“Jacob’s Nine-Patch” Published!

Have you seen the July/August 2021 issue of McCall’s Quilting magazine? It contains oodles of lovely projects perfect for summer sewing. And there are interesting quilt-y articles as well. Beginning on page 22, you will see my queen size quilt, “Jacob’s Nine-Patch.”

In a call for quilts, McCall’s editors asked for quilts that utilized different types of fabrics. While they probably meant “corduroy, seersucker, silk, and wool,” my brain wondered if 1930s reproduction fabrics could be successfully combined with vibrant, contemporary batiks. My idea was accepted, and I requested “General Store” fabric as well as yellow and blue batiks from Connecting Threads.

As for the design, here is the back story. About twenty years ago, in a guild meeting in Leavenworth, Kansas, a quilter showed a patchwork quilt that really caught my eye. After I complimented her on the design, she pointed out that it was “just a Jacob’s Ladder design with Nine-Patches instead of Four Patches.” Ah, ha! (This was prior to the invention of cell phones with cameras, so I am relying on my memory – I think her triangle squares were black and white, and the Nine-Patches were colorfully scrappy.) Fast forward twenty years, and I finally made a variation of my fellow guild member’s Jacob’s Ladder variation by alternating Ladder blocks with Star blocks.

I am pleased with the results of my fabric experiment. The batiks add a glow to the quilt without overpowering the small vintage style prints. As my thrifty grandma would have done, I pieced the Nine-Patch border with a mixture of prints, alternating dark and medium values. Finishing the quilt with blue paisley batik adds a vivid yet quieting frame, giving our eyes a place to rest from all the print-happy busyness.

Are you brave enough to mix different styles of fabric? Like Civil War reproduction with “grunge”? Or juvenile prints with shirtings? Or sweet florals with bouncy polka dots? I dare you!

“Frolic” Mystery Quilt Finished!

Each year Bonnie Hunter designs a mystery quilt for her blog followers (quiltville.blogspot.com). Fabric requirements are posted at the end of October, and the first of the weekly clues typically goes live on Thanksgiving weekend. I have participated several times in the past, and decided to eek out time during the holidays to make the 2019 quilt, “Frolic.”

I managed to keep up with the clues until Christmastime when I set aside all the squares, triangles, Pinwheels, and Four Patches for family festivities. The “Stay at Home” order this spring for COVID-19 gave me the excuse to resurrect this project. Happily, I found that it wouldn’t be too difficult to assemble the parts and pieces into thirty blocks. With concentrated sewing and daily encouragement from my accountability quilting partner, Marie, I finished the blocks in two weeks. Several quilting friends helped me choose the navy grunge for sashing (off-white and lime green were the other possibilities). And then came the border of “a million” HSTs. Constructing them took about a week as I used them as leaders/enders while sewing other projects.

For quilting, I chose the “Abigail” pantograph designed by Sarah Ann Myers and distributed by Urban Elementz. Light blue thread matches the backing fabric and adds texture and movement to the front of the quilt without calling undue attention to itself.

If you check out other “Frolic” quilts on Instagram (#frolicmysteryquilt, #frolicmystery, #quiltvillemystery), you will notice that most were set on point with skinny sashing. Conversely, I decided on a straight set with wider sashing. Being able to modify designs is a wonderful characteristic of our quilting passtime, isn’t it?

“Marbella” Finished!

During 2019, I facilitated a Block of the Month program for Sew There! Quilts and More in Angier, NC. “Marbella” was designed by Laura Gilven for 3 Wishes fabrics. The seven ladies in the class worked diligently each month to stay on track with the assigned blocks. I am so proud of them! By our January show and tell meet-up, two had completed their quilts, and the others were nearly finished.

Besides putting the shop sample together, I made blocks with another fabric line for my own quilt. Unfortunately, I used all the background fabric prior to making the four corner blocks and the large central appliqued block. After searching my stash in vain for a “matching” ecru fabric and procrastinating for several months, I decided to make a smaller quilt and to design a star block for the center of my quilt.

Since I used a tan print as background for the star block, I felt I should use it in a border as well. The second border of red print gives a perky accent. Imagine how blah the border area would look without it! The blue theme print frames my quilt nicely.

For quilting, I used tan thread and the “Drunken Feathers” pantograph designed by Barbara Becker and distributed by Urban Elementz. This panto is a current favorite of my daughter’s, so I ordered a copy for myself. I, too, like the all over, interwoven effect of the fluffy feathers.

Although I dearly hoped to finish this UFO in January, an early February finish will have to satisfy my goal-setting soul. I have to extend some grace to myself!

Do you have a project that requires an extended grace period?

“Nine Patch Sawtooth Stars” Finished!

I am so happy that this project has moved from the UFO list to the Finished list! More than five years ago, fellow guild member Sharon organized a 3″ “Nine Patch” block exchange. As I recall, each month we made and swapped about 30 blocks. At the end of a year, we had hundreds of “Nine Patches.” I used some in the border of my “Crabapples” quilt and some in a table runner. The remainder I sewed together as the centers of 12″ “Sawtooth Stars.”

