Tag Archives: quilting

Quilting Inspiration – Fast and Easy Basic Quilt Layout

Bluebird Park Quilt

I’m putting this quilt on my “To Do” list because it gave me the quilting inspiration to turn it into something slightly different. Similar, but not quite the same. More like rhyming.

When I saw it, the light bulbs in my brain exploded like fireworks. That’s how I know it’s going on my list to become one of my favorite quilt layouts because the possibilities are endless. Here are a few of my thoughts.

  • It’s highly adaptable to horizontal or vertical layout.
  • And since it’s in rows, rows can be different widths just by varying the square-in-square block size.
  • The longer strips between the blocks can also be of varying widths and number.
  • Adapts well to an explosion of color or staying within a color scheme.
  • It’s oh so scrap buster friendly.
  • It’s quilt-as-you-go (QAYG) friendly. Also, the back can be as interesting as the front making it reversible.
  • Fast and easy basic quilt layout.
  • The perfect Charity Quilt.

You can see the original Jessica’s Bluebird Park Baby Quilt here. Thank you, Jessica!

I don’t like quilting projects with too many pieces unless they go together quickly, like my red scrappy string/coin quilt. It’s the type of mindless sewing where I drag my sewing table to the middle of the living room and watch all my DVR recordings and Netflix instant watch list and then complain, “Why in the heck did they cancel that series?  I loved it!”

Ok, back to this quilt. I love the simplicity of it, yet it’s interesting. And best of all, it sews up quickly. And even bester of all, it’s a prime candidate for a QAYG project.

Here is a 4-part Youtube series from Candy Glendening on how I do my QAYG projects with no sashing. I used that method for a quilt I did for my daughter and I loved how quickly it went. I did mine with a walking foot and wavy lines because I suck at free-motion quilting.

I hope you these ideas and quilt layout to your quilting inspiration list.


Zippered Wristlet from Selvages

Zippered Wristlet

I have a 3-day weekend to myself and got some sewing done. I made this little wristlet pouch from selvages. I didn’t take any pictures of the sewing process. I’m just horrible like that. I wanted something small enough to hold my cellphone various debit, credit, store cards when I’m not wearing pants… with pockets in them. Gotcha, didn’t I. LOL

Basically, it’s a quilt-as-you-go technique. I spray basted a piece of cotton batting to a piece of light colored fabric scrap. Then I started sewing selvages on the right side of the pouch panel, overlapping as I moved to the left. I like to leave some of the color from the fabric exposed so it doesn’t show just the pantones and writing. Showing some of the fabric makes a more colorful and interesting finished article.

  • I cut the batting and backing pieced 8″ x 6″. There are two sections, front and back.
  • I sewed the selvages vertically because I had a lot of short pieces. With longer ones, you can also go horizontally, starting at the bottom and working your way up.
  • When I was finished quilting the selvages, I trimmed both front and back sections down to 7.5″ x 5.5″.
  • I cut two pieces of lining to 7.5″ x 5.5″
  • I used a 7″ zipper and trimmed the tails off the end with the zipper stop to shorten it. Next time I’ll chop another 1/2″ off.
  • I sewed tabs onto both ends of the zipper. I guess they were about 1″ long.
  • I squared off the bottom of the pouch and lining so it form a box end about 1″ wide.
  • Somewhere along the line, I sewed in a loop and a D-ring. The loop was some Moda twill I had saved from a layer cake.
  • I pieced together short scraps of selvage to form the wrist strap.
  • I got both the D-rings and the spring closure from Joann’s. (Make sure you buy that stuff with a coupon so you don’t pay their inflated prices.)

HUGE TIP I:  On the zipper installing, I didn’t do any pinning. Instead, I ran a thin line of Elmer’s School Glue along the edge of the zipper then hit it with a dry iron. I learned that trick from a YouTube glue basting quilting video. OMG! It worked like a charm. That zipper didn’t slip at all during sewing. I did it on both sides of the zipper for the quilted part and the lining.

HUGE TIP II:  If you have a problem with the lining stretching while sewing, make sure you cut it parallel to the selvage side of the your fabric. That’s the warp. It doesn’t stretch. If you cut the long side of your lining with the weft (or woof), it’s going to stretch.

Mug Rug Leaves

Mug Rug Leaf

I made these mug rug leaves for Christmas presents. I’ve been working on them off and on for about a month. Today after our team meeting, I am going to present them to my other 11 co-workers. I had a gang of batik scraps and they were perfect for this project. The rectangular one is for my boss. She’s a prolific note taker so the Type typewriters fabric by Julia Rothman for Windham Fabrics was spot on.

