Category Archives: Crafts

Flying Rainbow Pillow

*Click on any photo in this post to enjoy a larger view

Are you getting sick of seeing pillows? I hope not, because there are a few months left in the year and I am still Pillow Popping with my group over on Threadbias!

The “challenging” pillow for September is Flying Rainbow – a scrap friendly project that uses lots of white and clean quilting lines.

PillowPop.FlyingRainbow.Front0001I used lots of my Bonnie and Camille scraps – mostly from their collection Scrumptious – and decided not to worry that I would not have a yellow and purple goose…instead I substitute with pink and gray and am very happy with how it turned out!

PillowPop.FlyingRainbow.Side0001I quilted this per the recommendation in the book which echoes the geese and then has varying width straight lines moving horizontally across the pillow giving the illusion of the geese flying.

The back is pieced (I found a nice big piece of some Happy Go Lucky fabric for the bottom) and sports a hidden zipper.

PillowPop.FlyingRainbow.Back0001This pillow fits on an 18″ insert and makes a nice match with the Don’t Be Square pillow I made earlier this year.

PillowPop.FlyingRainbowWithSquaresPillow0001I could see a whole bunch of these scrap happy pillows with their cloud of white on a bed, couldn’t you?

Stitching for Charity

There are many reasons I quilt, but one of them is to bring joy to others. I’ve made a lot of quilts over the last five years, and I’ve given away many of them: to friends, to family, and to charity.

My first charity quilt went to Quilts for Kids in June of 2010. That same year, I made a special quilt for Green Fairy Quilts which was delivered to a child in Romania. I’ve also donated a bag to an organization in Oregon to help kids in foster care.

But three items in five years doesn’t seem like a lot. So lately I’ve been thinking about making charity quilts more routinely. I’ve joined a group on Threadbias and have been working on a charity quilt which is slated to be finished this fall:


I’ve also joined a group on Flickr (do. Good Stitches) which makes quilts for children in need. I am part of the Cheer Circle (we donate our quilts to Project Linus) and have volunteered as a “stitcher” … which means I’ll be making two blocks a month to contribute to a quilt.

This was my first month with them and here are the two blocks I made per the request of the “quilter” for August (one “warm” block and one “cool” block which are made with half-square triangles):


DoGoodStitches.August2014.CoolBlock0001Quilting is an art that can bring happiness and peace to others. There is nothing quite like wrapping oneself in a quilt made especially for you.  Which is why donating quilts to charity is important to me.

Stay tuned for more posts in the future about charity quilting!

A Scrappy Swell Quilt

*Click on any photo in this post to enjoy a larger view

Swell.onswing020001I’ve been busy finishing up some quilts lately. I don’t know why I waited so long to get this low volume scrappy quilt bound and quilted because I really love it.

The Swell pattern is from Camille Roskelley’s latest book: Simply Retro…and it is a super easy quilt to make. It is Jelly Roll friendly and (obviously) scrap friendly.

Swell.Pattern0001I had a Jelly Roll that I created by cutting 2.5″ strips WOF from left over scraps. When I do this, I try to color coordinate the roll as best I can (so I have a couple other self-made Jelly Rolls that have different color schemes).  I decided to use this scrap happy roll of fabrics to make the Swell quilt.

The quilt finished at 58″ X 70″ – an oversized lap quilt.

Swell.Draped010001I used fabric that I snagged for $2 a yard for the border and backing – amazing! And even pieced left over batting to sandwich the quilt.

Swell.BackReveal0001The quilting is free-motion loopy curves:

Swell.QuiltingDetail010001I made a small label just so I would remember when I made this one:

Swell.Label0001I really love the softness of this sweet quilt – and it is perfect for summer.


A Round Robin Quilt with Friends

*Click on any photo in this post to enjoy a larger view RoundRobinMedallion.front0001Way back in May of 2013, a group of quilts began their journey. They started with one block – a center block designed by the quilter who would claim that quilt as their own when the journey was completed. They carried with them a journal – a place for contemplation and explanation and expressions of friendship. No one really knew what they would look like after a year of travel…so it was a leap of faith to send them out into the world.