I used various gold prints from stash for star points and purchased the navy print from JoAnn’s. About a year ago, I assembled the interior of the quilt . . . and there it sat . . . in its tidy project box. It needed a gold border and a wide outer border of the same navy print. Why did I procrastinate?

The impetus for my finish is Bonnie Hunter’s upcoming annual mystery quilt. For the last few years, I have been too busy between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day to participate in the mystery quilt along. Since her mystery quilt designs are stunning, I really want to participate this year. However, I feel guilty about starting a new project when I have so many unfinished quilts. So I made a deal with myself. If I can finish four of my UFOs prior to Thanksgiving, I will join the mystery quilt along.

Would you like to participate in Bonnie’s mystery? You can find the details and fabric description on her blog, quiltville.blogspot.com. Here is the link to the October 31, 2019 post in which she introduces the “Frolic” mystery.

More info on the “Nine Patch Sawtooth Star” quilt pictured above: The quilt measures 65″ x 85,” a nice size for a tall grandson. I used an old gold polyester thread which glimmers nicely in the navy areas and blends well in the patchwork sections of the quilt. The pantograph is “Happy Times” designed by Hermione Agee and distributed by Urban Elementz.

I am pretty confident I will make my goal of finishing the UFOs on my short list by Thanksgiving. So confident, in fact, that I already pulled fabric from stash to make the mystery quilt.

The drawing for the Dec/Jan issue of McCall’s Quick Quilts is tomorrow. At last count, only 16 people have commented. Wouldn’t you also like to be in the running? Link to this post and leave a comment!

Subliminal Quilting

A young friend of mine recently graduated from West Point, and his mother made him a quilt to commemorate his achievement. The fabric line is “Kansas Winter” which Kathy purchased about ten years ago. And the quilt pattern, “Perpentual Motion,” is published in the Spring/Summer 2019 issue of Quilt Sampler magazine. The pattern was designed by Lou Shafer and Jan Bressler of JanniLou Creations.

My gift was the quilting. I texted Josh pictures of four pantographs that I thought would compliment the quilt. He chose “Bell Blossom” designed by Hermione Agee and distributed by Urban Elementz. The star shaped blossom gives a nod to the patchwork stars in the quilt and echos the lily design in the outer border. (Excellent choice, Josh!)

Another choice involved thread color. I generally like “Magnifico,” a shiny, non-metallic gold, for quilts with a Civil War feel. However, Kathy and I felt that an old gold of “So Fine!” was a better choice. It, too, is polyester but looks like cotton, so it blended better with the muted colors of the Kansas Troubles fabrics.


Because of the extensive patchwork, the muted colors of similar value, and the blendy gold thread color, it is difficult to see the pantograph design on the front of the quilt. But this subliminal quilting adds texture that invites a closer look.

Congrats Josh for your achievements, and all the best as you move to your first duty station . . . with this quilt, a warm memory of home, tucked into your duffel bag.

“Patriot Stars” Finished!

Following Hurricane Florence, after power was restored, I quilted “Patriot Stars.” I began this quilt as a Leader/Ender project at the prompting of Bonnie Hunter, scrap queen extraordinaire. This block design is the “Jewel Box Stars” Leader/Ender challenge she issued in July. You can read about the beginning of my project by clicking here.

I made nine 16″ blocks which, with sashing and border, make a nice sized lap quilt. Most of the fabrics are leftovers from various patriotic quilts I’ve made with Wilmington Prints strip packs for magazine publication. It feels great to give these vibrant, Americana scraps a place to shine!

For quilting, I used a light blue variegated thread and “Becker’s Shooting Star” pantograph distributed by Urban Elementz.

By clicking on the picture, you can zoom in to see the quilting design. I love the contemporary feel this stitching brings to the quilt.

Practical Life Insight: I blogged about a scrappy Leader/Ender project that I began prior to finishing “Patriot Stars.” I hesitated sharing the new project for fear that you would chastise me for having too many scrappy irons in the fire.

And not one of you, my faithful blog followers, called me on the carpet for beginning a new project before finishing an old one. Not one of you judged me for my enthusiasm on the one hand and procrastination on the other.

This makes me wonder how many of us won’t begin something new or won’t share our excitement for something new because we are afraid of other people’s comments. When the truth is, most people don’t pay that much attention to how many projects are on our to-do list; they are only concerned with their own spread-sheets. The people who love us will applaud our excitement with a new endeavor, and they will encourage us along the way.

Now I’m not advocating abandoning your “old” projects and never completing them, but I am encouraging you to put fear aside and follow your creative instincts. I certainly won’t be the one to judge you!

Ran’s Retirement Quilt Finished!

Hubby retired from active Army service as a chaplain two years ago. My daughter and I thought the perfect way to mark such a momentous occasion was to make him a quilt. So, we made a deal. She would construct the top, and I would quilt it on my longarm.

Trinity is a fan of the “Carpenter’s Star” patchwork design. She constructed the star around a U.S. flag and used pieces of several types of the camouflage uniforms Ran wore during his 30 years of service to make the star. The patchwork star blocks surrounding the central medallion measure 16″ square and are made with various Americana prints. Completing the quilt is an outer Piano Key border of “cheater” striped fabric. This fabric was a gift from Ran’s mother several years ago meaning three generations had a hand in making this gift.

