A Finish and a Start

I have a fabulous finish to show you today – – the 2019 raffle quilt of the Tarheel Quilters Guild. I designed this quilt last fall, shopped for the blue batik fabric at Pineapple Fabrics warehouse sale, cut kits for members, and arranged demos of Wonky Star blocks at a guild meeting. My friend Karlene helped me square up the blocks, and Colleen helped me arrange them on the design wall. Irene and Pat paper pieced the outer border and Kelsey of Grice Farm Quilts employed her amazing machine quilting talents. “Sparkling Pinpoints” was truly a group project, and we are all proud of our queen size quilt!

Let me know how many raffle quilt tickets you’d like to purchase. The drawing will be at the guild’s annual Christmas party in December.

And since I finished two projects recently, I authorized myself to begin a new quilt. Here’s a picture of the fabrics, but I can’t divulge the quilt design. You will just have to wait for the Christmas holiday issue of Quiltmaker magazine! The fabrics are from Benartex:  Jubilee and Jubilee Holiday by Amanda Murphy.

“Eye Spy” Finish

“Eye Spy with my little eye . . .”

I raided my box of 3″ squares and cut more from conversation prints for the centers of the patchwork blocks. Frames of primary colors were cut 2″ wide, and I cut 2″ corner squares of black and white polka dot fabric. I decided to extend the Nine Patch secondary design in the borders. (The math actually works out for 3″ finished squares in the outer border, but I forgot and cut 3″ squares as I did for the interior blocks. Extra points if you can figure out how I coped with my “Ooops.”)

While looking in JoAnn’s for sashing, I ran into a quilting friend from my guild. She propelled me toward a white with colorful triangles print instead of the white and gray print I was considering. I am pleased with the fun-loving results. Most of the squares in the interior of the quilt have a “twin” in the outer border so the recipient of this quilt has had fun matching the monkey, cat, cowboy boots, construction equipment, etc.

I quilted the quilt with white thread in a meander and loop, freehand design. And I bound the quilt with black Kona cotton.

Have you made an “Eye Spy” quilt? What was the most interesting conversation print you included?

String-Pieced Star Lap Quilt

How do you use extra string-pieced blocks? I had three lonely 8″ blocks leftover from my “Nancy” quilt. I trimmed the blocks to 7 1/2″ and constructed 14 1/2″ Saw Tooth Star blocks with golden yellow star points and blue tone-on-tone background. I solicited help from my Quilting Circle to make a fourth block and to string-piece a border on paper foundations. My goal was to teach my quilting friends how to string-piece as they helped me finish a charity quilt top. (Thanks, ladies!)


I tried a new serpentine (wavy) all-over quilt design on my long arm machine. Beginning at the top of the quilt, I free-handed a giant rick-rack style curve from the left edge of the quilt to the right edge. Back and forth I quilted, echoing my initial wave, keeping the lines approximately 1″ apart. I love the texture this design created!

If you try this on a home sewing machine, I suggest drawing (or tracing) a curved with chalk through the center of your quilt. After quilting the chalked curvy line, work outward from the left and the right of the serpentine line of stitching. Keep the stitching lines approxmiately 1″ apart, and don’t stress if the waves aren’t perfectly spaced.

Retirement Gift Quilt

A star block completeOn Friday my husband and I attended a retirement ceremony for his friend and colleague, Ch. Starnes. At such ceremonies, the retiree is presented an award for service, a commander’s coin, and a folded American flag. To add a personal touch, I decided to make a gift for Mrs. Starnes.

Have you seen the “Star Bright” quilt made with 5″ charm squares offered at craftsy.com? Click here, join craftsy if you are not already a member, and scroll down to the free pattern. “Star Bright” was my inspiration for the quilt for my friend. Instead of using 5″ charm squares, my charming quilt uses one-of-a-kind 2″ squares.

For the star center I found a 3 1/2″ square printed panel of the Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.” I cut out eight navy 3 1/2″ squares and eight gold 2″ squares for “sew-on-the-diagonal and flip” triangles. After making the star points, assembling the squares as a Nine Patch was easy!A star block Snapping a picture of the first border of 2″ squares visually reminded me of their placement. I used my 15″ square ruler as a tray to transport the fabric pieces to my sewing table.

A star block plan

I added two more borders of squares on the right side and at the bottom of the quilt. Having a box of 2″ squares already cut from scraps sped the project along.

A star block row 3

Adding two more rows to the bottom of the quilt finished the asymmetrical arrangement. The wall quilt measures 15 1/2″ x 18 1/2.”

A star block top

For quilting, I selected a gold thread to echo quilt 1/8″ inside the star points and to diagonally cross-hatch the squares. I meandered with navy thread in the background of the star.

A star block hanging sleeve

After sewing single fold navy binding to the front of the quilt, I attached a hemmed hanging sleeve to the back at the top. The raw edge of the sleeve is flush with the raw edge of the trimmed quilt; the hemmed edge is toward the center of the quilt. I machine stitched the raw edge through all layers; the stitching was covered when I hand stitched the binding to the back of the quilt. I hand stitched the hemmed edge of the sleeve and cut a dowel the width of the quilt. To hang the quilt, my friend can pound two small nails into the wall and suspend the dowel on the nails.

A star block with ferns

Congratulations, Chaplain and Mrs. Starnes! May your retirement years be delightful!

“Nancy” Quilt Finished!

I’m happy to report that my “Nancy” lap quilt is finished!  You can read about the inspiration for this quilt and my method for making the blocks here. Incidentally, Lynn Harris, who designed “Nancy,” has written “Every Last Piece;” it will be available from amazon.com in mid-May.


