New Tutorial Series Launches at SHWS: Inspiration and Helpful Tips for Quilters

Pati and I are excited to share with you our first, of hopefully many video tutorials. In keeping with our blog name, we want you to actually “see” how we work with fabric, color, design and inspiration. Please check back with us as we have fun sharing our teaching tips on many subjects.


Take care everyone and enjoy!

Laura Signature




2015 Quilting in the Garden with Freddy Moran and Sally Collins

We have had a bit of a delay in getting our video up and running this week. Fingers crossed it will be ready for viewing next week. In the meantime, I want to share with you two exciting events happening in our area. In an effort to provide those of you not able to attend these shows with some beautiful images, I am attaching a link to Carol van Zandt’s blog. Carol, as you may know, is our roving photographer and captures some beautiful images from the many quilt shows and events she attends. Please enjoy Carol’s post, Kawandi Adventure: Quilts by Margaret Fabrizio.

2015 QUILTING IN THE GARDEN – September 26 & 27 at Alden Lane Nursery, Livermore, CA

Visit with Freddy Moran at Alden Lane, Sept 26 & 27th.

Sally Collins, guest artist at 2015 Quilting in the Garden.
Sally Collins, guest artist at 2015 Quilting in the Garden.

Alex Anderson
Those of you in the San Francisco Bay Area, please remember to join featured artist, Freddy Moran, guest artist, Sally Collins and our local celebrity Alex Anderson at Quilting in the Garden at Alden Lane Nursery in Livermore. The show runs from 9-4 on Saturday and Sunday, September 26th and 27th. The beautiful old majestic oak trees  provide the perfect quilt hangers for hundreds of original works of art.

Places-J: Quilting in the Garden 2012


Yo-Yos & Half Squares: Contemporary Quilts

The Oakland Museum of California is featuring the special exhibit, Yo-Yos & Half Squares: Contemporary Quilts. The show runs until February 21st so you have plenty of time to plan your visit.  If you enjoy Off the Grid food trucks, music and more, consider joining the museum every Friday night. There is a special half-price gallery admission for adults and ages 18 and under are free!

With Fall in the air, it’s a perfect time for enjoying quilts … but in my world, that would be every day!

Laura Signature


A Peek Into Our Busy Week

It’s been another busy week here at SHWS. Pati and I are away teaching her Winter Brrd House quilt at one of our local guilds. I can’t help sharing this photo of us getting the car ready for our trip. We both had to laugh at the amount of stuff needed for a one day workshop and trunk show. Believe me, it was far easier getting the suitcases into the car than it was stuffing the quilts into the suitcases ; )

Hoping it will all fit!
Hoping it will all fit!

I’ve never been one to take photos of restaurants and my food, but I just couldn’t help myself when we happened upon this little gem of a restaurant in Morgan Hill (called Josephine’s Bakery for you locals!). We walked in the front door and immediately felt at home, and not just because of the delicious bakery smells coming from the kitchen. Isn’t this the most inviting and adorable little breakfast place?


Our breakfasts were divine! Yes, that’s a homemade apricot scone with homemade jams. We were in heaven.


All in all, we had a wonderful day, teaching a group of lovely women in the guild to “embrace their curves” (Pati’s words) while making birdhouses. Ahh, teaching, I love it. To see more photos from our trip, please check out both our Facebook and Instagram pages. We’d love to have you as followers.

Pati is away on retreat but has asked me to pass along the following message regarding the pattern giveaway in her last post.

Here’s Pati:

“Everyone Wins! I was so inspired by all the wonderful ideas left in the comment section of last weeks’ post on A New Pattern and A Giveaway. If you haven’t had a chance to read them, take a moment – you will be so glad you did! It was hard to choose a winner, but, Kathy R. shared such a lovely idea, that I knew she needs to make this quilt! Congratulations Kathy! I will be contacting you to get a mailing address.

And for all the other wonderful comments and ideas, as a thank you, I am offering my Winter Brrrd Houses pattern for $7.99 for one week only. Visit my Etsy Shop today to get yours! And please, please, please, share a photo with me when your project is complete. I have started an Inspiration Page on my website to share projects made from my new pattern line. Keep sewing!”

Since we’re on the subject of “peeking”, I’ll give you a quick look into what’s ahead at SHWS. I can only tell you at this time that it involves a video and some new tutorials. The first one is inspired by the following book and fabrics.

The first quilt book I ever purchased. Still offers me wonderful inspiration.
The first quilt book I ever purchased. Still offers me wonderful inspiration.


I can't wait to start playing with these new fabrics.
I can’t wait to start playing with these new fabrics.


Please stay tuned and hope to see you back here soon at SHWS.

