Friday, March 29, 2019

If Diamonds are Forever, How Much Time Does a Rhombus Have?

OK, I have to admit. I do NOT like the word rhombus. Yes, I was a high school math teacher at one time and I'm sure that word was in my lesson plans. But, hey, how to you use that word in your circle of friends?

"Hey, Sally. I love your rhombus engagement ring!" Yeah, right.

Well, you're probably thinking, "Sheesh. She sure does have a bee in her bonnet!"

Not so. Diamonds are diamonds are rhombuses. They both mean the same thing, which is: "an oblique-angled equilateral parallelogram" which is what Dictionary.com says.

Now, let me move on to some quilts with diamonds. That's why you've come anyway, right? First some DIAMONDS.

Diamonds cut from 4-1/2" strips
This is my Baby Blocks quilt using those diamonds. I call it "My Diamonds Have the Blues" (pretty original, don't you think?)

My Diamonds Have the Blues (60" x 60")
And a few smaller ones:
Baby Blocks using 3-1/2" diamonds
And a runner for my dear friend Connie:
A runner using 3-1/2" diamonds
I had more of those diamonds left over and made this quilt. No borders yet. I combined these with 60 degree triangles. And NO y-seams!
Straight up diamonds!
These are 60 degree diamonds which can be cut with a regular 6 x 12 ruler that has a 60 degree line on it. I've shared those steps in previous posts (just do a search for "Turning 60" or "hexagons" on the Label list on the right sidebar).

Here is a Seven Sisters table topper I made using English Paper Piecing. These are 2" diamonds. To me, the word rhombus just doesn't fit!

Seven Sisters EPP table topper
And here are some stars made using 12 diamonds:
3 Stars (of the 7 needed) for my Seven Sisters topper
Here is a quilt I made for my second book, Supersize 'Em Quilts. This is Cloissoné Diamonds and a few derivatives:

Cloissoné Diamonds: 71" x 77"
And one in Christmas fabrics:
31" x 44"
And one I made just last month in preparation for an upcoming workshop for a Maryland guild:

47" x 60"
Each of these are made using 6" single fabric diamonds and Four Patch diamonds made with 3" strips (plus seams). Those diamonds on point measure 7" x 12"!

OK. That's it. Diamonds are forever. Rhombuses? I don't like the word and so I don't give it any time. Yes, I guess there's a bee in my bonnet. But that's because "words mean things" and rhombus is not in my vocabulary.

Some of these quilts can be found at my Etsy shop, along with several others that use diamonds.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Revisiting My Gretchen Quilt

I must like this pattern, as I've made this several times. I have a whole lot of blocks from teaching it a dozen times last year! Now to put them together.

I have fixed the links to the pattern. Many thanks to those who alerted me!

Here is my first one:

Gretchen quilt in black and red prints
Then I received a bundle of fabrics from Red Rooster and made this one:

Gretchen Quilt in happy colors

Then I made some sample blocks for my recent workshops. I used some of my precious shwe shwe cloth from my Africa days 40 years ago. Yikes! What took me so long to cut into these?

Blue indigo prints from Africa make up four Gretchen Blocks
 And I had just a handful of the reds:

4 Red Gretchen Blocks
I love shot cottons mixed with Kaffe Fassett prints and I made these this morning (yes, I get up early). What do you think?

First, realize that there are NO TEMPLATES. You are only working with two sizes of squares and a magical way with your rotary cutter!

Gretchen Block 1
 And some lavender:
Gretchen Block 2
 Gold:
Gretchen Block 3
And greens:
Gretchen Block 4
Putting them all together:
Four Gretchen Blocks
The blocks are 9" and the quilts as shown above are 58" x 58". I think I'll piece until I run out of fabric (silly girl! When will THAT ever happen?)

You can find the pattern for my Gretchen Quilt at my Etsy store. This is a real scrap buster, too!

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Summer Workshops with MAQ, Part 3

Are you still with me? Today I share my 3rd class which I am teaching this summer at the MAQ retreat in Gettysburg, PA. I will have another English Paper Piecing class which concentrates on using diamonds with hexagons.

