Wednesday, February 29, 2012

quilting at Mount Vernon

I presented my quilt program at Mount Vernon Quilters yesterday. It went very well and so did the Circle of Nine book and the Log Cabin Trim Tool. Today I teach the  Circle of Nine Workshop. I am really pumped up and ready to go. Last night my hostess and I made her 9 quilt blocks for the workshop. She is a woman after my own heart. Procrastination! Let it rule! At any rate, we are both ready to create some really beautiful quilts today.

Here is another Circle of Nine quilt from the Cotton Patch Quilters in Athens. The blocks were made in a previous workshop and the Circle of Nine setting worked perfectly to turn them into a quilt.

Look for more Circle of Nine settings after today. 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Monday 27 February

Today I am off to Washington DC to present a program and teach a circle of nine workshop for the Mount Vernon Quilters. Details of the events are on my facebook page. I taught the circle of nine workshop this past Saturday in Athens, GA for the Cotton Patch Quilters. Here is a photo of one of the quilts that is almost only needs an outside border.

Many of the quilters brought a set of nine blocks they had made in previous workshops and some brought block of the month blocks or friendship exchange blocks. They were too, too happy to finish UFO projects that had been languishing in their URO pile for way too long for want of an interesting setting. The circle of nine setting provided a new and creative way to sew the blocks together.

I love these photos with heads hands and sneakers. One more outside border using the focus fabric that was fussy cut for the block centers will finish this charming small quilt.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Week 3 - Sunbonnet Sleuth Mystery Quilt

Today is Friday and I am posting the next episode of the Sunbonnet Sleuth Mystery today. I will be in Athens GA tomorrow teaching a Circle of Nine workshop to the Cotton Patch Quilt Guild. I decided it is better to post early rather than late. Here is this week's cutting and sewing.

1. Cut (4) fabric E strips 3" x wof, recut into (48) 3" squares.

2. Cut (2) fabric G strips 5-1/2" x wof, recut into (12) 5-1/2" squares.

3. Position  a 3" E square in oppositie corners of the a 5-1/2" G square. Sew on the diagonal from corner to corner. Trim 1/4" from stitching line, trim excess fabric, fold out resulting triangle and press. Repeat in remaining two corners to complete a square-in-a-square unit. Make 12 units.

4. Cut (2) fabric A 5-1/2" x wof srips, recut into (24) 3" x 5-1/2" pieces. Sew the (24) A pieces to opposite sides of the (12) square-in-a-square units. 

5. Cut (4) fabric E 3" x wof strips and (2) fabric A 5-1/2" strips. Sew a fabric E strip to the top and bottom of the fabric A strip to make a strip set. Make (2) strip sets. Recut the strip sets at 3" intervals to make (24) units. Sew these units to the top and bottom of the units made in step 4 to complete the block. Make 12 blocks.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

busy busy days

There is so much to do, but so little time to do it all. How many times have we felt that activities and tasks are getting ahead of us. That is how my week is winding up. Today I am going to do my youtube video to demonstrate my new Log Cabin Trim Tool. Then I am teaching a watercolor class. And I hope to get my latest log cabin quilt top on my longarm machine. Whew!

I am loving these log cabin quilts, but I have playing with the half log cabin block ideas. This one uses a tessellating setting and 1930's reproduction prints. It is a more controlled use of the fabrics than the totally scrappy look I usually use in my log cabin quilts.

I also need to figure out what is wrong with my camera so I don't end up with such an out of focus photo. I love technology when it works, but hate it when it doesn't.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Modern Quilts

Have you tapped into the modern quilt movement? I have. It is great fun to find innovative ways to sew our fabric pieces back together after we have cut them up. The overall appearance of this quilt is whimsical. It was really so easy to make. The circles were a natural and must use choice as they were great big dots printed onto one of the fabrics. I cut them out and appliqued them in a random fashion after sewing 6" squares together for the center and outside borders and 2" squares for the inside border.

When I design a quilt I like to let the fabric speak to me. I array the folds of fabric by fanning them out on my cutting table and leave them there for a day or two. Sometimes I study them and sometimes I just glance at them as I walk by. Eventually an idea comes to me and when that happens I can't wait to cut them up and start sewing. This collection is called Oh, Oh Olivia, so the O's that are circles in the quilt say "Oh, Oh" over and over again.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Courthouse Steps

I am working hard to make the quilts I need for my youtube video that will show how to use my Log Cabin Trim Tool. Here is the Courthouse Steps quilt I made for the video. Now I have to make one more block so viewers can easily see how the block differs from the Log Cabin block. I have quilted 3 quilts over the weekend for the video which is to be taped this week.

