That one time I became an Award Winning Quilter

One of the most interesting and frustrating things I learned when working at a quilt shop is that quilters collect fears from other quilters. One quilter will look at a pattern and exclaim that it is “too hard” because of the inset seams or curves, and the other quilters within earshot will nod… and those originally contemplating the pattern will shy away.

I was determined that I wouldn’t take on the fears of other quilters – but then I did. Shortly after starting at the quilt shop, I attended the local quilt show there in Las Vegas. I asked a friend if she had any quilts hanging. She told me “Oh no! If you have more than one stitch in the corner of your binding, they mark you down!”

Wow. That sounded scary. So I didn’t enter my quilts. I took on a fear of quilt shows.

Ellipsis Quilt(If you’re interested, you can buy the Ellipsis Quilt here.)

After moving to San Diego, I decided to enter the quilt show here. For a small extra fee, I could get feedback on the quilt entered. I wasn’t looking for a ribbon – I was looking for honesty. As a quilter, I think my work is pretty good. But I’m not the best – and I can always use some constructive feedback from an expert. So I chose two quilts to enter. Including an unfinished quilt I (coincidentally) started about the same time I collected my fear of entering quilt shows. I would get these quilts finished, and I’d learn how to get better at my craft. That was winning.

The first night of the show, I went to see all the quilts. I was thrilled to see some beginner quilts hanging – they didn’t take on a fear of quilt shows! Good for them! I wanted to see which quilts had ribbons so I could see what I should aspire to – but none did. Yet.

After chatting with a few friends, the organizers started announcing the awards. When they came to the modern category, they announced my name as the second place winner. WHAT!? I wanted to shriek! But I knew almost none of the ladies there, so I stayed silent as I did a happy dance on the inside. I WON! What had I been afraid of this whole time? How many potentially award-winning quilts have I made, and not entered? Maybe none… but I will never know. Because I accepted my friend’s quilting fear as my own.

I’m so glad that I overcame my fear, and entered the quilt. I only wish I’d done so sooner!

Later that week, I picked up my quilt, my red ribbon, and a check. I also was given an envelope with feedback from the judge. Which told me I need to work on my binding. Maybe my friend was right about quilt shows – but that didn’t mean they were something to be afraid of.

Ellipsis close-up

If you’d like to make this quilt (it is SUPER simple to make, and uses 2.5″ mini charms and a jelly roll), you can buy the pattern in my pattern shop.

Supernova Quilt

I’ve been working on this quilt for quite some time. Last fall, I made a quilt for Art Gallery Fabrics to hang in their booth at market. The Sunshine Quilt. A starburst quilt like that one uses almost entirely diamonds. The pieces around the edges don’t have to be full diamonds, but all the middle pieces do. When cutting the diamonds for the quilt, there were a lot of partial diamonds cut on the selvedge ends. Far more than could be used in the Sunshine Quilt. I wanted to use all the extra diamonds from the starburst quilt into another quilt. That’s how I came up with this Supernova Quilt.

supernova quilt

I started with all the partial diamonds. I counted how many I had, and divided by 8. That’s how many blocks I could make.

pennant shapes

I stitched these pieces into pairs, and then the pairs into sets of four. These were each half a quilt block. Then I trimmed up the edge of each so the finished block would lie flat.

trim block

I stitched the halves together to make full blocks. All of the blocks were odd sizes, so I measured the smallest to see how large a square I could get out of it. Then I cut this size square from each block.

I didn’t worry about where the center of the block was in relation to where all the points met up. I was just interested in making the same sized block out of each.

I stitched together odds and ends to make enough sashing for the quilt, and sashed all the blocks together.

The quilting looks very random, but it is a stitch in the ditch of each seam, extended out to the borders.

quilted supernova quilt

Hopefully this will be the last quilt that is quilted exclusively with my walking foot… I’ve been working on improving my free-motion quilting. Yay!

Dr. Seuss “Oh The Places You’ll Go” Wallhanging

Quilt based on Oh the Places Youll Go by Dr Seuss

Last year I made a quilted wallhanging using a simplified version of one of the last images in my favorite Dr. Seuss Book – “Oh, the Places You’ll Go.” I think the Dr Seuss Quilt is one of my favorite things I’ve made, and now it has a companion in a second Dr Seuss Quilt. I love the quote from the book. I love the whimsy of the image, and I love that it is the first thing I ever free-motion quilted. I decided to make a companion piece this year, using the same techniques, but a different image from the same book. My hope is to make another one next year so that I can have the three hanging side-by-side in the playroom. Here are the two I have so far.