The quilt at the top of this post is my quilt. It started with that colorful center that I created…and passed through the hands of seven other quilters, each one adding a border of their choosing. In June of this year the pieced top arrived back in California – and I was in love!

RoundRobinMedallion.drapedonswing010001Round Robin quilts are not a new idea (there is a rich history of women working together collaboratively to make quilts), but they have evolved with the onset of the Internet and social media. No longer does one have to be constrained by geography. I met the group of women involved in this Round Robin through a site called Threadbias. But there are other on line avenues to meet up with like-minded people, including Flickr, Facebook and blogs.

Our group allowed for a generous 6 week turnaround from when we received a new quilt top to when we had to send it on to the next person. I was really happy to have that extra time as we followed no set patterns when constructing our “rounds” and sometimes I needed more time to come up with a plan.

A couple of weeks ago, I quilted and bound my quilt which measures approximately 76″ X 76″ – a good size for a double bed.

I backed the quilt with some Bella solid turquoise, and a large piece of my favorite fabric from the Happy Go Lucky Collection by Bonnie and Camille for Moda:

RoundRobinMedallion.backreveal010001I did a meandering stipple quilt pattern and then crafted a special label with everyone’s name and state on it:

RoundRobinMedallion.label010001I really love this quilt – not only because it is whimsical and beautiful and warm … but because it reminds me of the friendships I forged over the last year and the dedication of a group of quilters who overcame challenges to create an amazing bunch of quilts.

Many thanks to my friend Mary from Maine who allowed me to use her photo collage of all of the finished quilt tops together (you might notice that there are only six quilts represented here…over the course of a year we had a couple of changes in our group – some people dropped out for a variety of reasons – so these are the quilts that made it through the entire year and got completed):

RoundRobinCollageAren’t they gorgeous?

And just a couple more photos of my treasured quilt:


RoundRobinMedallion.quiltingdetail0001One of my favorites to date!

Pillow Pop Round-Up: July

BlogButtonThe Pillow Pop group is a really fun sew along over on Threadbias. We’re making pillows from the fabulous book Pillow Pop all year long.

To learn more about the group, visit this post.

We’d love to have you join us. If you’re not already a member at Threadbias, why not join – it is free, and it is a great community of sewists.

We chose Crystalized (easy) and Union Jack (challenging) as the pillows for July…and here are the wonderful finishes with links back to each sewist’s project page. I hope you will click through to see the entire projects as the backs and quilting on each pillow are also fabulous.

Crystalized:  A scrap friendly project that uses value to create a sense of vibrancy and movement.


Michelle chose some gorgeous fabrics from Denyse Schmidt’s Chicopee collection to create a pillow with plenty of movement.


Carol’s pillow evokes sunshine and happiness with her use of orange, yellow pink and low volume grays.


Marsha decided on a patriotic color scheme for her July pillow.


Valerie’s pillow evokes summertime with its pretty nautical theme

Union Jack: Muted tones and a smart design gives an intelligent feel for your favorite “hipster.”


I made the Union Jack pillow, using soft tones and gray to give this one a more sedate feel.

More Pillows…

*Click on any photo in this post to enjoy a larger view

I think I am going to have to christen 2014 as the year of the pillow!

I’ve been stitching along in the Pillow Pop group over at Threadbias and enjoying it immensely. I’ve also decided that a pillow is the exact perfect thing to use up scraps (of which I have more than enough, thank you very much).

I am also in a bee group where members take turns being the Queen Bee and the other members sew them a block of their choosing. In June, my sister (Paula) was Queen and she chose a terrific flying goose block (I’ve posted a tutorial on how to make the block here). Well, that block generates some good size scraps and I could not resist making Paula a coordinating pillow to go with her future quilt.


This pillow uses fabrics from the 2wenty thr3e Collection by Eric and Julie Comstock of Cosmo Cricket for Moda, along with some coordinating fabrics from my stash and some low volume grays.

Three23Pillow.Side0001 Three23Pillow.FrontOnSwing0001

I pieced the back and put in a hidden zipper.


This was a super fun and easy pillow to make simply using some half square triangle blocks. The pillow measures 18″ X 18″ square.

One of the July pillows for the Pillow Pop group is called Union Jack. This pillow utilizes very, very small pieces to create miniature Union Jack flags. There are 15 pieces in each 3″ X 5″ union jack block!


