Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Top 10 Blog Posts of 2019

I thought it might be fun to see the top 10 blog posts of 2019 and what was most exciting to my followers. While I don't have tens of thousands of followers, I do have a few thousand who visit each week to get quilt-y ideas and lots of patterns. Here is my countdown for 2019, ending with the post with the highest numbers of visits.

NUMBER 10: February 12 - Free Pattern Day: Frosted Blocks
This is a fun post that showcases not one, not two, not three, not four, but FIVE quilts of mine that use the same technique. Check out the most recent one: Frosted Blocks for Windham Fabrics

Candy Cane Lane: Frosted
Check out the link next to the date to see the other four quilts. Such a fun way to showcase some novelty prints.

NUMBER 9: July 17 - Hanukkah in July and Free Pattern

The Dreidel block is part of the Cookie Cutter Block of the Month series and you can make this for next year! I made three!

Three 10" Dreidel blocks

NUMBER 8: August 4 - Cutting Hexagons for English Paper Piecing

Check out the formulas that work for ANY size hexagon. You don't need a template for each one. There is NO guessing. I share a formula that works every time!

Using a standard multi-sized triangle ruler

NUMBER 7: September 26 - Geo Pop and Seven Sisters Variation

Seven Sisters is a vintage pattern with a LOT of y-seams. I removed them (of course; I'm the Queen of Simple). I show several steps to get to this quilt using this new collection from Benartex Fabrics. Click the link to see some quilts from my students from a workshop in 2017.

Seven Sisters Variation
NUMBER 6: December 12 - 12 Days of Christmas Blog Hop

This was SO much fun. I gave my samples away to my granddaughter's kindergarten class. Lots of steps and info for making these and also some little kids' scribble books. Toadily Cute by Benartex.

NUMBER 5: September 13 - Free Pattern Friday with Jelly Rolls

Click the link to see the quilt and also to download the pattern. Lots of pictures!

Logs and Mortar Quilt Made Using This Jelly Roll

NUMBER 4: June 21 - Cookie Cutter Sampler Block of the Month

I hope you've kept up. I released a FREE pattern each month. 10" blocks.
Cookie Cutter Sampler Quilt - FREE Block of the Month

NUMBER 3: April 15 - English Paper Piecing for Small Hexagons

These are 3/4" hexagons. Check out the pics of these in process.

Butterfly Dance Hexie Quilt

NUMBER 2: February 19 - Red Hot Flash FREE Pattern

I designed this quilt about 10 years ago for Blank Quilting. I used a jelly roll and some light background print. You can still get this free pattern!

Red Hot Flash Quilt: 59" x 70"
And, the MOST POPULAR post from 2019 is the Cookie Cutter Hearts quilt and block! I have made a lot of variations. This one has little dancing hearts on both sides of the 10" center block.

NUMBER 1: July 1 -  Cookie Cutter BOM - The Heart Block

Cookie Cutter Heart Block
I have a lot of new things to share in 2020 and also to revisit some oldie-goldies. I  hope you'll join me for the ride. And a Happy New Year to all!

Monday, December 30, 2019

Michael Miller Monday with Fairy Frost

I have always loved the Fairy Frost blenders and have used them for several years. There are SO many colors and the texture with the flecks of gold and silver are unrivaled for a special touch of "bling" for your quilts.

I received a fat quarter bundle of some older fabrics ( the zigzag prints, 5+ years old) from a gift exchange a few weeks ago. I was stumped (me? stumped?) as to what I should do with them. I pulled 6 FQs of Fairy Frost and what do you think? Looks like a pretty good start, if I do say so myself. But I am still thinking. . .

Fairy Frost auditioning with some older prints
Remember my Fairy Frost lineup for my Starfish quilt? I had some Michael Miller Hanukkah fabrics that needed some bling. I think these worked very well.

6 fat quarters of Fairy Frost for my Starfish Quilt
Do you remember this pic from November? I paper pieced using these 7 fabrics (the white is the background).
Paper Pieced Starfish blocks
And last year I used this same print (blue) with the gold Fairy Frost for my FREE paper pieced Dreidel block. You can read about this, see some steps and enjoy more fabrics!

