School Days

I thought I was done with back-to-school events since my youngest graduated from college last spring!  But she’s going on to graduate school, and for every new school year, she likes to have a new pencil case.  It all started several years ago when I introduced my Pen Pal pattern:

Pen Pal

I’m glad she likes them!  Many of her friends think that these cases were made by Vera Bradly.  Over the years, she has used up all of my samples, and now wanted a new one.  So she shopped my fabric stash and came up with this combination:

Pen Pal

Do you have any back-to-schoolers in your family that need a new pencil case?  There are so many cute juvenile prints that would be great for this design.  And it helps to keep the students organized.  The patterns is available here if you’re interested!


Posted in Patterns | Leave a comment

Tropical Circus

I’ve been away too long!  But I’m still quilting like crazy, and in case you’re interested, here’s some of what I’ve been up to:

Tropical Circus full mark

Tropical Circus  is an original design, made by starting with the border fabric for color inspiration.  I wanted to do a quilt that was all applique, using a turned-edge machine applique method, and this is what resulted from my design work.  It has been entered in 3 shows.  In 2016, it won a 2nd place at Minnesota Quilters and a 1st place at Wisconsin Quilt Expo, and was juried into Paducah for 2017.  It will now be happily retired at my home!

The curved border is a little challenging, but I did it before on my Swish & Swirl quilt (2006).  I tried to improve my quilting, and am happy with how it turned out.  Here is a close-up view:

Tropical Circus closeup mark

I entered it into Houston for 2017, but it was rejected.  I’ll have to work on improving my methods to get in at future shows!!  In the meantime, I’ve been working on more challenging quilts that I will be sharing in the future.

Thanks for stopping by my blog!


Posted in Show Quilts | 1 Comment

Chain Link Variations

Chain Link is another Fun&Done! quilt-as-you-go pattern that was released last spring.  This is the finished quilt:

Chain Link

Chain Link

I wanted to play with some color variations to find some other interesting fabric choices for this design.  This is how my design looked in EQ7 when I first started:

Chain Link 5

The first change I made was to take out the dark contrast and make all of the contrasts light:

Chain Link 4

Or, I could do the opposite, and make all of the contrast pieces dark:

Chain Link 3Changing all of the contrasts to dark would look better if my assorted colors were lighter, so I made a version with that change too:

Chain Link 6

My sample was made from batiks that looked mostly solid.  What if I used prints instead?  I was afraid that it might get too busy so I limited it to one color, and used only lights for the contrast.  This image is so small, the prints don’t show up much, but you get the idea:

Chain Link 2

But that didn’t seem too bad, so I added the dark contrast back in to see how that looked:

Chain Link 1

That looks good too!  For one last variation, I really changed things up and did a 2-color in a horizontal block layout.  If I made this one, I might leave off the 7th column, and make it 6 columns wide:

Chain Link 7

I think those are a few more options that might work well for this pattern.  Does that spark any ideas for you?


Posted in Fun&Done! | Leave a comment

Metro Medallion

My friend Joni has followed the Sew Kind of Wonderful blog, and purchased their Quick Curve Ruler.  She made a test quilt with their Metro Medallion design to see if she liked sewing the curved blocks, and has since gone on to make other projects with that ruler.    I asked Joni if she would trust me to quilt that top, and she did.  A test quilt for both of us!  My photography doesn’t do justice to this quilt – it looks better in person, because that bright green really jumps out in the photo:

Joni MM1It was so much easier to come up with quilting designs because of the beautiful quilting done by the uber-talented designer, Jenny Pedigo, which she shares on her blog.  I tried to adapt her expert quilting to something that I felt comfortable doing on my longarm.  This gave me practice doing ruler work on the longarm, and I was able to do most of this without marking, another objective for me.

First, for the purple sashing, I stitched a path with the templates and filled it with circles.  Then I needed 2 motifs to use on the green blocks:

Joni MM6Joni MM5Next, I needed 2 motifs to use on the print blocks.  The quilting won’t show up as well there, so I chose simpler designs, more linear to contrast with the curves of the green blocks:

Joni MM4Joni MM3

It was a fun quilt to do, my first attempt at custom quilting. At first I was worried that I had gotten myself in over my head, but am very happy with the results.  It’s a really terrific quilt!

I think Joni liked it too.  She put it out on a bed, and made a cute pillow to display with it, made from the book “Pillow Pop”.  Very nice!

Joni Pillow

Posted in Longarm Quilting | Leave a comment

Scrap Strategies

I would like to get better at picking fabrics for scrap projects.  Some people seem to have a natural gift for doing that, and I am not one of them.  Some of my scrap projects are successful, and others seem to fall short.  I can usually figure out what I did wrong after it’s failed, but I would like to understand it well enough to prevent the failures in the first place!

At Spring Market, I was the lucky recipient of a bundle of 6″ strips of Tonga Sunburst fabrics, designed by Daniela Stout of  She’s one of those people with that natural gift for selecting fabrics, so I saw this as an opportunity to learn more about choosing successful fabric combinations.  I’ve read several books on color and fabric, but working with a bundle of pre-cuts is a good hands-on way to get advice from the experts.  It lets some concepts really sink in while working with the fabrics in my project.  It’s like learning a scrap strategy with training wheels provided by an expert.

