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Christmas Ornament Mini-Quilt

img_9579Happy December, you guys! If you’re looking for a quick, fun little holiday project, head over to the Bernina blog today for a complete tutorial to make my Christmas Ornament Mini-Quilt!


It uses super-simple raw-edge appliqué, so no need to worry about curved piecing, and the half-square triangles in holiday brights give it a clean, modern look.

While you’re enjoying that, my goal for the day is to finish the Christmas decorations around my house. Have a lovely Monday!

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Birch Tree Shimmer Mini Quilt

Hey there! Welcome to my stop on Jennifer Sampou’s Shimmer blog hop!

You know, once upon a time, I thought I would never like metallic fabrics. But I also once thought I would never wear skinny jeans and never get tired of chevron prints. Never say never in fashion or quilting. : ) Metallics are totally on trend these days, and I’m loving them. Jennifer Sampou’s new fabric line for Robert Kaufman, Shimmer, is metallics done right!

Maybe it’s the long, cold winter we’ve had here in Wisconsin, or maybe it’s just the repeated viewings of the movie “Frozen” with my daughters, but when I saw the Shimmer line, I immediately thought of white on silver. A quick scan of my Pinterest inspiration boards led me to this lovely, minimal graphic composition, and suddenly I knew just what I wanted to do!

So I made this little birch tree mini quilt. It may seem an odd project for me to whip up at a time when winter is finally releasing its icy grip on my ‘hood, but I guess this is my way of bidding the season goodbye. : ) The trees were very easy to piece improvisationally—I cut a large background square of silver Shimmer fabric and then slashed through it on angles to place the tree trunks. Ditto for the birch bark notches, with more Shimmer pieced into to those.

It was only when I was piecing the third and final tree that it hit me—what is the perfect counterpoint to a birch tree in the snow? Why, a cardinal sitting in its branches, of course! Even though the quilt was already almost done at that point, suddenly I had to have a cardinal.

I wanted the cardinal to be just a small accent, which meant I needed a relatively simple paper-pieced block, so that it was doable when reduced way down. This free block from McCall’s (minus the bird’s legs) fit the bill. I printed the templates at 30% size. Crazy small, but sure enough, it worked! I love itty bitty paper-piecing! The beauty of it is that you can do paper-piecing this small, and it’s just as easy as when it’s normal sized.

I finished my mini off with more Shimmer prints on the back and for the binding, plus some wavy line quilting. But I think the luster of the silver background print is really what makes this mini special. It shines. Literally.

Keep following the blog hop for more inspiration using this fabric line!

April 1: Robert Kaufman/Jennifer Sampou

April 2: Janice Ryan- Better off Thread
April 3: Alissa Haight Carlton- Handmade by Alissa
April 4: Julie Herman- JayBird Quilts
April 5: Natalie Barnes- Beyond the Reef
April 6: Stash Books- C&T Publishing
April 7: Amanda Jean Nyberg- Crazy Mom Quilts
April 8: Me! You are here
April 9: Cheryl Arkinson- Naptime Quilter
April 10: Christina Cameli- A Few Scraps
April 11: Elizabeth Hartman- Oh Fransson
April 12: Faith Jones-Fresh Lemon Quilts
April 14: Katie Blakesley- Swim Bike Quilt
April 15: Amy Smart-Diary of a Quilter
April 16: Laura Nownes, Jennifer Rounds, Pati Fried, Darra Williamson- See How We Sew

April 17: Holly DeGroot- Bijou Lovely
April 18: Jennifer Sampou-Wrap Up

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Shooting Star Mini Quilt

Well, here’s kind of a fun little surprise (maybe more surprising to me than to you): I have a new pattern available! The Shooting Star Mini Quilt pattern from my Modern Quilt Guild SewDown Portland class is now available.

Buy Shooting Star Mini Quilt pattern here

I actually wasn’t planning to make this pattern publicly available, but I’ve had so many requests that I decided to go for it. You can purchase this pattern as a PDF download only from my Pattern Shop or from Craftsy. As always, I’m offering the pattern on sale for the first few days of its release, so get it now while it’s a bargain at $4.99! (This sale is now done.) For now, this pattern will be a PDF download only, no paper version available.

