Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Thanksgiving Wishes

I hope all of you have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday! 

It's been some year, huh? Instead of focusing on all the negative things that have disrupted life and made things a little more difficult this past year +, I keep trying to remind myself of all of the blessings and abundance that surrounds me. When I'm thankful, I open myself up to finding joy and focus on appreciating goodness whenever and wherever it appears.

It's also been quite a year with the Schoolgirl Sampler sew along. I so enjoyed seeing all of your finished quilts. Something to be grateful for! I know that quilt kept many of you busy and distracted this year. There'll be more quilting fun next year and I'm looking forward to having you join me in sewing a few more projects in 2022. I'll be hosting a new Sew Along in my Facebook group using English paper piecing to make a hexagon quilt. 

You'll have a choice to make one of the two hexagon quilts from my books (or both!) or a different one of your choosing. One is the Hexagon Flowers quilt from that oldie but goodie book - The Civil War Sewing Circle. This book, unfortunately, is out of print but I know some of you have it. If you don't already have a copy, there are some floating around or - you can buy the digital version (on sale now!) from my publisher.  This is always a great option for out-of-print books and international members who would like to join us but can't easily get copies. 


The other quilt that some will be making is the Hexagon Garden quilt from my book Small & Scrappy. I have copies of this book available on my website and Etsy shop.  You can find it online or on Amazon as well. 

Some of you have already made these quilts years ago (I know, I know, The CWSC is an old book, LOL, but still one of my favorites and my newer followers haven't done any of the quilts from it . . . ). Also, if you don't have either of the books, no worries - you can still join in and sew some hexagons and put them together any way you please. This time, why not just make a different hexie project? Make up your own design if you don't care for mine. I'll be making something a little different myself, based on an antique hexagon quilt I saw online. Join us. It'll be fun and relaxing and a great way to start off the new year. Like gratitude, sewing by hand can be meditative as well. 

Although we'll begin this sew along in January, for those who are new to English paper piecing, I'll give some instructions to make the hexagons and flowers in the FB group after the Thanksgiving weekend. There'll also be some tips and a list of supplies you'll need so you can prepare a little before January comes or maybe even put some items on your Christmas list. 

I hope some of you will participate and have fun making a small project with me. The rules will be posted in the group and I'll try to remember to post some info here too for those of you who can't do Facebook. 

Enjoy your Thanksgiving holiday! Thanks again to all of you who have supported me so much over the years through this blog, my books and clubs and my small quilt groups so I can do what I love and hopefully pass a tiny bit of inspiration along to you. You are all really special to me and I'm grateful for the many friends I've made on my quilting journey.

Sending wishes for a very Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Nine-Patch Quilts

I love simple nine-patch quilts. A couple of years ago, I bought this small quilt on eBay. It was listed as an antique crib quilt. After it arrived, I could tell that it clearly was not an antique quilt. But it was cheap enough and cute enough that it didn't really matter. I really loved the primitive look of it. I think the blocks may be antique but on close inspection the rest of the fabric doesn't seem that old. The blocks may have been cut down from a larger quilt and made into a small quilt. Anyway, I created a pattern if anyone is interested. Pretty easy to figure out but see my Etsy shop if you need more directions. It's just too cute so I know I have to reproduce it someday. Maybe even make a larger quilt? Hah - like I don't already have enough of those that are unfinished. The pile keeps building.

Anyway, in the Facebook group, we're making some different little nine-patch blocks for fun. Inspired by a fragment of an antique quilt I spotted online. 

The antique quilt used various darker prints for the nine patches and pink squares for setting. So that's what I'm doing. Don't you just love the scrappiness? The squares are cut 1 1/2" for a 3" finished block (3 1/2" unfinished). Then I cut the setting squares 3 1/2" x 3 1/2".  Such a simple but sweet doll quilt. 

