About zippyquilts

I quilt for pleasure but I also teach and write about quilting.

Up Next: The 25 Year Quilt

I recently decided to make the Postcard from Sweden quilt, which I’ve admired for some time.

The photo above is from the front of the pattern.

I had to search for the pattern, which has always been free courtesy of the designer, Kelly Liddle. I’d like to link you to her, but I can’t find her except on Instagram (@jeliquilts). Anyway, the pattern is now available free for download from Stash Fabrics, here.

I have an extensive stash because, until recently, we lived in a rural area where the nearest “local” quilt shop was at least 45 minutes away. I gathered all 36 colors required for the top from stash!

This picture shows the first 15, so there was quite a stack by the time I had all 36 on the table! This is a 25 year quilt because that’s the period of time over which I’ve collected this stash.

For a few fabrics I had to substitute other choices that were not quite solid.

And even then it sometimes took more than one fabric to get all I needed of an unusual color.

And several of the fabrics had been cut long ago for unremembered projects!

But eventually, the huge stack of fabrics was reduced to a small stack of 6″ strips and the remaining fabrics were put back where they belong.

That was a full day of pressing, cutting, and folding.

I made a few fun discoveries along the way.

First, a couple of the fabrics seem to be poly-cotton blends. They are from before “modern” quilting came along, meaning that only the Amish and Gwen Marston were using a lot of solids, so I had trouble finding solids in the stores. Much of what I did find in fabric shops (which at the time had a lot of clothing fabric) was poly-cotton blend, and I took what I could get. So there’s some poly-cotton fabric in the stash and that will be used in the quilt.

Second, there were solids from several different fabric companies, now that everybody has their own line.

Finally, some fabrics were prewashed and some were not. There’s a whole story there, but I’ll spare you!

I’ve cut those strips into squares and paired them up ready to make HSTs, so progress has been made!

With regard to that stack, I didn’t completely follow the pattern (surprise!). There are excruciatingly precise instructions to enable the quilter to reproduce the original exactly, but I don’t intend to do that. I paired up some colors the way the pattern suggested and did what I wanted with the rest. We’ll see how that works out.

Gathering the fabrics was a fun review of the past 25 years of collecting, and now we can all look forward to the Postcard from Sweden quilt in the future.


Oodalolly: A Finish

I’ve been running across pictures of Rachel Hauser’s Oodalolly quilt for years at various places on the internet. I’ve always admired it and though it would be fun to make, but there was no pattern that I could find. Finally I wrote to Rachel to ask about about it and learned that the pattern is in an E-book she wrote to accompany her color course. She acknowledged that I probably didn’t need to take the course but kindly agreed to sell me just the pages of the book that contain the pattern! So here it is, my very own version of Rachel Hauser’s Oodalolly!

No, there isn’t a funny lower right corner, but that corner swung toward me, creating the illusion!

The pattern was just as much fun as it looks like. I learned some things and enjoyed making it, so it’s a win-win. The only “odd” thing about this quilt is that it is NOT made from scraps (OMG!). I bought a fat quarter bundle of Alison Glass fabrics at a sale a while back, and used it for this quilt. I did leave out some of the less vibrant colors, but there was plenty of fabric without them.

The back is made up from a large piece of lightweight upholstery fabric I was given and a few strips of a sheet.

Quilt Stats

Name: Oodalolly

Finished size: 57″ x 73″

Designed by: Rachel Hauser, website here

Made by: me

Quilted by: Linda Nichols

Studio Tour

To my surprise, several people have asked to see my studio, so here goes.

The floor is easy-to-clean vinyl tile and the lighting is industrial shop lights.

First, the story of how I got this big space. When we planned the house, the garage had to be moved to fit everything on the lot. Once the garage was attached to the house, it didn’t cost that much more to build rooms over it. So my studio is over a double garage, making it roughly the size of the entire house in which I grew up. Times change, occasionally for the better.

Yes, that space inside the crudely drawn yellow square is my studio! And just so you know, my husband is holding a quilt out the window from the landing on the stairs for this photo 😀  The studio has windows on 3 sides, which is wonderful for the light but does lead to some issues with heating and cooling.

I have two cutting tables in the middle of the room. Sometimes both are on risers, sometimes just one. Sometimes the second table is used for other crafts.

This is the office nook where I write my blog and edit photos as well as doing other officey-things.