Sunday, July 16:

C16 English Paper Piecing with Hexagons and Diamonds


  • Skill Level: All skill levels. This is a hand sewing class.
  • Description: English Paper Piecing is a great take-along hand piecing project, perfect for making traditional Grandmother's Flower Garden (GFG) blocks – and more! Discover simple diamonds, which, when combined with the hexagons, offer exciting possibilities for altogether new blocks adding a creative dimension to your design options. My collection of samples is a treasure trove of inspiration, where you’ll see all sorts of ways to use your hexagons and diamonds in a variety of settings and projects.
  • Techniques covered English Paper Piecing, hand sewing, designing with hexagons and diamonds.
  • Kit Required: Yes
  • Kit Fee: $15
  • Kit Contains: contains fabric, card stock hexagon and diamond shapes in 2 sizes. The supply list will give you more options for fabrics to bring out of your own stash.
  • Sewing Machine Required: No
  • Supply List
Now let's see some of the projects, huh?

Large 2" Hexagons with Diamonds
Let's now add some small triangles to those diamonds and single hexagon. Students will receive a kit to make one of these Wild Woods creatures and when you finish it, you can stitch it into a hot pad or mug rug (your own finishing)

Center an awesome motif in the center and learn how to put all these shapes together
 How about ONLY diamonds?

A traditional Seven Sisters block

Just to show you how you can EPP seven of these blocks and make a beautiful table topper. This is called Seven Sisters.

All hand stitched, Seven Sisters blocks
A simple block to feature some awesome prints (fabrics will vary, depending on what I am able to find for these shapes)
3 Hexagons and 3 Diamonds (fabrics will vary)
This is suited for beginners who have never done EPP. We will begin with a hexagon and then introduce those diamonds for a beautiful variety of blocks. I will have kits of pre-cut fabric and papers and you can enjoy a relaxing day hand sewing. No distracting sewing machine noise means that you are actually chatting with your neighbors in class!

Visit the MAQ website to see more on English Paper Piecing with Diamonds and Hexagons. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Summer Workshops with MAQ, Part 2

Part Two of my MAQ class lineup in July. I shared on Monday what I'll be teaching on the first day of the quilting symposium: English Paper Piecing, Going Beyond the Hexagon. If you missed it, make sure you get over and see all the pictures!

My Saturday class (July 13) is The Traditional Pickle Dish. You may be asking: What is a Pickle Dish? And why would I want to make a quilt out of pickles?!

It's not made out of pickles; the sharp points take their cue from an old fashioned cut glass pickle dish. Here's just one block. Yes, this is PAPER PIECING and curved piecing, not for beginners.

Pickle Dish Block: 12" x 12"

  • Here's my description:
  • This is NOT a Double Wedding Ring but the vintage block that simulates a glass pickle dish with sharp points, which are possible using foundation paper piecing. The center melon shape and background curved unit are doable using my easy pinning method. The 4 blocks are set together for a square center. More blocks can be added for a larger quilt. A 2-page planning sheet with a coloring chart is part of the supply list.
  • Block Size: 12”, Quilt Center: 24” x 24”, Quilt Size with Borders: 34” x 34” (quilt can be made larger)
  • Techniques covered Foundation paper piecing. Joining curved units with ¼” seam. Accurate piecing. We will discuss (but not teach) the quilting used in this quilt.
  • Pattern Required: Yes, $13
  • Pattern Contains: Pattern with all 8 oversized foundations to make this quilt, plus multi-page, well-illustrated step by step directions. Master patterns are also included.
  • PreCutting Required: Yes
  • Sewing Machine Required: Yes
  • Supply List
Now let's see my two quilts which will be my teaching samples. The first one is unfinished so that you can see the blocks from the wrong side (students like that, I think). I first drafted this in 2008 and then worked up my courage to stitch it in 2013. I finally put the borders on in 2018.

