Saturday, August 25, 2012

Waste Not... Want Not... Quilt MN 2012

My determination to use every scrap of the Quilt MN this year has led me down a path I've never taken in my quiltmaking years... absolutely NO PATTERN!!!  I seldom actually follow a pattern from beginning to end.  My general belief is that patterns are guidelines, not gospel.  As a result, my quilts are always a bit different than the pattern maker intended.  Even my own patterns evolve as I make a project.  I start with the basic concept and change things as I go along.  The final result is always different than my original idea.

So -- trying to figure out how I was going to use all these printed panels was a challenge.  I dived in with the star blocks that I demonstrated earlier but when those were finished, I just didn't know what to do.  After giving myself a headache, I decided that I am just going to piece fabrics together with no concept of what the finished product will be.

These 11" x 15" printed panels have posed an unusual challenge.  I didn't want to just put the small printed pictures right up alongside the large ones so I had to find some way to separate them.  I finally decided to just start sewing and I ended up with a row of fabric.

I started with the large printed panel and added blocks and fabrics to build out the row.  I will have to do some trimming and squaring up before it can actually be placed in a quilt, but it's a good start.  I found it to be a bit boring though so I decided that the next row should have more piecing involved.  What you see below is the second row constructed.

This row has more interest (in my opinion anyway) and if you look closely, you will see that I used some scraps to create fill in fabrics.

I purchased two charm packs on my shop hop and as I started putting this row together, I decided to incorporate some of them.  The block shown above started with the 5" charm square in the center.  Because I had already trimmed the small printed pictures, I had to enlarge the charm square to be the same size.  I used some scraps to to this as shown.  It looks pretty good just laying on my mat but the little strips on the border of the block are too narrow.  They get lost in the design when it is sewn into the row.  I won't do this again.  If I decide to use this block again, I will trim the charm square down some so the borders show up better.
So -- progress.  Two rows done but I need to come up with some ideas for separating these rows. 
Time to put my thinking cap on!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Thinking through what to do....???

Well as I fondled the fabric from the Quilt Minnesota shop hop, visions of quilt blocks danced in my head.... what to do with these printed panels and coordinating fabrics.  Well, obviously I have to make some blocks!  Remember though, I don't want any waste.   Aha!  Patti Anderson's No-Waste Flying Geese method to the rescue!!!

Here is the link to the most spectacular method of making flying geese EVER!!!

Keep this sheet handy because the way they are written you can make absolutely any size flying geese you want!

Here are the step-by-step photos of my No-Waste Flying Geese.

This method results in 4 perfect flying geese that are just the right size because the cutting directions begin with the measurements.  I wanted my geese to be 2 1/2" high and 5" wide finished size.  That means at this point they measure 3" x 5 1/2" because of seam allowances.  So I cut 4 corner squares 3"x3" and trimmed my 5" printed panel picture to 5 1/2" and laid them out.


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Quilt Minnesota 2012

The fabric for Quilt Minnesota 2012 is all about the outdoors -- obviously.  We love our little piece of the world up here and with 10,000 lakes, boats are a given.  Our state bird, the loon, is also a featured player.  I really like the woodsy feel that these fabrics bring every year and I faithfully purchase some of these Northwoods themed fabrics every year.  Since they are outdoorsy all the way, the quilts I make with these fabrics tend to go to the men in my family. 

Because fabric costs have risen quite a bit this year, I didn't purchase as much fabric as I have in years past on my annual Shop Hop.  This means I have to be a bit more frugal when it comes to actually making my blocks.  I want to get at least a full-size quilt out of the yardage.  I know I have enough to do this, but there can be absolutely no waste.

So, here's my challenge to myself.  I am going to create this quilt with as little throw away as possible.  Since I'm working with printed panels with 11"x15" and 5"x5" pictures, I may be biting off more than I can chew...

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Great Paper Piecing Project Part One...

This very simple block is going to be the first step in creating beautiful blocks with incredible detail and points.  My first installment in the Great Paper-Piecing Project has been posted. 

