Yes! It’s time to get started. As I was super late delivering the Santa Smiles Tree Skirt pattern last year, I thought I’d throw this out to you well before the holidays.
Available in Print Today: Santa Smiles!
I’ve finally got the print version of the pattern instructions ready for industrious Christmas elves! Yeah!
You’ll be delighted to know that the instructions come with a full set of the paper-piecing patterns: 3 Santas + 3 trees! FYI: I’ve priced Santa Smiles to include shipping to the U.S., to Canada, and to international quilters wherever you may be.
Click the image below or visit our Pattern Library to learn more.
Last Christmas, I had an opportunity to teach Santa Smiles at my local quilt shop, Wooden Gate Quilts in Danville, California. It’s always a treat to see how quilters take on one of my patterns and how they express their aesthetic through their fabric choices. Imagine my surprise when an intrepid novice quilt maker flashed an array of charcoals, silvery tones, icy blues, and whites.
Wow! Why didn’t I think of that? I was seriously intrigued by Marnie Durbin’s choices and by Marnie herself. She’d only made one enormous quilt, a minimalist design that she machine pieced and quilted on a smallish sewing machine, before tackling the tree skirt. I tell ya, I was awed by her derring-do, and seriously impressed by her speed, tenacity, and workmanship.
Then, when you put all the silvery blue and gray blocks together, you get a rather fabulous and daring tree skirt.
Can you believe it’s only the second quilted project Marnie’s sewn and machine quilted?Yowza!
I’m throwing in my version below so you can see that Santa Smiles tree skirt can be interpreted in classic and novel ways.
Giveaway Results Here
Definitely, keep Kleenex handy when you read the comments from my Tuesday post. You are all generous, loving, wonderful quilters and I sniffled my way through all your stories. Do you suppose we could create a peaceful world if we gave handmade quilts to everyone? “Here ya go, wrap up in this beautiful quilt and take it down a notch or three!”
Congratulations to Annette R., Diane Linker, and Sheila at License to Quilt, the winners of the Heart Strings pattern.
Not so long ago I spearheaded a group project for a member of my quilting/dining group–she’d lost her mother and we wanted to give her a quilted hug. It was such a beautiful shared experience that I wrote about it for the February 2012 issue of The Quilt Life and called the quilt Heart Strings.
♥ The Other Faces of Heart Strings ♥
Some time after that, our original SHWS quartet of Christie, Darra, Laura, and I made another version of Heart Strings for our very dear tech-savvy blog helper Michelle. She had had to say good-bye to her mother after a lengthy illness and we wanted to gather her up in a big group hug. It’s difficult to discern from a distance, but Heart Strings #2 is embellished with a stitched tree and flitting hummingbirds, the deft handiwork of long-arm quilter Marla Monson.
Then, just this year, as I was reading the June 2014 issue of The Quilt Life, I found a Letter to the Editor from a reader named Carol Findling who wrote about making a version of Heart Strings with her group for a friend who needed support after losing a daughter. They finished their version in three weeks to surprise her: Heart Strings #3.
Is there more? Of course. My buddy Cyndy Rymer and I share more than a love of quilting, we also share a gynecologist: a rare and wonderful physician who dropped the obstetrics end of the business to focus on women of a certain age. I don’t know how many locals she’s pulled from the brink of hormonal madness and other malevolent afflictions, but the numbers are legion and our admiration for her is profound and enduring.
Well, the sad news is that sometimes even healers need healing. She’s closing her practice to undergo intense cancer treatment. Cyndy and I cannot sever our connection to her without expressing our love and heartfelt wishes for her recovery. What else can we do but make her a quilt imbued with positive, healing thoughts?
Before I stow my damp and crumpled Kleenex and finish today’s theme, I’d like to share one more thought about heartfelt quilts. Sure we make many celebration quilts, but we also make them for poignant reasons. As I tackled this post I was finally able to verbalize the reason I take on these quilts: I want that someone to know that he or she matters! How simple is that?
