• 31May
    Categories: Everything! Comments: 2


    I actually made this pillow in nine minutes—and, I was taking photos along the way!


    It only required sewing two seams–TWO SEAMS!  This is for an 18″ pillow form.

    First, cut a half yard piece of your chosen fabric, 18″.  I got to thinking if you bought a half yard of fabric, you could skip this step!  And, no, I didn’t add anything for seam allowances, because I like my pillow to fit snugly.


    Take it to the ironing board and press it, getting rid of that fold mark in the middle.


    Now, back to the cutting board.  Lay the fabric facedown, lengthwise, with about 11″ hanging off to the left of your first mark.  Fold that hanging down part over so that the fold is along the first mark on your cutting board.  We’re taking advantage of the selvedges here, so this should be the selvedge without the printing on it.


    Now fold the other half over, making that fold along the 18″ mark.


    Stick some pins in along the top and bottom edges.


    Take it to your machine and sew the two seams!  I went back and forth where the fabrics overlapped.


    Reach in and turn it right side out!


    I use this little wooden gizmo to poke out the corners.


    Press again.


    Stuff in your pillow form and, voila!


    A quick pillow in just 10 minutes—or less!  It even looks good on the back!



  • 05Dec

    A good friend of my sister’s lost her husband a few years ago.  She still had three of his Hawaiian shirts in her closet, and when she saw a quilt made out of old shirts, she knew she wanted to use the Hawaiian shirts for quilts for her three children.  Since she’s not a quilter, Sally put the SOS out to me.  The timing was perfect, as we were going to a retreat at The Wild Rose.

    Sally brought along the shirts and I started unstitching them.


    It was really a bigger job than I thought, but I wanted to make the most of the fabric.  I ended up cutting the shirts into 4-1/2″ squares.  I divided them in thirds and put one stack up on the design wall to balance out the colors.


    I wanted the quilts to be similar, but still different, and I wanted the prints to be the “stars” of the show.  So I decided I would use solids and set the blocks together with sashing and cornerstones.



    It’s a very simple setting, but I think it served its purpose.





    I finished them off with a simple stipple.


    Each shirt had a pocket, so I stitched one to the back of each quilt.


    I was pleased with the way they turned out.


    I’m sure the kids will treasure them.



    If you want the fabric requirements to make one of your own, they’re below.  This is also a great way to show off fussy cut, novelty prints or even photo transfer blocks.

    Hawaiian Shirt Quilt


    1 Hawaiian shirt (I got enough squares from each shirt to do one quilt, but I mixed them up for interest)

    7/8 yard cornerstones and inner border fabric

    2-1/4 yards sashing and outer border

    4 yards backing

    From the Hawaiian shirts cut 80) 4-1/2″ squares

    From the cornerstone/inner border fabric, cut 10) 2-1/2″ strips.  Cut four strips into 2-1/2″ squares for cornerstones. Use remaining squares for inner border.

    From the sashing/outer border fabric cut 18) 2-1/2″ strips; crosscut into 142) 4-1/2″ x 2-1/2″ rectangles for the sashing.  Then cut 7) 4-1/2″ strips for the border

    Cut the backing into two equal pieces.

    I pulled the backing around to the front of the quilts and machine stitched for the binding.





  • 31Aug

    I recently harvested a lot of lavender from my garden.  It’s all dried and clean, so it must be time to make some sachets!  It’s so easy and they’re perfect to tuck into closets and drawers—and to give away as little gifts.


    I make these in two parts—a little muslin bag and a sachet pillow from the pretty fabric!  First, I make a little pouch to contain the lavender and cedar shavings.  This can be any fabric.  I generally use muslin, but it’s a great way to use up some scraps or ugly fabric, as it won’t be seen when the sachet is finished.  Cut a piece 5-1/2″ by 11″


    Fold it…


    …and stitch down the two long sides.  This is a perfect project for assembly line sewing!