To make the Courthouse Steps block, you sew the first 2 strips on opposite sides of the center square, the next 2 strips in a contrasting color to the top and bottom of the center square to make the 1st round. Trim with the LCTT, then add a 2nd round, trim again, then add the 3rd round trimming one last time to complete the block. They are so FAST and so FUN. Try one today, or better yet, wait until April when my Log Cabin Trim Tool will be ready to ship.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Week 2 Sunbonnet Sleuth Mystery

This is the second week of the mystery for Sunbonnet Sleuth. The cutting requirements (week 1) were posted last Saturday, February 11. Scroll down the postings listed on the right side of the page for access. The sewing is easy this week as we are "easing" into the mystery.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

potholder quilts

I am working on a potholder quilt for Marcus. It is an old idea made new again. The first potholder quilts were made during the civil war when quilters made a block and bound the edges of the block, then turned it in to a quilting group to be added to more blocks to make quilts for the Union troops in the field and to be used in hospitals treating the wounded. I am working on modern methods to make the quilt as I want it to be quick and easy, the bywords of today's quilters. Here is a sample of some of the blocks....

There are 35 blocks in the quilt. The pattern and directions will be posted on Marcus Fabrics soon (by March 1st I hope). Here is their website:

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

home again, jiggity-jog

Drove home from Athens, GA this morning. I love visiting the Cotton Patch Quilters. They are a great group of quilters. I was lucky enough to be there on the night the challenge quilts were due. What a great bunch of budding quilt artists, and some very accomplished ones too! The quilts will be on their website in a couple of weeks and I will let you know when you can see them.

I am getting ready to start yet another log cabin quilt. In thinking up another color scheme I spotted this photo on my desktop and will use it to provide my color choices. I grew up in West Palm Beach and the brown pelicans were always in the neighborhood. I really love that bird. I painted them in watercolors many, many times. Now I have designed a pelican log cabin layout and can't wait to make the quilt. Here is the photo that provided my color scheme.

It's just a thumbnail photo, but good enough to inspire a color palette. Where do you find color inspiration for your quilts?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

road trip!

I am off on a road trip later today. Tonight I am speaking to the Cotton Patch Quilters in Athens, GA. This is the second time I have given a program for this guild and I am really looking forward to seeing these quilters again. It is only a 2 hour drive so it is an easy trip. I return to Athens on February 25th to teach a class from the book I authored with my sister, Janet Houts. The title of the book is Circle of Nine. In this book we present a new system to set nine blocks into a quilt that looks complicated but is really so very easy.

Here is a link to the Cotton Patch Quilter's website:

Here is the cover of the book.... it can be purchased at your local quilt shop or from the publisher, Landauer Publishing Corp.

Have a great day!

Monday, February 13, 2012

a needle in the haystack

Those of us who have been quilting for some time remember the days when finding 100% cotton fabric was like looking for a needle in the haystack. I went to my first Quilt Market in Houston when there were 6 fabric companies making cotton fabric for quilters, 2 batting companies and 3 quilt magazines.

It was the lack of cotton fabric that started the fabric hoarding trend. Quilters wanted to stash away cotton fabrics in anticipation of the next cotton fabric famine. That famine may come in the future, but in the present, the here and now, there are no longer just 6 quilt fabric companies but over 100 to offer 100% cotton fabric for quilters!

In the meantime, seasoned quilters have large fabric stashes that need to be stitched into quilts and new quilters are blissfully unaware of the need to hoard cotton fabrics. They buy the fabric they need for a project, finish the project, and clean up, maybe saving the leftovers, maybe not.

I have decided to sew from my stash as much as possible. I buy new fabrics to use as a focus fabric  and for borders, but I am determined to sew down my stash. Here is a tip: one way to sew the fabrics that fall into the category "why did I buy this", is to sew them into pieced backings for quilts made with the fabrics that are still in favor. My backings are taking on a new personality with fat quarters sewn together, half yard pieces, 2 yard pieces, whatever. I try to coordinate with the top, but pieced backings are my choice.

Here is my stash, in case you were wondering what an out of control fabric stash actually looks like. The bookcases are over 4 feet wide and 8 feet high.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

it's cold outside

Today, in Marietta, GA, it is 18 degrees...brrrr! It's the perfect weather for making a quilt. So, out comes my new Log Cabin Trim Tool and I'm going to get sewing. Today it will be a half log cabin block. I think I'll make a small quilt with about 16 blocks. My Log Cabin Trim Tool makes sewing any kind of log cabin block so fast that I can make a small project in a day. Here is a quilt I designed this past week using a variation of a half log cabin block. The fabric is here and I am going to start sewing.