A Variation on the ♥Heart Strings♥ Theme
1. Cyndy and I worked on the original Heart Strings and we knew it would work for us, but, to change up things, we went neutral. And, wouldn’t you know, Cyndy just happened to have a stash of unfinished neutral blocks in her UFO pile. We were halfway there without even trying!
2. Rather than a string of hearts, we opted for roses for the finishing detail. I turned to one of my own designs, Radically Ruched Roses. This time I went for a fused spiral rose rather than ruching bias strips to make the spirals–ruching isn’t fodder for a quickie quilt! After my recent Quilt-Along fusing frenzy it was an easy decision. Head’s up: Radically Ruched Roses is available as free a downloadable pattern in our Pattern Library!
3. The leaves and stems also derive from Radically Ruched Roses–turns out I, too, had leftovers to donate to our cause. I pinned the strips in gentle waves and, before gluing them in place, I auditioned a layout of blossoms and leaves.
4. Did you notice that the top was layered and quilted before we added the flowers and greenery? Cyndy loaded the quilt onto her long-arm machine and chose a simple floral motif for background quilting.
5. Back to the stem strips: Glue-Baste-It! Laura recommended the product and it’s a dream for securing the applique pieces before finishing with stitches. I finished the edges with decorative stitches along the outer edges of the stems to give them a slightly thorny look. Then, Cyndy reloaded the quilt on the long-arm and stitched the leaves and roses to the top. The jury is out on whether or not that was a good idea–it wasn’t as much fun as she’d hoped. FYI: The roses are dimensional appliqué (with an additional thin layer of batting on the back) and the spirals are top stitched.
6. I’ve got the label affixed, stray threads trimmed, and so I think we’re ready to send out our healing quilt.
I happen to have full-color reprints of the Heart Strings article and pattern from The Quilt Life and I’d be happy to share 3 copies with our readers. Leave me a comment by Thursday, July 24 and I will name the winners in my Friday post. Here’s your prompt: Have you made a heartfelt quilt? Do tune in on Friday for a special edition cuz a seasonal fave will be flying in!
We are halfway done with round 2 of our Quilt-Along, Blackbirds & Blossoms Oh-La-La! I hope you are having as much fun as we are with this project. In case you haven’t realized it yet, this quilt was designed to help embrace your own style and creativity. Use us as your starting point, then let your own ideas lead the way!
Haven’t started yet? It’s not too late! All the instructions are listed in the Patterns Page Come on, join in the fun!
Side Panels 2(A) and 2(B) give you even more opportunity for you to “play”. Your fabric choices will help determine the flow of your final layout. If there are dark or busy fabrics, balance them by calmer or lighter fabrics as their neighbors. If they are too busy, try layering to add or remove interest. Remember, variety, variety, variety!
Panels 2(A) and 2(B) are designed with a bit more layers and blossoms. All supply lists, cutting instructions and how-to’s, can be found on the Side Panel Info Sheet and the panel 2(A) and 2(B) appliqué sheets. Let’s get started!
If you would like a few tips on raw edge appliqué, hop over to my website to read my rants on how I worked through my fear of this technique: Confessions of a Veteran Quilter.
Still not wanting to commit to the whole project? On Friday, I will be showing you a weekend project that I have been working on that uses all of the techniques in a simple wool appliqué project. It is so fun!!!!!
See you Friday!
There’s nothing like a deadline to stimulate my brain cells. Last week I had to devise a birthday gift for a dear friend and, lucky for me, I had both time at my disposal (a couple hours for a few consecutive mornings while a contractor worked at my home) and I had a handy box of scraps from our Blackbirds & Blossoms Oh-La-La Quilt-Along.
Since my birthday buddy quite liked the wreath I made for the center block of the Quilt-Along, I decided to design a scaled-down version and work out some of the construction ideas that I rushed through the first time around. Now I’m not going to supply detailed instructions here, I riffed on the process and I think you’ll be able to as well. (Click here for the instructions for the original wreath block.) I started with a square of linen about 12 x 12 inches. The wreath base is 8 inches in diameter and about 2 inches wide.
