Sunday, September 30, 2012

"Leafs Me Happy" Blog Hop Monday

I am posting this on Sunday instead of waiting for the first day of the Blog Hop because many of my followers don't get notice of my updates for a full 24 hours. So, this means they will get this info when I want them to: on Monday!

Well, it's here: both Fall and the Leafs Me Happy Blog Hop. Get ready for a wild and inspiring ride from blog to blog, state to state and country to country as you travel the gloriously colored roads of this blog hop. Here are the participants for Monday, October 1:

Just to give you a sneak-peek into what I'm planning for Thursday, take a look: 
Just a little teaser!
There is no way possible you can figure out this block,  but I assure you it is an awesome block with a small tutorial. And one of my giveaways (one? you mean there are more? YES! I will have THREE giveaways) will be some of this green/burgundy grape leaf fabric from Blank Quilting.
I'd also like to introduce a friend of mine, Deborah Schupp, who has her own pattern company: Gumbo Design Studios.
"Yummy Apron" on Deb's granddaughter

Gumbo Design Studios is a quilt pattern company with a Louisiana Creole heritage;
Deb is a New Orleans native. As she says: 
"Every pattern includes some lagniappe (lan-yap), a little something extra. Common in the culture of New Orleans, lagniappe is kin to a “baker’s dozen” where for the price of a dozen donuts the customer receives thirteen.  It’s a gift to my customers to share my love for quilting and my home town."
She also travels to present workshops and trunkshows and has a variety of beautiful quilts on her site, along with home dec patterns and even two Louisiana Creole recipes! Her patterns are being sold exclusively by two vendors: Apple Mountain Quilts ( at most AQS shows and Early Times Workshop ( ) at most Sew & Quilt Expo shows.

Each pattern includes a bit of "lagniappe" - a little something extra: a classic New Orleans recipe or background on Creole culture. For instance, the Jambalaya Placemats pattern has a recipe for Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya as the lagniappe.
Take a visit to see what's up. She lives in Madison, Virginia (close to Culpepper) and would love to come visit your guild.

Come see me on Thursday for my day with the Leafs Me Happy Blog Hope. Beautiful blocks, quilts, a short tutorial and prizes. You can even come in your jammies!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Hexagon Pinwheels and Plaids - Free Pattern

It's Wednesday and I haven't finished the project I planned for today, which I usually set aside for Windham Fabrics. So, I decided to feature fabrics that are part of their Basics Collection of plaids, checks, dots and stripes - awesome fabric staples. Timeless geometrics that should be in everyone's stash.
Hexagon Pinwheels Quilt: 44" x 48"
I made this quilt for Windham Fabrics in 2008 and it is still available as a FREE pattern download. While they no longer sell these "Fat Rolls", which are like Jelly Rolls on steroids (5" strips instead of puny 2-1/2" strips), it is easy to cut your own strips from your own stash. I remember first hearing about them from the Marketing Director and I thought, "Fat Rolls? Isn't that something I have around my waist?"

The fabrics are still available at their web site and in a variety of quilt shops (though not all skus are still in stock). But we all have a treasured stash of plaids, stripes, etc that we can use with this pattern.

Everything is straight seam sewing. Just to prove it, here are two images from the FREE pattern.

Try this neat trick: Sewing two 5" strips together into a tube and then cutting apart for 2-triangle units. Pop the seam at the top of the triangle and then press for two triangles. Sew into the hexagon shape. Cut side triangles and also the plain alternate triangles.

Sew strips together into a tube and cut apart with any 60 degree ruler
Make 20 of these Pinwheel Blocks and sew together into horizontal rows.

Now, how to get the pattern? Click here: Hexagon Pinwheels Quilt

Monday, September 24, 2012

Kaleidoscope Blocks & Giveaway

Today is Monday and I want to talk about a new collection by Blank Quilting. It is called Byblos (don't know what in the world that means, but it means something in some language, I'm sure). It is a colorful group of fabrics -
Byblos Collection by Blank Quilting
 I decided to use my own Kaleidoscope Ruler (from a class I taught last year) and cut a variety of strip widths from each of the fabrics. (Stay with me; the GIVEAWAY has to do with the class I taught and the kits and rulers I created for my students; I'm not saying anything else right now. Back to this lesson!)
Strips cut from the Byblos Collection
After I sewed them together, I used my Kaleidoscope Ruler  to cut 6-1/2" high wedges, flip-flopping the ruler as shown.

