“Favorites” BOM #3 Wrap-up

Here we are, at the end of April, and it’s time to applaud the BOM participants who have completed the two blocks assigned this month, “Weathervane Variation” and “Ribbon Star.”

First up are blocks by Terry. She is making two quilts! One quilt has a strong and bold palette…

and the other quilt has a soft and sweet vibe.

Joan has been busy as well. The greens, gold, and rust she has chosen say “fall” to me.

Trish is also quilting along. I love the way her purples and pinks play with the dark green and the pansy theme print!

Chris is using her stash of 1930’s reproduction prints. How fun!

Kathy writes, “April was a busy month, but I finished!” Hooray, Kathy.

Paula is working with a black background which makes the other colors stand out so well. She opted to use just one color, aqua, in the Nine Patch diamond which surrounds the center square. She is anxious for tomorrow’s post when the two final 12″ blocks are revealed.

Are you quilting along with the “Favorites” block of the month project in 2022? Did you make “Weathervane Variation” and “Ribbon Star?” If so, comment “DONE” below to be entered in a drawing for a free quilting magazine. If you are new to the blog and are curious about the project, click on “Favorites BOM QAL” in the menu. You will link to a page with printer-friendly instructions for all the blocks to date.

“Cabins and Cornerstones” Published!

The May/June 2022 issue of Quiltmaker magazine has reached subscribers’ mailboxes. Look for it on your favorite newsstand! Themed “Father Knows Best: Quilts by and for Men,” the issue is brimful of perfect projects for Father’s Day gifts as well as for springtime sewing.

My quilt, “Cabins and Cornerstones” is featured on pages 56-61. The editor succinctly explained the process for making this quilt and included fantastic step by step diagrams. But I bet you would like to know some back story and behind-the-scenes info.

My friend, Kathy, showed our quilting class a Log Cabin quilt she made with scraps from her stash as well as some inherited from her mother. She recommended the Creative Grids Log Cabin Trim Tool saying, “This is the most fun I’ve ever had making a quilt.” Wanting to share in the fun, I bought the ruler and begin digging into my container of strips and strings.

In my haste, I didn’t read the instructions which suggest sewing light “logs” first around the center square. I added dark logs first as you can see in the picture below. Sewing dark logs first meant that the longest logs would be light and would therefore not frame the block nicely.

However, we can turn most of our mistakes into design opportunities! I decided a red sashing between the blocks could simulate the final dark logs. Once I settled on red sashing, I avoided using red logs in the blocks so red wouldn’t be touching red, thus muddling the design.

I pieced the “Piano Key” border from 2″ wide strips and made four more Log Cabin blocks for corner squares in the border. But the scale was wrong; the narrow logs didn’t look cohesive with the wider piano keys. So I made four identical Log Cabin blocks with black center squares and 2″ wide logs which look so much better.

I quilted the “China Sea” pantograph (designed by Keryn Emmerson) with light gray thread and bound “Cabins and Cornerstones” with solid black fabric.

To echo my friend Kathy, “I had a lot of fun making this quilt!” It is not a quilt-in-a-day project; I pieced the blocks over several months, keeping a tray of strips and strings on a small table near my sewing machine. Sometimes the blocks were leaders and enders as I sewed other projects; sometimes I chain pieced three or four blocks at a time. I used the trim tool ruler after each round of logs to make sure my cabins stayed square as I built them. “Cabins and Cornerstones” is a great design for turning narrow scraps into a beautiful, colorful quilt!

“2021 Mystery” from A Quilting Life – Finished!

Sherri McConnell of A Quilting Life (blog, podcast, and You Tube channel) is one of the quilters I “follow.” For the past several years, Sherri has designed a mystery sampler block of the month and published instructions for 12″ and 6″ blocks on her blog. Last January I decided to quilt along and pulled together some bright scraps and fat quarters for my quilt. I made both 12″ and 6″ blocks, intending to include both sizes in the sampler.

