiastic participation, Busy Bees!

We effortlessly turned straight-set squares into squares on-point.

Busy Bees 2

I designed “Prest-O, Change-O”  to utilize 2 packages of 5″ charm squares. I was inspired by Anita Hallock’s sewing and cutting method found in her book, “Scrap Quilts Using Fast Patch” published by Chilton Book Company, 1991. If you would like to purchase a pattern, leave a comment below.

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?

Sweet and Simple

11 02 2015

Do you need a quick charity or gift quilt? How about Framed Four Patches?


I obtained the pattern idea for this quilt from my friend, Linda, who heads the charity quilt committee for her guild.

Strip-piecing the Four Patches with 4″ x WOF strips was a breeze. And framing them with 2 1/2″ wide strips was equally painless.


I made 15 blocks of each coloration and joined them together in a 5 x 6 grid. I plan to gift this quilt to our local Fisher House, which provides meals and accomodations for injured soldiers and their families while the soldiers undergo treatment.


Since “celebrate” is my word for the year, in February I’ll celebrate this sweet and simple gift and the warmth it will provide to someone who needs a hug and encouragement!


Simply Squares

23 06 2014

My friend, Linda, is currently the charity quilt chariman for the Colonial Piecemakers in Williamsburg, Va. When she has an overage of quilt tops made by guild members that need quilting, I sometimes volunteer my longarm services. Recently I quilted two noteworthy quilts. Noteworthy because they are very nice quilts made with the lowliest of shapes, the simple square.


All the colorful fabrics keep your eyes moving around and around this quilt! Can you find the heart, the chicken, the baseball and the hippo? If you are searching for an easy project for a child or grandchild to help you sew this summer, consider making a quilt like this. And if the child is too young to handle scissors or a sewing machine, they can help plan the placement of the squares and hand them to you as you sew. (This idea for little helpers comes from my friend, Karlene of scrapmuffinquilts.wordpress.com.)

Using variegated thread, I quilted back and forth across the quilt in a design reminiscient of contour ploughing, echoing the loopy shapes in the previous row.


The second quilt is an interesting coloration of a Nine Patch. Eight squares of various shades of purple surround a white central square. I first saw this configuration on Rita Hodges’ blog redpepperquilts.com. She used smaller red squares for her quilt. In the quilt below, the purple hues perfectly complement the grapevine print in the outer border.


I quilted an all over stylized leaf design in variegated purple thread.


Simple squares make awesome quilts!


Are you making a quilt containing squares this summer? If so, leave a comment below describing your quilt.


“Trip Around the World”

23 04 2013

Once a month I host a Quilting Circle in my home. Some of the ladies have made quilts at past duty stations, some are beginners. Our fall project was beginner-friendly “Chinese Coins” using Bali Pops (Batik “jelly rolls”). Penni, Stephanie and Connie have completed their quilts.

For our spring project, I invited Stacy to teach “Trip Around the World.” She loves making this design by sewing 40″ strips into a tube, cross-cutting, and un-sewing. We constructed the quilt one quadrant at a time.


I dug into my container of homespun plaids to find 8 different fabrics. Prepwork involved rotary cutting 3 strips of each fabric. Homework after the March meeting was to make Quadrant 1. But I was intrigued by the design and couldn’t rest until the entire quilt top was completed!


I photographed my “Trip” at an old sawmill. A meandering design is quilted in navy thread. It will be a cozy lap quilt for a resident at our local Veterans Administration Hospital.


You can see quadrants and quilts made by the Quilting Circle on Stacy’s blog: quiltiferous.wordpress.com. It is so interesting to see everyone’s color choices! Here is the link to Stacy’s blog. Refer to her April 22, 2013 post.