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HST Quilt for a Kidney Donor (My Mom)

HST Quilt for a kidney donor

I’m finally getting around to blogging about a special surprise quilt that I made over the holidays!

For the past several years, my mom’s husband has been dealing with declining kidney function. The doctors had been keeping an eye on it for some time, but unfortunately there isn’t much that can be done for people whose kidneys are failing, apart from dialysis or kidney donation.

Long story short, he eventually got to the point that he needed a kidney transplant, and upon investigation, they learned that my mom was a match and could donate one of hers. The transplant was a few weeks before Christmas, and things are going well for both patients! But going into it, my mom (who had never had surgery before and never even spent a night in the hospital apart from when my sister and I were born) had a request. “Could you please bring me a quilt?” she asked. “Just any quilt you have sitting around will be fine.”

HST quilt for a kidney donor

I don’t know, it didn’t feel right to bring her just ANY old quilt. LOL. I felt like this was an occasion that called for one made especially for her! So I got out my bundle of Essex Yarn-Dyed Linen (the Pond color coordinates), and this was what came out of it. The background is all Kona Snow and Kona Ivory.

HST quilt for a kidney donor

After years of working in bright colors, I have to say I’m really feeling the softer, more subdued neutrals in this quilt! Some of the Essex Linen I used was the metallic linen, which has a little bit of a sparkle to it, so that jazzed things up in a really good way. I love how it all turned out.

HST quilt for a kidney donor

I played around with the color placement a lot on this quilt. I liked the idea of not making it a straight graduation of color—I threw in some of the neutral half-square triangles at strategic spots in order to give the design a little more depth. (Also making it a little trippier for when she was on pain meds. LOL.)

HST quilt for a kidney donor

As you can see, the entire quilt is made out of 4″ half-square triangles, set on point. Making all those HSTs actually wasn’t AS painful as it could have been—I made some templates for fast HST stitching that worked great! No marking diagonal lines on the backs of the squares and no squaring up afterwards. In fact, my next project is to make up a PDF with the templates I used, for any of you who are interested in making HSTs the same way.

HST quilt for a kidney donor

Here are the blocks, slowly coming together on my design wall. I was working from a digital mock-up that was on my computer screen. This quilt took major forethought and planning to put it together correctly!

HST quilt for a kidney donor

I finished it off with my go-to quilting method recently: Straight diagonal lines about an inch apart. I’m loving straight-line quilting lately! I use masking tape to mark off the first line somewhere close to the center of the quilt, then just set the quilting guide on my Bernina 770 and go. As a bonus, because the blocks were on point, the seam lines on this quilt helped guide me and keep me from getting off track as I worked my way along.

My mom is now enjoying this quilt as she and her husband make their recoveries.

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A Scrappy Take On My Picnic Plaid Pattern

Color gradients. Remember when I said I wasn’t going to go there anymore?



Yeah, I went there. Again. I couldn’t help it, you guys! Gradients: So colorful. So orderly. So appealing to both the left and right sides of my brain. : )
So this is my latest addition to my always expanding collection of color-gradient quilts. : ) This is a scrappy version of my Picnic Plaid pattern (available here).
Here’s a shot of the original Picnic Plaid quilt. The original is strip-pieced in a narrower color palette, but I’ve had the urge to make it scrappier for some time now. So when Stephanie Palmer of Late Night Quilter asked me if I would want to contribute a pattern to her 2016 Quilter’s Planner, it was the perfect opportunity to create modified instructions for a scrappier version of that design. (Sadly, the 2016 Quilter’s Planner is now sold out! Sorry!)

Of course, Steph was nice enough to quilt this one for me, and worked her usual magic on it. I’ve always loved this loopy quilting pattern, and now I finally have a quilt that makes use of it!

This quilt has what might be my favorite print ever for a quilt back: Zen Chic‘s “Notes” print in Charcoal on Fog. The binding is an older Zen Chic print called Barcelona. You can see a chunk of that print in the piecing above as well. I was really feeling the Zen Chic that day, I guess. : )

Regardless of which version of Picnic Plaid you prefer, it’s yet another great demonstration of how much print and color can change the look of any given design. Fun!
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Greek Key Quilt Complete

Just a reminder that my Greek Key Quilt-Along wraps up today on Bernina’s website, We All Sew! Of course, the final instructions post goes live today, but all of the Greek Key posts will be available indefinitely (here is Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. So you can make this quilt any time you feel like it, whether you’re keeping up with the quilt-along or not. : )

I’ve also got a few simple hints in today’s post for doing the diagonal straight-line quilting that I used above, so go check it out. And don’t forget to hashtag #greekkeyquilt, so that we can all admire your hard work!