Seuss Wallhangings in Playroom

I used basically the same technique I did last year. I started by drawing out the image, and picking fabrics. I labeled my drawing so that I would know what color each part would be.

draw out and pick colors

Then I created Printable versions of each part, fused them onto the right color fabric, and fused those onto the background. I used the dark orange as a background color, cut it to 18″ square before fusing on all the pieces.

Fuse pieces in place

Then I started stitching. Using the image from the book as a reference, I spent about  4 hours quilting, which adds all the beautiful detail. I love that it doesn’t have to be perfect. In fact, the less perfect, the better! Here it is quilted, but not bound.

quilted and not bound

I did make one change from last year. I painted in the lettering. Last year I took the time to cut out each individual letter, then press it, and stitch it in place. Since I was doing four lines of text this year, and they were going to be smaller, I decided that painting them in was the best choice. It was tedious, but so much better than cutting and stitching!

After quilting, I trimmed everything down, and bound the quilt, adding pockets in the corner so I could easily add a rod for hanging.

If you’re interested in making your own, here is what you’ll need:
OH THE PLACES YOU’LL GO QUILT
(finished size 21″x26″)

Fat Quarter Dark Orange fabric, cut to 18″ square.
1/2 yard green fabric (for borders – cut two pieces each 2″x18″ and two pieces 4.5″x21″)
1 1/2 yards black fabric (binding, backing)
Black thread
Small pieces (I used Fat Quarters) of the following colors: Orange, Light Orange, Light Yellow, Medium Yellow, Green, Light Gray (for the child’s hands and face)
Applique pattern pieces printed onto Jenny Haskins Web Magic (printable fusable for applique) – found at quilt shops that cater to machine embroidery
Basting Spray
Batting
Mechanical Pencil

Here are the pattern pieces:
Green 1 Fusible
Green 2 Fusible
Medium Yellow Fusible
Orange 1 Fusible
Orange 2 Fusible
Seuss Light Yellow Fusible

Even in my messy playroom, I love the way these look on my wall!

messy playroom

Please note: These instructions are for personal use only. The pattern and quilt are not for sale. The pattern is intended for personal use only. If you’re interested in purchasing Dr Seuss fabric, Robert Kaufman has awesome Seuss Fabrics.

Pieced Heart Pillow

Pieced heart pillow tutorial

I love decorating for Valentine’s Day. After taking down the Christmas decor, the house feels a little stark. It feels good for a little while – everything has been cleaned up and put away. But after a couple weeks I start to get antsy for some cheery colors and fun decor. Which makes these Valentine’s Day pillows perfect.

I actually made three different kinds of pillows. I’ll be sharing the others with you later in February.

pillows for Valentine's Day

To make the pieced heart pillow fronts, you need (enough for both pillows):
6 fat quarters of patterned fabric (my fabrics are all from “Scrumptious” by Bonnie and Camille for Moda)
1 fat quarter of background fabric (I used Kona Snow)

If you want to finish the pillows you need 1.5 yards backing fabric (that’s enough for both pillows), and about 4″ of velcro. You’ll also need a 20×20″ pillow form for each pillow.

I started by cutting my fabric. For each pillow you need:
From the patterned fabric:
70 – 2″ squares (assorted)
4 – 3″ squares of the same fabric (for cornerstones)

From the background fabric:
4 – 2 x 2″ squares
4 – 3.5 x 2″ strips
3 – 5 x 2″ strips
2 – 6.5 x 2″ strips
2 – 8 x 2″ strips

Lay out all the pieces. I like to lay them out on a piece of batting. The batting helps keep them in place a little bit, so a toddler running by is less likely to destroy my work. I put the pieces in a random order to get a very scrappy look.

lay out pieces

R1: 3.5″ background, 2 squares, 5″ background, 2 squares, 3.5″ background
R2: background square, 4 squares, background square, 4 squares, background square
R3: 11 squares
R4: 11 squares
R5: 11 squares
R6: background square, 9 squares, background square
R7: 3.5″ background, 7 squares, 3.5″ background
R8: 5″ background, 5 squares, 5″ background
R9: 6.5″ background, 3 squares, 6.5″ background
R10: 8″ background, 1 squares, 8″ background