Pickle Dish using the Up in the Air fabrics by Windham
And how about a version using some Kaffe Fassett fabrics?

Pickle Dish quilt finished
You will receive a multi-page, well illustrated pattern with all foundations to make the four block quilt. Master foundations and master templates are also included (in case you wish to make a bigger quilt).

Visit the MAQ website to download the Supply List and get more information about how you can join me in this action packed class.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Summer Workshops with MAQ, Part 1

MAQ? What's that? It's Mid-Appalachian Quilting Symposium and they work on one thing all year long - putting together one of the loveliest quilters' retreats I've ever been to. For 32 years this group of volunteers (a new board every 2 years) puts together an amazing line up of national teachers which offer a wide range of classes.

Dates? July 12-14, 2019.
Where? Gettysburg College, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

This is a 3-Part series. Today I share my Friday class.

Friday:  English Paper Piecing: Going Beyond the Hexagon

This is a hexagon. Actually, a lot of 2" hexagons. Let's work with some other 60 degree shapes!
The Zig and Zag of Hexies
How about one hexagon and 6 half-hexagons? What's this called? A Twisted Hexagon! We might be exploring this delightful block, which I typically make on the sewing machine. We will have NO sewing machines in our class! We will also answer your question: what's with those little bits of fabric sticking out? Come and find out!

Twisted Hexagon Block

  • What is English Paper Piecing? Here is my class description:

  • "English Paper Piecing is a great take-along hand piecing project, perfect for making traditional Grandmother's Flower Garden (GFG) blocks – and more! Discover simple diamonds and jewels, which, when combined with the hexagons, offer exciting possibilities for altogether new blocks adding a creative dimension to your design options. And we will work with pentagons, too! My collection of samples is a treasure trove of inspiration, where you’ll see all sorts of ways to use your EPP shapes in a variety of settings and projects."


  • Kit Fee: $15 (click that link for your supply list)
  • Kit Contains:  “mini kits” of fabric, card stock hexagon, diamond, jewel and pentagon shapes. The supply list will give you more options for fabrics to bring out of your own stash.
  • PreCutting Required: No
  • Sewing Machine Required: No
We will be making a Pentagon Wreath with these awesome kaleidoscope centers. I first made this to appear in Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks magazine a few years ago. It is a wonderful way to feature a beautiful motif in the center of the wreath.

Pentagon Wreath
And this is the original one as it appeared in the magazine:
Pentagon Wreath
And my favorite shapes are the jewel. They are made from diamonds. First a set of diamonds:

12 Diamonds make a larger hexagon!
And some lovely uses with the jewel shape . . .

A fussy cut crab in the center of 6 jewels. It's not finished!

6 Jewels and a hexagon
Add 6 diamonds in those open spaces and you have created a modern version of the vintage block called "The Star Bouquet." I have a few dozen of these and am trying to figure out my quilt assembly. Maybe it will be done by July . . .
The Star Bouquet
Turn those jewels into hearts! As you can see, I began by rotary cutting my diamonds. Then we slice a small triangle from one end. Piece two together and you have some colorful hearts. I will have ideas for what to do with these, too.
Jeweled Hearts
Pink hearts
I'd love to have you in my class if you are within driving distance of Gettysburg, PA. EPP is a fabulous take along project, too.

There is a supply list for the things you need to bring (mainly sewing needles, thread, cutting tools, etc). I will have kits of pre-cut fabric shapes and EPP card stock papers to make several blocks. You will have MORE than enough to occupy the entire day. I share lots of tips and have quite a few samples to inspire you.

I'll be sharing about my other two classes this week, so stay tuned. Hope you enjoyed seeing English Paper Piecing: Going Beyond the Hexagon.

Friday, March 15, 2019

The Wearin' of the Green

I posted this last year and I love this quilt so much, I wanted to share it again! I used the new Uncorked Collection by Windham Fabrics to make this in a 10" block size. Irish Cross and Chain is the name of the quilt. It is featured in my Quilter's Block a Day Calendar (now out of print).