Paper Pieced Dreidel block
And here's a sneak peek at some upcoming posts. They have to do with my Flying Swallows workshop that I'm teaching with the Sewing Expo in the Spring.

I actually have made TWO class samples using Fairy Frost. Some of the fabrics . . .

Select group of yummy colors

And some diamonds . . .
Diamonds cut for my newest Flying Swallows class sample
Adding the white, light blue and navy triangles. Can you figure out where I'm going?

Flying Swallows parts using Fairy Frost
Here is how it's all put together:

Flying Swallows using multi-colors. ALL Fairy Frost!
You can see my workshop list at both the Atlanta, GA and Lakeland, FL websites by looking at my own blog pages about them:

Atlanta Sewing Expo Classes (see the 5 classes and dates)

Lakeland Sewing Expo Classes (see the 5 classes and dates)

I will be sharing more using Fairy Frost and I think you will enjoy the color show!

Friday, December 27, 2019

Free Pattern Friday: Hexagon Pinwheels

This is a post from 2008 (that's 12 years ago!). I love hexagons and working with pre-cut strips. These are called "Fat Rolls" and they are 5" strips. I'm sure you can find some fabrics in your own stash that you can cut into 5" strips.

These plaids are from Windham Fabric's Basics Collection (2012) 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?"

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.

I prefer to use a multi-sized 60 degree triangle to cut these. The ones with the blunted tips are best. You probably have one in your sewing room. I'll wait while you run and check . ..

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

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Hanukkah Quilts and Dreidel Pattern

Somehow I got the dates for Hanukkah 2019 wrong and posted a bit early. But I looked it up and it began this past Saturday. Good thing this occupies a week of blessings and celebration!

This is one of the several cards I stitched and used those photo cards to showcase my special Hanukkah fabric from about 20 years ago! I just had a few scraps and this was perfect for that. Yes, I quilted that small piece.

Holiday card with Hanukkah fabrics
Then one day about 3 years ago I came upon a stack of Hanukkah fabrics (from Keepsake catalog about 10 years before that) at a thrift shop in Baltimore. I was hyperventilating. Yes, I'm a Christian, but I have Jewish people in my life and always like having something on hand for gifts. Wait until you see what I did with these!

Two of several pieces of Hanukkah themed fabrics
I made a signature quilt for my granddaughter's Jewish preschool class in Baltimore.  Several parents wrote in the signature sections. I did quilt it (no photo; not sure why!) and it hangs on a wall in that special place.
Gift to my granddaughter's preschool class
These I made about 20 years ago. Bookmark and little gift tag. Aren't they sweet. Have since given them away.
Bookmark and gift tag
And you saw this a week or so ago, my new Star of David quilt using Pearl Essence fabrics by Benartex.
Star of David Hanukkah quilt
 And the center star up close. All patches are based on the magical 60 degree triangle/diamond. No y-seams - all straight seam sewing. I will be getting a pattern done for this in 2020.

Center of that star!
And lastly a few Dreidel blocks. These were made into some gift bags and were featured in the Quilting Arts Holiday 2015 magazine.

Paper pieced dreidel blocks
And one of the bags up close. This Dreidel block is 6" and paper pieced. There are cutting dimensions for each patch.
Paper pieced dreidel gift bag
This is how the 6" Dreidel block looks after being pieced. Simple and easy.

6" Paper Pieced Dreidel block (see the top of the right sidebar)
This Dreidel block is part of my 2019 Cookie Cutter Sampler.
Raw edge appliqué Dreidel block (FREE)
Thanks for stopping by. For those who celebrate Christmas (this is Christmas Eve), I say Merry Christmas. And to my Jewish friends, Happy Hanukkah. And to ALL I wish you peace and blessings in the coming year.

Monday, December 23, 2019

My Vintage Christmas Ornaments

No. I didn't inherit these. Nor did I find these in an antique store. I made them decades ago (how's 40 years for a few of them? That's vintage, right?)

I've been married for over 42 years and began making holiday ornaments to decorate our home from the very first year. As I unpacked my Christmas box a few weeks ago, I marveled that I still had some of these.