Laura Signature



A New Quilt Pattern and a Giveaway

File Sep 11, 8 14 52 AMCalifornia is in the middle of a heat wave this week. The timing seems really odd to be announcing a new quilt pattern called Winter Brrrd Houses. But that is what I am doing! Winter Brrrd Houses is here, and now available through my Etsy shop and will be on our SHWS Pattern Page. And to celebrate, we are giving away a free pattern today!

WinterBrrrd Houses Pattern by Pati Fried
Winter Brrrd Houses has something for everyone. The pattern mixes piecing, improvisational curves, applique and a little bit of embroidery. Trust me, you will not get bored from making the same block over and over again with this project. I made 30 birdhouses from the start of the quilt to the completion of the pattern. Each one had its own personality. It was so much fun choosing the fabrics and sizes, that I could just keep on going!

The pattern is designed to give you oodles of options to add your own unique spin on the project. The quilt and the pattern have my name on it, but I will be the first to tell you – Laura was a huge part of writing this pattern. We all know that writing a pattern with solid technical instructions is tough. Choosing to include improvisational design options made it twice the challenge. I am so grateful to have had Laura’s expertise along the way.

Winter Brrrd Houses by Pati Fried

Last week, I gave a peek of the sample that Laura and I put together at our sew day. I’m excited to say I just received a few photos from Kerry Reed, who has been busy quilting for me and sent some teasers while working away. This is the Spring version of the quilt. Same technique, just different fabric choices and layout. Remember, I mentioned oodles of design options? Spring Bird Houses by See How We Sew

Laura and I are teaching a birdhouse workshop to the Piece by Piece Quilters of Morgan Hill, Ca. next week. It will be fun to team teach this project now, after working so hard together to complete the pattern.
Indigo Bird Houses close up by Pati FriedAbout a week ago, I tried making two more versions. The first time, I followed the pattern exactly, with not a stitch of improv in sight. I even omitted the curve piecing. Ok, I did decide to change the birdhouse doors a bit. I also used some of my cherished indigo fabrics to punch it up. Simple, quick and still lots of fun to make.Indigo Bird Houses by Pati Fried

In the second version, I threw all the rules out the window except for the cutting instructions for the roofs. I wanted to see what would happen if I sized the houses differently. How would it look if my points were off?


I also over sized the background sections, to give me a chance to play with the layout. The curve piecing was a natural fit at this point – I was just filling in the blanks. At some point it became a little French city, not a flurry of birdhouses. And can we just take a moment to notice the quilting?
French Houses by Pati FriedSo there you have it. Four versions of what can be done with one pattern. My hope is that a few of our readers will take my lead and create their own unique designs, using the tips and techniques shared in the pattern. In fact . . .


leave a comment on what your version might be like – and I will choose a winner to receive a free pattern!

Have a great weekend!


A Quilters Favorite Pincushion


pin·cush·ion;     pinˌko͝oSHən;     noun – a small cushion into which pins are stuck for convenient storage.

So this is about as small as it gets. I love this little guy. I tuck it into my bag for travel to classes or handwork on the go. Pincushions have come a long way since the red tomato version that I remember sitting next to my mom’s Singer sewing machine in the 60’s.
Photo from Georgia’s Home Inspirations.

I got this idea a few weeks ago to do a story on quilter’s favorite pincushions. Would they match the quilters’ personality? We all have our personal favorite. That one that you grab first. The one that has been with you through your trials and tribulations of quilting. So I put the word out on Facebook,  Instagram and in my drop-in class for everyone to share their favorite pincushions with me. I have collected quite an assortment to share with you!

The tomato pincushion will always be a classic among sewists. It just happens to have a bit more personality today.

PicMonkey Collage

Top left to right:

SHWS emeritus, Jennifer Rounds wrote about these lovely Heirloom Tomato Pincushions in a past blog post. Which, just happens to come with a free pattern on our Pattern Page.

Catherine Jarrett sports a green tomato in my drop-in class. I am pretty sure this one has helped with some show-stopping- quilts. If you are on Instagram, you can see one of Catherine’s quilts featured in a recent Quiltmania issue here.