This is such a quick, easy little quilt. Many of my SewDown students finished the top during our three-hour class time. Some parts of this quilt are traditionally pieced, while others are foundation paper-pieced.

If you’re interested in giving paper-piecing a try for the first time, this pattern is a fantastic way to get your feet wet, since there are only four paper-pieced units total. That’s minimal paper-piecing time commitment for a finished quilt! (And here’s a great tutorial for piecing one of the very units in the pattern.)

High five-ing myself for remembering all that I learned in @freshlypieced's Shooting Star class at #SewDownPortland - that I made a second one! #signofagreatteacher
Photo courtesy of Monica Solorio-Snow 

I used V and Co.’s gray ombré print from the Simply Style line to create my faded-out shooting star tail. But since that line is becoming hard to find, you could also use a selection of 7 solid colors for the shooting star’s tail. In fact, Monica of The Happy Zombie did exactly that, in her quilt shown above—how cool is this? I think her version is a fabulous example of an alternate color scheme for this quilt! (Thanks, Monica, I heart you!)

Enjoy the Shooting Star Mini pattern! I really appreciate all the interest in it! As always, let me know if you have any questions, and please share your finished quilt with me if you make it! I love to see what people do with my patterns.

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Twinkle Mini from Vintage Quilt Revival

Here’s a quick, fun little project from Vintage Quilt Revival—my Twinkle Mini Quilt.

twinkle modern mini quilt

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know “wonky” quilts don’t come naturally to me. I’ve done a few of them recently anyway, and while I’m starting to get better at it, I don’t think it will ever be my first choice in block-piecing styles. But when Faith, Katie and I sat down to design the quilts for Vintage Quilt Revival, we felt like we would be remiss if we didn’t include at least one wonky take on traditional quilt blocks. The Gee’s Bend quilts have been so influential in the modern quilting community, and I’m a huge admirer of those quilts, so it seemed like no “modern spin on traditional” book would be complete without it.

So I broke out of my comfort zone to make this little mini, using the traditional Dove at the Window block. Because star blocks just beg to be made wonky, don’t they? Wonkiness seems to give them extra twinkle. If you’re like me and are uncomfortable with wonkiness, I’ve got some tips in the “Design Notes” section of this chapter for dealing with your fear.

twinkle modern mini quilt

I finished it off with some concentric circle quilting that spiraled outward from the center. Love the look, but this was the quilt that made me vow never to do this kind of quilting on anything larger than this. LOL.

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Owl Mini Quilt

So remember that owl with the teeny tiny paper piecing?

Owl mini
Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while might recall that I adore my daughters’ preschool. It’s a nature-focused preschool in a nature center on the shores of Lake Michigan, staffed by wonderful teachers who willingly take entire groups of 3- and 4-year-olds for hikes in the woods every day, rain, snow, or shine. They encourage the kids to stomp in mud puddles, climb on tree trunks and rocks, look for bugs and worms and other creatures, and explore the world around them. Every day for the past two weeks, my 3-year-old has come home coated in mud, but she sure does love that place! And I’m constantly amazed at the curiosity and motivation to learn that they inspire in these kids.

This year, sadly, the nature center is dealing with the devastation of the Emerald Ash Borer, an invasive  insect species from Asia that is steadily killing off ash trees all over the midwest and northeast U.S. Trees can be given a preventative treatment (we’re treating three trees in my own backyard), but it’s expensive and must be given yearly, so that’s obviously not a possibility in a nature center with hundreds—maybe thousands—of ash trees. So the ashes are now being cut down all over the property and are being replaced with other tree varieties.

But in the meantime, one of the preschool teachers had a clever idea for a fundraiser called “Ash to Art.” Preschool families and local artists were invited to create art using ash tree “cookies” from the felled trees. The art will be auctioned off—what a great way to recycle, raise money for the preschool, and raise awareness of Emerald Ash Borer all at the same time.

I was invited to contribute as one of the “fine artists” whose work would be auctioned off at the event. Umm, I can’t tell you how nervous I am about this! I consider myself more of a designer than an artist. And there’s the small problem of me somehow incorporating a tree cookie into my … quilting?