At first I thought the fabrics for my quilt would not make a cohesive finished quilt since they hail from various fabric lines. But I kept making blocks, and in the end, I am very pleased with the bright scrappiness of the composition.

You can see Sherri’s setting for the 2021 mystery here and purchase her pattern, if you desire. Since I included both sizes of blocks, I chose a different setting – the same setting as the “Sisters” BOM QAL I designed for our 2020 block of the month. I made extra 6″ blocks to fill out the design.

As well as being a scrap stash buster, this quilt fulfills a fat quarter challenge. At a retreat last April, I gave eleven friends a fat quarter of a blue/green/purple leaf print with the challenge of using it in a project to show at this year’s retreat. I sprinkled patches of my fat quarter throughout this quilt. (The challenge print is circled in the photo below.)

The Piano Key border, suggested by my daughter, increases the quilt size and adds to the scrappy fun. I quilted a waving ribbons design with beige thread. Royal blue binding finishes the edge. What will I do with this quilt? My friend will soon move into her own place, and this quilt will be the perfect apartment-warming gift.

“Favorites” BOM QAL Launch


February 1st . . . THE day we begin our Block of the Month Quilt Along! I’ve titled the quilt “Favorites” because it is composed of favorite quilt block designs. Some of the blocks were suggested by blog readers, and some are my personal go-to designs. Some of the blocks are repeats from the 2020 “Sisters” BOM. By the way, the instructions for the 12″ blocks are still available for download under the “Sisters BOM QAL” tab in the menu. Several of the “Favorites” blocks are repeats from the 2021 “Options” BOM, and all those instructions are still available under the “Options BOM QAL” tab in the menu.

“Favorites” is a medallion style quilt meaning a central block is surrounded by borders. We begin with “Friendship Wreath,” composed of eight interlocking “Friendship Stars,” that finishes at 18″ square.

“Friendship Wreath”

Isn’t this a pretty block? I love the way the alternately spinning stars create a circle. I selected one print of each of the three main colors contained in my fat quarter stack of “Flower and Vine:” pink, green, and blue. I used the yellow accent for the star centers. A close look at the picture reveals that I used two light background fabrics. One fat quarter of the small fern, when cut conservatively, provided for the squares, rectangles and triangles in the outer portions of the block, but I had to cut the center 6 1/2″ square from a different light background fabric. Of course, you may choose to use yardage of background fabric rather than fat quarters for your block.

I used the Easy Angle triangle ruler to cut the triangles for the star points; by using this ruler, I was able to cut all the pieces needed from one fat quarter. I highly recommend watching this You Tube video to familiarize yourself with the Easy Angle cutting and sewing technique: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Wxd1W9WVLU&t=12s)

The Wreath looks a little complicated with all those pieces, but I think you’ll find it to be a doable puzzle. My proofreaders say the instructions are clear with ample diagrams. Try it and see! Admittedly, “Friendship Stars” are not everyone’s favorite, so you may opt to construct a different 18″ patchwork block as the center of your quilt. Or you may have an applique block design you are anxious to try. This Quilt Along is all about you making a quilt of your favorite blocks. I am merely providing the geometrical framework and the encouraging motivation to work on a fat quarter friendly or stash friendly quilt in 2022.

You will find an introduction to the BOM QAL with fabric requirements, a line drawing coloring page, and instructions for “Friendship Wreath” on the “Favorites BOM QAL” page of this blog. If you finish your 18″ block in February, you’ll have the opportunity to comment “Done” on the 28th and be entered in a drawing for a free quilting magazine. In the meantime, please send me a picture of your completed block via email so I can share it with blog readers, thus encouraging fellow QAL participants. aby.quilts@gmail.com

“Spare Squares” Finished!

Last spring my friend Karlene and I decided to work on the same scrap quilt design. We were inspired by Lori Holt’s Sew Your Stash #16 “Spare Squares,” as seen in her You Tube tutorial. Over the months we encouraged each other and compared notes on our progress. Karlene even shared white print squares with me from her stash.