This goose pillow was a free pattern at a local fabric store (Minnesota Fabrics). They had a special demo day in late November with samples, a stage presentation, and a FREE multi-page booklet of all the lovely Christmas projects and gift ideas. I remember how excited I was to get out of the house and leave my husband with two babies while I slipped away for 2 hours to be inspired in my favorite craft: SEWING! I made one for me and one for my mother in law.

Christmas Goose from 1980-83
I did all sorts of needle crafts. Embroidery was one. This little angel dates back to the mid 1980s, too. I don't think I ever took a picture of her. I did on Saturday and then gave her a special place in my kitchen.
Embroidered Angel with red ric rac edging
Remember, this was the 1980s. ALL patterns were printed - whether in books or magazines or catalogs. There was no internet to scour, Pinterest boards to haunt, blogs to follow. This also may be from one of those FREE Minnesota Fabrics booklets. I had to do a lot of free in those days; I was a stay at home mom (with 2 college degrees) and my husband worked for a Christian non-profit agency. Money was tight!

And how about this cross stitch wreath? Don't you just love that ric rac? The red bow is stitched with thread - that is not red fabric!
Cross Stitch wreath with ric rac
Now for one of my favorites. I made this in 1980. It is a stuffed, 3-D Christmas tree. It was a printed panel that you cut out, stuffed and then somehow is stitched so there are four sections. I wrap lights around it every year just like this. Those little red bows are still hanging on after all this time.

3-D fabric tree
This is another tree that I probably made in the late 1980s. It also was a panel and I stuffed it and put cardboard in the bottom so it could stand upright. I added all sorts of "bling" with beads, sequin stars, etc. Isn't it cute? Santa seems to like it!
Stuffed Christmas tree with Santa
This is probably one of the oldest ornaments. It looks sort of like a sick green potato, doesn't it? That green used to be deep, Christmas green. The felt is so faded and threadbare. I used counted cross stitch to write "Kratovil" on. I showed it to my husband the other day and his eyebrows shot up high!

Counted cross stitch felt heart

Well, that's all I have to share. I do have some other oldie-goldie handmade ornaments, but I thought these would bring back some memories of what we quilters used to do with our hands before we discovered QUILTS!

Friday, December 20, 2019

Winter Solstice Quilts

In 2019, the winter solstice for the Northern Hemisphere occurs on Saturday, December 21, at 11:19 p.m. EST.

I'm getting ready and want to let those short days of Fall know that I'm not going to take it any more. I want more of the sun and I'm going to get it!

You've seen this quilt here before when I first blogged about it in 2015. I quilted it last month and it's ready to hang and wag it's finger at those dark days. And shine and shine from it's place on my wall.

Winter Solstice Quilt: Here Comes the Sun! 26" x 28-1/2"
Do you remember when I showed you how this was pieced so that there are NO y-seams? Just because it's a hexagon does not mean I have to have set-in seams. Everything was cut based on that center hexagon from Paula Nadelstern's Fabricadabra collection. That hexagon was cut using my multi-sized 60 degree triangle ruler. It will finish to 10-1/2".

No y-seams here!
Those triangles are based on that finished height of 10-1/2". See? You do NOT need a set of specialty rulers or templates. The 60 degree triangle ruler is magical; that's why I call it my Power Tool. Last rows joined in pic below. Again, straight seam sewing!

More triangles and a few diamonds
The block is 15-1/2" (high) x 18" (wide). I squared it up with 30 degree triangles and then added borders.

I had another version of this in my series I call Double Hexie Star. But I did NOT like the borders.

Double Hexie Star
I took the borders off and quilted it on Monday. Binding on Thursday. What do you think?

Double Hexie Star Variation
Same size center hexagon. This time I used large triangles (the blue) and then sets of 30 degree triangles which appear to be 120 degree units, but those would require a set-in seam and you know how I feel about those!

I finally figured out how to put my label on the back so it is captured in that 120 degree angle. It's easy to do with a 90 degree angle (a regular quilt), but I had to put my thinking cap on for this one. I used the end of my Rose Star template to trim it and then lined it up on the raw edges with the binding grabbing it all very neatly!