This is a color palette I wouldn’t normally choose, so it was an excellent project to get out of my comfort zone:

Sunburst 1I like the approach to take your assorted fabrics and contrast them against one light or dark neutral, so I chose a cream fabric.  The bundle comes with several pattern recommendations based on half-square-triangle designs, and that works well with a contrast fabric.  That also stretched this little bundle into making 2 lap quilts!  Here is the cream fabric:

Sunburst 2Making the half-square-triangle blocks is fast and easy.  I’ve divided them into 2 groups for the 2 quilts:

Sunburst 3But this is another place where my scrap skills fall short.  I fear that if I start sewing blocks together willy-nilly, the end of the quilt will have too many similar fabrics grouped together.  So the solution would be to lay all of the blocks out first to prevent that.  But that feels overwhelming to lay out the whole quilt at once, and try to keep track of sewing the blocks together without sneezing on them, blowing them away, and having to start all over again.

So I prefer to work in sections, and to do that, I divide my fabrics so that each section contains one of each print.  This probably only applies because I’m working on a limited scrappy – in this case 16 fabrics.  If the project were a lot scrappier, it wouldn’t matter.  Here I have sorted my fabrics into sections:

Sunburst 4Now I can sew a section together based on one of the layouts given in the pattern.  There were lots of nice options given but I started with this one:

Sunburst 5And add a second section:

Sunburst 6

Keep going and I’ve got a quilt!

Sunburst 7Now on to my second quilt, first section:

Sunburst 8Add more sections:

Sunburst 9And I’ve got my second quilt top:

Sunburst 11

As I worked, I had plenty of time to observe the variety of colors, shades, and textures that went into this beautiful assortment of fabrics.  This pre-cut bundle made it easy to throw together 2 beautiful quilts in fabulous fabrics that I’m glad I made!  It’s a great confidence builder for future project choices.

True confession time.  When planning these tops, I left out 4 fabrics – a very light green and 3 bright yellows.  I wasn’t sure about using them at the time, and I was sure that they would make a nice addition to my stash.  Old habits are hard to kill.  Now that I see the finished tops, I know they would have been great.  I need to get over my fear of yellow and new color schemes, and trust the expert that put together the pre-cut bundle!  Wasn’t I just saying that this was a good exercise in letting go and trusting the expert?!  I should have listened to myself!!

Sunburst 10

These quilts were fun to put together, and a very worthwhile exercise for me.  Now it’s on to the next fun challenge –  how to quilt 2 similar quilt tops?  We will cover that one another day!


Posted in Color & Fabric Selection | 1 Comment

Border Print Stars Finished!

If you followed my blog last summer, you will remember that I started my Border Print Stars project here.  I had to rip and re-sew, substitute fabrics, re-draft the border, and persevere through some tedious times.  But I finished it!Starry Night 1It really looks a lot like the EQ drawing that I started with last summer.  I’m happy with how it turned out.  Next I needed to decide if I would enter it as a show quilt.  It’s  a very nice, understated quilt that you need to look at closely to appreciate.  The stars are fussy-cut from a border print – I think they are all different, but now I’ll have to go back and check that to be sure!  Still, it’s not a glow-in-the-dark- knock-you-over-the-head show quilt.

But I decided to enter it anyway in the Minnesota Quilters Show – not because I hoped to win a ribbon, but because I wanted to challenge myself.  It would be my first serious effort at quilting for show on the longarm, and it’s always good to support my state show!  It would be entered in the Large Pieced category, so this was no small feat.

I wanted to do a wow(!) quilting design, but the block design is so traditional that I chose more traditional quilting designs to support the quilt as a whole.  Here are some close-ups of feathers between the blocks:

Starry Night 3The backgrounds of the blocks are linear and plain.  The stars are very simply stitched with continuous curves.  Those 3 elements were repeated many times, making this stitching easier to execute.  The border has a similar-but-different feather, again repeated many times.Starry Night 2

Everything shows up nicely thanks to a double layer of batting – 80/20 on the bottom and wool on the top.  It was my first time working with a double batting and it was much harder than I expected!

Starry Night 7I guess my efforts paid off and the judges appreciated it.  I was so pleased to find a 2nd place ribbon waiting for me!

Starry Night 8I was so happy that I got to see this in person.  Now I need to find a place to hang it in my house.  I’m running out of wall space!  I guess I need to be entering the Miniature category instead …


Posted in Other Projects | 2 Comments

Petal Power Fun

I’ve been playing around with some color options on the Petal Power pattern.  This is a Fun&Done! quilt-as-you-go pattern, one of the new ones introduced last month:

Petal Power

Petal Power

I designed this pattern in Electric Quilt, and recently went back to that file to play with the colors and see what other interesting options I could find.  I stayed with the concept of bold prints on the petals and changed up the other components.  The lighter coloring of this picture makes it much brighter and more colorful.  In this version, it varies from the original by changing the corners to print fabrics, rather than something similar to the sashing:

Petal Power 1

What if I changed the sashing to cream?  It seems to make the cream advance and the prints recede.

Petal Power 9And changed those corners back to solid?

Petal Power 8

What if I did a black background instead of cream?

Petal Power 5And made the corners prints instead of solid?

Petal Power 2

Changed the sashing to black?

Petal Power 6And changed the corners back to solid green?

Petal Power 7I like the black versions more than I expected.  Lots of interesting options!! What is your favorite?


Posted in Fun&Done! | Leave a comment