I selected my fabric layout as Lori Holt’s video showed, using a lot of light or white in the blocks and setting them with white alternate squares. I made 72 of the patchwork blocks for a queen size bed. The text print adds interest in the inner border and a teal blue outer border consolidates all the scrappiness of the interior. What I did not envision at the outset of the project was how light the finished quilt would be. While it is true that I used many, many 1 1/2″ squares for this quilt, the presence of so much white delegates it as a quilt for the guest room because daily use would quickly soil the pristine white fabrics.

On the other hand, Karlene reversed the coloration and used lots of colors in the blocks and set them with colorful alternate squares. I love her cheerful quilt so much! And it could certainly be used often since the colors will camouflage smudges.

Karlene’s “Spare Squares”

It was so much fun to work on a project separately, but together! I am looking forward to another scrappy adventure with Karlene in 2022.

“Pick Up Sticks” Small Quilts

At a quilt retreat in September, Colleen demonstrated the “insert” style of improv piecing. We each made several blocks using 1″ strips and light green background squares. The plan was to make small quilts to put into Operation Christmas Child “shoeboxes.”

Since the retreat, Colleen has trimmed the blocks to a uniform size and sewn them into three quilt tops. She passed them to me for machine quilting and binding. If you zoom in, you can see the quilting designs I chose: loops and meandering, “Paper Dolls” pantograph, and freehand contour echoing.

Each quilt measures about 36″ square, and we hope to roll each tightly, fitting it into an OCC box along with a small doll, dolly blanket (from more “Pick Up Sticks” blocks), hygiene items, and other small toys. It is our prayer that these group-made quilts bless children in need of comfort, joy, and the gospel of Christ.

“Roman Stripe”

“Come sit a spell, and if you are chilly, cover your lap with this quilt!”

I made the patchwork for this quilt several years ago. Since then it sat in my UFO pile while I debated about whether or not to make it larger and add patchwork star borders. Each 3” block is composed of three 1 1/2” x 3 1/2” strips, two matching lights and a dark blue or red. This is a value reversal of many Roman Stripe quilts; most of the time a lighter strip is flanked by two darker strips. The blocks are arranged in a 10 x 10 grid. I like the over-under woven look.

By adding a 2” wide inner border of light print and a 4” border of navy solid, the quilt is a perfect size for a vet at our local VA hospital. I freehand quilted stars and loops over all with royal blue thread. A red print binding echos the red patchwork strips nicely.

What project in your UFO pile do you want to finish this month? Leave a comment below; I will be your cheerleader. It feels great to transform a top into a useful quilt that will bless the recipient!

“Dashing Table Runner” Promo

Hello Quilting Friends, this is a reminder that our Quilt Along for the “Dashing Table Runner” begins in a week and a half, over Labor Day weekend. Have you selected your fabrics for the project yet?

I have heard from several blog readers about possible fabric themes: Karlene is contemplating using a charm pack of Christmas fabrics she has on hand, Sarah is considering using some fun Halloween prints she has collected, and Joan sent a picture of “Tochi” 5″ squares purchased from Missouri Star Quilt Company. Joan plans to use the runner on a guest room bureau.

The original idea for the runner was to efficiently use the forty-two 5″ squares that are marketed as charm packs. Sometimes we purchase a charm pack because the fabrics catch our eye, but then it sits on a shelf because we don’t know what to make with all the pretties. Or perhaps we find a use for several of the squares, and the rest are eventually resigned to the scrap bin. This Churn Dash design provides the opportunity to use all the fabrics in the package.

You will find a printer-friendly supply list for the 21″ x 50″ runner on the Patterns page of this blog. (Click on Patterns in the menu.) To summarize, to accompany the charm pack, you’ll need 1/3 yd. of Tone-on-Tone fabric for sashing and first border, 1/3 yd. Tone-on-Tone for binding, and 27″ x 56″ fabric for backing the project.