Don't confuse this with the 60 degree Spiderweb ruler. The kaleidoscope is a 45" ruler, and is based on the radiating lines coming out from the center of a circle. Go look it up in your quilt reference books.
Cutting 6-1/2" high wedges using my ruler
 I cut a 6-1/2" x wof strip of the blue and white floral. This will be my alternating wedge.

Cutting the alternating kaleidoscope wedges from the blue and white fabric
 Here are the 8 patches arranged on my cutting table.

8 kaleidoscope wedges arranged before sewing
 I sewed a triangle to the end of one of the strip pieced wedges. Then added the blue and white patch.
Patches added; first the corner triangle, then the companion blue/white wedge
 I pressed the seam toward the blue/white wedge. I made 4 of these.
Press seam toward the plain (unpieced) wedge; make 4
 Sew the pairs together as shown. The center seam will be the diagonal line.
Two of the pairs sewn together.
 And how does it look from the wrong side? Nicely pressed seams, of course!

View from wrong side before sewing last seam.
I made another coloring, using plain white in place of the blue and white print. Which one do you like?

12" block using white in place of the blue print
Here are the two blocks together. Hmmm . . . . I can't decide.
Two 12" blocks side by side
Let me show you the quilt I used in my classes which was made with the beautiful "Days to Remember" collection by Mary Koval for Blank. It is a lovely set of fabrics and I enjoyed working with it from start to finish. (I sell the pattern with the multi-size ruler (6" - 12" size), which includes directions for this quilt and one other at my web site: Kaleidoscope Pattern and Ruler.)

Kaleidoscope Quilt - 10" blocks
The center is composed of 9 blocks in three colored arrangements. It creates a circular movement when only straight lines are used. But this is because there are two different angled triangles used (the corner triangle and the kaleidoscope wedge).
9 blocks with 3 separate colorings create curved movement
OK. What is my giveaway? I still have a kit left to make this exact quilt. It includes all the fabrics to make it as shown, including fabrics for the binding. The color pattern has easy, step by step instructions (illustrated, of course) AND my multi-sized kaleidoscope ruler are part of the kit. Wow! That's a $45 kit to make a 42" x 42" quilt.

Just be a FOLLOWER for a chance to win and leave a comment telling me that you are a follower. Tell me your favorite quilt coloring: Byblos (modern) or the Days to Remember (traditional). One comment per person please. I will be using the Random Number Generator to choose a winner September 29. You have through Friday, September 28 at midnight to comment. I have to have your email address in order to contact you. No email address, no chance to win.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Classes I'm Teaching This Week - Birmingham

I HAVE A WINNER of the Dots on Dots Blog Hop Giveaway.
Joyce S. was #31, and that is the number my Random Number Generator selected. Congratulations to Joyce. She wins a copy of my 2013 Quilter's Block a Day Calendar!

I usually post on Mondays about Blank Fabrics, but I've been too busy getting ready for my real job! I leave tomorrow (Wednesday) to teach in Birmingham, AL - 5 quilting classes for the Original Sewing and Quilting Expo. My dog is unhappy because she saw the red suitcase come out of the closet. My husband? Well, is it cruel to say that "now you know how I felt all those times you travelled when the girls were little"? He's a good guy, so I won't say it.