I like to strip piece, so to mark my rows as I’m piecing, I use different colored pins.

mark rows when piecing

Here are all the rows pieced:

pieced into rows

I press the seams in alternate directions on the back. One row to the left, the next to the right, the next to the left… this reduces the bulk and also makes the points match up easier.

iron seams different ways

To finish the top, I measured the top and bottom, took the average of the two, and cut 3″ wide border pieces this length. I then measured the sides, took the average, cut 3″ wide border pieces this length. I added the 3″ squares to the side pieces, added the top and bottom borders, pressed, and then added the side borders. Top complete.

pieced pillow front

Quilting the pillow gives it more depth, and helps keep all that stitching in place. I layered a piece of muslin, batting, and my pillow top, and spray basted (we can have the discussion of pin basting vs. thread basting vs spray basting, but spray basting is just so much faster, so I often go with just spray basting things).

layer to quilt

You can quilt your pillow however you like. I did stitch-in-the-ditch around the border, and around the heart. Then I did a cross-hatch in the heart.

pieced heart pillows

To finish the back of the pillow, I measured my finished pillow, and cut 2 backing pieces. Each piece was the height of the pillow by 1/2 the width + 4″.

I folded the long end over 1″, then folded it over again and pressed. I selected a fun decorative stitch (no particular reason… just why not?), and stitched it down. I did the same with the other side. I added velcro to the center of each. Then I connected them using the velcro, put the whole thing right-sides-together with my pillow top, stitched all the way around, clipped, and turned right side out. There are lots of ways you can finish a pillow. This is called the “envelope” method, and I find it is one of the easiest.

back of pillow

I do like adding about 2″ of velcro to the center. Otherwise the middle tends to balloon out. Much prettier with everything all tucked in.

velcro closure

My Birdie Sling Bag {Friday Finishes}

Over the weekend, I was at my local quilt shop, and was inspired. Which is one of the great things about quilt shops, isn’t it? I have been doing some bag making lately, but wanted a bag that was a little larger. The Birdie Sling Tote Bagby Amy Butler looked great. Fairly simple to make, 3 fabrics, and nothing super tricky about it. Plus, it was nice and big… perfect for this weekend’s trip to CHA.

I made my bag using Riley Blake fabric for the outside and handle, and a fun Kate Spain print on the inside.

Birdie Sling Bag

I followed the pattern and instructions exactly, with one exception. I used Soft and Stable for my lining instead of fusible fleece. I had the Soft and Stable on hand already, and wanted to save a few pennies… well, as many pennies as you can save when you’re already buying a pattern, over 3 yards of fabric, and 3 yards of interfacing. Bag making isn’t cheap. I guess that’s why I don’t make very many.

My Birdie Sling Bag

I’m looking forward to carrying around my bag this weekend… and moving forward. Such a fun bag!

Roots and Wings Quilt using Art Gallery Fabrics

When the wonderful folks at Art Gallery Fabrics asked me if I’d like to play with some fat quarters of one of their new lines, I got giddy. Seriously, playing with fabric always makes me a little giddy, but playing with brand new fabric that magically arrives in my mailbox is cause for extra excitement.

AGF has several new lines coming out, but I love the new “Legacy” line by Angela Walters. First, because I love Angela Walters’s work. She is an amazing long arm quilter, and I’m always in awe of her incredible work with the negative space that modern quilters love to leave in quilts. But also I loved the colors and designs in this fabric. Many modern fabrics have very bright colors. I love bright colors. I really do. But sometimes fabric that feels a little more neutral fits the bill. This fabric reminds me of blue jeans and work shirts. There isn’t a single plaid or rivet, but it has that homey, comfortable look to it. Like Saturdays. If you don’t understand what I mean, check out the fabric in person, I think it’ll start to make sense.

Front room Roots and Wings quilt

I took my AGF fat quarters to my local quilt shop to find a good solid to go with them. I ended up with this great burlap-brown color. Brown isn’t a very modern color, but burlap is very “in” with crafters, and since I’m kind-of a crossover crafter/quilter, this seemed like a fun choice.

Getting to play with fabrics also meant pulling out techniques that I have been wanting to play with. I have had my EZ Dresden ruler for some time, and haven’t had an excuse to play with it. I used it to make a modern, slightly wonky twist on Dresden blocks to use in this quilt, which I call “Roots and Wings.”