Then I removed the blossoms and worked on the layout of the greenery. (I didn’t change the leaf sizes or the stem widths from the original instructions.) Once I decided on the layout, I fused the greenery and added stitched details with variegated green thread.
No worries there, turns out the perfect answer was sitting in my stash: an Echino bird print from designer Etsuko Furuya. I added decorative stitches once all the remaining pieces were fused into place.
Now I wanted this little quilt to look like a piece of wall art–a drawing surrounded by a white matte– so I had to build the quilt sandwich very carefully to retain the flatness of each layer. I adapted some of Darra’s techniques from her clever postcard quilts.
I sewed 3-inch white linen border strips to the wreath block (side to side, then top and bottom); stay stitched raw edges; trimmed and rolled up all stray threads; and then fused the bordered block to a relatively stiff interfacing.Then I fused the backing fabric to wool batting and fused that layer to the interfaced layer. I finished the quilt with the faced binding and anchoring corners you see above.
Giveaway Winners Here!
Wow! Yoko Saito adoration is spreading . . . I love the enthusiastic reception for her pattern line and I’m certain World Book Media is happy as well to hear such positive reactions from fans. The winners are Judy C., Jane from MA, Julie Boster, Jacqueline, and Kay. Congratulations all! Do share photos of your handiwork!
Looks like I’m not the only Yoko Saito fan in search of English-language versions of her patterns. (BTW: Here’s the link to my earlier Yoko Saito post.) World Book Media out of Salem, Massachusetts has entered the market with a Japanese Quilt Artist Series pattern line (translated into English) featuring Yoko Saito for their debut as well as Zakka Workshop projects–quick and fun scrap-friendly projects made in mere hours. Both product lines are available at World Book Media’s Etsy site.
Let’s take a look at the Yoko Saito quilt pattern fare:
Would you like to see more? Here are my top 2:
Yoko Saito creates evocative designs with such simple touches like outrageously perfect fabric choices. Also, her simple quilting motif enhances the blossoming cherry trees and stars without being overwhelming.
That melting snowman featured below is so charming and just a little poignant. (Plus she finds yet another perfect venue for her bare trees fabric.)
The remaining trio of patterns are fun projects for personal use and home decor. The Afternoon Tea Mats pattern makes me laugh for the eccentric use of language–short . . . cake maybe?
I’m looking for 5 winners this week. Yup, 5! No guarantees which pattern you’ll receive. Random drawing, random numbering on the patterns as well. Leave me a comment by Thursday, June 26 and I will announce the winners in my Friday post. Answer this question: Given the opportunity to win a pattern, would you go Yoko Saito neutral or color mad?
On Friday I’ll be featuring a small birthday project I adapted from the center wreath block of the Quilt-Along: Blackbirds & Blossoms Oh-La-La! I hope you’ll stop by and find inspiration!
It’s time for the next step of our Blackbirds & Blossoms Oh-La-La Quilt-Along! I’m hoping you’ve had lots of fun working on the center wreath over the past few weeks.
When Jennifer handed off her beautiful center block to Darra and me for the second round of our Quilt-Along, we decided to create whimsical vines on our 4 side panels. Darra had a sketch that we both agreed would be the stepping off point for the 4 panels. The first 2 side panels, Panels 1(A) and 1(B), are minimal in design, while the panels we will cover next month, Panels 2(A) and 2(B), are more layered and bursting with blossoms. The design process is outlined below. Links you will need: use the Patterns tab for instructions on the side panels, leaf and circle template and panel 1(A) and 1(B) appliqué sheets as reference for the shape of your vines. Also, refer to the split leaf tutorial for a decorative leaf.
Let’s start with the minimal designs first, Side Panels 1(A) and 1(B).
I urge you to play with your fabrics and shapes to create your own original design that plays well with the fabrics you have chosen and your completed center wreath block.
To keep a flowing curve, I decided to cut my vines directly in the shape you see, not using the bias strip method. Feel free to use the method that works best for you.
Okay! You are halfway there! I will show you tips on Side Panel 2(A) and (B) next month. Be sure to share photos with us on our SHWS Facebook page and I will pin them to our Quilt-Along Pinterest Board!