The pinwheel block can be made easily without paper piecing.  I chose this block for it's sheer simplicity so we can focus on the technique rather than the design.  The step-by-step instructions are clear, concise and illustrated with LOADS of pictures!

And what happens when we make a mistake while paper piecing?  Well, the tutorial includes great instructions that will get you past your mistake while saving your pattern with no muss, no fuss.

Last, but not least, a foundation pattern for a 6" finished pinwheel block will get you started.

So come on over to and download the first block in the Great Paper-Piecing Project.  Sew along and before long you will be a paper piecing princess!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Join the Great Paper Piecing Project

As many of you know I've been working on Judy Neimeyer's Bali Wedding Star.  This is a paper piecing project extraordinaire!  I'm loving every minute of it but I have gotten feedback from several quilters in my world that they could NEVER do this.  Many of them have stayed completely away from paper piecing just because they don't  believe they can do it, so...

I have decided to start the Great Paper Piecing Project!  Over the course of this project, we will make 6" blocks of various designs.  We will start with a simple one and work our way up to a complex design.  You can make these blocks from your scrap bin so there will be no fabric cost involved.  There is only one item that you should purchase before starting on your own Great Paper Piecing Project -- Add-a-Quarter Ruler.

You can purchase this ruler in 6" and 12" lengths.  For the blocks in this project, the 6" size is sufficient but if you are going to make blocks larger than 6" after you become a paper piecing pro, you may want the larger size as well.  You will also need a piece of cardstock.  An old greeting card works great for this.  Judy Neimeyer turned me onto cutting a piece of template plastic to the size I need.

So gather those two items and join me as I provide step-by-step tutorials on paper piecing -- we're going to start simple... but you will be totally impressed with yourself as we progress to more complex blocks.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Jelly Roll Race...

This Is Sew Broadway in Crookston, MN hosted a spectacular quilting retreat last weekend.  It was three days of quilting fun!  Several of us participated in a Jelly Roll Race.  One of the quilters showed us a youtube video of this race and we decided to re-create it.  Unfortunately I didn't win the race  :( -- but I did finish an entire quilt top for a lap quilt in under an hour.  And since this is going to be an annual event at our February quilt retreat I plan to go into Jelly Roll Race Training and they'd better watch out next year!  I have a dozen grandchildren that will be getting jelly roll quilts while I get ready to be next year's winner!

If you would like to see the youtube video that inspired us, here is the link...

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Thursday, February 9, 2012

Different Layout for Four Block Wonder

Everything has been posted for the Four Block Wonder quilt now and they are available at  I have had a few people ask for a suggested layout that would make the quilt smaller but still utilize the four blocks.  What you see here is my suggestion.  The blocks are still 12" finished but there are obviously fewer of them.  This quilt measures 66" x 66" and will make a great lap quilt.  Hope this helps!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Four Block Wonder Sashing, Cornerstones and Borders

The Sashing and Cornerstones instructions have been posted today.  So have the Border instructions.  We're getting close to finishing our Four Block Wonder!

When I first started quilting, I absolutely hated doing sashings because working with long strips of pieced fabric and trying to get everything to line up was next to impossible for me.  As a result, almost all of my early quilts have no sashings.  This is a shame because I think sashing really makes a quilt sometimes. 

And then I watched an episode of Fons and Porter Love of Quilting on PBS.  They demonstrated a technique that I call "Sash As You Go" -- because it's kinda like quilt as you go.  I sat with my mouth hanging open thinking, "Why didn't I think of this?"

The directions for the Four Block Wonder sashings is based on the sash as you go technique.  No more looooong sashing/cornerstone strips with seams to match. 

Download all of the pdf files for this project at

Monday, February 6, 2012

Block 4 will have you seeing stars!

This is the fourth block in my Four Block Wonder quilt.  It consists of variable stars set in alternate corners so I've named it Slanted Variable Stars.  Like the Dutchman's Puzzle block, you will make flying geese units -- but nowhere near as many as before!  This is the final block needed to create our design, but you will be making twelve of these instead of four.  Keep going -- we're almost there -- and the next step is the sashing and cornerstones.  I have a slick little trick coming up to deal with those! 