Rose Star template has a 120 degree end
I've been doing my quilt labels like this for 15 years. No hand work!
Neat label in one of those 6 corners!
I'm thinking of doing a tutorial on binding, labels and rod pockets in the next coming months. All by machine. NO handwork. Interested?

Happy Winter Solstice to all in the Northern Hemisphere!

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

FREE Christmas Quilt Pattern

I shared this two years ago and I think you'll enjoy the back story of how this quilt came into my hands. You can get this pattern FREE at the P and B website as a download. While I don't think you can get this done before Christmas, you can download it for next year!

Snow Play is a sweet quilt with a Row by Row flavor. The Winter Friends Collection is very traditional with snowmen, stars, pine trees and lots of red and green. Here is a picture of the finished quilt as it hung in my house for a few minutes. My good friend Connie Gallant longarm quilted it for P and B and I put the binding on.

Snow Play quilt by Gina Gempesaw for P & B Textiles
Quilt Size: 54" x 66". Block Size: 9"

Let's see the special quilting Connie used:

Beautiful quilting by Connie Gallant on the Snow Play quilt
Now, how in the world did this quilt make it to my house? I didn't sew it. But neither did anyone else! This had to meet a deadline for photography and the fabric wasn't shipped from the manufacturer in time. So, this is a printed panel (yes, you heard that right). It came to me so that I could deliver it to Connie and I finished it and shipped it out in time for Spring Market. Believe me, this happens more often than you know in the fabric industry!

This is a FREE pattern at the P and B Textiles pattern site. You can see all the fabrics up close, too.

Monday, December 16, 2019

FREE Quick Love Dove Ornament

This has run twice in the past (2014 and 2017) and is still worth repeating. Especially if it's FREE! I'll let you read the post and see if you agree. I created this from one of my OLD calendar patterns and also used it as a workshop demo.

 I have a lot of new blog followers who may never have seen this quick and easy Christmas tree ornament.

Quick sewing 8 dove ornaments with Audrey
"Hi, mom. Can you help me? I need 8 dove ornaments for a Christmas exchange next week."

Oh, sure. I'll put my magician hat on and wave my magic wand and voila! - 8 quick ornaments.

Lucky for me I had a Santa sack of various crafts sitting in my hall closet (honest) that I had pulled out last week looking for something. In there is my trusty Dove Ornament pattern. And I even had a sample ornament to remind me of what they look like.

I did the fusing. Audrey did the cutting out. I quick stitched the gold thread on the outside. I was shocked to see I still had some gold cording. We found that 10" lengths worked best.

Here is a single ornament front and back:

Holiday Dove: 4" x 5"
 Use pretty fabric on the back, too.

Holiday Dove, reverse
You can get the FREE PATTERN at my web site. It's a one page pdf that also includes a simple heart shape. All you need are scraps of pretty fabric, bits of fusible webbing and batting. Everything is sandwiched, fused and then stitched. I use freezer paper as my template material.

Please DO NOT copy and distribute. Just give this link: Holiday Love and Dove Pattern

Thursday, December 12, 2019

12 Days of Christmas Blog Hop: Day 1

The Christmas countdown is on … and we (Benartex Fabrics) are here to help you with fun, festive and fast projects that you can finish before the holidays! Join us on our Facebook page and Instagram account December 12th through the 23rd for our “12 Days of Christmas – Quick Gift Project Hop”.

Today I'm the first designer out of the box and am featuring the Toadily Cute fabric collection. We all are looking for some quick ideas for last minute gifts. I will be sharing two today. This blog post is photo heavy, but I think you'll enjoy seeing all the Toadily Cute things I made!

The first one is something you've seen here before:

Tissue holders using the Toadily Cute fabrics
Tissue Holders! I have made dozens of these in the past 20 years. I tweaked the original pattern so the little tissue packs fit better (I added 1/2" or so). But you want to see the pictures, don't you?!!

First, the fabrics. The one on the bottom is a border print that is just the sweetest. And the one on the right is a set of panels. You can see all of them here at the Benartex web site.

Toadily Cute fabrics
Now, how to make these little handy, dandy tissue holders!

