Magazine Winner and a Finish

I selected Kathy Reeves as the winner of McCall’s Quilting magazine; Kathy commented “Done” for the “Pinwheel” and “Tumbleweed” blocks in our “Favorites” BOM quilt along. Congrats, Kathy!

I have been in the mood to finish some of my many works in progress, hoping to clear the decks for new projects this fall. One of my finishes last week was a Christmas lap quilt. You will recognize many of the blocks as they are designs from the “Favorites” block of the month. In order to demonstrate the block construction at the monthly meet-ups in Sew There! quilt shop in Angier, I cut squares and triangles from Christmas fabrics leftover from making the Christmas version of “Sisters.” (You can read more about the Christmas “Sisters” quilt here.)

If you’ve been following along, you know that “Favorites” is comprised of both 8″ and 12″ finished blocks. To bring the four 8″ blocks up to size, I framed them with dark green check 2 1/2″ wide strips. I really like the effect – like built in sashing.

The off-white border was dressed up with holly leaves quilted with dark green thread. I free-hand custom quilted the blocks with continuous curve and leaf designs, using red or green thread.

The stripe binding finishes the lap quilt nicely. After I have enjoyed this quilt for awhile, I will donate it to an elderly citizen who needs some holiday cheer.

“Maymont” Finished

Bonnie Hunter, the queen of scrappy quilt designs, has a new pattern for you to try – “Maymont.” Click here to see all the digital patterns in Bonnie’s shop. “Maymont” is currently second in the line-up.

The many colors, yet planned design, for each block attracted me to this pattern. Each block is a mini “Trip Around the World.” Since my 2 1/2″ square scrap bin was overflowing, I surmised I could make the quilt using these scrap squares. I did find enough coordinating squares in the bin to make three blocks, but then I realized that my bin did not contain the four identical squares and eight identical squares needed. Not to worry, I next raided my stash of 2 1/2″ wide strips. When variety in the strip bin was exhausted, I cut from scrappy yardage.

When you look closely at Bonnie’s quilt, you will note some differences. She used smaller squares, set her blocks on point, and used many colors of corner stones in the sashing. I decided to use a gray fabric with multi-colored Xs for all the corner stones, feeling the fabric added unity and order. Since the sashing fabric was a very pale gray print, I used medium gray thread for quilting the “Drunken Feathers” design by Barbara Becker.

I enjoyed making this “almost free” quilt, and at forty-two blocks it is large enough for our queen size bed.

Are you currently working on a scrap quilt?

“Chain of Diamonds” Published

The June/July 2022 issue of Quick + Easy Quilts is available now on newsstands. Instructions for my quilt, “Chain of Diamonds,” begin on page 60. Aren’t the fabrics so bright and fun?! Best of all, the patchwork is Layer Cake (10″ squares) friendly.

Two unique features of this 66″ x 80″ quilt are the sashes cut from text print and the Flying Geese units featured in the top and bottom borders.

The design back story: I wondered if two coordinating yet contrasting 10″ squares plus a background fabric would provide enough fabric to make a traditional chain-style block. On graph paper, I sketched a block I thought would work and tried it using two 10″ squares leftover from a layer cake. My theory proved successful! The block was quick and easy to make, and I love the way the blocks chain diagonally across the quilt. This design is a fantastic way to use nearly all the squares in a layer cake.

I chose pale aqua for the quilting thread, and the pantograph design is “Chantilly” by Patricia E. Ritter and can be found at urbanelementz.com. I think my grand niece would love this bright quilt made from vibrant summer-time colors.

The magazine editors noted that the quilt meets the size requirements for a Quilt of Valor, and they included a computer diagram in red, white, blue, and tan on page 64. What other colorways can you imagine this design made with? Leave your ideas in a comment below for a chance to win a magazine. The drawing will be on June 3rd.

Framed Nine Patch Baby Quilt

Have you ever finished a quilt, looked at the leftover scraps, and thought, “I could make another quilt with these already coordinated fabrics”?

I was drawn to the 1930’s vibe of “General Store” produced by Connecting Threads and requested a fat quarter stack to use in my quilt, “Jacob’s Nine-Patch” published in the July/August 2021 issue of McCall’s Quilting magazine. (Click here to read the blog post about the quilt.) As is always the case, there were strips, squares, partial fat quarters, and whole fat quarters left over at the conclusion of the project. I was pretty sure I could eke out a baby quilt from these remainders.

Framed Nine Patch Baby Quilt

I cut 2 1/2″ squares and assembled them as Nine Patches and framed them with 1 1/2″ wide strips of a blue and white print. I cut 3″ wide strips for sashing and 3″ squares for cornerstones. A medium blue tone-on-tone from stash works well for the outer border. Choosing white thread, I quilted a favorite free hand design of heart-shaped leaves and loops.

A fat quarter of “General Store” stripe provided eight binding strips which I cut 2 1/4″ wide and joined with straight seams. (I would rather have joined the binding strips with diagonal seams, but I needed every inch for the required length.) The quilt is about 40″ square and will be donated to the NICU of a local hospital.

And, guess what, there are still strips and squares of these cheerful calicos leftover! I guess I need to dream up another baby quilt.

“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

“Favorites”

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.