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Four Block Wonder is on Block 3... Get the pattern for free!

The Bear Paws block is the next installment for our Four Block Wonder quilt.  This block is truly impressive to look at but is constructed completely with squares and half square triangle units.  The pattern is available at

Oh, by the way, I am still making good progress on my Bali Wedding Star quilt as well.  I finished another block yesterday.  Now that I've mastered the techniques, this went together quickly.  This will is going to get finished for sure now that I've got it!

Friday, February 3, 2012

More Bali Wedding Star Progress...

I got my first block finished -- YAY!!!  I struggled a bit because I want everything just right but now that I've done it, I'm finding that the second block is going much faster and easier.
I have to say that Judy Neimeyer's method of gluing your curves before sewing is spectacular!  I never would have thought of this.  You just put a small amount of Elmer's school glue (the glue stick that goes on purple and dries clear) in the seam allowance area and adhere the curved pieces together.  It is so slick... no pins and the the curves are beautiful.

Now that I've accomplished the first block and now the second is coming along so much quicker, I actually believe I can get this quilt finished soon.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Block 2 of Four Block Wonder is HERE!

The Dutchman's Puzzle is the next block in our Four Block Wonder Block of the Week.  This block comprised of 16 flying geese units.  This is a great time to check out the No Waste Flying Geese method by Patti R. Anderson.  This is my favorite method because you can create 4 PERFECT flying geese units with absolutely no waste of fabric.  Here is the link to Patti's fantastic method --  The pattern for this block includes the cutting directions for this method but you will need to download these directions to actually create the flying geese.  You will then be able to construct your perfect Dutchman's Puzzle blocks.  Go to to download the pattern now!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Bali Wedding Star Progress...

I started my Bali Wedding Star back in November when I took a 4 part class on it at This Is Sew Broadway in Crookston, MN.  It was a great class and I knew when I signed up for it that this was going to be a huge project.  The pattern is a 24 page book and the instructor provided lots of additional handouts to help us through the process.  Judy Neimeyer has a great process of putting things in bags that keeps them very organized.  A good thing too since there are LOTS of elements to this quilt -- the arcs, the melons with star points that are between the arcs, the points... I can't list them all here, but the list goes on and on. I ended up with 18 large ziplock bags with hundreds of units split between them.  It has taken me this whole month just to get all of the paper piecing completed.  Now I am ready to start assembling the quilt.  It is SOOOO exciting.  These pictures show a block in progress.  I love the beautiful points... thanks to paper piecing... and now that I have a handle on the color placement, I can really make some progress.  

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Here is the first installment of the Four Block Wonder quilt.  This block is called Crossroads.  It works up quickly and is a lot of fun.  You can find it for free download at  You will also find the fabric requirements there as well.  Hop on over and check it out.  Click around... you may find some other things you like there too!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Changed the size but this will be a good one...

 I actually designed this quilt last week and decided to write up the pattern for it.  I am calling it my Four Block Wonder Quilt because there are four different blocks used to create the design.  When I started writing the pattern, I did some slight changes and tweaks to make things easier to cut and piece.  The original design was 85" square and now it is 95" square but I think that is a great size for either a full or queen size bed.  If you use lighter batting, it could make a spectacular bedspread for a twin bed as well.  I will be releasing this pattern as a Block of the Week.  As each block pattern comes along, I will show some different colorways as well, just to give you an idea of the possibilities.  So keep tuning in to catch the installments!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Sewing & Designing

I spent this past weekend at my sewing machine... so relaxing and fun... haven't done that for awhile and I'm getting back into the groove.  I worked on my Bali Wedding Star by Judy Niemeyer.  I am so excited!  I decided to make the queen size quilt and it will measure 104" x 104" when it's finished.  I took a class at This is Sew Broadway in Crookston, MN.  Catherine Erickson, a Judy Niemeyer certified instructor taught the class.  I'm certain that my success with this project lies in the help and support provided there.