Roots and Wings Quilt with Legacy fabric by Art Gallery

I love the name of this line, “Legacy”, which Angela so named because of her Grandfather. As I was working on this quilt, I thought a lot about my boys. My oldest just started Kindergarten, and on a recent Facebook post about my son growing up, a friend reminded me that as a mom, it is my job to give my son roots and wings. I hope you can see the roots and wings in this quilt.

This quilt is fully double-sided, I pieced Legacy into the back as well. I was careful with the placement of the piecing, and let my long-armer know my intent… so the quilting on the curves of the front shows up in these giant stacked-coin pieces on the back.

back of roots and wings quilt

I did the piecing on this quilt, but I handed it over to my friend and long-arm quilter Nichol of A Desert Quilter to do the quilting for me. We decided on the pebbles for the negative space, and I think she did an amazing job. Here is a closer look at some of her quilting.

quilting pebbles

It should have taken her practically forever to do all this quilting – the finished size of the quilt is nearly 60″ x 70″. But, she got it all done for me in less than a week!

I have been wanting to re-cover the throw pillows in my front room almost since the first day we got them. They came with the couch and although they were fine, they weren’t my style. I would have loved to re-cover them with wild quilting patterns, but my husband is more a fan of builder’s beige. Since I had so much brown in the quilt, I knew I’d be able to get away with making pillow covers that went along with this quilt. Nichol did the quilting on these pillow covers as well!

Legacy fabric pillows

I’m loving the style it brings to my front room! This is the first room that guests see when they walk into my home, and it has always bugged me that I don’t have much handmade in there. That problem has been more than solved with this new quilt and pillows! There is now plenty of handmade… but not at all in a kitschy way. I love me some kitsch… but probably not for my formal living room.

Roots and Wings on the Couch

If you want to know how to make this quilt (which, by the way does NOT require any curved piecing), here is how you can make your own Roots and Wings quilt:

Selection of Fat Quarters from Legacy by Angela Walters for Art Gallery Fabrics
3 yards background fabric (also used for binding)
Additional fabric for backing

Start by making quarter dresdens. I used the Easy Dresden Ruler to cut wedges out of 8″ wide strips of fabric, then shuffled up the wedges and stitched them into 16 sets of 5.

I then squared up the edges of each, making one side even, and when evening up the second side I cut away at the hole traditionally left for the center circle of the Dresden plate. On half, I cut the right side off, and on the other half I cut the left side.

trim off excess dresden

Using the basting stitch on my machine (making the stitch length as long as possible), I stitched about 1/8″ from the curved edge, leaving long thread tails.

I then pulled one thread a little, making the edge start to gather so that it curved up. I spread the slight gather evenly across the whole curve.

curve the edge of the dresden

I then gently folded in the curved edge about 1/4″. Try to be accurate, but if it isn’t perfect don’t sweat it.

fold down edge of curve

I pressed this edge down, and had the perfect edge to top stitch down onto my block.

pressed down dresden edge

I cut 16 squares from my background fabric, each 9″ square. I pinned a chopped quarter dresden onto each. One side is longer than the other. That gives the final quilt blocks a little more of a wonky look.

one quarter of the dresden

I top stitched the edge of the dresden down, right on the edge of the curve. At this point you can cut away the excess background fabric behind the dresden, but I left mine on.

Put the squares together into sets of 4.

modern modified dresden plate block

Then sew these blocks into a row to make the roots and wings design.

blocks pieced together

I then added yardage to each side to finish the top. I cut the backing fabric into the length I needed, then cut off the selvedge. I cut 9″ of the fabric off, down the length of the fabric, to divide it into two unequal pieces. The 9″ piece went on one side, the larger piece on the other.

finished roots and wings quilt top

I then pieced together my backing and gave everything to Nichol to quilt. After she got it back to me I bound it with the same fabric I used for the background. I think this gives it a nice, clean edge.

The pillows were made from the leftover fabric. I made several different scrappy pillows, keeping them fun. I even made one with the scraps from cutting the dresdens down! I took all of those pieces and pieced them into a long row…

extra dresden piecesI trimmed up the sides and pieced these little pieces into a pillow!