The images are a tad yellowish because I didn’t have the flash on. I so suck at taking pictures.

Disappearing 9-Patch Variation

Window Pane Disappearing 9-Patch Quilt Block

The Disappearing 9-Patch block is so much fun and super easy to make and that’s Sew Quickly, baby! It’s perfect for making a quick baby quilt or an attractive charity quilt. Using pre-cuts like charm packs makes it super fast to stitch together. Sew nine blocks together to make a 9-patch, cut vertically down the middle, then horizontally across the middle and you’ve instantly got four blocks that can be twisted and turned.

It’s a very versatile set of blocks because there are no rules for fabric selection. Just go crazy with it.

  • Keep it one theme by using charm packs or coordinated yardage.
  • Make I-Spy quilts for kids.
  • It’s the ultimate stash buster.
  • Stick with a limited color palette like whites, grays and blacks, but use red or yellow for the center block.
  • Florals, calicos, kids prints create traditional baby quilts.
  • While geometrics, solids, dots, stripes make modern versions.

I haven’t even begun to chip away the my list of ideas. Do you ever want to make them all and all at once? I can’t stop. I was looking around my sewing area one day and was commenting on how many UFOs I had. My 10 yr old grandson asked me what a UFO was. I told him it was an unfinished fabric object. Later on that day he caught me fiddling around with some fabric and had the nerve to ask me if I was making another UFO. So I grabbed him and gave him some “buscha-buschas” (hugs, kisses, tickling). Secretly, he likes it, but outwardly he pretends to hate it.

Ok, I’m getting off tangent. Jenny Doan from The Missouri Star Quilt Company has a new tutorial for a Window Paned Disappearing 9-Patch. WOW! The sashing between the blocks adds so much dimension. Using a calm color like in quilt on the wall in the video below makes the blocks float. This is one quilt design I will be using in the future for sure.

Thanks, Jenny, for yet another wonderful free quilting tutorial.

Quilting Tip: Save Those Triangles

Half Square Triangles

We all have them from time to time, those little triangle schnibbles left over from stitch-n-flip corners on a block. I always feel guilty for throwing them away because they’re perfectly good, already cut triangles. However, I’m not up for sewing all those bias edges to make the blocks and that’s why I just toss them.

But not anymo! Cluck Cluck Sew has a super cool technique for rescuing those triangle scraps by turning them into half square triangles right there at the sewing machine BEFORE she cuts them off.

Turn those triangle scraps into half-square triangles

Image from CluckCluckSew.com. Click for tutorial.

Even if you don’t have enough to make an entire quilt, here are some ideas for other projects.

  • Quilt borders
  • Baby blanket
  • Sewing machine cover
  • Kindle/tablet cover
  • Laptop sleeve
  • Quilted tote bags
  • Table runners
  • Pot holders
  • Mug rugs
  • Placemats
  • Sofa or bed pillows
  • Pillow case border
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Traditional Blocks Made Simple Quilting Class

My Anita's Arrowhead Block

This past Monday, I signed up for Anita Grossman Solomon’s Craftsy class Traditional Blocks Made Simple. What drew me to this class was the word “simple”. I’m all about learning new shortcuts for making blocks that I would NEVER attempt using traditional methods like cutting from templates or paper piecing. And that pineapple block? Even though I’ve always admired the tweakiness of them, there’s no way I’d ever attempt it… until now. Yes I will and I won’t be scared! Here’s Anita’s Half Drop Pineapple quilt.

Half-Drop Pineapple Quilt by Anita Grossman Solomon

This class was a total blast. Anita’s an excellent instructor. She not only covers how to do it, but also has great “heads up/just in case” tips on how to recover from mistakes and deal with those little puckers when you’re sewing blocks together.

Here are some of the things I’ve learned.

  • Back-stitching bird’s nest – When you sew from the edge of the fabric and do a back-stitch, do you ever end up with a tangled bird’s nest of threads on the underside of the fabric, or have the fabric sucked into the throat plate? I HATE that. Anita will show you how to avoid that.
  • Starching fabric – I have never starched fabric for quilting, but if I had, I would have done it wrong. As a kid when I had to iron my dad’s shirts, the spray starch would flake up on the fabric. Using Anita’s trick, that doesn’t happen.
  • Left-handed cutting – This has always been a pet peeve of mine. I can’t rotary cut with my left hand for the life of me. If you don’t have one of those fancy pants rotating cutting mats like I do, in lesson 3 she’ll show you how to cut those left-handed cuts with your right hand without walking around the table or turning the mat.