Fern Royce, from Textile Mavens sent this snapshot to me. Love the colors and fabrics of this. It just reminds me of Fern and her wonderful quilts.
How about a colorful version, by none other than the talented longarmer, Kerry Reed? Check out some of her beautiful work on her facebook page here.
Some quilters get more excited about beverages than vegetables, (ahem – tea cups vs tomatoes, get it?).
Top left to right:
Pam Petsas brought this Victorian jewel to our Indie Modern Quilters meeting. Such a fashionista!
Kerry Reed, shared another pincushion that her sister gave to her 10 years ago. How many quilts do you think this lil’ teapot has seen quilted in it’s time? Oh, if only it could talk. . . .
Rosemary Patterson – OMG, if you know Rosemary, you know this is perfect for her – fun and full of spunk!
Kristen Takakawa, of The Needies  has a pincushion made by her sister in law, using a sake cup as the base. Kristen says the weight of the cup always keeps it right where she wants it.
And then there is the “form follows function” category, still managing to slip in some creativity. Pincushions with storage – how smart is that?
Left to right:
The talented, Linda Harding keeps Frida close at hand for toting tiny tools.
And my friend, Chancy Fessler snapped a photo of the cushion of choice for Ben Venom while he taught a workshop at San Jose Quilt Museum.
My personal favorites, the wool versions. . .
Left to right:
Laura Nownes, of course with no less than a ladybug! This one is a real cutie!
Longtime friend of SHWS, Diana McClun has a wooly treasure. I love this one. Maybe because it is always out and in use in her studio when I visit.
Moving on to pieced with perfection . . .
Top left to right:
Kim Buteau, of Etsy’s Zombie and Posies totes this sweetheart to class with her. I challenge you to find anything else pink in her shop!
And for perfect points, we have Rita of Mochi Studios‘s little gem!
These last two were shared by my new Instagram buddy, Cyndi Murdoch of She wrote a sweet post about A Quilting Afternoon, you might like to read.
Speaking of sweet. . .
PicMonkey Collage 6
Left to right:
Margaret Glendening of Etsy’s MGmade, uses a pincushion her daughter made in Kindergarten.
Art quilter, Pauline Pearsall has a lovely lace number to hold her pins. Check out one of Pauline’s amazing quilts at
And we have to have an animal section, now don’t we?
PicMonkey Collage 5
Left to right:
This busy little turtle was found sitting on the worktable at Oakland’s A Verb for Keeping Warm. It was sitting right next to their new book!
And let’s end with Terri Carpenter of The Quilted Fox, who shared her adorable little mouse..
So after seeing all these creative pincushions, I noticed that I  have quite an odd collection poking around my own sewing room.PicMonkey Collage
I don’t even think the turtle was made for a pin cushion, but it works great for one! The red one holds my machine needles, when I am not quite ready to retire them.
Ceremony 2Which reminds me of one of the first posts I wrote on SHWS, about Hari-Kuyo, a lovely Japanese ceremony for retiring old and  broken sewing needles. It is such a lovely tradition. You can read about it here.

PicMonkey Collage 7

To end this story, I am going to be quite honest. Usually when at home, I use my trusty metal bowl. I like that in a quilting frenzy, which I am often in, I can actually toss the pins and the magnet just pulls them on home. Second in command would be my beloved pincushion/threadcatcher I made a few years ago. These are definitely my tools of choice.

So how’s that for a pincushion extravaganza? I hope you enjoyed it. I know I totally enjoyed seeing how my friends express their personality this humble little tool. Want to share your favorite pincushion? Tag me on Facebook or Instagram and #favoritepincushion to be a part of the collection. I would love to keep it growing!

See you soon!


Sneak a Peek at a New Birdhouse Quilt from Laura and Pati’s Sew Day

Today was a sew day for Laura and I. We are teaching a guild workshop in September on the Winter Brrrd Houses quilt. We thought it would be fun to experiment with making a different version of the quilt.

Laura brought some Kaffe Fasset fabrics and this wonderful white-on-white background fabric. I’m not sure if it was the white against the saturated color, or the strong graphics against the organic florals – but something really popped between this fabric combination. I had a stash of Moda Grunge, along with Robert Kaufman Quilters’ Linen that were just begging to be added into the mix. And so, with no preconceived notions in mind, we decided to start by making two houses each.


Winter Brrrd Houses – Pattern Available Soon!

The houses were oh-so-cute, but we were a bit befuddled about what fabrics to add into the background plan. As you can see in the original quilt, the background represented a winter scene with drifts of snow. As much as we liked the background we chose, it just didn’t look right with any of the grays in my stash.

So we simply switched seasons!

Striped posts against a spring green hillside – now that works!

And so we’re off and running. It’s funny how things work out. Neither of us knew where we were headed with this quilt, but we just kept sewing until the ideas surfaced. It’s so fun to collaborate on quilts!

If you are interested in watching the progress on this quilt, I will put some photos up on Facebook Page and Instagram as it develops. If you’re not connected with us – now is a good time to do so.

See you Friday!


Playing with Wedge Rulers

Any day that involves fabric and my sewing machine, is a wonderful day. Five straight days of the same, is considered a gift! I am so grateful for the time spent last week on retreat in Tahoe with some of my friends. I’m always so unrealistic and bring way too many projects. This year, determined to stay focused and actually get something completed, I only brought pieces for two new wedge quilt designs.  You might remember this collection of fabrics, which I shared in a previous post.


Inspiration fabric by Red Rooster Fabrics.
Inspiration fabric by Red Rooster Fabrics.

I got it all together, except for the small red octagon centers which I appliquéd on last night. Done, and ready for quilting.