This is the Harmony quilt design for Benartex and it will be a free pattern on the Benartex website. It will probably take a week or two before they get the finished pattern online. You will be able to download the pattern in a pdf format and make the quilt for yourself. The fabric collection is called "Harmony". 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Sunbonnet Sleuth Mystery begins

It's time for Sunbonnet Sleuth to make a comeback. Here is her first mystery in a new series. The Sunbonnet Sleuth mysteries will be a part of this blog and I plan to introduce six mysteries a year, most of them lasting about 6 weeks. The first week of the new mystery is always shopping. You can shop at your local quilt shop, an online quilt shop website, or select fabrics from your own fabric stash. You don't have to use the fabrics from the collection that has been chosen to design the quilt. The next step in the mystery will be posted next Saturday. 

The fabrics in this quilt are from Benartex. Here are the fabric requirements:

Fabric A - 3/4 yard Patternista Hills and Valleys, Purple/red
Fabric B - 1/2 yard Patternista Chorus Line, Purple/yellow
Fabric C - 1/2 yard Wildflowers, Lilac/butter
Fabric D - 1/2 yard Sun Stone, Lavender/mint
Fabric E - 1/2 yard Sun Stone, Olive/gold
Fabric F - 1-1/4 yard Sun Stone, Orange/red
Fabric G - 1/3 yard Sun Stone, Dark purple

Friday, February 10, 2012

back to school

I am late posting to my blog this morning because I spent the early morning at the local high school teaching an IB class to make quilt blocks. I go back next week for their second lesson. Fortunately their teacher, who roped me into this, is a neighbor and I taught her to quilt so they won't be leaderless when the two quilt classes I am teaching are done. I am not sure how making a quilt fits into English class, but that's not my problem!

We told the class (boys and girls) that we are bringing a sewing machine and they are all going to sew a narrow border around the blocks that they have painted. They groaned, but I bet they have a lot of fun when we get the machines out. I have to remember to put the speed control on medium because it is my experience that boys treat the sewing machine pedal like a gas pedal in the car...the stomp it all the way down with their big feet and floor it to go full speed ahead. I don't want them going so fast that they sew through a finger.

Teaching the class got me to thinking about the first quilt I made. Those were the days when we were expected to sew quilts by hand. I was in a class and I did sew all the blocks by hand but it made no sense to me to sew the sashings and borders by hand. So I sewed them on my machine and just stared my teacher down when I saw she was going to comment on it. Here is the quilt, softly faded but still loved.

This quilt is included with my biography in my new book (now at the printers) titled: Sashings and Settings, The Basics and Beyond, published by Landauer Publishing Corp.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Ups and Downs

Yesterday, when I went to the front porch to retrieve the mail I saw that some of my daffodils had bloomed. It is February and it is way too early for the daffodils but we are having a very mild winter. The daffodils are a sign of new life, lifting my spirits.

Then I reached into the mailbox and pulled out just one letter, my only correspondence of the day. It was a solicitation from a local cemetery to purchase a burial plot. PLOP. My spirits hit the ground. The local cemetery sees me as a potential customer. How depressing.

I put the letter in the trash without opening it and decided to focus on the new life and promise of spring instead. Here is a quilt from my new book, Sashings and Settings - the Basics and Beyond that will be on sale this spring. The setting in this quilt was quite accidental, but worked out to be an excellent way to set 8 blocks into a quilt. Eight blocks is kind of an odd number and this setting fits them perfectly.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

birthday celebrations and butterflies

Today's Quote:

"The butterflies are free."
Charles Dickens

Remember that saying and the movie, "Butterflies Are Free", starring Goldie Hawn from the 1970's? Did you have any idea that Charles Dickens is the first one to be credited with the saying. In the 70's, we thought that our clever generation had thought it up. Well, we didn't, we just borrowed it from several generations back. The thought behind the saying is that so many wonderful and beautiful things are free and present in our lives if we just take the time and effort to discover them. Often, discovery comes in a still and quiet place where our minds can be free to fly like the butterflies in free association with the world around us.

Yesterday was Charles Dickens' 200th birthday. It was celebrated in England with Prince Charles laying a wreath on Charles Dickens' grave in a solemn ceremony.

This is the quilt I designed a butterfly quilt a couple of years ago for Ellen Medlock. The pattern can be ordered from her website:

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


Before I start making a quilt I plot it out in my mind. I get visual pictures of what I think the quilt will look like, rearranging colors, etc. So, I had this great visual picture of a quilt using some particular fabrics and I couldn't wait to get started. For this quilt I had to make 4 sample blocks to see how my idea would work. 

It didn't work. I have decided to set this collection of fabric aside and abandon the project for the time being. I have to totally rethink it and start over.

Today's Quote:

Success usuallly comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it.
Henry David Thoreau

Every quilter, even professional quilters like myself, have ideas that just don't work when put to fabric. I will put the images of the fabric back in the brain and start sewing something else. I have a lot of not so complicated ideas that I can stitch up while I am waiting. I have found that waiting for a design when I am busy doing something else is a solution is just as important as forging ahead. 