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Moroccan Lanterns Quilt


My newest pattern is here! Yay!

Moroccan Lanterns was inspired by a Turkish rug that I saw online. As soon as I saw that rug, I thought, “That looks like a quilt.” Then I thought, “That needs to BE a quilt!” And now it is. : )

No paper-piecing on this one, you guys! Just regular ol’ piecing, with a quarter-inch seam and everything. I did my version in lots of bright, vibrant jewel tones. Most of the prints are from Allison Glass’s Sun Print collection, although I did throw in a few oddball prints here and there.

Once again, the stunning quilting was done by Stephanie from Late Night Quilter. Once again, Steph did it up. All I had to do was tell her the name of the quilt, and from there she came up with a perfect, Moroccan-inspired design that I loved! Everyone—and I do mean everyone—who stopped by my booth at Quilt Market a few weeks ago had to ask who did my quilting! Thank you, Stephanie! : )

And as always, I’m celebrating the release of my new pattern by putting it on sale! Now through Sunday, you can buy the PDF pattern for just $4.99! (ETA: This sale is now over.) Click here to purchase it from my pattern shop, or here to purchase from Craftsy.

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Chevron Star Quilt

Today I’m super excited to release the first of my two new patterns: Chevron Star! And as always, I’m celebrating with a release-week sale! For a very limited time, you can pick up the Chevron Star PDF pattern for only $4.99.  This sale is now complete.
Show of hands: How many of you enjoy paper-piecing, but start feeling a little nauseous when a pattern asks you to make like 900 of the same block? If that sounds like you, I’d like you to meet Chevron Star. Chevron Star will make no such demands on you. Chevron Star wants you to piece a few blocks and then go outside to play. : )

The other thing that I love about this pattern is that it has negative space that is pieced. Think that’s a oxymoron? I don’t! Because of course we all love our negative space, but sometimes sewing with giant chunks of white fabric is just not all that … fun. I think of Chevron Star as my best-of-all-worlds quilt, and I hope you’ll think so too.

This quilt got a lot of attention while it was on display in my booth at Quilt Market a week ago, so I’m happy to get the pattern out to you all at last! Of course, I think a large portion of its show-stoppy-ness is due to the AMAZING quilting, done by Stephanie Palmer of Late Night Quilter. Deciding how to quilt things has never been my forté, so I love a quilter who can add to my piecing design with her own creative ideas. And Stephanie knocked this one out of the park! Go visit her blog to see more of her amazing work.

I made Chevron Star mostly out of Cotton + Steel basics and solids. That includes “Netorious” in Cloud Metallic. It’s a subtle metallic that doesn’t come across in my photographs all that well, but trust me, this fabric glows in person, and I love the sheen it gives to the quilt!

And one week from today, I’ll be releasing my other newbie pattern, Moroccan Lanterns, so stop back by for that one as well! Now go sew something! : )

Naturally Wisconsin Maple Leaf Quilt


My maple leaf quilt is finished!

If you haven’t seen my previous posts about this quilt, it’s the result of a collaboration with Milwaukee fabric designer Allison Bielke and AIGA Wisconsin (a graphic designers’ association). The AIGA and Allison organized a fabric design challenge—members were asked to design a print centered around the theme of Wisconsin’s natural beauty. We chose about half of the submitted designs and had those printed on fabric by Modern Yardage, a print-on-demand fabric company. That’s when my part of the challenge began: Designing a quilt using the selected prints!

My objective was to create a quilt that: a) showcased the fabulous prints in the best way possible, b) worked with the “Naturally Wisconsin” theme of the contest, and c) was an example of modern quilt design, which I thought would most appeal to AIGA members (and of course is what I wanted to do anyway!)

I quickly discovered that it wasn’t going to be easy meeting all of those objectives! For one thing, I don’t use a lot of large-scale focus prints in my quilting—and I’m not sure I’ve ever made a quilt almost entirely from focus prints (and 15 different ones at that). There’s a reason, after all, that quilt fabric lines usually include just one or two focus prints, complemented by lots of blenders and geometrics. And you guys—so many directional prints in this quilt. Arghghghg. : ) I had to plan very carefully as I was cutting and sewing and I admit I screwed up the direction several times!