I'll share some pics of my class projects:
Free Motion Machine Quilting - even after 5 years, continues to sell out. We start small, we practice and we practice some more. Yes, you are seeing white marking chalk on this sample.
Free Motion Machine Quilting using a stencil
Just plain free motion quilting - green thread on black batik
Batik Braids - using only a half-hexagon!
 This is an updated quilt from one I made 10 years ago, published in Quilt Magazine when I was Special Projects Editor. My senior editor always let me play with my fabrics and ideas and this one was one of those I enjoyed repeating. I have Sew Batik put together kits for these projects with their luscious fabrics, so students just spend 10 minutes cutting and start sewing right away!
Larger braid quilt - published in a magazine last year
I created a custom half-hexagon acrylic template to go along with a pattern for BOTH quilts that my students use in class. There is NO fabric waste. The short side of the half-hexagon forms the straight vertical sides of the strippy rows! This continues to be a best selling pattern at my web site.

Sugarloaf Jewels - a Magic Stax© pattern
This quilt continues to amaze me with its popularity. We work with a stack of pre-cut squares (won't work with Layer Cakes), slice, swap patches, shuffle the deck and resew. No waste, no bias edges, no random slicing - perfect 60 degree diamonds in the center. This class is also kitted by Sew Batik. I do sell the pattern, but am slow to get it featured at my web site.
Beginner's Mariner's Compass
This class is perfect for beginners with sewing experience (ie, know their 1/4" seam allowance). I teach paper piecing in an easy, 16" block with gentle curves and large pieces. I first designed this for Blank Quilting a few years ago and the pattern is still available at their web site. It's called Fun Dip and is a larger, 6 block quilt. This also is featured in my new book,
Coming in February - preview coming asap
OK. Are you still there? The last class I teach in Birmingham is "No Sneaky Peeky" - an improvisational piecing class that came out of me patterning 8 of the Gee's Bend quilts in partnership with Windham Fabrics and the Gee's Bend quilters. My students get a paper bag stapled shut with a bunch of scraps, strips, patches and a pile of fat 1/8s of the Gee's Bend solids (hand dyed batiks created by Windham). The students get a little instruction, demo, and the dip in the bag and HAVE TO sew with whatever comes out. You can see all 8 of these quilts at my web site - a Gee's Bend Pattern slide show. I also blogged about it here with pictures of the original quilts and my adaptations. And an older blog posting here: Housetop Denim
No Sneaky Peeky - no pattern; you create your own improv quilt!
So, today was just a lot of eye candy. When I get back home, I will share some more free patterns and even have another giveaway planned. For now, it's back to packing that red suitcase - but first I have to put my dog outside so she doesn't get sad.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Owls Are the Bomb!

Well, it's Wednesday, but this week is very different in that the Dots on Dots Blog Hop is happening and I am posting a LOT of blocks on Friday (some from Windham and some from Blank). So, I am posting today with Benartex Fabrics.

They have the cutest new collection called "Owl Be There" and I used a 60 degree ruler to create a hexagon to fussy cut from one of the fabrics. Don't you just love these owls in a tree?
Circle of Owls
How did I do this? you ask. Well, it is a future class but I'll share a few secrets with you.
1. Use any 60 degree ruler and cut out a hexagon using freezer paper. Give it a 6" finished height.
2. Fussy cut the fabrics (in this case, the print you can see here) for a total of 6 hexagons
3. Cut out a single contrasting print hexagon for the center
4. Sew the 6 matching hexagons into a ring. Press seams open.
5. Trim 1/4" away from all sides of the freezer paper template and use on the wrong side of each of the 6 fabric hexagons and press the outer edges under 1/4".
Trim away 1/4" from freezer paper template
Use as pressing guide to turn hexagon outer raw edges under
Edges pressed under; pinned and ready for machine applique
 6. Use a simple zigzag machine stitch to sew hexagon circle to background square. This is a fat quarter (half of a half yard cut).
7. Trim away all background fabric from behind the hexagon circle.

After Appliqué, trim away all background fabric behind the hexagons
Interface the center hexagon using 1/4" seam allowance
Appliqué to center "hole" of the hexagon ring

Remove the interfacing
Two blocks together
 Make two of these blocks; sew them together.
1" inner, 6" outer borders for a 32" x 55" quilt/banner
I love this quilt. It is part of my Turning 60 series (no questions allowed here!). Don't you just love this? And what about the other fabrics in this marvelous collection?
Owl Be There by Benartex Fabrics
That's all folks. Like I said: Owls are the Bomb and these are the cutest I've seen in a while. Enjoy!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Honeybell Ensemble

Monday is here and I like showing some new things made with Blank Fabrics. It's a collection called Honeybell.