    I use both cedar shavings and lavender in my sachets.  I got the cedar shavings at the local hardware store in the pet department.  I think they’re used for hamster bedding!  They smell great, though, and are a great deterrent for moths.  In the studio I have a little doll’s tea set, so I used a cup from that.  I’d say it’s about a quarter cup.  I used four scoops of cedar shavings and one of lavender.


    The bags are cut a little oversized so it’s easy to sew them closed.  I sewed with about an inch seam allowance.


    Then, to reduce bulk when I put it in the sachet pillow, I trim away the extra.


    All done with this step!


    Now it’s time to pick some pretty fabric.  I bought this beautiful piece in Sweden this summer.  To make the sachet pillow, you need one piece 4-1/2″ x 5-1/5″ and two pieces 3-1/4″ x 5-1/2″.


    You need to finish one long side of each of the smaller pieces.  To do this, press over 1/4″, then press again—another 1/4″.


    Take the pieces to your machine and stitch down.


    Now place one of the hemmed pieces on the 4-1/2″ x 5-1/2″ piece, lining up raw edges.  The hemmed edge will be in the middle.


    Take the other small piece and do the same thing, lining it up with the remaining raw edges.


    At this point, you could pin, but I don’t.  Just take this to your machine and sew around all four sides with a 1/4″ seam allowance.


    Trim the corners.  This makes it easier to get nice, sharp edges when you turn the pillow right sides out.


    Open the little pillow at the hemmed edge and turn right sides out.


    Push out the corners and press.


    Now it’s time to insert the little muslin bag.  Just slip it one edge of the pillow cover.


    Then tuck it up under the remaining side!


    You may have to wiggle it a little bit to get it to lay in there nicely, but that’s it, that’s all there is to it!


    You have a pretty little sachet!


    When I’m making them for gifts, I like to put two together with a pretty ribbon.


    You can use any kind of fabric for these.  Home dec fabric works great.  Here’s some hand woven fabric that I bought at a handcraft shop in Sweden.


    I hope you’ll try making some of these—and send me photos when you do!




  • 22Mar

    It’s the beginning of a new season and that means a new block for my Facebook page A Quilt Block A Day!  The page is fun to follow.  The idea is that even if you’re too busy to make a new quilt, you should be able to find time to make at least one quilt block a day.  At the end of the quarter, you’ll have about 90 quilt blocks!  Not everyone makes a block a day.  Some do seven a week, or a handful when they find the time, but it’s still fun.  I always do a tutorial for the new block and during the quarter I post lots of inspiration—and so do those who follow the page.  So, click on over to the Facebook page and click “Like” so you can follow all the fun, too!

    This time, the block is the Chevron.  There are many ways to make a chevron quilt.  You can do it with triangles or rectangles, it can be scrappy or planned, the rows can be the same width or different widths.  This is my favorite way–with a skinnier accent row and triangles, and it couldn’t be easier!  It’s easy to do with scraps or yardage.  I had a lot of Halloween fat quarters that I’ve collected over the years, so that’s what I’ve used here, and that’s how the tutorial is written.  At the bottom, I’ll give additional instructions for scraps.


    You will need an assortment of fat quarters and an accent fabric.

    From the fat quarter, cut a 4-1/2″ x 22″ strip.

    From the accent fabric, cut a few 2-1/2″ x 44″ strips.  Cut them in half to match your fat quarters.

    Stitch them together with a 1/4″ seam.  Press.


    Cut into 6-1/2″ segments.


    Lay your blocks out so they form a zigzag design.  That’s it!  I told you it was easy!


    Since these blocks are set on point, you’ll eventually need side-setting and corner triangles.  This can be the same as the accent fabric or a different fabric.

    For the side setting triangles, cut squares 9-3/4″ and cut them in half twice diagonally.

    For the corner triangles, cut squares 5-1/4″ and cut them in half once diagonally.


    You can make your zigzags vertical, like I did in my Halloween quilt, or horizontal, like the quilt below that I did for our local Loyalty Day celebration.  You’ll also notice that the Halloween quilt is “controlled scrappy,” meaning I used many different prints, but kept the colors the same in each row.  The Loyalty Day quilt uses the same fabric in each row.  Oh, the possibilities!