The nice thing about this pillow is it uses very tiny scraps of fabric to make the flag blocks so you do not have to go out and buy a bunch of fabric. I chose some minty greens, yellows and pinks, along with some low volume grays to give this pillow a more subtle style.

PillowPop.UnionJack.Side010001 PillowPop.UnionJack.CloseUp0001

Again, I chose to piece the back and put in a hidden zipper. This pillow measures 20″ X 20″ square.


Making pillows is definitely addicting! Have you tried one yet?

Pillow Pop Round-Up: June

BlogButtonThe Pillow Pop group is a really fun sew along over on Threadbias. We’re making pillows from the fabulous book Pillow Pop all year long.

To learn more about the group, visit this post.

We’d love to have you join us. If you’re not already a member at Threadbias, why not join – it is free, and it is a great community of sewists.

We chose Photogenic (easy) and Sunburst (challenging) as the pillows for June…and here are the wonderful finishes with links back to each sewist’s project page. I hope you will click through to see the entire projects as the backs and quilting on each pillow are also fabulous.

Photogenic: A pillow which showcases a special fabric or embroidered design – the corner triangles evoke the feel of a photograph.


A palette of navy and peach softens this lovely pillow by Karen.


Marsha made a pair of coordinating pillows that are bold and beautiful.


I chose some vintage Heather Bailey fabric with large scale prints to make a summery pillow.


Cathie’s pillow highlights some amazing Aboriginal fabric that will really brighten up a room.

Sunburst: The traditional Dresden Plate design of this pillow can become contemporary or old-fashioned depending on the fabrics chosen.


Mary’s pillow has loads of “pop” with black and white fabrics and a punch of turquoise.


Margaret used darker hues to create her “moonburst” pillow.


Karen put an entirely different spin on her pillow by using Dresden Fans to make her pillow shine.


Carol’s Sunburst Pillow includes a sweet embroidered message.


Sue’s pillow has a vintage feel with a scrappy selection of 1930′s reproduction prints.

I hope you’ll think about joining us for July!


Pillow Pop Round-Up: May

BlogButtonThe Pillow Pop group is a really fun sew along over on Threadbias. We’re making pillows from the fabulous book Pillow Pop all year long.

To learn more about the group, visit this post.

We’d love to have you join us. If you’re not already a member at Threadbias, why not join – it’s free, and it is a great community of sewists.

We chose Don’t Be Square (easy) and Fresh Bloom (challenging) as the pillows for May…and here are the wonderful finishes with links back to each sewist’s project page. I hope you will click through to see the entire projects as the backs and quilting on each pillow are also fabulous.

Don’t Be Square: A crisp, solid background allows small pops of color to shine.

DontBeSquare.Terry DontBeSquare.Margaret

Both Terry and Margaret used cream backgrounds, but Terry chose an array of grays and yellows, while Margaret introduced blues and taupes to make their squares pop.


Belinda’s pillow became a high school graduation gift with the school’s mascot appliqued in the center.


Marsha had some fun with all that negative space and did some intricate quilting to make her pillow shine.


I couldn’t resist using some Scrumptious fabric by Bonni and Camille, and then tried out a new type of quilting to fill the negative space.

 Fresh Bloom: Raw edge applique and a variety of scraps give this pillow a one-of-a-kind signature.


Carol’s selection of raspberry and pink with some hints of green, gives definition and beauty to this pillow.


Mary also chose a pink palette, but then added some half moons and smaller circles to give her pillow a one-of-a-kind appeal.


Cathie selected a medium gray background and then added in shades of gold to create her blossom.


I selected golds, oranges and dark grays against an ash background to create a bloom of color.

I hope you will visit each pillow’s dedicated project page to learn more about the quilters’ choices and see the lovely backs on each pillow.

Dresden Baby Quilt with Prairie Points

AltheasQuilt.Front.010001*Click on any photo in this post to enjoy a larger view.

My husband’s cousin and her husband just had their first child (a girl) in mid-May. Lena, the baby’s mom, is a bit traditional, but she is also in her early 20s so I wanted to give her a traditional baby quilt with a modern “pop.” The baby’s room is green and yellow, so those colors became my inspiration for the color palette for this quilt.

