From Orphans to Donation

One of my UFO (UnFinished Object) goals for the year is to do something with some of my orphan blocks. (Those are miscellaneous blocks left from various projects; you can read about them here).  I’ve already turned a bunch of them into quilts, but I hauled them out again last month to give it another shot.

orphan blocks

These star blocks are orphans left over from several projects, so they are different sizes

These are left from various projects, but I just love star blocks so they probably won’t be the last of the breed 🙂  And you can probably see that one of them even has a piece turned wrong, which I did NOT see until just now 😀

After fooling around with various options for them, I selected 5 and made this quilt:

orphan blocks

Donation quilt made from orphan star blocks

It actually worked out just fine to simply add a partial border to the smallest one.  And the purple fabric is left from yet another project, so win-win!

What do you do with your orphan blocks?

8 Projects for April and May!

In keeping with the plan to finish a UFO a month during 2015, here is the April finish.  Since this fabric has been waiting for about 5 years, I’m calling this a significant finish!

donation quilt

Flower Fairies, A Donation Quilt

The second April finish is not only finished but delivered to the Quilt Alliance for their 2015 challenge. This one is called Cat Circus. The Laurel Burch fabrics reminded me of how just one cat can be a complete circus (polite word for disaster) in just a matter of minutes in any room in the house. I love cats, so that’s OK by me.

Quilt Alliance

Cat Circus, my 2015 Quilt Alliance challenge quilt

And here is the May finish, along with two other donation quilts I made in April and May. This means 6 so far this year–I’m caught up through June!  I’ll have more information on some of these in a later post.  They are an improvisational quilt, an orphan block quilt, and a quilt using Cuddle charms and cat fabric.

I made two more blocks for My Modern Sampler this month.  You can read about the improvisational one here, and I will blog about the Humbug Star at a later date.  For now, here’s a preview:

Finally, I bound the Charley Harper quilt that came back from the quilter a while ago.  These organic cottons from Birch are stiffer and less silky than my usual quilting cottons, so I washed the quilt when it was finished.  That helped some with the stiffness and also made the quilting stand out more.

Charley Harper

Turning Twenty Again pattern in Charley Harper fabrics

On to the June projects–I’ll have much more news coming up!

2015 Donation Quilt #1

A couple of my quilty friends try to make a quilt a month for various charities, so I thought I’d try that this year.  The group with which I make donation quilts sends them to a Ronald McDonald House to be given to sick children.  The House wants all quilts to be 40″ x 40″, which doesn’t seem too big to do one a month.  Here goes….

For January I took some of my orphan blocks and related fabrics and made this quilt.  The blocks also happen to be on my UFO list for 2015, so there’s TWO projects accomplished at once 🙂

Donation quilt

February finish and January donation quilt

The blocks finish 12″ square, which means that with a 2″ border the quilt comes out 40″ x 40″ as planned. The 9-patch blocks were made using the stack and shuffle method I learned years ago from Karla Alexander’s books.  It’s easy and fun.  To end up with blocks this size, I started with 15″ x 15″ squares of fabric (since they’re cut wonky on purpose it takes a bigger starting square than you might think).

The center block has little inset strips using a technique I modified from one of Judy Niemeyer’s ideas.  To make a quarter inch inset that doesn’t “wobble”, do this:

block tutorial

Block pieces, including yellow insert

Cut a 1″ strip of fabric and lay one edge along the raw edge of the piece where you want a narrow inset. Stitch through both the strip and the quilt piece 1/2″ away from the edge, either by using the 1/2″ mark on your machine’s throat plate or by marking the center of the strip.

Quilt tutorial

The center pieces of the block have been jointed and the insert laid along the side

Fold and press along the seam-line so that you now have 3 raw edges, all lined up.

quilt tutorial

Strips have been added to all sides of the center pieces and pressed along the seam

I don’t usually trim away the extra fabric because I like the stability, but it DOES make for some weighty intersections if you choose not to trim away the bottom 1 or 2 layers.  Then assemble the block as you normally would, using 1/4″ seams.  The strip you added will show up as a 1/4″ inset.

Let me know if you try either of these blocks.  I thought they were fun!


2015 UFO Challenge

Last year I participated in Aunt Marti’s UFO (Unfinished Object) challenge over at 52 Quilts and found it helpful. I did NOT succeed in finishing a UFO every month, but there were several months when I wouldn’t have gotten even one done if it weren’t for the challenge.
So this year I’m not only taking the challenge, I’m (gasp!) publishing my list here so it’s public! And I’ll post about the finishes as I do them. Here’s the list, some of it in picture form:  If you hover over the picture you can see its caption.