Owl mini
At any rate, this little owl is my contribution to the fundraiser. I think he turned out quite nicely. : )

Tiny paper piecing!
I wanted to make an owl because that’s part of the nature center’s logo, and—well, it’s an owl. Who doesn’t love an owl? But the tree cookie itself was only about 6″ wide, so I knew that owl was going to have to be small. I looked at a lot of owl paper-piecing patterns online—I didn’t want anything too cartoonish or babyish or cutesy. Eventually I settled on this pattern of Hedwig from a Harry Potter quilt and shrunk it down about 60%.

Owl mini
I was as surprised as anybody that this paper-piecing actually turned out okay! I guess that’s the beauty of paper-piecing—you can do things this tiny and it’s really not that different from normal paper-piecing. As long as your eyesight is decent. : )

Owl mini - the back
The hardest part of it for me was dealing with all the seam allowances on the back, which in most cases were larger than the piece itself. It was so difficult to figure out where I could trim excess fabric and where I couldn’t!

Once I was done with the owl, I added a wonky star, and my teeny little block (around 5.5″ square) was done. But then I had to decide what to do with this little block and how to attach it to the tree cookie. I eventually decided to do a full-fledged teensy mini-quilt—quilted and bound and everything—and I attached it to the tree cookie with a simple band and some velcro. My quilting was my attempt at Angela Walters’ wood-grain quilting design (of course!).

But I’m still nervous about this, mainly because I just don’t know how somebody is supposed to actually use this thing. It’s way outside of my comfort zone as far as the finished product—I never even really got on board with the mug rug craze a while back, and I’m certainly no art quilter! But I figure someone can hang it up on the wall just as it is, as a rustic piece of art, or they could always take it off the tree cookie and hang it that way, or even use it as a mug rug or a coaster. It goes up for auction tonight, so I’ll put in a decent opening bid on it and if somebody else bids it up, great. Otherwise I get to bring this little owl back home with me. Nothing wrong with that. : )

But if you’re in the Milwaukee area and want to come bid on this little guy (or any of the other amazing artwork that will be there), the Ash to Art event is open to the public. It takes place tonight (Friday) from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center. To check out some of the other amazing art pieces that will be available, check out the Ash to Art photostream on Flickr.


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Lifesavers Mini Quilt

The dresden plate is my kind of block. Uber-traditional and perfectly beautiful in all its vintage goodness. And yet, so open to interpretation. There are an endless number of ways to make a dresden unique. And it’s so darn easy to transform this block into something very modern. It never ceases to amaze me that something so traditional still looks fresh and of-the-moment, right here in the 21st century.

Enter the Salt Lake Modern Quilt Guild’s EZ Dresden Challenge. Have you heard about this yet? The Salt Lake MQG is helping Simplicity and a boatload of other sponsors celebrate Darlene Zimmerman’s twentieth year of designing rulers, by highlighting the versatility of the dresden. So you’ll be seeing a lot of dresden quilts this summer—and there are some insane prizes on the line for the best of the bunch. Including a new Singer sewing machine!"Lifesavers" mini quilt
So here’s my take on the dresden plate: my “Lifesavers” mini-quilt. No centers to applique, no points to make—just stripey rings.

"Lifesavers" mini quilt

I got hooked on the idea of fussy-cutting my dresden wedges, but I didn’t want to do something that required yards and yards of fabric just to make a few blocks. I thought about using chevron fabric, but the scale wasn’t quite right. Then it hit me: Stripes! So easy to fussy-cut—I just cut my wedges from vertical strips of fabric, lining the ruler up with the stripes.

EZ Dresden Challenge project

I ended up using one yard of Michael Miller’s Bungalow Stripe in Citron (that one yard made all of these blocks). Since it’s a variegated stripe, every set of wedges I cut looked a little different. I turned both the top and bottom raw edges under before I pieced the wedges together, which made it super easy to applique the finished plates onto the blocks—I just stitched them down with a straight stitch. I finished it by quilting with easy-peasey wavy line quilting. (I didn’t bother cutting out the background fabric from behind the dresdens after they were stitched down. I know that might be technically “wrong,” but it didn’t seem to effect my quilting.)