The lines are my marked quilting lines. I used a Clover blue washable marking pen (below). I'll just quilt Xs through the blocks. Hoping to get it quilted soon if I don't get inspired by something else . . . . Lately, my head is all over the place. I've got a million ideas and I want to make everything I see.  I really need to just settle on one project and get that one done. Too many things going on . . . . 

FYI - I use a white Clover washable pen for marking on darker fabrics. Stencils from The Stencil Company. 

YLI hand quilting thread, John James and Richard Hemming needles. Try various sizes until you get a feel for the one that's right for you. Remember that sometimes a longer, sharper needle will work just fine if you can't use a small "between" needle. And the sharper needle will be easier to push through some fabrics. Trust me, the Quilt Police don't really care.

Friday, November 5, 2021

Jacob's Ladder Quilt

 I really love making simple quilt blocks using lots of reproduction fabric scraps. What about you? 

This month we're finishing up the small quilts from the Schoolgirl Sampler book with quilt # 6 -  Jacob's Ladder quilt on page 31. It uses a very simple block with lots of possibilities. Marian Edwards made this little quilt for the book and her color scheme really gives it a nice primitive look. 

Jacob's Ladder has always been one of my favorite blocks -  simple four patches mixed with half-square triangles. Here's the same block with a different look -

Some of you who've made quilts a looong time ago from my first book, American Doll Quilts, will remember this block used in the little Underground Railroad quilt. The colors and pieces are just arranged a little differently. Turn the block around and use darker fabrics for the inner triangles and you get a completely different look. Experiment and see all the things you can do with it. 

This little quilt wraps up our small quilt sew along for all the quilts in the Schoolgirl Sampler book. I hope some of you who joined us this year had a lot of fun making these quilts. So many of you actually finished your Sampler quilt! It's been wonderful seeing all the completed quilts with so many variations and different colors. I also felt extremely proud hearing that a few of you entered your sampler quilts in shows and won ribbons. Imagine that. 

I really want to thank all of you for taking on this Sampler journey in the Facebook group. I loved seeing everyone's work every week. I sympathized with your struggles with certain blocks and cheered your successes and progress. So many quilters have told me that they felt they learned quite a lot and improved their skills by working with these small pieces and following some of my tips. I hope I even convinced those of you who had never worked "small" that making these blocks can be incredibly satisfying and fun. Even if some of them didn't turn out quite as perfectly as you would have liked. It's the learning from our mistakes that helps drive us to become better quilters. All in all, I'd say we did good - wouldn't you agree??

Thursday, October 21, 2021

A Little Fall Fun

Went to the Chicago Botanic Garden today. Cloudy and cool (and a teeny bit drizzly at times) but it was nice to get out of the house. Enjoy my walk! 

Aren't these the sweetest??

Inspiration everywhere.

I played around and made some little pumpkin blocks last week. Start with a snowball block (See my pattern in the Schoolgirl Sampler book.)  For the mini pumpkin I cut a 3" orange square. Then sewed 1" light squares to the corners (stitch and flip method as shown above).  I used a 1" brown square for the stems and played around with the rectangles on the sides and then added borders.  So much fun.  

Finished the outer borders the other day. That rust fabric will be for the binding as soon as I quilt it. I think I have the perfect little hanger for it too -  if I can find it! You can find the pattern in my Etsy shop.

Monday, October 4, 2021

October Doings

Can you believe it's October already?? I finished my wool Window box quilt.  Wasn't sure if I would like the dark background for my applique but I'm really happy with the way it turned out. And even though it's not in orange and brown or fall colors it still has a warm feel and I'll display it for fall. 

The Schoolgirl Sampler Sew Along Facebook group has been making all six of the small quilts from the book. This is Quilt Number 5 in our series  - so colorful and scrappy. Sue Bennett took a few of her favorite blocks and made this cute little sampler. Wonderful fabrics and colors that sort of have a fall look. Some of you may have leftover blocks from your sampler quilt. Take a few and sew them together to make this darling  mini quilt.  You can find the instructions for this quilt on page 18 of the book. It's fun to be creative when you have so many options to choose from.