Admittedly, the runner pictured above is busy-busy with its riot of fall prints. If you would like to participate in the QAL but use a controlled fabric palette, I have modified the instructions for you. You’ll need the following fabrics for this option:

  • Large-Scale Print – {3} 5″ squares
  • Print or ToT A – {1} 5″ x 40″ strip for HSTs or {2} 5″ x 21″ strips from FQs
  • Print or ToT B – {3} 2 1/2″ x 21″ strips for rectangle units
  • Background, 1/3 yd. – {1} 5″ x 40″ strip for HSTs, and {3} 2 1/2″ x 21″ strips for rectangle units
  • Sashing/First Border, 1/3 yd. – {4} 2 1/2″ x 40″ strips
  • Optional Second Border, 1/2 yd., Large-Scale Print suggested
  • Binding 1/3 yd. – {4} 2 1/2″ x 40″ strips

In 2019 I facilitated a Block of the Month program at Sew There! Quilts and More in Angier, NC. The quilt I made included the fabrics pictured above. As is usually the case, a bag of scraps remained after the quilt was complete. This bag has sat on a shelf (with other project specific scrap bags) awaiting the perfect follow-on project. Notice that the colors are reversed in the center “Churn Dash.” I didn’t have a large enough scrap of the dark blue to cut the triangles, so I recolored the block. Now that I have made the “Dashing Table Runner,” I have parceled the remaining red prints to my Civil War repro bin and have relegated the large scale prints for the “free table” at my quilting guild. “Bye-bye” to one project scrap bag.

Whether the “scrappy total charm pack design” or the “controlled fabric palette design” appeals best to you, I hope you are planning to join us for the “Dashing Table Runner” QAL that begins Thursday September 2nd. By Monday, the 6th, you could be displaying the runner on a table or chest of drawers!

I am considering making short videos for each stage of the QAL. If this sounds fun and helpful to you, comment “yes” below. I need twenty “yes” comments to consider it a worthwhile effort.

Memory Quilts from Shirts

Kay’s friend asked her to make two memory quilts from her deceased husband’s shirts. One quilt would be a lap quilt for herself and the other would be baby-sized for an expected grandchild.

After deliberating design possibilities, Kay settled on Rail Fence blocks with sashing and cornerstones for the lap quilt. She cut the shirts in 2 1/2″ strips and spliced the shorter strips together with diagonal seams. She even included partial pockets, sleeve tabs, and plackets. The shirt fabrics with a high polyester content presented a challenge; they were slippery and shifty and didn’t lay as flat as 100% cotton fabric when pressed. But Kay persevered in this labor of love for her friend.

I applaud Kay’s use of yellow in the lap quilt’s sashing. This color brightens the quilt, accentuating cheerful rather than somber memories evoked by the shirts.

The smaller quilt for a baby girl includes some feminine solids and prints from Kay’s stash as well as lavender polka dot alternate squares. The lavender, a cuddly flannel, also serves as quilt backing.

Since both quilt tops contained partial pockets with openings and bulky sleeve tabs, I opted for freehand rather than pantograph edge to edge quilting. Hearts and loops add texture to the lap quilt, and Es and 3s look like puffy clouds on the baby quilt.

Kay has blessed her friend by preserving sweet memories in these quilts.

Pinwheels on the Design Wall

Anita P. asked me to transform her stack of Pinwheel blocks into a quilt. She hand stitched them over forty years ago under her grandmother’s watchful eye. There are forty-two blocks in all, perfect for a 6 x 7 grid.

I trimmed the blocks to 9″ square and am sewing 2″ sashing between them. The sashing, cut straight of grain, is stabilizing the blocks, many of which have bias edges. Some of the fabrics are thin cotton, typical of the era, and some are a polyester blend. I am hopeful that the white sashing nicely ties the blocks together and allows each Pinwheel to shine.

Anita plans to display the quilt at the foot of her bed where it will visually remind her of precious times spent sewing with her grandmother.