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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.


Wonky Bow Tie Block Tutorial

Bow Tie Required - a free pattern!
Now that you’ve seen my Bow Tie Required quilt (made with the Business and Leisure fabric line by Allison Beilke for Modern Yardage), I thought I would share a tutorial for making the Wonky Bow Tie blocks featured in the quilt.
Wonky Bow Tie Block

These blocks are so easy and fun—no, they really are! I guarantee even a total newbie can knock these out and make them look great. I’m thinking a block like this would be cute centered on pillows, as a table runner—you name it.

And of course, the full Bow Tie Required quilt pattern is free and can be downloaded right here on Craftsy. So once you’ve whipped up a few of these, head over there to get a full pattern for finishing your blocks. (The pattern does include all instructions and photos shown below.)
Wonky Bow Tie Block

Stack a 6” x 10-1/2” piece of Business and Leisure’s Suncoast print on top
of a 6” x 10-1/2” piece of white solid, edges aligned.

Wonky Bow Tie Block

Cut both pieces diagonally, from corner to corner. This
should not be an exact cut, but slightly uneven and off from the corners, as

Wonky Bow Tie Block

3. Pair the Suncoast print pieces with the opposing side’s
white solid pieces, as shown.

Wonky Bow Tie Block

4. Place a white solid piece on top of its matching Suncoast
print piece, right sides facing. Stitch down the angled edge with a 1/4” seam. (Notice that the white piece is slightly offset from the Suncoast print piece. This is necessary to get the raw edges to align, but since you’ll be trimming the blocks down in a later step, it’s not the end of the world if your pieces don’t quite line up.)

Wonky Bow Tie Block

5. Press seams open. Repeat with the other pair of pieces. You
will now have two pieces that look like this.

Wonky Bow Tie Block

6. Stack these two pieced units together, with Suncoast
print stacked on top of white solid on one side, white solid stacked on top of Suncoast
print on the other side, as shown.

Wonky Bow Tie Block

7. Cut both units diagonally, from corner to corner, with an
uneven and “wonky” cut as you did in Step 2, but this time cut in the opposite

Wonky Bow Tie Block

8. Find the two pieces that look like this. (The
other two pieces can be discarded, saved for another project, or used on the
back. I used mine on the back of the quilt, as you can see in this blog post.)

9. Align the two pieces along the angled edge, right sides
facing, making sure the opposite angled seams intersect 1/4” from the raw
angled edges. Sew with a 1/4” seam along the raw angled edge to complete a
Bow-Tie Unit. Press open.
10. Trim the Bow-Tie Unit so that it measures 5” x 9-1/2”.
Wonky Bow Tie Block

11. Join two Bow-Tie Units together as shown to make a Double
Bow-Tie block. The block should measure 9-1/2” x 9-1/2.”

That’s it! Enjoy the block.

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Bow Tie Required Quilt

Bow Tie Required - a free pattern!

My Bow Tie Required quilt is complete! This was such a fun collaboration with my fellow Milwaukeean, fabric designer Allison Beilke. And now you all can enjoy the fruits of that collaboration with my new free pattern!

Yep, a complete pattern to make this quilt is now available on Craftsy, free of charge. Click here to download the pattern. It’s a fun and very beginner-friendly pattern! And to bring mid-century modern cool to your pad, click here to check out Allison’s fabric line, Business and Leisure, available in four colorways and multiple scales from Modern Yardage.

Bow Tie Required - a free pattern!

If you’ve been hanging around this corner of the blogosphere for any length of time, you know I’m not much of an improv girl. Wonkiness doesn’t come easily or naturally for me. But when Allison asked me to design a pattern for her Business and Leisure line, I took one look and just knew some wonkiness had to be involved somehow. I mean, it would have been borderline tragic to create a pattern for this line that had all straight lines and right angles.

So I took a deep breath and jumped in with both feet. But of course I didn’t want to go too crazy-improvvy on this thing, since that is definitely not my thing. In the end, I think I came up with a good compromise. This design is wonky and improvisational, but within a definite structure, which I love.

Bow Tie Required - a free pattern!

The bow tie blocks were inspired by Allison’s amazing Mad-Men-esque prints. And you guys, these blocks are genuinely fun to piece, even for a wonky-phobe like myself. In fact, they’re kind of addicting. The pattern includes complete instructions for making the bow-tie blocks, of course, and you can also come back on Thursday when I’ll be posting a full Bow-Tie Block tutorial right here.

I complimented the bow-tie blocks with some wonky squares and wonky frame blocks. They’re made in a bit of an odd way in order to give them that floating appearance without too many seams, but again, it’s all 100% beginner-friendly.

Bow Tie Required - a free pattern!
For the quilting, you might remember that I was attempting something new: Boxy, straight-line free-motion quilting. Wow, I found this quilting style very difficult to pull off. It’s challenging to get sharp corners with a free-motion-quilting foot—you have to pause for just a beat or two, or you won’t get a corner at all, and pausing is not something you normally want to do during FMQ! It’s usually all smooth and flowy, while this style was all herky-jerky and kind of robotic. Then there was the matter of keeping the lines from curving, another difficult task. Last but not least, I was trying to keep the lines either perfectly vertical or horizontal—no angled lines allowed. Yeah, right! That last part proved to be the hardest to master. By the time I quilted this entire quilt, I had the sharp corners down pat, and my lines weren’t curving anymore—but they sure weren’t straight 90-degree angles either. LOL. Oh well—again, I think the wonkiness suits the quilt, so I’m calling this quilting style a success and moving on.

