Finishing Up

Happy New Year! I know we are all hoping for health and happiness (and an end to COVID) in 2022. I also wish you many happy, creative hours in your sewing space and friends to share your joys with.

Today I have three finished projects to share with you. First up is Marie’s “Sisters” quilt. “Sisters” was the Block of the Month that I offered on this blog in 2020. You can still access the free patterns by clicking on “Sisters BOM QAL” in the menu. By scrolling to the end of the list you can see a gallery of quilts made by QAL participants.

Marie’s “Sisters” Quilt

Marie used her collection of pink and brown Civil War reproduction prints to make the “Big Sister” and “Little Sister” blocks. Instead of plain 6″ alternate squares, she inserted “Four Patches.” The brown sashing wonderfully sets off each block, and the large scale print of the outer border lends elegance to the composition. Hooray, Marie. You finished it, and it is beautiful!

Marianne emailed a picture of her “Options” quilt top. I met Marianne twelve years ago at the Black Forest Quilt Guild when the Army sent us to Stuttgart, Germany. She subsequently invited me to her guild which met in Kemnat. Quilting is a fantastic bridge between nationalities and cultures; our friendship is so mutually enriching.

Marianne’s “Options” Scrappy Quilt

While many of us chose an “Hourglass” design as alternate blocks in our “Options” quilts, Marianne chose a “Sixteen Patch” design. She alternated light and dark 2 1/2″ squares, utilizing many of her scraps. The black and white diamond print for sashing and border ties all the colorful, scrappy blocks together. Marianne enjoyed the project and felt that it guided her through the CORONA year. Wunderbar, Marianne!

Melinda set a Christmas deadline for her “Options” quilt, making it as a gift for her NC State loving step-son. She augmented her collection of NC State prints with black and red tone-on-tones and prints to great effect. If you participated in the QAL, you will notice Melinda created several “unofficial” designs. She loved having the option to think and sew outside of the box.

Melinda’s “Options” NC State Quilt

Zoom in to see the football pantograph design we selected for the quilting motif. I used gray thread which blended beautifully. Bobby loved his gift, by the way.

I am so proud of Marie, Marianne, and Melinda for finishing up their projects. Their example is motivating, isn’t it? Just keep at it, keep sewing, keep moving forward, and your quilt will eventually be completed. To follow my own advice: This past year I taught “Sisters” at Sew There! Quilts and More in Angier, NC and made blocks with Christmas fabrics. I need to put them on my design wall, cut alternate blocks, and attach sashing and border fabric. Finishing this WIP (Work in Progress) is one of my quilting resolutions for 2022. If you’re not quite finished with your “Sisters” or “Options” quilt, I encourage you to work on it with renewed energy. You’ll be so pleased with the beautiful quilt you finish in 2022!

Countdown to December BOM Finish

Just a little reminder that today is the day to make your Saw Tooth Star variation if you haven’t already. Because tomorrow, the 31st, is the day to comment “Done” and to be entered into a drawing for a free quilting magazine.

Sana’s December blocks

Several QAL participants have sent pictures of their completed quilt tops. It’s so exciting to see them come together with all the variations of fabrics and themes and colors!

Cindy M.’s “Sisters” quilt top

Karen’s batik quilt is stunning! She is so pleased with it.

Check out more pictures on Instagram at #sistersqal.

“Sisters” QAL BOM – December

First of all, best wishes for a joyous December as we celebrate Advent and plan small gatherings with friends and family. Despite the pandemic, we have so much to be joyful and thankful for!

The twelfth and final block of our “Sisters” Quilt Along is a variation of “Sawtooth Star.” This star is a favorite of quilters, past and present, because it’s proportional measurements translate well to many sizes. In addition, we can add interest with patchwork or a large-scale print in the center square as well patchwork in the corner squares. (If you opt for using a large scale print instead of a “Nine Patch” for the centers of your blocks, cut a 6 1/2″ square for the 12″ block and a 3 1/2″ square for the 6″ block.)

You will find a link to instructions for this block on the “Sisters BOM QAL” page of this blog. Click the tab in the menu; when you reach the page, scroll to the end of the list. Not only will you see instructions for December’s blocks, you’ll find the layout directions for the quilt.

Happy sewing this December! I can’t wait to see your completed quilt tops!

“Paddle Star” – BOM Participants Share

Here we are on November 20, 2020! Just checking with you to see if you have completed your “Paddle Star” blocks for the “Sisters” quilt along.

I recently received an email from Roxann with an update on her project. In July, she hurt her hand badly and was not able to sew again for several months. In October, she dove into her “Sisters” blocks and is now happily up to date. “Paddle Star” is bottom center.