I ended up using a classic maple leaf block, with strategically-placed negative space blocks to give it a more modern twist and to give the design some movement. The background solid in this quilt is Kona Smoke, a taupe that nicely complements the color palette Allison selected for the contest (all submissions were subject to a limited palette). I finished off the quilt with some diagonal wavy line quilting to heighten the “leaves falling” atmosphere of the quilt. (Is this wavy line quilting getting to be too much for you guys? I feel like I might have returned to that well a few too many times lately, but I really do love it, and it’s just so easy using stitch #4 on my Bernina 750!)

The back is mostly coordinating Cotton + Steel prints, but of course I had to piece in a maple leaf block in reverse (background solid for the leaf, prints as background).

This was a fun challenge to meet, and these Wisconsin-inspired prints were a joy to sew with, directional or not! I’m just in awe of how much creativity and design talent is out there—I wish every one of these peeps could have a fabric contract. Here are just some of the amazing prints I got to use in the quilt:

“Robins” by Emily Balsley
“Nature in Wisconsin Wood” by Cristina Rivero
“Blueberry Patch” by Sarah McMahon
“Cranberry Bog” by Sarah McMahon
“Big Buck” by Holly Kowalski
“Hodag” by Raymond Mawst (Not familiar with the Hodag? Here you go!)
“Bees and Zinnias” by Mary Roley
Unfortunately, none of these prints are available for sale at the moment, but that could potentially be in the works and I’ll update you all if it happens.

We are looking for places to display this quilt in Wisconsin over the next year, so if you Wisconsin folks have any suggestions, we’re all ears. It will be exhibited at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design this fall, and I’m going to try submitting it to the Wisconsin State Fair and the Wisconsin Quilt Expo as well. I’ve never entered a quilt in either of those venues, and I’m not sure the skill level of this one is up to their usual standards, but I’m hoping the Wisconsin focus and the specialness of the fabric design collaboration will be enough to get it in.

I want to thank Allison Bielke and the Wisconsin AIGA for including me on this fun project! I love fabric, I love design, and I love Wisconsin, so it was pretty fabulous to work on something that included all of those things. : )


Preppy the Whale Baby Quilt

My Preppy the Whale baby quilt is done (pattern by Elizabeth Hartman). These whales are ready to swim off to their new little owner. : )

This quilt is for my newest nephew, Leo. Leo’s mom is a veterinarian, so I landed on the idea of making him a quilt from one of Elizabeth Hartman’s animal patterns. They’re all pretty irresistible, but I especially loved these whales. They’re very easy to piece, too!

And of course, here’s some of the scallop stitch “wavy” quilting. (It’s stitch #719 on my Bernina 750.) This is such an easy way to quilt something! It’s especially perfect for those of you who haven’t tackled free-motion quilting yet—this is a way to get something that looks FMQ-ey, but it’s not. (Also, can we officially make “FMQ-ey” a word? That really needs to be a word.)

So these guys are off to live with Leo. Have fun, little whales! I’ll miss you!


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My Fire Whirl Quilt in Scraps, Inc.

Looking for a way to use up some scraps? Oh, you are? (How did I know that? LOL.) Well, I’ve got a book for you. : )
It’s called Scraps, Inc., and it’s a beautiful compilation packed with scrappy—and modern—quilts. I’m so thrilled to have a quilt of my own in this incredible volume.
My quilt is called Fire Whirl, and, well, it’s a maelstrom of half-square triangles, is what it is. But what better way to put those scraps to use than HSTs?
Also, I’ve got a super sneaky, Thangles-but-better way for you to make all those HSTs. This slick little method requires no squaring up. Let me repeat: Zero squaring up. Sound good? I hope you love this method as much as I do!

I really, really love this quilt. Scrap quilts are always on my to-do list, and there are several other quilts in this book that are calling my name, including these:

My Favorite Things by Amy Ellis

Overcast by April Rosenthal

Richmond by Sherri McConnell (and I admit I’m a little jealous that my quilt didn’t get to hang on that awesome aqua step-ladder thingy!).

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30 Quilts for 30 Years: My Picnic Plaid Quilt

Welcome to my stop on Robert Kaufman’s 30 Quilts for 30 Years Blog Hop! I’m so happy to be unveiling my Picnic Plaid quilt today—and the Picnic Plaid quilt pattern is on sale for a limited time!