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  • Pinning blocks – Depending upon the size of the block or how many seams there are, I always pin before I sew, especially the larger blocks. This lady can do it with no pins!
  • Post-It Notes – Will now be my new best friend. I never in a million years would have thought of using this trick.
  • Selecting fabric – I love her tip for selecting the right fabric for your project. It’s not just about color. Scale plays a very important part in your blocks. Find out how a trip to your local office supply store or print shop simplifies the process.
  • Marking the rulers – I’ve never marked my rulers before with permanent marker. You’ll learn how to mark up a 9-1/2″ square ruler for 8″ blocks and get perfect blocks every time. Oh, and how to remove those marker marks without damaging the ruler. The first time I tried cutting my block without the permanent marker lines and I really screwed it up. After I marked the ruler, squaring up each block was a cinch!
  • Arranging blocks – Anita shows different ways to arrange blocks on the design wall. Just by twisting and turning and grouping them by color, you can create a beautiful color wash effect. I’ve always admired quilts like that and wondered if that was planned. Some are, but Anita’s method was sort of a happy little accident that had big impact. Very visually dynamic.

First Attempt

I watched the first 6 lessons for making Anita’s Arrowhead block. It’s called Anita’s because of her mad rotary cutting skills. Beats me how she came up with new ways for such old school blocks. The 7th lesson is the pineapple block and I didn’t want to start that until I played around with making the arrowhead, first.

I already had a gang of 10″ dark and light floral blocks from a previous project, so I didn’t have to do any prep work.

After I made only TWO simple seams on the 10″ blocks, it was time to cut. Smarty pants me tried doing it from memory. I made 4 cuts instead of 3 and that REALLY screwed up the entire thing. It gave me segments too short that weren’t even sewn together. That block went into the scrap pile. The only thing that turned out was the 4-patch in the middle and the two horizonal sections.

Quilting block cutting accident

See those two vertical sections radiating from the center 4-patch? They’re supposed to be the same size as the horizontal ones. And those four angled pieces in the lower left and right? They’re not supposed to be there at all and neither was the additional 4-patch in the upper left. Needless to say, all those extra pieces made the triangles in the upper right too small. Good Lord, I really screwed the pooch on that one!

As if that wasn’t bad enough… this is just too embarrassing, but here it is. I had all the pieces laid out on my cutting mat. I placed them right sides together, exactly as they needed to be, but in the short 10″ from the cutting board to the machine, I twisted the entire piece and sewed the triangle on the top of the section instead of the side. I ripped it out and fixed it. Then when I sewed the next triangle onto the other side, I DID IT AGAIN! The third picture is how they are supposed to look (left edge of picture got chopped off).

I think I was having a difficult time pacing the quilting wine.

Once I got the hang of it, I had a blast and quickly cut out nine blocks for a little baby quilt. I sewed four of them last night and will do the other five today.

Later that day…

I got the 9 blocks finished, but I didn’t want to stop, so I made 12. Some of the colors didn’t really work well in such a small area. I wasn’t pleased with the purples and blues so I grouped them together to make a color wash, but it’s just not big enough for the grand effect.

Here are two different views of what I have so far. The blocks are not yet sewn together so I’ll prolly end up moving them around again… after I sew some more. LOL In the picture on the right, 2nd row, last block on the right, way too mooshy. The dark fabric had a few light areas in it. Not suitable for this project.

Next up will be the pineapple blocks. I don’t know if I have enough solids in my stash to make an entire quilt. Maybe a very small practice quilt. I know I have lime green and black. It will be a Green Lantern quilt. LOL

Click here to sign up for Traditional Blocks Made Simple.


Not the Same Old Disappearing Nine-Patch Quilt

Amy Gibson's Scrappy Disappearing Nine Patch

The first time a saw a disappearing nine patch (D9P)  was in a tutorial by Jenny Doan at the Missouri Star Quilting Company. It’s so simple to make out of charm packs, but looks like you’ve spent hours cutting and piecing all those blocks together. Just one charm pack is the perfect size for a baby quilt.

Here’s that video…

Then months later I saw a D9P quilt that Amy Gibson did. (That’s it in the upper left corner of this post.) It’s the same cutting technique, but she arranged her blocks so the disappearing sections (cut blocks) are on the outside of the uncut blocks. That makes it look like the 4 blocks in the center are bordered by a 2″ pieced sashing. It’s so pretty, especially with the right fabrics. Plus, she added white sashing around each 4-block arrangement. That additional architectural detail really makes those blocks pop.