Trinity artfully placed flags and printed Scripture verses within the pieced back.

I enhanced the star points with quilted feathers. And a simple continuous curve design securely holds all the camouflage triangles in place. I bound the quilt with blue-on-blue polka dot fabric leftover from the backing. Click on either photo to better view the quilting designs.

A belated congratulations to you, Ran! We know this quilt will warm you figuratively as well as literally each time you snooze in its comfort.

Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks, Vol. 14 Blog Tour – Day 1


Welcome to Day 1 of the Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks from Today’s Top Designers, vol. 14 blog hop and welcome to abyquilts. My block is #1339 on page 31.

img_20160521_143111_985-1We all love “Saw Tooth Star” for its simplicity in construction and for its charming appeal. The 6″ center square of a 12″ Saw Tooth Star provides a sizable space for incorporating an interesting print fabric or an additional design. For example you could insert a 6″ star, Pinwheel, Maple Leaf, patch of 16 squares, or applique motif. The process for creating “Celebration Star” was experimental; I wanted to see if I could morph the star into a wreath. By using green fabrics and adding quarter circles in the light background triangles and squares, I achieved a more circular effect. I colored 2 adjacent triangles red for the wreath’s bow. Set on-point as a diamond with 4 setting triangles, the block (or 5) will make a charming Christmas wall quilt.


img_20160521_132051_142-1While my initial design was prompted by thoughts of Christmas, I wondered how the block would look made with patriotic prints. I chose three fabrics from the Colors of Freedom line designed by Jennifer Pugh for Wilmington Prints. (Quiltmaker chose to print this coloration.) Wouldn’t multiples of this block combine for a striking Quilt of Valor or gift for a patriotic friend?

Construction tip:  I used light weight fusible webbing to adhere the entire quarter circle to the background square or triangle. However, you could decrease stiffness by using arcs of webbing 1/2″ wide only along the curves of the quarter circles.

Leave a comment below if you would like to win a copy of Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks, vol. 14. To be eligible, your comment must include your ideas for coloring “Celebration Star.” Would you make a Christmas star, a patriotic star, or use another color scheme?

Click here to link to the Quiltmaker blog, Quilty Pleasures. Check out the other designers and blocks which are on today’s blog tour.

Sewing Shenanigans

This past month I’ve been sharing my sewing space with my visiting daughter, Trinity, and granddaughter, Krystine. Would you like to see the progress they’ve made on their projects?

Trinity finished a queen size Americana star quilt for her sister. She became quite adept at making half square triangles while completing the sixteen 16” blocks. I love the subtle contrast of the regular black print in the tan shirting sashing fabric as well as the scrappy “Piano Key” border. Trinity cleverly created a patchwork column to enlarge the backing fabric.

IMG_4057     IMG_4058

Trinity also made a baby quilt for her dog-sitter who is expecting a baby girl in September. She was inspired by the Who Loves You owl print designed by Michele Scott for Northcott. The squares on the owl print panel measure 8,” so she cut 3” squares for the “Nine Patch” alternate blocks. (If you’d like to make a similar quilt and you live near Loving Stitches in Fayetteville, NC, you’ll be pleased to know that all the fabrics were purchased there.)


In addition, Trinity is making 12” blocks for Lori Holt’s “Vintage Farm Girl” sampler.

IMG_0003 (1)Krystine worked diligently to complete 50 “Nine Patches” and 49 “Snowball” blocks for her full size quilt in fall colors. The tone-on-tone fabrics coordinate so nicely; I would love to make a similar quilt for myself. And now that her “fall” quilt is nearing completion, Krystine can begin planning a winter/Christmas quilt using the basket of fat quarters she won at the guild meeting last Sunday. (The FQ theme this month was “Christmas in July.”) Lucky girl!

Don’t we all feel as happy as Krystine when we complete a quilting project?

As they depart for home in Texas, both Trinity and Krystine have to be proud of all the quilting projects they worked on during their visit!

Fat Quarter Challenge – June

IMG_20160512_141421_185Each month this year I am challenging myself to use some fat quarters from my stash. I will show my project on the blog, sometimes offering a free pattern. And I challenge blog readers to dive into their hoard, make a sewing/quilting project, and share a picture for inspiration. Please join in the fun and send me a picture at:  aby dot quilts at gmail dot com.

This month’s project is a baby quilt – “Triple Star.” It was a great way to use the FQ of earth moving trucks along with red and green coordinating tone-on-tones. I purchased these FQs nearly a year ago with the plan of making a charity quilt for a baby boy. The FQ challenge was a great motivator to actually make the quilt. Note – you’ll need 5/8 yd. of yellow and 1/2 yd. white rather than fat quarters.

I quilted the “Triple Star” with light yellow thread in an all-over, freehand spiral design. The yellow blends well with the primary colors yet nearly disappears on the white background. The binding is a black and white stripe – the perfect finish for this baby boy quilt.

You will find a link to the instructions for the “Triple Star” quilt on the Patterns page of this blog.