Of course, you have to make it with scraps, which only adds to the fun. Take a little time to sort through your scrap box or basket. You never know what you'll find. And you know how playing around with fabric always makes your creativity flow. So does buying new fabric. I got some new fabric last week and as I was putting it away in my sewing room, I came across a really pretty older fabric I had set aside to use in my Dear Jane quilt. Well, just looking at that fabric inspired me to take out my DJ blocks again and sew the sashing on a few more blocks. The center blocks for my Dear Jane are all finished but so far only 3/4 of them are sashed together in rows. 

Not all Dear Jane quilts have sashing with tiny cornerstones. The original does not. The very first Dear Jane quilt I saw in person had sashing with blue cornerstones. Then and there I knew that that was how I wanted to make mine.

Silly - I only have a few rows left to do but I kept getting distracted by other projects and family things and so I'm constantly putting them aside. I'm hoping I'm on a roll now and will be done with all that sashing by . . .  next week?  If I can actually keep at it every day. This would truly be a milestone for me - to get that center finished. I'm still working on my triangles and have slightly more than half of those finished. 

I'm wondering if any of you who've finished the Schoolgirl Sampler quilt has now gotten the sampler bug and is thinking about making a Dear Jane quilt . . . .  Did you know that Brenda Papadakis, who wrote the Dear Jane book, has come out with a second edition of her book? It's the 25th Anniversary edition. The original one with the yellow cover has been out of print for quite a few years and is really hard to find. When there are so few copies of a book circulating, that always makes the price go up. If you can actually find one for sale. Some of the prices on Amazon were outrageous. My own copy is all dog eared and marked up after ten years of working on it and so I think I'm going to spring for a brand new one just because it's got a pretty blue cover, LOL. I believe it's being released later in October. Hopefully, this will renew interest in The Quilt and some of us will get inspired to finish the ones we've started when others begin theirs for the first time. 

If Jane is not your thing and you think you'd like to work on a simpler project, remember that it's not too late to join my Schoolgirl Sampler sew along. Just get that book, jump in and start making the six blocks for Week One. See what happens. Then make the blocks for Week 2 . . . .  It's that simple. If I did it, you can too. Follow the plan and you'll finish all the blocks in 12 weeks.

These really are not that difficult.

It's fun to make the quilt in a group where you have some support from others and encouragement to finish. We've been making them in numerical order to make it easy for you to follow. There are tons of tips in the group files and so many wonderful, helpful members to encourage you along the way if you have questions or get stuck. Don't be afraid to ask for help.

It's not Dear Jane, but it sure is pretty . . . . 

Those of you who have already finished your quilt - thank you so much for joining me in the journey and for purchasing the book. Your support means a lot. I'm really enjoying seeing all of  the finished sampler quilts that are being posted in the Facebook group. Always so many pretty fabrics and different borders or settings. I hope you had fun! 


Monday, September 27, 2021

Big Book of Quilts

Two of my previously published scrappy quilts were included in the new Martingale/That Patchwork Place Big Book of Quick to finish Quilts that was released this month - 

I love these Martingale Big Book compilations. This one has 54 patterns! What would we do without quilting book inspiration? Buying books, even before I became a quilter, has always been the one thing that lifts me up. After I finished college and started a job in Chicago at a publishing company, my very first credit card was for Kroch's & Brentano's, the largest book store in Chicago and a branch of Brentano's in NY.  I would take the train downtown and spend hours browsing through the fiction as well as nonfiction books. I needed my books! Now, I'm also inspired by quilting and other craft books to feed my soul. 

If you're looking for something easy to stitch, you'll find quite a few by some of your favorite designers. See pics of some of the other quilts in this book here. So many patterns to choose from.


These two quilts were first published in my book Small & Scrappy. Here are a few other little quilts from that book.