Irish Cross and Chain Quilt: 28" x 28"

These two 10" blocks from March 17 and 18 are a perfect way to celebrate Saint Patrick's Day! I offer all 31 blocks in a 50 page pdf at my Etsy store.  This larger quilt is a digital pattern that was included in the CD version of my calendar.

Irish Cross and Chain: 64" x 74"
Let's see each of these blocks up close:

Double Irish Cross (10") is the March 17 block  (for St. Patrick's Day, right?) I raw edge appliquéd the hearts, but they could just as easily be done by hand.

March 17 block: Double Irish Cross - 10"
Double Irish Patches (10") is the March 18 block. Each of those squares finishes to 2". When the two blocks are put together they form a Double Irish Chain!

March 18 block: Double Irish Patches - 10"
I made a quilt in early 2000 using the Double Irish Chain pattern and my alternating blocks are machine embroidered butterflies and wreaths. Let's take a look:

Double Irish Chain

I hope you will look in your stash for some green fabrics and give a thought to making a Double Irish Chain quilt. There are lots of helpful web sites with free patterns. As you know, Craftsy suspended my store and I can't offer free patterns at my Etsy store. But you can find the 31 blocks from March in my Etsy store!

Happy St. Patrick's Day to you (on Sunday, the 17th)!

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Butterflies in Circles Tutorial

This is a repeat of a blog post from 2014 featuring some beautiful fabrics from Benartex.

Beautiful fabrics from the Sakura Collection by Benartex
I was especially drawn to the large scale print featuring butterflies. What do you think of these?
Oh. You want me to show you how to make them? Allow me!


Butterflies remind me of Spring. Are you coming, Spring?
I wanted to make something simple, letting the fabric take the stage. Simple shapes: circles and squares. Did I say that circles are simple? Easy? Of course. Let me show you how!

Isolate a butterfly. Cut out a circle of freezer paper.
I drafted a 6" circle and printed it. Then I traced it onto freezer paper. I will center it on my butterfly.

Captured all of the butterfly within the circle
Now I iron the freezer paper circle to the WRONG side of the butterfly. It will be my sewing guide.

Cut a piece of medium weight interfacing larger than the circle
Now for the fun part!
Sew along the EDGE of the freezer paper circle (I've already peeled the circle off)
 Now we trim, leaving 1/8" - 1/4" seam allowance.
Trim!
OK. Now you're confused, right? It's like I painted myself into a corner. How do I get out?

Clip into the interfacing and turn the butterfly circle right side out. Press well (but not on the interfacing side)
OK. How does it look from the front?

Butterfly auditioning for a background fabric
Chose this due to the irregular etched lines.
Butterfly pinned and ready for stitching
What color thread did I use? Black, but I also found that finer-than-usual thread disappears into the fabric much better. I changed my thread after the first circle was stitched. I also used black in the bobbin. Why? Because sometimes the bobbin thread "beads" up to the top and I didn't want little specks of white or cream to show on the front.

Now it's time to clip away background fabric and interfacing
Notice that I used a narrow, short machine zigzag stitch. I made five butterfly blocks this way. Now it's time for my alternate block for the 5 butterfly blocks.
Make simple 4 Patch blocks
 And how does the quilt look?

Sakura Butterfly Quilt

10" blocks. 42" x 42" quilt. I will quilt it with my friend Jeannine's walking foot along the straight lines. Then I'll free motion quilt each block individually.

But, wait! Did you notice that I started with 3 butterflies on a light background. Yes, I rediscovered those in my piles of leftovers. Let's see if I can do anything with them. Not sure if I have more of those butterflies, but I'm going to check!

OK. I'm back and I grabbed a few companion pieces to go with those butterflies on light background. What do you think?

My go-with fabrics for the light butterflies
Not sure what my background fabric will be, but I'll keep you posted. I'm on the road again teaching in Lakeland, Florida. I'm always happy to get back home and play with my fabric. These will be waiting for me and I know I have enough for another small quilt to delight any child!