Amy cut yardage for her quilt to get the 5″ x 5″ blocks. It’s cheaper than buying charm packs. You can either use your stash and make it scrappy like Amy did, or purchase coordinating fabrics. I like cutting my own. Yes, it takes more time, but I don’t like dealing with those pinked edges on pre-cuts. It really makes it difficult keeping a straight 1/4″ seam.

Click here for Amy’s tutorial.

Here’s a close-up of four arranged blocks that Amy did.

Amy Gibson disappearing nine patch block arrangement.

You can get big discounts on charm packs and other pre-cuts right here.

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Scrappy String Quilt Project

Scrapy String Baby Quilt

Sometimes I have a need to sew, but I don’t know what to make so I just make UFO’s. The other day I saw this gorgeous scrappy stripped-piece purse (shown below) and fell in love with the scrapiness. AmandaJean strips beautifully, wouldn’t you say? Stuff a dollar in that lady’s purse!  I tend to use florals when stripping, but I wanted something bright and bold for a change. I also like her vertical quilting. That’s how I quilt the tote bags I make, but I do wavy lines so I don’t need to be anal about straight lines.

Scrapy string purse

I decided to use AJ’s purse for inspiration. I already had my scraps out for making hexies… another one of my gotta-sew-but-don’t-know-what-to-make projects. I started making strip sets about 14″ long. It’s easier to handle in short lengths. It also doesn’t commit me to any specific block size. My cut strip pieces are nothing shorter than 5″ long and I try to keep them between 1″ and nothing more that 1-1/2″ wide. Anything wider and it looks less strippy and more blocky.

Last night I laid them out on the floor and I was really surprised that it looked pretty decent. I was worried I’d have too much repetition in the fabrics because this is truly a scrap project. I didn’t go out and buy anything new.

Scrap strip set layout

This is going to be a baby quilt. I’m going to add an 8th row and trim each set to 4-1/2″ wide. That will make a finished 32″ wide piece. Oh, but wait…

Instead of sewing all the strip sets together, I’m going to put a bright red 1″ (finished) sashing between each vertical row and add a 1″ border. That will make it 41″ wide and that’s perfect for a full WOF backing.

Here’s someone else that used red sashing on their string quilt. It frames all those colors perfectly.

String quilt with red sashing

UPDATE: January 29, 2013

I finished the quilt this weekend, then washed it. Turned out nice. Very colorful. I get stuck staring at it.

For Sale

This quilt is now up for sale on eBay. Click here to view the listing: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=181070911625

Scrapy String Baby Quilt

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Sunny Skies Quilting Tutorial Video

Sunny Skies Quilt Pattern

Easy Quilting Tutorial

I just love using non-directional dots in quilts, so I was happy to see the latest quilting tutorial video from Jenny at the Missouri Star Quilting Company. See how that black dotted border frames this beautiful quilt? The cream background allows the eyes to rest, while the green makes it pop. It’s slightly tricky to layout, but it’s still an easy lap quilt if you strip piece the 4-patch or 16-patch blocks. I’m all for quick assembly.

The Sunny Skies quilt pattern was featured in the Fons & Porter’s Quilting Quickly Spring 2013 issue. That’s it at the top of this page. You can also download it right now, if you’re the impatient type, like me. Natalie did a good job of replicating it.

Here’s the video for Natalie’s version of the Sunny Skies lap quilt.


Download Here:

Download the Sunny Skies quilt pattern from Fon’s and Porter.

Cheap Rotating Cutting Mat

Rotating Cutting Mat

I’ve been wanting one of these rotating cutting mats even since I saw Jenny Doan from the Missouri Star Quilting Company use one in her YouTube quilting tutorials. Olfa makes both a 12″ and a 17″ square one.

Olfa Rotating Cutting Mat

I saw them at Jo-Ann’s, but it was $84.99. Are you kidding me? I decided to get one a few weeks ago when they had a 40% off all rotary cutters, mats and rulers. $50.99 is a little more reasonable, but sheesh, they’re still making a gang of money. The overhead on notions is like buying diamond jewelry.

Fiskars makes some, too, in an 8″ and 14″ size, but since my other cutting mats are Olfa and I like them, I didn’t want to change brands.

They’re easy to use. When you need to rotate it, just ever so slightly lift up on a corner and turn it. I was concerned that the rotating thingy in the middle would make it bulge or wobbly, but that’s not the case because it’s recessed into the dense foam mat under the cutting surface. It’s very stable and solid.

If you don’t have a Jo-Ann’s near you or you can’t wait for their next sale or coupon, I found a cheap source on Amazon.

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