Here is a quilt I made a couple of years ago that uses a particular collection of fabric. I had this fabric pinned up and contemplated it for weeks before I came up with this design. The wavy nine patch blocks have the outside edges cut with a wavy edge rotary blade and they are top stitched to the actual blocks in the quilt. The quilt is called "Sound Waves" because of the musical theme of the fabric and the wavy edges in the nine patch blocks.

Monday, February 6, 2012

another log cabin

I am so addicted to making log cabin blocks using my new Log Cabin Trim Tool. I have a prototype and I just keep sewing and sewing. The blocks go together perfectly and SO FAST! Here is one I made with my original prototype last fall for Blue Hill Fabrics for Quilt Market.

Lest you think I am lost in a maze of log cabin blocks, I am also getting the first new Sunbonnet Sleuth mystery ready. I will post to lists when it starts.

"Continuous effort--not strength or intelligence--is the key to unlocking our potential."
Winston Churchill

That is what I am up to, is continuous effort with these log cabin blocks...the effort of sewing is not like an effort at all, it is a real pleasure, and it is what is really working for me right now. It doesn't take a lot of smarts to make the blocks, that's for sure, but it sure is fun. I think I said that!

What gives you pleasure in your quilting? Is there a special color, a block, a size, a purpose. Share, please.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

quilting webinar

I only just heard about webinars at Thanksgiving when I visited my daughter in Dallas and discovered she has a part time job for a webinar company as customer service rep and that her husband is a webiner professor for a consulting firm he works for part time. Webinar? What is a webinar. I am about to find out. I am attending an online quilting webinar later today. I'll keep you posted.

In the meantime, I have been up since 4 am making log cabin quilt blocks. When insomnia rears its ugly little head, the best remedy is quilting. Fortunately I am mostly a stranger to insomnia.

Here is today's quote - fitting for someone who sews the night away

The heights by great ones reached and kept
Were not attained by sudden flight,
But they, while their companions slept,
Were toiling upward in the night.

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

And here is my Roses at Midnight quilt

The roses in the picture window blocks are cut out of the border fabric and appliqued in place using a raw edge applique technique. I hot glued lots of diamond like crystals in the center of the roses to make them sparkle like the dew at dawn. It is a really stunning quilt. The pattern is available for download at:

Friday, February 3, 2012

Fried Egg Day

Fried egg day is what my dad always called Friday. So today I had a fried egg for breakfast in honor of his memory. Daddy had lots of silly little sayings that always made the four of us little girls giggle. It's good to start the day with a giggle, or better yet a hearty laugh (it's good for your heart too).

Here is my quote for today.

A good laugh is sunshine in a house.

Here is my quilt, Sunny Side Up. The pattern for it is in my book, Circle of Nine, by Landauer and available at your quilt shop or Amazon. It fits both my memories of my dad and today's quote. There is a quote in the border that I really love, it reads: "if we were meant to pop out of bed we would all be toasters". If you want to do loads of piecing, the quilt is patterned in the book.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

2012 - All about Log Cabin quilts

I am on a designing marathon this week...after a quiet holiday fabric companies and magazines are gearing up for the next quilt market and for spring and summer releases. I am finishing a log cabin quilt for The  Quilter today. In fact I have been on a log cabin whirlwind since I received my prototype of the Log Cabin Trim Tool I designed from Creative Grids. My tool will be available to the public in April so I have to make lots of samples to go with it. I am also writing a book with my sister with lots of log cabin quilt designs. I also have to do a YouTube video, something I am not looking forward to...fortunately I know a young person who is quite good a filming and editing videos for YouTube. An announce will be forthcoming in March with a link.

Here is a log cabin quilt I made for Quilter's World magazine a couple of years back. It will give you an idea of how the creative a log cabin quilt can be.

Today's quote:
People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing.
Dale Carnegie

Quilting is such fun, and finding success while quilting is the most fun! This quote really works for me.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

bits to beauty

Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.
William Morris

Did you know that in England they speak of "bits" when we speak of scraps. They have bits of fabric to sew into a quilt and we have scraps of fabric. We speak the same language, but do we? One thing both British and American quilters can agree on is the importance of a quilt in our homes and in our lives.

When we make a quilt we are making something that is both useful and beautiful. Let's fill our houses with both usefulness and beauty by making stacks and stacks of quilts. We can display them, use them, and share them. "Bits to beauty" is a good motto to live by as we sew our lives into quilts we love.

I made this quilt using the Comfort block and Amy Butler fabrics. It was on my bed for awhile, then I gave it to my daughter when she and her husband bought their first home in Washington DC. Of my 3 daughters she is the artist although as an architect she designs exhibits for the Air and Space Museum, not quilts for the home.