Bow Tie Required - the back

You’ll have some pieced scraps leftover from making the bow tie blocks, so I incorporated those as one long strip of wonky diamonds on the quilt back. This pattern gives you such an easy way to make a pieced back, since you have those scraps ready to go, whether you use them in this project or not!

Bow Tie Required - the binding

The final touch was the binding—the Limbo print might become one of my favorite binding prints ever! It’s perfection. I cut this binding on the straight-grain, but Limbo would be a great bias-binding print as well, since the stripes would end up angled. So many fun possibilities!

I want to thank Allison for giving me the chance to work with this fabulous line, and hope you all will check out her work, as she is an incredibly talented designer. She’s got plenty of other collections available at Modern Yardage as well, including her gorgeous new “Autumn Harvest” line. And when you’re done with that, head over to Craftsy to download Bow Tie Required!


WIP Wednesday: Home Stretch

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced
Welcome to my second-to-last WIP Wednesday of summer vacation! Not that I’m counting the days or anything. Nope, not at all.


This week I made a test block for a quilt that’s destined for my little niece’s bed. My sister picked out the design by looking at my Pinterest boards, and after much discussion we settled on “Craving a Little Sunshine,” a quilt by Deux Petites Souris that appeared in Modern Quilts Unlimited. Except we’re doing it in green instead of yellow, with pops of cute, girly prints.

And here are the aforementioned girly prints. Specially selected to match Miss Mia’s purple bedroom. : )


And I’m still making good progress on my retro Modern Yardage quilt. It’s gonna be slammin’.

What are you working on this week? Here are the linky rules:
1. Link up any post from the past week that features at least one unfinished work-in-progress (WIP).
2. Somewhere in your post, you must link back here to my blog. (Or grab the WIP Wednesday button for your sidebar.)
3. Comment on at least a few of the other WIP Wednesday links—commenting on the two or three links directly before yours works well to make sure everyone gets comments!



Improv Piecing Class with Malka

I was lucky enough to spend all day Thursday learning improvisational piecing from the queen of improv, Malka Dubrawsky. If you don’t already read Malka’s blog, A Stitch In Dye, check it out, because it is inspiring. She’s also written two books, both of which I love—Fresh Quilting: Fearless Color, Design, and Inspiration, and Color Your Cloth: A Quilter’s Guide to Dyeing and Patterning Fabric. Malka’s work is so unique, and it’s always immediately recognizable as hers—I love that. I wish I had that kind of voice!

Also attending the class was the lovely Faith from Fresh Lemons Quilts. We just finished hosting the Summer Sampler Series quilt-along together, so it was a lot of fun to meet her in person. We had a great time making our blocks together and talking quilting. We’ll get to hang out again in Salt Lake City at the Sewing Summit in a little over a month—I can’t wait to see her and meet all my other blogging friends! (Sorry about the awful photo, Faith. The camera on my phone is terrible.)

When it comes to wonky, I have issues. It seems I either don’t wonk enough, or I wonk too much. As I told Faith during the class, I love wonky on everybody else’s quilts, but on my own, it just never seems to be quite right. But I started feeling a lot more confident about it after a solid 7-hour day of Malka’s style of improv piecing. (Seven straight hours of sewing? That never happens at my house! Such a luxury!)

And let me tell you, when Malka says “improvisational,” she means it! She was very insistent that we not even use our rulers. That was, um, challenging for me. I am so not used to using a rotary cutter without a ruler to guide me! Faith and I were both convinced we were going to chop off our own thumbs before the day was out. But by the time we were done, I was a lot more comfortable with the process. It was a great exercise in loosening up my creativity. And, as improvisational as Malka’s style is, she does still have some rules guiding the design process. There are always one of two elements in her quilts that keep them from becoming chaotic. It was nice to have that framework to work within.

Some of you may have seen this on Faith’s blog as well—here are our two quilts. Faith’s blocks are on the left and mine are on the right. Think we have similar taste in fabric? LOL.

And here’s the table Faith and I shared. I think we brought enough fabric to make a king-size quilt each. : ) And you can’t even see the giant pile on the floor!

We also got a sneak peak of Malka’s fabulous new fabric line, which will be available from Moda in January 2012. The line is based on her colorful hand-dyed fabric creations. It is amazing in person—between the pictures taken on my phone and the hotel’s flourescent lighting, these pictures aren’t doing it justice at all. This fabric is definitely a must-have.

I really enjoyed my class with Malka. I was only able to finish 7 of my 9 blocks during class, but I’m hoping to finish them off soon and make a mini quilt that I can hang on the wall in my sewing room. Thank you, Malka, Faith, and everyone else in the class, for a wonderful day!