There are two more to be done, but no pictures yet:

11.  Rework the Under the Sea top

12.  Quilt a practice piece I made for a magazine project.

Aunt Marti’s UFO challenge goes like this:  You gather up 12 of your (many) UFOs and number them. Then, each month Aunt Marti posts the number of the UFO to be done for that month.  (By the way, the project for January is #2).

I’ll keep you posted on how it goes. If you want to play along, here’s the link to the “rules” at Aunt Marti’s site.

Hope you have a good week at get at least one UFO finished even if you aren’t doing the challenge!

Year End Review

For better or worse, I published goals at the beginning of the year, so here’s the review of my progress:
I met all the goals! (Does that mean I didn’t set them high enough?) I retreated with my buddies THREE times instead of just two! I attended 3 big national shows as well as 2 local ones (all were excellent). I took a couple of fun and useful classes, one of which I still need to write up here so you’ll know about it. I submitted several quilts to shows/contests and 3 were accepted. The one I donated to the Quilt Alliance even won something, and sold for $300 to benefit the Quilt Alliance!  And I had lots of fun, which was really the point of it all.

Here are pictures of a few of my projects from the second half of the year. The pix of projects from the first half of the year are in this post.

Spring Sun, a design by me, using blocks paper pieced from a totally different Judy Niemeyer pattern!

Spring Sun, a design by me, using blocks paper pieced from a totally different Judy Niemeyer pattern!  It took about 2 years, but it’s now DONE.

quilt photo

Zippy Star Quilt and Pillow as shown in Modern Quilts Unlimited, Summer 2014

Michael Miller challenge quilt

Packet of Posy Seeds, done for the Michael Miller spring challenge

modern quilt

Zippy Star I, which sold at the Asheville Quilt Show in September.  This was my “practice piece” for the MQU quilt shown above.

Improvisational quilt

Donation quilt for Ronald McDonald House.  I’m going to work more on using up orphan blocks next year.

And, despite the risk, here’s what I plan for the coming year:

1.  I’ll retreat with my buddies at least twice, probably 3 times again!

2.  I’ll attend one big national quilt show, maybe two.  I’ll attend at least one local show.

3.  I will limit much more strictly the shows and challenges I enter.  It takes too much time and effort that could be spent on making what I want to make 🙂

4.  I’ll continue to make donation quilts, including one for the Quilt Alliance.  Please consider making one for the Quilt Alliance yourself.  You can read about their mission here.  Click on “2015 Quilt Contest” to learn about this year’s challenge.

5.  I’ll continue my blog, and I think I’ll put up instructions for a few easy donation quilts just in case somebody is looking for ideas.

What’s coming up for you?

10 Quilty Secrets

Several of the blogs I read have recently revealed “10 Quilty Secrets” and I thought it sounded like fun, so I’m playing along. If you would like to see some other bloggers’ secrets, here are the links: The original post seems to have been at, and the idea has been picked up by several blogs I follow, including Catbird quiltswombat quilts, and Christa quilts.

And so, here are my 10 Quilty Secrets:

1. Although I’m participating in Marti’s UFO (unfinished object) finish-a-month this year, I had FAR MORE than 12 UFOs at the beginning of the year. Oops, still do! Here’s the August finish, a quilt for Ronald McDonald House made from orphan blocks:August-finish

2. My nearest LQS (Local Quilt Shop) is an hour away, which I take as an excuse to have a good stash at all times 😉

3. If I start a quilt and don’t like it for some reason, I abandon the plan and turn it into something else–another quilt design, a table runner, whatever.

4. And sometimes those I-don’t-like-this projects just become long term UFOs 😦

5. In my world, a good quilt is a fast quilt.  I’m not patient enough for the zillions of little hand-pieced hexies, for example.cartoon hexie

6.  For that matter, I DON’T EVEN LIKE hexies!  Yikes!

7. I value good design in quilts and in other useful objects.

8.  I LOVE to learn new techniques and try new things, so I take lots of classes  Even if they seem like stuff I could do easily without a class I always learn something.

9. We’ve moved a lot, and one of the best ways I’ve found to make new friends is to join a local quilt group.

10. I think every quilt needs a little purple!

So, what are some of YOUR quilty secrets?