And this is a big storage cabinet I’ve had for many years. My husband put it together from a kit and it has served me well.

My bookcase (which I built myself in a long-ago woodworking class). When the book collection outgrows this space, some books have to go. The items on the top are from my grandparents’ pottery collection and my mother’s basket collection.

Most of my stash is stored in chests like this. I lined the drawers so the fabric doesn’t stay in contact with wood. The chests came from various second hand stores, though I did get one from a family member for 5 cents!

This is the visitor corner. There’s an extra sewing table in close proximity to one of the cutting tables so I can have a friend over to sew together. And that’s my backup sewing machine, a Bernette, that some of my visitors use so they don’t have to drag a machine up the steps.

Another view of the visitor corner showing the reading rocker for visits from my husband and my great-great grandmother’s travel trunk. There’s also a cute vintage sewing box I was recently given. It will be refinished and repaired some day soon.

The studio has multiple nooks built in to make it seem not so cavernous. They will hold built-in cabinets eventually, but the woodworker has a loooong list so for now they hold temporary storage.

And finally, here’s my main sewing area. Putting the SewEzi perpendicular to a large table makes it easier to apply binding to large quilts, among other things.

CAVEAT: The woodworker has a much larger shop in its own building behind the house. I didn’t include pictures of that because I don’t want to give the woodworker in your house any ideas!


A Chair Is A Chair

This is coming to you a day early because part of this post is an entry in Kim Lapacek’s Project QUILTING. The current challenge is Sew Not A Square.

But first a little background. On Monday of this past week, I was happy to attend a workshop with Daisy Aschehoug, who calls her business Warm Folk. I didn’t realize until I got to the workshop that I had reviewed a book she wrote with Heather Black a few years ago.

Photo courtesy of C&T

Anyway, Daisy was presenting her Giant Nested Curves workshop and it was within easy driving distance, so a friend and I went for the day!

When Daisy says “giant” curves, she isn’t kidding! Her templates for this project make a circle that finishes 24″ in diameter!  Here are some pictures I took of her class samples; keep in mind that these are 24″ circles.

And here’s the quarter circle I got made during class.

Which leads me to the project for the Project QUILTING challenge: The assignment this time was to make a finished quilt with NO SQUARES! Since I had just been making circles, I started with the smallest template, which makes a quarter circle finishing 2″.

Making a curve that small was a “challenge”, as we like to call it 😀

So I made a second curve, on the end of a rectangle, and combined the two blocks into a chair. I thought it looked like a mid-mod chair, or maybe a Bauhaus chair, so I decided it could be a chair for Gertrude Stein. Which is why the quilting says over and over, “A CHAIR IS A CHAIR IS A CHAIR”. And taking a cue from a friend who recently sent me a quilted postcard, I zigzagged the edges rather than binding–much more practical for a postcard sized quilt.

Quilt Stats

Name: A Chair for Gertrude

Finished size: 3.5″ x 6″

Designed, made, and quilted by: me

Fabrics: cotton, front and back

Batting: Felt

Thread: Superior So Fine

Quarter circle template from Daisy Aschehoug





A Few Random Projects

My friend Linda over at Flourishing Palms blogged about her participation in the Dreamlines quilt-along, so I checked it out and, of course, signed up. Here are the strips made so far

And here is the link to the Dreamlines quilt-along if you’re interested. If you scroll down this landing page you’ll see where you can sign up for her newsletter and get the project each month. Even if you don’t do that, go look up “Dreamlines Brenda Gael Smith” on Pinterest to see some of her wonderful work.

Also from the internet, I somehow decided to enter the current round of PROJECT QUILTING, which you can learn about here. The challenge this week was the “54-40 or fight” block. Here’s my entry, an 18″ mini-quilt.

I’m afraid it proves that there IS such a thing as too much Kaffe! But it’s done, and it was fun, so good enough.

Finally, here are my blocks so far for the Studio Stitch Block of the Month. I’m enjoying the challenge and the variety.

What have you been up to lately?