I used a lime green thread to quilt an all over design that resembles the lines on a contour map. This thread choice was good in that it blends well with all the fabrics, BUT since I was quilting in the evening, it was very hard to tell where I had already quilted. It blended almost too well. However, I cannot think of a thread color I would prefer for “Nancy.”


I really like this design which utilized many scrappy strings, and I will probably make another very similar. Now begins the hunt for a lime green fabric. Or perhaps I could use a different color for the large triangles. What color would you advise?

“Window Pane Disappearing Nine Patch”

The “Disappearing Nine Patch” quilt design is fairly popular; perhaps you have made one like my quilt for Hazel Poppy. But have you heard of a “Window Pane Disappearing Nine Patch?”


You can see a tutorial for this quilt design by Jenny Doan of Missouri Star Quilt Company on You Tube. I have been saving two sets of charm squares for just such a project. (These were birthday gifts from the Nuertingen quilt group in Germany.)  Jenny Doan used black strips between her charm squares. However, since my 5″ squares were dark, rich jewel tones, I selected a tan, swirly fabric  for contrast instead.

I cut the tan fabric into 1 1/2″ strips and sewed them between the 5″ squares.


Then I cut these “Window Pane Nine Patches” into 4 equal squares.


I made 8 large “Window Pane Nine Patch” blocks which yielded 32 small blocks.


I arranged the blocks in a 5 x 6 grid on the floor and turned the blocks so no seams matched as Jenny instructed in the tutorial. With this arrangement, I had 2 small blocks left over.


After moving the blocks around a bit to distribute the various colors, I sewed the blocks in each row together and then joined the rows. I decided to add a 4″ border of the tan swirly fabric.


The striped flannel for the backing was a “free table” find at my guild. The colors blend perfectly with the warm tans and oranges in the quilt. I enlarged the backing by adding a panel of burnt orange and the two leftover blocks.


As you can see in the photo above, I quilted freehand curls in gold thread to mimic the swirly tan print. A half yard of dark teal fabric inherited from my mom made a handsome binding.


Won’t this make a comfy quilt for a patient at the V.A. hospital?

“Charmville” Quilt Along


How about making this happy quilt to celebrate the new year?!

In my previous post, I proposed a Quilt Along (QAL) for “Charmville,” my quilt published in the Feb./Mar. 2014 issue of McCall’s Quick Quilts. I hope you will participate! The quilt is fun and easy to make and helps utilize those small bits of fabric in your overflowing scrap bin. If you cannot find the magazine locally, you may purchase it from the McCall’s website. My contract with McCall’s prohibits me from providing the instructions on the blog, so please purchase the magazine or simply use the photo above as a springboard for designing your own quilt.

Leave a comment below if you plan to participate in the Quilt Along. Feel free to modify the quilt design idea to fit your space and decor. For example, you could make a table runner, pillow, pincushion, potholder, vest, etc. The deadline for sending me a picture of your project will be 10 March 2014. Shortly after that date, I will post pictures of all the completed “Charmville” projects, and we’ll have a Viewer’s Choice vote of the favorite quilt. The winner will receive a $50 gift certificate for my longarm quilting service.

Happy New Year . . . and Happy Quilting!

“Celtic Solstice” a Mystery

“Celtic Solistice” is a mystery quilt designed by Bonnie Hunter of quiltville.com. For the past several years, she has challenged her blog followers with a mystery that lasts from Thanksgiving weekend through Epiphany. One clue is published each Friday.

I decided to play along this year, even though I will be out of town visiting relatives on some of the weekends and thus miss prime, uninterrupted sewing time. I will do my best to catch up during the week.


This box, hand made by my friend, Katrin, a professional book binder, organizes my patchwork pieces.

Bonnie suggested lots of oranges, yellows, greens, blues and white/neutrals. Most of my neutrals are tan or cream based, so I decided since my colored fabrics are bright I will use only one white on white neutral for the whole quilt. In the end, we’ll see how it looks compared to Bonnie’s scrappy quilt.


Click here to see the progress of over 195 (and counting) mystery quilt participants. Click on the button (bottom right of my blog) showing “Paddy” the green bear to connect with Bonnie’s blog. Then click on the “Celtic Solstice” tab at the top of the blog to see/read an explanation of the mystery. It’s not too late to join the fun!

Scrappy Squares

Spring 2012 found the Black Forest Quilters in Stuttgart, Germany exchanging 2 1/2″ squares. Lisa and Karen organized the swap and instructed the participants to machine baste 20 different 2 1/2″ squares on a strip of paper. “You may exchange as many sets of 20 squares as you like. There will be a prize for the quilter who brings the most squares to exchange.” If memory serves me correctly, Herma brought over 3000 squares. Not me! I think I exchanged about 400.DSCN3792

I clipped the basting thread and organized the squares by color, fitting them into my 2 1/2″ square storage containers.DSCN3800

How could I use all those squares? I racked my brain for a simple square-ish design.

This past fall I facilitated a 12 week Bible study class on Ephesians and Philippians. Each week, I asked the ladies to select a square of fabric that helped them answer an ice breaker question. Question examples: Which fabric square reminds you of home? What is your favorite holiday? Where would you like to go on vacation? By answering the questions at each class, we got to know one another and developed friendships. Each week I sewed the squares we talked about into a patchwork block.DSCN3796

The 12 “class” blocks are in the center of the quilt. To increase the size of the quilt, I made extras to surround the class blocks. On the last day of class, we drew a name of all those in attendance. Sam Suk won! She recently moved to the States from South Korea. Receiving a quilt from a group of like-minded new friends is the warmest welcome I can think of!DSCN3782

Quiltmaker’s note: This quilt photographs well, but looks rather busy “in person.” I should have made the sashing 1/2″ wider so each block has some “elbow room.”