I received some small pieces and made myself think beyond a quilt.

Everyone needs a pillowcase each night and why not something extra special with a ruffle and print hem? I removed the hem from a purchased pillowcase and replaced it with a print, adding a ruffle between the case and hem. Very, very girlie and certainly can dress up any bedroom decor.

Made a ruffle
Adding hem to ruffle and pillowcase
Regular pillowcase with ruffle and new hem

Trimmed a small hand towel
 Turned edges under, topstitched on the towel and then put binding along the sides.
Why not make a purse?
 I took the handles off of a purchased purse, copied the dimensions, cut two 12" x 20 rectangles, quilted the layers (using Warm & Natural batting) and then put it all together. Now that I have the hang of it, I think I'll make some changeable units. The handles slide off easily and the 2" cuff folds down over the top, hiding that seam.
Purse close up
Oh, but wait. I DID make a quilt. What was I thinking? This features one of my super-sized paper pieced birdhouses called "Home Tweet Home." You can find this and 9 other upsized paper pieced birdhouses in my Big Birdhouse Bonanza set!

Home Tweet Home Birdhouse Mini Quilt

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Love Those Dots, Part 2

Dots and Dots in my favorite colors! MultiDot Collection by French Bull for Windham Fabrics
Yesterday I posted that I would play with some of these fabrics and I did. I cut 2 large squares from each of the dots collection and then combined them with squares of Windham's Spin Collection of bright, jewel-toned basics.
Yummy solids and dots in a real Spin (no pun intended)
I made 3 stacks of fabrics out of the first 16 squares and then made 3-4 cuts in each of the stacks. Did a little shuffle and re-sewed the units together. Honest - I am not kidding - it took under an hour to sew all 16 blocks. This is the basis of the class called Colorburst Squares I am teaching this Fall with the Sewing Expo, so I can't give out the pattern here. But basically it is a variation on the ever-present Cobblestone Block that you see in all the magazines and publications. But my quilt has the centers of each block floating around - so there's much more movement.
Colorburst Squares© using Dots and Brights (Spin)
I have another 16 blocks to sew for a very nice sized bed quilt. The blocks finish to 9".

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Love Those Dots!

Never pass up the chance to buy a dot or stripe when you see it. I found two 1/2 yard cuts of a dot at a local quilt shop the other day. Grabbed them. And a colorful stripe. Got that one, too. I'm in the Dots on Dots Blog Hop next week and I've had a lot of time to consider how dots have shown up in many of my quilts through the years. Since this is Windham Wednesday, I am sharing two things: a quilt made using a LOT of dots and a new DOTS collection.
Happy Squares - 46" x 52"
Happy Squares was made using the Windham Bright Basics Collection a few years ago (the fabrics are still available, I think). The original quilt I made in 1998 was stolen (long story - I'm over it now). I wanted to remake it and these dots fit the bill. Isn't this a HAPPY quilt? It is easier to make than you think. Those squares are machine appliquéd in the center of each larger square. No triangles and small strips to piece - you just cut out two sizes of squares, center them onto the larger squares and appliqué for 6" finished blocks. You can get the free pattern here: Happy Squares

Multi-Dot Collection by French Bull for Windham Fabrics
Windham has a new line out that I am SO EXCITED about. It is called Multi Dot by French Bull. Large dots, some stripes and other linear designs in bright colors. When I sew with bright colors it makes me happy. I have a plan and I hope to make a few blocks today using my pattern "Colorburst Squares".
Colorburst Squares - a new class for the Sewing Expo this Fall
Can't you just see those dots floating around a central square of solid fabric? I'm going to test drive my idea today. I stack 10-1/2" squares, make a few planned (not impromptu) cuts, shuffle the patches and sew them up. No waste, no bias edges, no templates - NO KIDDING!