I thought a Dredsen quilt was the perfect choice and found some really sweet fabrics in my stash – flowers and dots in green, yellow, blue, and red. I chose a red with white dot fabric from the Delilah collection by Tanya Whelan  for Free Spirit (also in my stash) for the centers of the Dresdens and for the cornerstones.

AltheasQuilt.Front.Detail0001The solids in this quilt are from Cotton Couture: Candlelight (yellow) and Bright White. The green border is a print from True Colors by Heather Bailey.

I used Fig Tree’s easy piecing method for Dresden Plate blocks (which comes from their Little Lollies pattern which you can find here). This is a super simple way to make this block. I straight-line, top stitched the dresdens and centers to the background fabric about an 1/8th” from the edges.

AltheasQuilt.OnRail0001I decided I really wanted to make Prairie Points for this quilt – something I have never done! And it seemed destined I do so when I saw that the Fat Quarter Shop’s notion of the month was the Quick Point Rulers. I chose the 2″ X 4″ ruler for my quilt…and watched the video on how to use the ruler before cutting. I am here to tell you, this is THE simplest way to make Prairie Points…accurate, fast, and easy. I decided on two fabrics – both from the Delilah Collection by Tanya Whelan: the red with white dot and the white with red dot.

AltheasQuilt.BackReveal0001 AltheasQuilt.PrairiePoints0001

Here is what the Prairie Point strips look like before being added to the quilt:

AltheasQuilt.PrairiePointsBefore applying0001The back is a soft yellow Minky dimple dot – just like butter and perfect for a baby!


I quilted this one very simply with echo quilting and straight lines, which is best seen from the back.


The quilt measures 44″ X 44″


I was very, very happy to be able to gift this on in person during our trip across the country…


Are you ready for cute baby photos??!?

AltheasQuilt.DeliveredwithMe010001 AltheasQuilt.DeliveredwithMe020001



Flying Geese Block Tutorial

**Click on any photo to enjoy a larger view

This tutorial is for a scrappy flying geese block which measures 16.5″ X 16.5″ unfinished. This block uses 8 flying geese units laid out in a 2 X 4 block placement. This is one possible layout option (all geese pointing in the same direction):

DSC_0366For this tutorial, the background of each Goose Unit will utilize a variety of solid gray OR low volume prints that use gray. The centers of the geese will be fabrics which coordinate with the 2wenty Thr3e collection by Julie and Eric Comstock of Cosmo Cricket for Moda.

There are many ways to make the Flying Geese units. I used two different techniques – one the “traditional” stitch and flip method; the other a quick technique which yields 4 flying geese units with the same center fabric. I was able to get a nice scrappy block using the combination of techniques, but found that it was easier to get an accurate block with the stitch and flip method. Below you will find the instructions for BOTH methods. Each flying geese unit will measure 4.5″ X 8.5″ so that when sewn together, the completed block will be 16.5″ X 16.5″.

Quick Technique to Yield FOUR Flying Geese Units

  • Cut (1) square of fabric which measures 9.25″ X 9.25″ – this will be the center of each unit, or the “geese”
  • Cut (4) 4-7/8″ X 4-7/8″ squares of your background fabric – you should choose four DIFFERENT fabrics to yield a scrappy unit

Cutting.4blocks1Draw a diagonal line on the wrong side of each 4-7/8″ square (the background fabric):

DrawLine.4blocks1Lay two of these background squares on the 9.25″ square of colored fabric (RST) in opposite corners as shown below. Note, the background fabric squares will overlap slightly in the middle. Your drawn lines should line up so that you have one long drawn line from corner to corner.