    I hope you’ll try this, join the Facebook group and post pictures of your progress!

    If you’re not using fat quarters, cut your accent pieces 2-1/2″ x 6-1/2″ inches and your main fabrics 4-1/2″ x 6-1/2″.

    For the Loyalty Day quilt, I used two 4-1/2″ x 42″ strips for each row.

  • 14Feb
    Categories: quilting Comments: 13

    I’m so excited!  I just discovered an amazing way to make scrappy Four-Patch blocks lickety-split!  All of the blocks end up different, and you really only have to measure once!

    You start with squares of any size.  That’s right, it doesn’t matter what size your squares are!  For this tutorial I used 5″ squares, because I had a little packet of them.


    Place two squares, right sides together.  I tried to match a dark with a light, but some were medium, so I just let them pair up randomly.

    Sew down BOTH sides.  I fed a lot of pairs through my machine at one time, doing first one side, then doing the other side of the stack.


    Now slice them in half through the middle.  Since my squares were 5″, I sliced at 2-1/2″ but, remember, any size square will work, just find half, and slice!


    Open the pieces up and press toward the dark–if you have a dark!


    Do this will all your squares.


    Now sew them together as shown below…


    …all of them!


    Once you have them all sewn together, slice a 2-1/2″ piece off one end.  Set this two-patch aside.  You only have to measure this first one.  After this, the magic begins!


    Flip the short piece over…


    …and use it as a guide for your next cut!


    There’s your first Four-Patch!


    See!  Now just keep going, flipping and cutting, until you get to the end.  At the end, you’ll have a two-patch, which you can sew together with your first cut piece.

    From my charm pack, I was able to make this little quilt.  I thought the brown in there added a little interest.


    Try this method and let me know what you think!

  • 01Jan

    It’s time for another Quilt Block A Month.  You can join the fun by ‘liking” the page on Facebook.

    The block for this quarter is the Spool Block.  It offers a lot of options and is quick and easy to piece.  If you do just one block a day, you’ll have a 78 blocks finished before the first day of spring!


    This is a great way to use your scraps.  All you need is: 2) 2-1/2″ x 7-1/2″ brown rectangles, 4) 1-1/2″ light squares, 2) 1-1/2″ x 5-1/2″ light rectangles and a 5-1/2″ center square—either plain or pieced.  I like using a stripe because it looks like thread wrapped around the spool.


    Some people like to mark their squares with a diagonal pencil line when doing sew-and-flip corners, but I just finger press them–quick and easy!

    Add a square to opposite ends of the brown rectangle.

    Stitch, trim and press.  Note:  I didn’t trim the background fabric away.  It makes it a bit bulky, but I also think it stabilizes it.  Your choice!  Do this with both brown rectangles.

    Add the white rectangles to the sides of the 5-1/2″ square.

    Now add the brown rectangles to the top and bottom, making sure the light areas match up.  Voila!  You have a spool block!  The unfinished block is 7-1/2″ x 9-1/2″.

    Now, here’s where the fun comes in.  You can do all kinds of things with the center square.  You could sew 5) 1-1/2″ x 5-1/2″ strips together to make it look like thread wrapped around your spool.


    How about using random width strips on an angle to represent the thread?  I foundation pieced this.


    Do you save selvedges?  This is a great place to use them!

    Here are the four sample blocks I made.  I’ll play with setting possibilities when I have more finished.


    They do make an interesting design when set next to each other.  You get some secondary action going on!


    I hope you’ll join us!


  • 20Sep
    Categories: brilliant ideas Comments Off on Tessellating Cross Tutorial

    It’s time again for a new round of quilts at A Quilt Block A Day.  That is the Facebook page I have where a group of us does a block a day for three months, four times a year!  We change blocks with the seasons, and, since tomorrow is the first day of fall, it’s time for a new block!

    This is an easy block with a lot of impact—the Tessellating Cross.  This is one I made for my book Fat Quarter Fun.

    In this quilt you have the same design in the light and dark areas.  In other words, you have light crosses, the white, and dark crosses—the black in the sample above and the red in the sample below.