Glimmer: A Finish

This quilt was made in 2022, but I just got it bound. I took a class at Studio Stitch to make it because the previous quilt I made using the Jaybird Quilts Sidekick ruler gave me fits. Here’s the previous one (pattern here):

Not sure whether it was previous experience or having someone to guide me step by step, but Glimmer went together just fine. Here’s a look at the back and binding:

And here’s a picture of the quilting done by Linda Nichols:

Quilt Stats

Name: Glimmer

Finished size: 60″ x 60″

Pattern by: Jaybird Quilts

Made by: me

Quilted by: Linda Nichols

A Novel Project

I publish this blog on Sunday, so what’s up with a random mid-week post?

Because I made something for the current PROJECT QUILTING challenge, here.

The challenge requires making something quilty from start to finish within a week, and must be posted by Saturday, which is why this post is early. There will still be a regular post on Sunday.

This week’s prompt is “a novel”–any novel. I made this card because the occasional romance novel is my guilty pleasure (OK, one of my guilty pleasures), and it did double duty as a valentine card this week!

Process: I took something from the discard bin and applied heat-n-bond to the back. Then I cut out a heart, fused it to the front of a blank card, and zig-zagged around the edge. 

Fun and done!

About Those Improv Blocks…

Back in 2019 I made up my own improvisational block challenge. When the blocks were done, though, I decided it was going to be difficult to put them all together in one quilt. I had chosen coordinated fabrics but used all the colors from the collection, among other problems.  Of course it was intended as a learning experience, and I learned that I should restrict my color options when I experiment with just a few blocks!

Here are all the blocks together:

And just for comparison, here is a more recent series of improvisational blocks in which I did limit the colors:

So I learned, which is good, but then those 2019 blocks have been sitting around for a while. OK, almost 4 years.

I’ve decided to use the 2019 blocks in a series of small pieces that I quilt by hand. This not only gives the blocks something to do but also gives me something to do with my hands during meetings.

Here’s the first piece so far.

The funny thing is that many people at meetings have asked, “What is it? A table runner?” And when I say, “Art” they just look puzzled.

And a lot of times art is puzzling, so I’m good with that 😀

I do need to find a local art quilt group to join, though. Any suggestions?

Did Someone Say Scrap Quilt?

I modified this from multiple quilts I have seen because I liked the idea of turning squares into those elongated hexagons as well as the idea of pointing everything toward the center.

Not incidentally, it also used some more of my (many, many) 5″ squares.

It’s sometimes important for Elvis to make an appearance 🙂

I wasn’t sure about this binding, but I think it worked out OK. That’s not my usual type of backing, but it was available on short notice!

Quilt Stats

Name: Really? Another Scrap Quilt?

Finished size: 65″ x 65″

Designed and made by: me, with inspiration from multiple other quilts I’ve seen

Quilted by: Linda Nichols

The Smallest Scraps?

Wordspress claims to have published this, but nobody got it, so I’m trying a workaround. I have left out some of the pictures hoping that will help. Computers!*%$***

What to do with the scraps that are really, really too small to sew into a quilt? Options include:

Put them in the compost pile. I haven’t tried this, but they are 100% cotton, so I think they should compost just fine. And most of us should be composting anyway, so why not!

I have a couple of friends who say they make dog beds for the animal shelter and stuff them with the tiny scraps. You might think that would take a while, but if it does so what, and I think I might be surprised with how fast the dog bed fills. I wasn’t sure about whether the shelters take these, but a friend in one of my guilds assures me that the shelters here not only take them, but wash them and re-use them. She says she makes the “shell” out of upholstery fabric, which I can often find at thrift shops for almost nothing, so the bed really wouldn’t cost much to make. If you’re interested, there are nice instructions at National Quilters Circle, here.

One of my quilt groups is making blocks by putting the tiny scraps on a fabric base and then sewing over them to hold them in place. They’re holding the scraps with glue (from the ubiquitous glue stick) until they sew. After the pieces are stitched down, the block is trimmed to size. They plan to piece these blocks together for a donation quilt.

I made one of these blocks (above) with the assistance of one of my grandsons. Instead of just stitching the fabric to the backing, I layered and quilted the block, then cut it to size as a resting pad for our crystal bell. The grandsons like to ring all the bells, and I thought this might remind them to put the crystal one down gently.

And then there is the actual confetti quilt option. These usually are art quilts, not meant to be washed. The tiny pieces are placed on a background fabric and the whole covered with mesh, such as tulle. Some people attach the tulle with a very light weight fusible, some rely on quilting over the tulle to hold everything in place. There’s an example here, with details on how it was done.

So what do you do with tiny scraps? Any other ideas?