So, are you up for this challenge? Just make a quilt using the EZ Dresden ruler (or any 18-degree wedge ruler). It doesn’t even have to be a dresden—there are lots of other things you can do with wedges, too! There are three categories for entries: Mini-quilts, traditional designs, and innovative designs. You’ve got all summer to work on your entry—just link up your finished quilt on the Salt Lake Modern Quilt Guild website the week of September 1. The top three for each category will win some amazing prizes. Up for grabs are a Singer sewing machine, a photo of your project in Quilting Arts magazine, a quilt made by Darlene Zimmerman herself, and tons fabric, rulers, and thread! There will be three random-draw prizes as well. Click here for more contest details.And to get you started, I’ve got an EZ Dresden ruler to give away to one winner right now! Just leave any comment on this post, and I’ll draw a random winner on Tuesday.

Keep following the EZ Dresden Challenge Blog Hop over the next two weeks for lots more inspiration to get you started on your own entry! Good luck!

June 1 – The Sat Lake Modern Quilt Guild:
June 2 – Lee:
June 3 – Katie
June 4 – Victoria: and Tanya:
June 5 – Val: and Leigh:
June 6 – Amy: and Elisa
June 7 – Katie: and Emily:
June 8 – Melissa: and Brooke:
June 9 – Nicole: and Amy
June 10 – Elizabeth: and Colleen:
June 11 – Faith: and Deonn:
June 12 – Angela: and Barbie:
June 13 – Amy:
June 14 – Jessica:
June 15 – Salt Lake MQG: Wrap-up


And thank you to all the EZ Dresden Challenge sponsors!
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Shattered Spectrum Mini Quilt

Queen of the last-minute finish—that’s me! My mini for the Modern Mini Challenge is done, with just a few hours to spare.

In the spirit of using what I already have, more than half of the HSTs in this mini were made last year—they were the “bonus HSTs,” leftover from when I made my Supernova Quilt-Along quilt.  I trimmed them up, added a few more (mostly the greens), and ta-da, a mini was born! (But yes, it still took forever!)

The background and binding are Kona Coal, and I quilted it with simple straight lines along the seams. The completed mini measures about 20″ square and the HSTs are 1.75″ finished. I couldn’t be happier with it! Thanks, Jennifer, for organizing this great challenge!

 And one more thing—would you believe, after all of that, I still have more than 80 of these leftover HSTs? I think I’ve had my fill of them at this point, so would anybody else like to play with them? They’re mostly blues, pinks, oranges, and yellows, and they need to be squared up (I squared mine up to 2.25″ square). If you would like to give these HSTs a home, just tell me that in a comment, and I’ll pick somebody tomorrow. (THE GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED.)


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A Mini-Finish

I finished stitching down the binding on my DQS10 swap mini-quilt last night. Hand-stitching binding was the perfect thing to do while watching my Spartans play a game of basketball that was, in turns, awful, pathetic, semi-okay, decent, amazing, incredible, infuriating, and heartbreaking. I’m used to watching these guys win come March. What am I going to do with myself now that I have no team to root for? Guess I’ll sew. : )

At any rate, my DQS quilt is now finished. I’m pretty confident that my partner is going to like it. I paper-pieced these blocks from a pattern that I created. It’s a fairly standard New York Beauty block, and there are probably dozens of similar paper-piecing patterns available online, but I had trouble finding any that were small enough for what I wanted to do, which is why I ended up creating one myself.

Normally, with a New York Beauty block, you would paper piece the entire thing—the rays, the background, and the center. But I wanted to fussy cut the centers out of a print from Tula Pink’s Parisville collection. Since NY Beauty blocks are pieced in quarters, that wasn’t going to work. So I appliqued the centers onto the completed blocks instead. Hey, it works for dresdens, right? I think it was a good solution.

I was a little stumped with the quilting, but eventually decided I didn’t want to put too much quilting on the New York Beauty blocks themselves. As you can see, I’ve got some busy fabrics going on in there, and the overall look is very ornate. I thought quilting over the top of that might just be a little too much. So instead I just did echo quilting around the outer circles.

I really love how it turned out and I hope my partner will like it too! It’s ready to be shipped and will hopefully be en route, along with a few little extras, by the end of the day.