    I’ve chosen to use a bunch of my lavender scraps for my quilt.  Here’s how I did it.  I grabbed my bin of lavender scraps.  I pulled out several hunks that were still full width, i.e. from selvedge to selvedge.  From each of those I cut a 2-1/2″ strip.  Then I cut 2-1/2″ strips of a cream-on-white print. (*See below if you don’t want to use strips.)


    Stitch the two strips together along the long sides.  Set the seam with your iron.


    Fold back the dark strip and press.  Do you know that if you have your dark fabric on top, when you lift and press it, the seam below will always be pressed toward the darker fabric?


    From your strip, cut eight 4-1/2″ segments.  This is enough for two blocks.



    You should have a little more left, so cut two 2-1/2″ segments.  You can use these later in the border, if you want, or use them to make four-patches for another project.


    Take your 4-1/2″ segments and lay them out as shown below.


    Stitch the top half, then the bottom half.  Press toward the long dark strip and stitch the two halves together.


    From the back, you can see that I pressed that last seam in two different directions.  On the left, I pressed it up (toward the lavender print) and on the right, I pressed it down (toward the lavender print).  To do this, you have to wiggle the seam in the middle a bit.  It will open up and everything will lay nice and flat!


    The finished block!  There are only four seams here—three if you strip pieced the first part!


    When I put four of them up on the design wall, you can see the white cross in the center!


    So, won’t you come on over the A Quilt Block A Day, click “Like” and enjoy the progress of the rest of the group?  If you make just one block a day (three seams!), you’ll have 90 blocks by the time winter rolls around!

    You can CLICK HERE for the tutorials for previous A Quilt Block A Day tutorials.

    *If you don’t want to use strips, you can use scraps for your blocks.  You will need four 2-1/2″ x 4-1/2″ of light and the same of dark fabric for each block.

  • 22Jun
    Categories: brilliant ideas, quilting Comments Off on String Piecing Tutorial

    Got scraps????  I’ve got the perfect block for you, then–STRINGS!

    These things are like potato chips–I bet you can’t make just one!  They’re a great way to use up strips and scraps from old projects.

    I keep a bin (well, two) on the bookshelf behind my cutting table.  Every time I need to straighten the edge of a bolt of fabric (or a hunk of fabric), I toss the resulting strip into the bin.  If I’ve been using strips for a project and have leftovers, into the bin they go.  And what about those 2 or 3 or 4 inches of fabric left after cutting out the pieces of a project.  ZIP!  Into a strip and into a bin!

    I like to use a fabric foundation when I do string blocks.  You can use paper, but I hate to tear away paper if I don’t have to!  So, if you’re ready to begin, follow along.  Layer four pieces of your foundation fabric–anything goes!

    Cut into 10″ squares.  I like 10″ because you get the best use of your fabric.  You could do any size.

    String pieced blocks are simple, easy, forgiving even!

    Grab a handful of strings.  I like mine to be between 1″ and 3″.  I like the look of narrower strings in my blocks, but the wider ones come in handy for corners.  More on that below.  The don’t have to be straight.  In fact, some slight angles make the blocks look better!

    Take a string of fabric and place it right side up, diagonally, on one square.

    Now place a second string, right side down, on top of the first string, aligning the right edges, then stitch down that right side with a 1/4″ seam allowance–or not!  It doesn’t really matter!

    Press the top strip over–and repeat until you have covered up your square!

    You don’t have to use white fabric, and you don’t have to use yardage.  Do you have some “ugly” fabric that you are never, ever, ever going to use in a quilt?  It’s perfect for the foundation for your string blocks.  When I do this, I use the back, as it’s usually a bit lighter.  Here’s and example.  This is the back of a red print fabric.  The red was just a bit “off” and didn’t seem to work with other reds in my stash.

    I did my string piecing on it, just like I did on the white foundation.

    When you’re piecing these blocks, it works great just to feed a whole stack of them through your machine, one after another.