My daughter, Trinity, is one of my pattern testers, so she has the insider information of instructions for our final, December block. Last week she attended a sew-in with a fun group of quilters and, amidst the chatting and laughing, managed to assemble all the blocks into her quilt top.

Notice the plain 6″ blocks sewn beside each “little sister.” Trinity plans an intricate quilting design particularly in those blocks. When purchasing fabric for “Sisters,” she picked up a layer cake of 10″ squares for the blocks and a coordinating jelly roll with plans for a pieced border. I’ll keep you posted on her progress.

Several of you have messaged me, asking about final layout and assembly instructions. The link is already on the “Sisters BOM QAL” page. I suggest consulting my suggested layout design and placing your completed blocks on a design wall or spare bed. It will be fun to move the blocks around, spreading the various colors and fabrics throughout the quilt top. I also recommend making the twelve alternate 6″ blocks soon so that you’ll be all set to assemble your quilt top once you make the December blocks. You may cut all your blocks from background fabric as Trinity did, make additional patchwork (stars) as Karlene did, or make simple patchwork from low volume prints as I did. Of course, you may choose your own layout design; I won’t be offended!

“Sisters” BOM Update

First of all, I need to announce the winner of the McCall’s Quilting Nov/Dec 2020 issue. Rachel C’s name was drawn from those who commented “Done” on my October 31st post. “Done” means these participants of the “Sisters” Quilt Along had completed the 12″ big sister and the 6″ little sister “Old Maid’s Puzzle” blocks during the month of October. Congratulations, Rachel!

Secondly, I’d like to show you some “Paddle Star” blocks make by QAL participants. “Paddle Star” is the November BOM design. You will find instructions on the “Sisters BOM QAL” page of the blog; just click the tab in the menu. Scroll to the end of the list and click the black Download button for block instructions.

If you remember, Karen is making her quilt with vibrant batiks. I love the various blues she used in these blocks.

Cindy also sent me a picture of her blocks. She’s using Moda’s “Collection for a Cause – Nurture” for her project. Cindy related that she is finally caught up, and has made her November blocks with time to spare. So if you are a bit behind, find encouragement that the recent month’s blocks are not difficult to make. You can “get back on the wagon” and finish the 2020 “Sisters” QAL with us.

Finally, I want to show you Karlene’s quilt top. She is one of my pattern testers and therefore had insider information on the sashing and border measurements. If you compare my quilt with Karlene’s you will notice that she substituted 6″ Sawtooth Star blocks for the 6″ light squares I used.

Thanks Karen, Cindy and Karlene for sharing your progress. You have motivated us to work diligently on our “Sisters” quilt blocks!

I have uploaded the file detailing measurements and finishing instructions for the “Sisters” quilt on the “Sisters BOM QAL” blog page. By placing the blocks you have already made on a design wall, you will be able to see what colors/fabrics you should use in November and December to create balance. You should not necessarily place your block designs in the same spots I did, instead look to balance the color and intensity of your own blocks.

“Sisters” BOM – November

We are on the homeward stretch, ladies! If you have been quilting along with us, you just need to make the November and December blocks for your “Sisters” quilt. If you are new blog follower and would like to participate, click on the “Sisters BOM QAL” tab in the menu. You will travel to the page with preliminary instructions as well as links to all the Block of the Month instructions to date.

“Paddle Star” is the design I’ve chosen for November’s big sister (12″) and little sister (6″) blocks. If you are thinking it looks like “Friendship Star,” you are correct. Just add “Four Patches” in the corners of the blocks, and you’ve changed “Friendship Star” into “Paddle Star.”

The block reminds me of a spinning paddle wheel on the steamboats that plied the Mississippi River back in the day.

Steamboat | ClipArt ETC

You will find “Paddle Star” easy to piece! Instructions are given for strip-piecing the” Four Patch” corners and for making “Square in a Square” for the center of the 12″ block. If you want to incorporate a stripe as I did, pay close attention to the orientation when cutting the striped squares in half diagonally.

After sewing the units, lay them on your work table according to the photo. Assemble the block as a “Nine Patch” of three rows with three units in each row. Happy Sewing!

If you have not already commented “Done” for the October blocks, click here to link to yesterday’s blog post. Your name will be entered in a drawing for a free McCall’s Quilting magazine.