Step 1: Fabric Requirements (**Good contrast between the fabrics is recommended)
  • One 6” x 7” rectangle for OUTSIDE
  • One 6 x 8-1/4” rectangle for INSIDE
  • Yes: the inside fabric rectangle is larger than the outside. That's what forms the little "binding" overlap.
Paired fabrics cut into two sizes of rectangles
 Step 2:
  • Place rectangles right sides together. Sew the 6” sides together. Yes, one is larger than the other and they donʼt lie flat. You are sewing a tube with one piece larger, but they are connected with two short, side seams.
Yes, we're inside out but we can still see you!
Step 3:
  • Turn seamed rectangles right side out and press the overlaps of the larger rectangle (1/4” seam allowance size) so that your rectangles now lay flat on each other, wrong sides together.
  • The frog print is the OUTSIDE of the holder; the green dotted print is the inside.
Turned right side out the lining overlaps the outer print
Let's see more of these, ok?

Four sets with the prints turned right side out
Step 4:
  • Fold this unit in half along the length (bringing the two finished edges together) and finger-press the center mark at the two raw edge sides. Remember the pins in the picture above? Those finished edges overlap 1/4". Pin in place
  • Itʼs a little bulky; a normal sewing machine stitch is possible.
Showing the inside of the tissue holder
Step 5:
  • Sew 1/4” seam on both raw edges. Trim away tiny triangle at ends of seams to reduce bulk when turning. Zigzag or otherwise overcast the raw edges to keep them from fraying.

Stitching the short sides together; then zigzag.
Step 6:
  • Turn the unit right sides out to form your tissue holder. Add one of those little packs of tissue. See how happy I've made that froggy!
Single tissue holder.
Now for a second quick project that works year round. I call these my Kids' Busy Books. I have made them from hexagons. Today, I'm using those sweet panels from the Toadily Cute collection.

Hardly anyone writes on paper anymore, but if you can find these in the stationery section of your local stores, grab them. They are a great fit for the busy books!
This is the paper size I will use for the inside
 I cut two of the panels and then removed the spacing strip because of the fit of the paper. I left 1/4" all around each of the two panels
Two panels trimmed
I stitched them together, making sure that the front of the book is in the correct position when it's turned right side out!
Two panels stitched together
 Then I cut a piece of light batting and a lining (the one with the words) and layered them.

3 layers
Lining is placed right side together with the book front. The batting is on the bottom. Stitch around all 4 sides with 1/4", leaving a space for turning (see where the two straight pins are at the bottom.)

Stitching and leaving opening for turning
Turned right side out and top stitched around all sides, closing that opening. The frog will be the FRONT of the book; the turtle will be the back.
Outside of book
I pulled 10 pieces of paper from that tablet and drew a line down the center. I will stitch these together with my sewing machine (yes, I will!)

10 pieces of paper stacked and ready for stitching along that center pencil line
I placed this stitched paper in the center of my book, but it won't be permanently attached as I have done in previous books. I'm making a spine that this stack can slip into using elastic.

Auditioning the stack
 I only had black elastic. You work with what you have, right?!

1/4" elastic stitched to the ends
 The stack of paper can slip in and out (when it's been totally scribbled on).
Paper slips in under the elastic. Easy to remove for another replacement!
 And this is how it looks when finished!

Kids' Busy Book
I actually made four of these busy books so that I can gift them to my granddaughter's little friends in her kindergarten class. I am going to stitch a few more replacement insides and include them.

Click to see the schedule of this fun hop!
Each day you will find a new designer with new ideas. Here are the links below. They will also be posted at the Benartex Facebook page.

13-Dec  Rachel Rossi - https://www.rachelrossi.design/
14-Dec  Ann Lauer - https://grizzlygulchgallery.com/
16-Dec  Carol Swift - https://www.justletmequilt.com/
17-Dec  Pat Sloan -  https://blog.patsloan.com/
18-Dec  Julie Cefalu - https://thecraftyquilter.com/
19-Dec  Shelly Cavanna - https://www.corasquilts.com/
21-Dec  Charisma Horton - https://charismascorner.com/
22-Dec  Cherry Guidry -  https://www.cherryblossomsquilting.com/