    When you’re finished, they’ll look like this!  Notice that I used wider strips on the ends.  You don’t want to end up with a teeny tiny strip at the end.  It makes it bulky when you’re putting your blocks together.

    Just take them to your cutting mat and lay them upside down.

    You can either use your foundation square as a guide for trimming, or measure and trim.  If you use your foundation square as a guide, your blocks may be a little smaller that the 10″ you started with, as the stitching tends to draw the fabric up a bit.  No matter, just make them all the same size.

    There’s a lot you can do with string pieced squares.  Here are a couple of great examples.  This is a vintage quilt I saw on Ebay.

    Here’s one from Em’s Scrapbag.

    But my favorites look like they have sashing like this one from Quilting Board.  Guess, what?  They don’t!  It’s faux sashing!

    Here’s how it’s done.  On your foundation block, mark a diagonal guide that’s 1-1/2″ – 2″ wide, centering it with the points on your square.

    You aren’t going to sew on these lines, you’re going to line your fabric up with them.  If you marked line is 1-12″ wide, your “sashing” will be 1″ wide.

    Lay your first string down along the edge of the line and stitch.

    Press your string over…

    …and keep going!

    Arrange your squares and, magically, you have sashing!

    It’s fun to play around with your squares, arranging them in different ways.

    You can get creative, like this quilt I found from Blue Ridge Girl on Flickr.

    And, oh!  Your  “squares” don’t have to be square.  They could be rectangles, like this one from Leedle Deedle Quilts.

    And your sashing doesn’t have to be white!  Check out the controlled color palette and black “sashing” in this example from Angelina79.

    So, are you ready to try string piecing?  I hope you do.  And I hope you’ll join my Facebook page, A Quilt Block A Day, and share your photos.



  • 20Mar
    Categories: Everything! Comments Off on A Quilt Block A Day Tutorial – Pyramids!

    Spring 2012 has arrived.  Whoop, whoop!  That means it’s time for the next Quilt Block A Day project.  This time, we’re doing Pyramids, also known as 60 Degree Triangles.  The quilt top pictured here is one I remade from a vintage top……but that’s another story!

    You can achieve many different looks with 60 degree triangles.  One of my favorites is using scraps and a solid, like I did here.  I’ll give you lots of ideas as we go along, but here’s a tutorial to get you started making your own Pyramid Quilt!

    I highly recommend a 60 Degree Ruler for this project.  I like this one by EZ.  It will make your life sooooo much easier!  If you’re like me, you probably have a lot of rulers.  Check them out.  Maybe one of the is a 60 degree ruler.  The important thing is the flat spot at the top of this ruler.

    Yes, I know that there is a 60 degree angle mark on most 24″ rulers and I even know how to use it to cut 60 degree triangles!  You could certainly use one for this project.  BUT, there’s a huge advantage with a 60 degree ruler like this one that will let you nip off the ends  It will help you align everything perfectly–no guessing needed.

    You can make finished blocks from 1″ to 5″ with this ruler.  I did 4″ finished blocks.  If you want to do 4″ finished blocks, too, you’ll need to cut 4-1/2″ strips from your fabric or scraps.  You’ll notice that the top of this ruler doesn’t quite come to a point.  Place this little flat end along the top of your strip.  The bottom of the strip should be under the 4-1/4″ line on the ruler.

    My fabric is doubled.  You could stack four to six layers if you’re confident about your cutting.  Make a cut on each side of the ruler.

    Now turn the ruler and cut again.  This time, that little flat edge is at the bottom of the strip.  Continue cutting along your strip.

    You’re not quite finished with the cutting of your triangles, but this next step is what makes these pieces go together perfectly.  The triangle pieces that you just cut will have two pointy ends and one flat one.  You need to make them all flat.  If you do this, it will make it so easy to line up your blocks and find your proper seam allowance.  Place the blunt and of the ruler on your fabric so you can nip off the points.

    A quick swipe with your rotary cutter and it’s done!  Do this to the remaining point.  Do ALL your triangles this way.

    When you’re ready to stitch, just place two triangles, right sides together…

    …and stitch along one edge, using a 1/4″ seam allowance.