Kaufman recently asked 30 quilt designers (including me!) to help celebrate the 30th anniversary of Kona Cotton Solids by designing a quilt. I’m a huge supporter of Kona solids—there’s no question that Kona offers one of the best color palettes out there, especially with the addition of 33 new colors for 2014. And I’m just crazy lucky enough to live near a quilt shop that carries all 300+ Kona colors. You heard me. Every. Single. Color. All right there in one little brick-and-mortar shop. (Thank you, Patched Works in Elm Grove!) This all means that Kona is definitely my go-to solids brand.

And so I give you Picnic Plaid! I’ve been loving the speed and ease of strip-piecing lately, and this quilt is ridiculously strip-pieced. Like practically every bit of it. You won’t find a more efficiently-made quilt anywhere, I don’t think. : ) So it comes together quickly.

I used many of my absolute favorite Kona shades in this quilt: Bluegrass, Aloe, Pomegranate, Azalea, Chartreuse, Cactus, Cerise, and White. These are colors that I tend to come back to over and over in my quilting—this quilt is like my own personal library of Kona faves.

Picnic Plaid comes in three sizes: Baby (40″ x 40″), Lap (60″ x 80″), and Twin (80″ x 100″). (Twin size instructions are available in the PDF only—the paper pattern includes only Baby and Lap sizes.) Overall, the piecing is pretty simple, and I think a confident beginner can be very successful with this one. (Shops can purchase my patterns wholesale from Checker, Brewer, or United Notions.)

As always when I release a pattern, I’m offering it on sale for just $4.99 (PDF version only) the first week of release. (The sale is now done.) You can purchase the PDF on sale here, or the paper version of the pattern here. I rarely put my patterns on sale, so take advantage of the sale while it lasts!

Keep following the 30 Quilts for 30 Years blog hop, since more designers will be unveiling more quilts in the days ahead! You can also see all 30 designs in Kaufman’s 30 Quilts for 30 Years Lookbook, viewable right here. Good luck in the giveaway!

Week 1:

Saturday, November 1st: Johanna Masko

Sunday, November 2nd: Alyssa of Aria Lane

Monday, November 3rd: Dorie of Tumblingblocks

Tuesday, November 4th: Megan of Canoe Ridge Creations

Wednesday, November 5th: Daniela of Cozy Quilt Designs

Thursday, November 6th: Faith of Fresh Lemons Quilts

Friday, November 7th: Anita Grossman Solomon

Saturday, November 8th: Debbie of Esch House Quilts

Week 2:

Sunday, November 9th: Alex of Teaginny

Monday, November 10th: Darlene Zimmerman

Tuesday, November 11th: Nichole Ramirez with Aurifil

Wednesday, November 12th: Rita Hodge of Red Pepper Quilts

Thursday, November 13th: Lee of Freshly Pieced

Friday, November 14th: Julie of Jaybird Quilts

Saturday, November 15th: Latifah of Latifah Saafir Studios

Week 3:

Sunday. November 16th: Elizabeth Hartman

Monday, November 17th: Erica of Kitchen Table Quilting

Tuesday, November 18th: Karrie of Freckled Whimsy

Wednesday, November 19th: Valori Wells

Thursday, November 20th: Marilyn of Quilt Moments

Friday, November 21st: Cortney Heimerl

Saturday, November 22nd: Shayla and Kristy of Sassafras Lane Designs

Week 4:

Sunday, November 23rd: Shea of Empty Bobbin Sewing

Monday, November 24th: Carrie Strine

Tuesday, November 25th: Rachel of Stitched in Color

Wednesday, November 26th: Liz of Lady Harvatine

Saturday, November 29th: Carolyn Friedlander

Week 5:

Sunday, November 30th: Elizabeth of Don’t Call Me Betsy

Monday, December 1st: Emily of Carolina Patchworks

Tuesday, December 2nd: Ken Kaufman

Wednesday, December 3rd: Grand Finale!

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Chandelier Quilt

I know lots of you have been looking forward to this, and I sure have too—today’s the day that my Chandelier Quilt-Along starts on the Bernina website!
I really love this quilt and am so happy with how it turned out. And I promise it’s easier than it looks. : ) It uses the Emmy Grace fabric line by Bari J. This quilt has a lot of half-square triangles and the square-in-square piecing technique, but I’ve got a few tips to make that easier. And all the instructions are completely free on the Bernina blog!
Here’s the schedule:
Oct. 20 Making the blocks
I’ve also got a really fun and easy technique for getting the scallop quilting I used on this quilt—no free-motion required! So follow along over on We All Sew, and have a wonderful Monday!