6 Orphan Blocks, 1 Donation Quilt

I’ve probably mentioned that one of the ways I’m motivating myself to get rid of the excess in the studio is by joining Marti’s UFO finish of the month over at 52 Quilts.  As part of my ongoing effort to “clean it up, move it out” I’m making a series of donation quilts out of my orphan blocks.

pieced quilt blocks

Orphan blocks from a recent project

I had these 6 blocks that I liked, so I looked for fabric to go with them. The bright turquoise went well, but I had enough to join them only, not to frame them.  Searching for something to make it wider, I found a piece of black/white chevron fabric and decided it needed to be used, and FAST.chevron fabric

My daughter recently point out, “When you find chevrons on your mouthwash bottle, they’re on the way out!” 😀

Finally, I had some colorful Michael Miller dots that seemed to fit in:Michael Miller dots

And WOW!  A very “lively” improvised quilt.Donation quilt

I’m going to practice free motion quilting it on my new Bernina, and it will be the August UFO finish of the month.  Then off to Ronald McDonald House it goes.




10 Donation Quilts!

stack of quilts

Ronald McDonald Quilts

I have a little group of quilty friends that I retreat with at least twice a year.  We all make quilts for Ronald McDonald House of Cincinnati.  This last time, just 3 of us finished a total of 10 quilts!  Here are some of them.

R McD House of Cincinnati wants all quilts 40″ x 40″ so, as I’ve mentioned before, these are a good opportunity for a lot of experimentation:

  • Try new designs to see if you like them
  • Make orphan blocks into quilts
  • Try new color schemes

    pieced quilt

    Donation Quilt, 40″ x 40″

  • Use up fabric left from other projects
  • Use your scraps to make an improvised quilt top
  • Use up charm packs (yes, we’ve all bought a few extra!)
  • Make a simple quilt as a rest from challenging projects
  • Quilt the tops yourself for practice
  • Try out binding entirely by machine–makes the quilt more durable
  • Anyway, enjoy this little quilt show!  And check with your local Ronald McDonald House if you’re interested in donating quilts to them.
  • pieced quilt

    Quilt with teddy bears

    quilt back

    Pieced back


    Charm Squares



    Girlie Colors

    Girlie Colors

    More Charm Squares

    More Charm Squares–this one more of an I Spy design

    More leftovers--can you tell some group members have grandsons?

    More leftovers–can you tell some group members have grandsons?

    Boy Scout theme--there were 2 of these!

    Boy Scout theme–there were 2 of these–and look at the quilting, 1/2″ apart!

    My improv 9 patch

    My improv 9 patch

    Orphan blocks with improv sashing

    Orphan blocks with improv sashing


Your Inner Designer 3: New Blocks From Old

There is almost never anything new in design; indeed, the best designs probably are made with a sense of history.  So far we’ve modified overall quilt designs to make new ones; this time we’re going to modify blocks.  So here we go: 1.  Stretch it:

pieced star quilt

Quilt made with Block 3

pieced star quilt

Quilt made with Block 4

2.  Tilt it, or stretch and tilt it:

pieced quilt

This quilt is made from Block 1, tilted, with half the blocks tilted the other way

3.  Cut it and shuffle the pieces; rotate them if you like:

pieced quilt

This quilt is made from block 7, with the blocks rotated various ways to make the pattern

4.  Cut it and insert something.  This will distort the block and you’ll have to trim to make it even:

pieced star quilt

Quilt made from Block 10 and a plain block with strips inserted the same way

All of this fooling around might be a good use for some of those orphan blocks–what have you got to lose?  And If you find some modifications you really like, try them out in a quilt: Please make some designs and send them to me–I’d love to see what you come up with!

Fairyland to Vermont

I’ve just submitted my improvisational quilt “In Fairyland” to the Vermont Quilt Festival, and of course I’m hoping it gets in!

improvisationally pieced quilt

In Fairyland

I made the blocks at the top just for fun when I got an EQ add-on called “Town & Country Patchwork” by Cori Derksen & Myra Harder (who have generously agreed to my use of their designs in this quilt for the show).  The blocks are paper pieced and I made them in fantasy colors because those were the scraps I had on the day I decided to make them. Then the blocks sat around for quite a while 😉  Sound familiar?

Eventually I decided I needed to use up some of my MANY scraps.  At least the scraps are cut into strips of standard widths, so when I get a notion to use them, they’re ready to go.  So I just made rows of scraps, putting the sky-type ones at the top.  Below the houses, I arranged the thinner rows in the “distance”.  Finally, I found one of the flower fairies and put her in near the bottom.improv pieced quilt

My friend Joyce quilted the whole thing on her long arm, using a pattern of leaves at my request.quilting on improv quilt

I’m happy to say I’ll be going to the Vermont Quilt Festival this year–something I’ve wanted to do for a long time.  I’m hopeful that “In Fairyland” will be included so I can view my own quilt there!  Anybody else going?