Sewing.4block01Sew a SCANT 1/4″ on either side of the long drawn line:


After sewing on either side of the drawn line, carefully cut along the drawn line, separating your work into two identical pieces:

SeparateBlocks.4block SeparatingBlocks.4block02

Press open towards the triangles. I use light spray starch to press on the sew line FIRST, and then carefully pressed the seam towards the triangles. After pressing, your block should look like this:

DSC_0347You will have TWO pieces which look like the photo above. Lay one unit aside and use the other unit to do the following:

STEP ONE: Place another background 4-7/8″ square RST on the last remaining corner of your colored fabric (in the photo above, it is that nice big space below the triangles). Line up the edges along the bottom – you will have some overlaps between the triangles and your drawn diagonal line should go from the corner of your colored fabric up through the middle of the triangles as shown below:

DSC_0348STEP TWO: Once again, you will stitch a SCANT 1/4″ on either side of the drawn line:

DSC_0350STEP THREE: After  sewing on either side of the drawn line, carefully cut along the drawn line, separating your work into two geese units:


STEP FOUR: Press your block open by pressing toward the triangle. Your finished units should measure 4.5″ X 8.5″. There should be a 1/4″ from the tip of each goose to the edge of the fabric (which is your seam allowance):

DSC_0354Take the second piece which you laid aside and repeat steps ONE through FOUR to create your final two geese units.

You should now have FOUR completed geese units which have the same fabric in the centers and a mix of background fabrics. You will need to make FOUR more geese units to complete the final block. To make your block scrappier, it is recommended that you use the stitch and flip method to make these final four units.

Stitch and Flip Method of Making Flying Geese Units

The following instructions will yield ONE flying goose unit. To make four units, you will need to repeat the instructions four times using different fabrics to yield scrappy blocks.

  • Cut out (1) rectangle of colored fabric measuring 4.5″ X 8.5″ (this will make the goose part of the block – or the central fabric)
  • Cut out (2) 4.5″ X 4.5″ squares of background fabric – for a scrappier look, choose two different fabrics

Draw a diagonal line on the wrong side of each 4.5″ square (the background fabric):

DrawLine.4blocks1Lay one background square on one side of the 4.5″ X 8.5″ rectangle (RST) making sure your drawn line goes from one corner of the rectangle to the center of the rectangle.


Stitch along the drawn line (**HELPFUL HINT: to improve accuracy, stitch just a smidge along the OUTSIDE of the drawn line – ie: in the photo above to the RIGHT of the drawn line – this will give you a little extra fabric for when you do the flip part of the block and you can always trim off excess fabric if needed). IF you have prepared all four units for sewing, you can speed things up by chain piecing – which is what I am doing in the photo below.


Give your fabric a shot of spray starch and press, then flip the lower part of the square over and press toward the corner. Once pressed, you can then re-open the fabric and carefully trim back the excess fabric 1/4″ away from the sew line and then flip the fabric back over. You will have completed one half of the goose unit at this point.

Next place the second 4.5″ square of background fabric (RST) on the opposite corner of the 4.5″ X 8.5″ rectangle (in the photo below you can see the flipped side laying flat):

DSC_0360Again, stitch along the drawn line or just to the outside of it, and again (as above) press with spray starch, flip the bottom up, press, then flip back and trim away the excess. Your unit is now finished.


Putting Together Your Units to Make the Final Block

You will need EIGHT (8) completed flying geese units. Although I used two techniques in making mine, you could easily create all 8 scrappy units individually by using the stitch and flip method.

Lay out your units in two vertical rows, being careful to mix things up a bit. All the points of your geese units should be pointing in the same direction. Once you have a nice layout, stitch together each vertical row, laying one unit on the next, RST, so that the point of one unit is lined up with the flat side of the unit above it.

*HELPFUL HINT: If you have pieced your units correctly, you should have a 1/4″ seam allowance at each point. To be sure not to lose your point, place the two units you are going to sew together (RST) with the point side ON TOP. As you stitch across the point, you will see that the seams have made an “X”. You will want to stitch just a smidge to the outside of the “X” (on the side of the seam) or through its middle, but NOT to the left of the “X” (click on the photo below to see this detail):


PRESS YOUR SEAMS OPEN between each unit.

Here is how your vertical units will look once joined:

DSC_0361Once all the units are joined vertically, you will need to decide if you are going to join these vertical rows so that all the geese point in one direction:

DSC_0364Or if one row will point up and the other will point down:


Once you have decided on the layout, stitch the vertical units together, lining up the seams. Once sewn together, press your vertical seam OPEN (this will make it easier when joining blocks to make the finished quilt).

That’s it! Now make a bunch of these blocks and piece them together to make an amazing quilt!!!