Couch with Roots and Wings pillows and quilt

Here’s one more shot with my little helper. With his big brother in school, he’s not quite sure what to do with himself, so he “helps” me with my projects. You might have noticed him in one of the other photos… and if you scroll up, you’ll see his hand on the left side of the couch in the 5th photo from the top. So cute!

roots and wings with baby b

Urban Sprawl Quilt with Art Gallery Fabrics

EEK!! Today I’m over at the Art Gallery Fabrics Blog sharing my Stackable, Squishable Fabric Blocks tutorial (if you ever want to make fabric blocks, these ones are the best, y’all – they are both squishable and stackable which is kinda a miracle in fabric construction).

AND – I’m giving away a Fat Quarter Bundle of the fabrics I used for those blocks – get the details at the bottom of this post!!

I’m super excited to be sharing on the AGF blog, but also wanted to share something fun for y’all here, so I’m sharing my Urban Sprawl quilt that I made with the yummy Urban Mod Fat Quarters that AGF sent me.

Yup – here is what they sent… the full line of Urban Mod. I just knew I wanted to make a quilt top out of these… a quilt top that would truly do these modern fabrics justice. So I came up with Urban Sprawl. It has a modern look, and some modern cutting techniques, but is really quick and easy to put together (I promise)!

I started by pressing all of my fat quarters, stacking them up, and then cutting them:

a: 2″ x 20ish (length of the FQ)
b: 11.5″ x 11.5″
c: 11.5″ x 2″
d: 11.5″ x 2″
e: extra fabic – use for scrappy binding/backing if desired

Fabric B is for my blocks, A and C is for my modern sashing, and D is really extra (some of the FQs aren’t quite big enough to get a D out of them), I wanted it for my backing, which you’ll see at the end.

I then cut my block (B) pieces into 3.

I stacked 5 fabrics, then cut at an angle across. You can cut at whatever angle you like, but cut at least 1.5″ away from the corners, just to reduce bulk at the corners in your finished block. Move the smaller piece to the side, then cut the larger piece into 2, again at an angle and at least 1.5″ away from the corner.

Here is another set that I cut:

Keep your sets together!

Take your fabric to your sewing machine. Lay out one set. Of the 3 pieces for the block, pick one section. Move the top fabric to the bottom. Then for the second section, move the top 2 fabrics to the bottom.

You should now have 3 sections, each with a different fabric on top.

Stitch the two smaller pieces together. Press the seam open. Then stitch the larger piece on the side. Press open.

Repeat with all blocks.

Square up blocks to 10.5″.

Here comes the fun part: adding the sashing!

Add one of the small sashing pieces (C) to each block. One piece, and it doesn’t matter what side of the block you add it to. Just sew, sew, sew! The sashing piece will be longer than the block. That’s ok.

Press the seam, and then trim the sashing piece flush with the block.

Sew your blocks into rows of 4. All the sashings should be parallel, but you can have fun with the placement. The rows should not be block – sashing – block – sashing – block – sashing – block – sashing. Instead, try block – sashing – block – sashing – sashing – block – block – sashing. Go for variety in each row.

Stitch your A pieces into long strips of 3, by sewing 3 pieces end-to-end. This will be your horizontal sashing.

Add a horizontal sashing piece to the top or bottom of each row. Press, and trim the sashing piece to the size of the row.

Stitch your sashed rows together to form the quilt top. Again, you don’t have to have a perfect alternation of sashing and blocks. Have fun with the placement!

Once you’re done with the top, it is time to work on the backing. I used the D strips, plus some more 2″ strips I cut from E to make a stacked coin column to piece into my backing. This quilt is just barely wider than traditional quilting cotton, so it was the perfect way to stretch the use of my fabric, and add a fun element to the quilt back as well.

Now all that is left is to quilt it! I’m thinking of doing an echo of the pieces in the blocks… what do you think? How would you quilt it?

Be sure to check out my Stackable Squishable Fabric Blocks on the AGF Blog – and if you love quilts, you can check out some of the other quilts I’ve done!

Want to win an awesome bundle of AGF? To be eligible to win you must do three things:
1. Follow AGF on your favorite social media platformeither PinterestFacebook, Twitter and Subscribe to the AGF blog to stay up to date on all things AGF & the Fat Quarter Gang!
2. Follow me on Pinterest, Facebook, or Twitter
3. Leave me a comment below (maybe tell me how you’d quilt Urban Sprawl?)! Make sure to give me your e-mail address…

I’ll be picking a winner on June 3rd!