This quilt is not for the faint of heart, although once you master the technique, it isn't as complicated as it looks.  It is paper-pieced so the points are all perfect and it comes down to finishing the elements and then assembling the parts.

I am so excited!!!  I only have 72 more melon points left to paper piece and then I can start assembling my blocks.  I'll take a few pics of the different parts and post them tomorrow so you have an idea of what I'm talking about.

I also spent some time with my EQ7 software this weekend.  Virtual quilting is so much fun.  The quilt pictured above measures 81 inches square and took me just about an hour to make -- on my computer that it is.  I picked out four of my favorite blocks -- Bear Paws, Old Maid's Puzzle, Crossroads and Variable Stars.  I personally like the symmetrical look but you could actually arrange the blocks any which way.  I used Jo Morton's Civil War Reproduction fabrics to color the blocks and here is the result.  I know it will take more than an hour to actually make the quilt... it will take me much more than an hour to write the pattern, but I think that will be my next project.  I call this quilt Four Block Wonder because it looks a lot more complex than it really is.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Valentines Day is right around the corner...

Since I've just about run out of snowman inspiration, I decided to try my hand at a little valentine block.  My granddaughter, Izzy, is a monkey fanatic so I think I am going to put this applique on a t-shirt for her.  The  free pattern is available at  The pattern is based on a "little quilt" (12" x 12" finished size) but you can always use a xerox to resize your templates to whatever size you want.  If you would like me to email templates of a specific size to you, please email me at  I can resize the pattern for you in my EQ7 software and email a pdf of the proper size templates directly to you.  I hope you enjoy my little Monkey Love design.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Snow Couple Leads to Snow Child...

This proud papa snowman is pulling his son on a sled.  Of course, with the weather warming up in Minnesota, this could be the shortest sled ride in snowman history!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Another Snowman pattern... Getting romantic this time~

This cute little snowcouple are taking a stroll on a cold winter's day.  Arm in arm and smiling away... can't you just feel the snowflakes in their little hearts melting for each other.  Download the pattern at

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Snow = Snowman + Sled

After the snow has been around a few days, you always see kids out on their sleds.  This little snowman is gonna have some fun too!  Go to to download the pattern!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Another Minnesota Snowman Pattern...

Meet Snowshoe Snowman... He's the second fellow in my recent burst of inspiration.  I'm going to finish up the patterns for the half dozen snowmen I have sketched but I think maybe I'll start on some spring designs next.  Go to to find this pattern!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Snow in Minnesota -- Finally! -- and Inspiration Follows...

The holidays are officially over and my Scrooge attitude is out the door with them.  Maybe the fact that we finally got some snow up here in the great white north had something to do with that.  I would never have believed that before -- not particularly fond of snow -- but who knows?

Anyway the snowflakes fell and brought some inspiration for some more snowmen!  I have sketches for six right now and the patterns are for 12" x 12" blocks so you can create a quilt with several or make one and hang it somewhere.  I hope you enjoy my Skating Snowman.  I sure enjoyed creating him.  Watch for more snow guys in the near future!

Download the pattern at See ya there!

No New Years Resolutions here, BUT...

I don't believe in New Year's resolutions... mainly because they just set me up to fail... but I think I've come up with a goal for 2012 instead of a resolution.  I've told all of you about the stacks of UFO projects that I have stacked in my sewing room.  I seriously considered making myself complete all of my UFOs before starting any new projects this year.  The hair on the back of my neck stood up as soon as this thought entered my mind.  Not start ANY new projects???? That's just crazy!!!  So I compromised -- with myself.

I have decided that I will start the new year out by finishing one of my UFOs before starting anything new.  When I finish that project (or, heaven forbid, it joins the UFO pile) I will complete another UFO before starting anything new.

Is this gonna work?  Who knows... I can only do my best.  I am going to select the UFO to start with this afternoon.  I'll post pics and keep you posted on my progress.