    Press.  This quilt is assembled in rows.  I press all the seams in one row to the right, the next row to the left, and so on.

    Keep adding triangles…

    …pressing after each addition.  Finger pressing is okay.

    Since we don’t really have a pieced block, if you do eight triangles a day each day this spring, you’ll have enough for a quilt that’s 56″ wide and 62″ long!

    Here are a couple of other Pyramid Quilts for inspiration.

    I’m in love with the bright colors and the quilting in this quilt.  It’s from the Armchair Quilter.

    I love the clean, crisp look of this scrappy quilt set with white.  I found it on Ebay.

    This one is delightfully scrappy.  I found it on Quilting Adventures.

    Whatever you decide to do, I hope you’ll share your photos with us on the A Quilt Block A Day page on Facebook.


  • 20Mar
    Categories: fabric design Comments Off on Red, White and Blue Placemat Tutorial

    Are you ready for a patriotic tea party?  My favorite paper dolls have joined the USO and are all dressed up in their favorite patriotic outfits…

    ..just perfect for a red, white and blue tea party!

    There are ten prints in my new Red, White and True Blue collection.  To make a set of four quilt-as-you-go flag placemats, you need a fat quarter of each, plus an extra fat quarter of the white stars and the navy stripes.  You will also need four 16” x 20” pieces of batting.

    Select one of the girl figures and fussy cut her from the fat quarter.  This piece needs to be 2-1/2” x 6-1/2”.  Repeat until you have cut out four girls.

    The four blue fat quarters are going to become the backs of your placemats.  But first, you need one 2-1/2” strip to frame the dolls.  Lay the fat quarter on your cutting mat with the long side along the bottom of the mat.  Cut one 2-1/2” strip.  From this strip, cut two 2-1/2” x 6-1/2” rectangles.  Do this with all four blue fat quarters.

    From each white fat quarter, cut six 2-1/2” strips.  Crosscut into four 2-1/2” x 12-1/2” rectangles and eight 2-1/2” x 18-1/2” rectangles.
    From each red fat quarter, cut six 2-1/2” strips.  Crosscut into eight 2-1/2” x 12-1/2” rectangles and eight 2-1/2” x 18-1/2” rectangles.  You’ll have a little left over, but, hey! We’re quilters.  We know what to do with leftovers!

    For your first placemat, choose the following:
    two 12-1/2” red strips and one 12-1/2” white strip
    two 18-1/2” red strips and two 18-1/2” white strips

    On a flat surface, lay one of the blue backing pieces wrong side up.  Place a piece of batting on the backing.  Near the top left corner, place a 12-1/2” red strip, right side up.  Directly over the red strip, place a 12-1/2” white strip, right side down.

    Take the whole works to your sewing machine and stitch ¼” from the edge of the fabric, stitching through the batting and backing.

    Press the white strip open.

    Put the remaining 12-1/2” red strip on top of the pressed white strip, right side down…

    …sew, flip and press!

    Now it’s time to make the blue “field” part of your flag placemat.

    Place a 6-1/2” blue strip, right side down, over the inside end of your previously sewn strips.

    Sew, flip and press.

    Now it’s time for your first girl.  Remember, you’re working upside down, so place the strip appropriately!

    Sew, flip and press.

    Now add the matching 6-1/2” blue strip.

    Stitch, flip and press.

    Now it’s time to start adding the 18-1/2” strips.  First you’ll add a white one. Sew, flip and press.

    I bet you’re getting the hang of this now!  Add the three remaining strips, sewing, flipping and pressing after each addition.

    Trim the placemat to 18-1/2” x 14-1/2”.  If your measurement is a little different, it doesn’t matter!

    Cut the two striped fat quarters into 2-1/4” strips.  Join strips together for binding.  Bind the placemats.

    Repeat to make four placemats.

    Make sure to ask your local quilt shop for my new collection, Red, White and True Blue, so you can whip up these fun placemats in time for your next tea party! And don’t forget to visit my website  for more fabric fun. Happy sewing!