And the winner is…
Congratulations to Mary Helen of Oregon for winning Annie’s Pouch Pattern in Laura’s post last week!
Have a great week!
Welcome to the Blackbirds & Blossoms Oh-La-La Quilt-Along! I’ve got pleasure of delivering the first step: the center block decorated with a flower wreath. In my crafty past, I’ve been known to weave a wreath or two or three. In fact, I’ve even made a dimensional appliqué wreath based on the floral art of Pierre Joseph Redouté. Luckily, this Quilt-Along version builds quickly and much more easily!
My blogging sisters and I elected to follow an improvisational approach to our collective project, although we did agree to a few parameters to keep the look consistent throughout the design process.
As I was the first, I downscaled my flowers and greenery in the center block, while they used larger sizes in the outer blocks. We also agreed to employ a raw-edged, fused appliqué method simply because it was much easier and faster for our mother-of-the-bride (and for the rest of us too). Choose your preferred appliqué method because the quilt is designed to flatter all techniques.
I’ve outlined my process below, but don’t worry about copying all those details. Click the Patterns tab for the instructions for building the center block and the circle and leaf template pattern sheet.
I’ve made a short video to demonstrate how to make a split leaf. Click here for my directorial debut!
So, as I was finalizing the layout of the center block, I realized I needed a pop of something to jazz up the design. I’ve noticed that polka dots often add that jolt fun that makes a quilt happy.
There ya go, quilting peeps: The first block of the Blackbirds & Blossoms Oh-La-La! Quilt-Along. Get crackin’!
p.s. Jennifer’s lessons: less is more and layering is lovely.
p.p.s. See the sneak peek of the next blocks (in process) below.
A special thank you to Darra, who spent many hours working out the fabric requirements for this project. Come back and visit us soon, Darra! We miss you already!
Finished Quilt Size: 53″ x 53″ (plus binding)
What You’ll Need (Fabric and Notions):
Along with basic sewing supplies, you’ll need the following fabrics and notions to make this quilt. Note: If you’d like to make just the center medallion as a smaller wallhanging, or the center block or one of the side panels as a pillow, you’ll need only the fabrics identified for those areas in the labeled photo below.
Fabric calculations are based on 40″ fabric width.
Fabric A: 5/8 yard for center square (cream)
Fabric B: 1/4 yard for framing strips (red-orange stripe)
Fabric C: 7/8 yard for inner setting triangles and Birdhouse blocks (turquoise)
Fabric D: 3/4 yard for side panels (taupe)
Fabric E: 1 yard for center wreath, panel strips, vines, stems, and leaves (green)
Fabric F: 1 1/8 yards for side panels (taupe/dots)
Fabric G: 5/8 yard for outer setting triangles (white)
Fabric H: 2/3 yard for birdhouses (yellow stripe)
Fabric I: 3/8 yard for birdhouse roofs (purple)
Fabric J: 1/8 yard (or scraps)for blackbird appliqués (black)
Fabric K: 2 yards total for flower circle, dot, leaf, and birdhouse door appliqués (assorted brights)
Binding: 1/2 yard
Batting: 60″ x 60″
Backing: 3 1/2 yards
Lightweight fusible web: 3 1/2 yards (18″ wide)
Assorted threads to match appliqués
Black and white embroidery floss
The following photos show you the fabrics we used to make our version of the Quilt-Along quilt. We used the first group, Fabrics A – J, for backgrounds, framing strips, vines and center wreath, setting triangles, and corner birdhouse blocks. These fabrics include a number of “linen-y” solids and subtle tone-on-tone prints, with a few stripes and a coordinating polka-dot for visual interest.
The second group includes examples of the colorful prints that we used for the flower circles and other appliques. We recommend that you include some multicolored, large-scale prints as we did; you can fussy cut them for varying effects.
So let the fun begin! Jennifer will be starting us out with the center medallion as our first round of the Quilt-Along. Watch for Jennifer’s post at the end of May.