October “Sisters” BOM – Wrap-up

Oh my goodness, it’s already the end of October and time to celebrate Halloween AND your success at making “Old Maid’s Puzzle” (a.k.a. “Schoolgirl’s Puzzle”). Yes, this is the day you need to comment “Done” if you have completed the 12″ big sister and the 6″ little sister blocks for October. If you aren’t quite finished, you can work on them while handing out candy to trick-or-treaters this evening.

I have some Quilt Along participants’ blocks to show you . . .

First up, is Sana’s share. As you can see, her fabrics are all solids, so she is adding interest by appliquéing shapes in the larger patches.

All together, now. Aren’t Sana’s blocks fantastic? She said she had to put them on her design wall to avoid using lime green in every block. Lime definitely adds a visual punch!

Joy also sent me pictures of her blocks. I love the large scale print she used in the largest triangles, and the green and pink fabrics she selected coordinate so well.

Here are all of Joy’s blocks, to date. She’s using the underside of an oval plastic table cloth as a design surface; the blocks adhere well to the fuzzy texture.

If you are finished making both “Old Maid’s Puzzle” blocks, join Sana and Joy in commenting “Done!” I’ll put your name in a drawing for a McCall’s Quilting magazine. Be sure to come back tomorrow when instructions for November’s blocks will be posted!

“Old Maid’s Puzzle” – BOM QAL Participants Share

Today I’d love to show you blocks made by participants of the “Sisters” Block of the Month quilt along. To put us in a festive fall mood is Judy’s pumpkin man who proudly displays her “Old Maid’s Puzzle” blocks.

Karen continues her fabric theme of stashed batiks. These greens and earth tones are lovely and soothing!

From the beginning of this “Sisters” project, I have loved Cheryl’s blocks. The cheerful blue and yellow combination appeals to me so very much.

Sarah is making two quilts, one with Christmas fabrics and the other, shown here, in spring fabrics. She’s even making extra blocks as we quilt along so she’ll have a larger quilt.

Beautiful blocks, ladies! Thanks for sharing.

Remember to check out even more fabric/color combinations from those who post at #sistersqal on Instagram.

If you are a new blog reader and wonder what in the world we are raving about, click on the SISTERS BOM QAL tab in the menu. This navigates you to a page with links to an introduction and instructions for patchwork blocks, one design per month, posted on the first of each month. We have just two more block designs in the “Sisters” QAL, but it’s not too late to join the fun!

“Sisters” BOM – October

I am so proud of you who are participating in the “Sisters” Block of the Month Quilt Along. You are enjoying choosing colors for your blocks, practicing patchwork skills, and learning to share your progress with one another. You have just three more sets of “big sisters” and “little sisters” to sew before you combine all the blocks into your quilt!

Tip for planning ahead: If you choose to set your blocks as I did, you will need twelve 6 1/2″ squares of fabric similar in shade to your background fabric. I cut several of my squares from the layer cake, and I cut several from stash fabrics. I also made several Four Patches from light fabrics.

The block for October is traditionally called “Old Maid’s Puzzle” or “School Girl’s Puzzle.” It features half square triangles in two sizes. As you can see from the photo, I used the same fabrics for the “big sister” and the “little sister” but I varied the placement. Choose a set of three fabrics to work with: a large scale print or stripe, a small scale print, and a tone-on-tone.

Have fun sewing “Old Maid’s Puzzle/School Girl’s Puzzle,” and remember to share a picture of your blocks on Instagram (#sistersqal) or email a picture to me (

If you are newly following the abyquilts blog and wonder how to access the free patterns for the “Sisters” QAL, click on “Sisters BOM QAL” in the menu. You’ll travel to a page on which are links to an introduction as well as to instructions for all the blocks to date. Click the black “download” button to download instructions for October’s blocks.

September “Sisters” BOM – Wrap-up

Who is ready to comment “done” today? Participants of the “Sisters” quilt along have made 12″ and 6″ “Ribbon Star” blocks this past month, and they will register their triumphs in the comment section. (They will also wait on pins and needles for the release of the October block instructions tomorrow, October 1!)

Several blog readers emailed me pictures of their blocks. First up are Joy’s blocks, a happy mixture of geometric prints. How fun!

Sana is working with solids for the “Sisters” project, so she pieced three strips together to form a striped fabric.

Jane-ellen finds it easy to select small floral prints for her blocks, so adding a stripe was a bit out of her comfort zone. Happily, she rose to the challenge.

Karen, who is using batiks for her quilt, cleverly included a plaid in place of the suggested striped fabric. (Who knew there were plaid batiks?)

Great job, ladies! Thanks for sharing the pictures of your blocks.

If you have completed both “Ribbon Star” blocks, comment “Done” below. I’ll enter your name in a drawing for a free quilting magazine.