My second project, another wedge quilt, was made into hexagon shapes. I love that the hexes can either be butted up together or separated with background fabric. I opted for both. This one too is now ready for quilting.



I had a few extra wedge units so decided to make one of them into a basket. I do love black and white stripes!



It was quite a productive week! Those of you who follow me on Facebook and Instagram know that I am a sucker for Liberty Puzzles. Guess what? There just happened to be six, yes SIX Liberty puzzles at the retreat house! How could I resist, or should I say, why would I resist? Sitting and arranging all the intricately cut, small wooden shapes, watching the beautiful image appear one piece at a time, was the perfect ending to a busy day. Besides, one needs a little something to do while enjoying a dish of fresh peaches and cream ; ).

Early tomorrow I’m off to Seattle for some play time with my hubby. I’m looking forward to lots of color inspiration. Although I have seen many of Chihuly’s beautiful glassworks, I’m anxious to visit them again at the gardens.


Until next time, happy creating everyone!

Laura Signature



















Cotton Couture Look Book – Color Inspiration

Michael Miller Cotton CoutureMichael Miller Fabrics just introduced a beautiful new Look Book for Cotton Couture. I thought you would enjoy getting a peek of the projects inspired by the all the color choices available. One of our past SHWS guests, Tara Faughnan has a fabulous quilt featured in the book, called Baby’s Got the Blues. Look for it on page 7.  Also, remember my Happy Little Placemats video? They just happen to be featured on page 12 and 18. What a kick it is to see them lined up with the color swatches that inspired them!

I know that I promised a blog post on Favorite Pincushions – but to be honest, I think I need to hold off another week to collect more photos. Everywhere I go lately, someone plops a cute lil’ pincushion out on the table to share with me! I am having so much fun and my photo collection is growing rapidly. Let’s celebrate these faithful friends right and get more readers involved!

If you have a favorite pin cushion, we would love to include it. Just snap a photo and  . . .

Share it with us

10_instagram     02_facebook

#favoritepincushion, #seehowwesew

or drop us an email at 

That’s is for today! Have a great weekend.



Cutting and Sewing Curves – The Advanced Lesson

Making Waves Quilt by See How We SewWow! What a great response we have had to our video tutorial, Cutting and Sewing Curves. Based on all the comments received,  I think it may have taken the fear out of sewing curves for some of you.

I absolutely love adapting curves to the improvisational piecing that I have been experimenting with lately. Now that we have discussed the basics of this in Laura’s post last week, I thought I would share some tips and tricks that I have found helpful, along with , here we go – sewing curves into your curves. Think of this as Advanced Curves 101. It’s not really hard, you just need to get in there and give it a try! Come on now, embrace your curves!

Advanced Curves 1 SHWS

Let’s start with your basic curved piece section. What if you don’t like what you made? What if there is just too much of one fabric, or you want just a sliver of something else added in? Want to do some experimenting?

Advanced Curves 2 SHWS

When I teach classes on the Making Waves Quilt, sometimes a student decides there is a little too much of one fabric in a section of their waves.  This is where the fun begins! Determine which fabric is too heavy and slice right into the section that is bothering you. By inserting a new fabric, you are not only taking out the weight, but also adding movement and interest. Introduce a new shape to your curve, or slice into more than one section, and you will be adding a whole new level of design.

Advanced Curves 3 SHWS

Move your sections around to decide how large of a section to insert. The piece you are inserting could be just a small sliver . . .Advanced Curves 4 SHWS

or a big chunk of fabric. Trust your judgment. You probably already know what you need it to do.Advanced Curves 5 SHWS

If not, you could be like me and just do the opposite of what seems most obvious. I guess I like to stir things up.

Advanced Curves 7 SHWS

This time, I chose to go with a tiny sliver, then offset it a bit. 
Advanced Curves 8 SHWS

I like the way it just peeks through. Especially the little intersection of the three fabrics. It seems graceful, doesn’t it?

Advanced Curves 9 SHWS

Hmmm, file that idea away for a future project. As I said, I like to stir things up, so I chose to crop them into 2 separate blocks. The possibilities are endless! Give it a try!

A few tips to keep in mind:

When cutting into a section – remember that you will be losing 1/4″ on either side of your cut.

Cutting through more than one section is encouraged. It will add interest to your final piece.

Watch your 1/4″ seam allowance when sewing. It is very easy to get off, which will affect your curve.

If your fabric starts to bunch up while sewing, lift your presser foot and try to readjust things. This usually helps. If not, you may have to take out a few of your last stitches, then proceed.

If your curve does not lay down properly after pressing, take out the stitches in problem area, pat the curve back into place correctly and pin accordingly. When you flip it over, trim off the excess so that the raw edges match, then re-sew new curve.

Notes on Hashmarks and Pinning:

A reader asked why we don’t mark on the right side of fabric (inside the seam allowance). Do what works best for you. I personally like to be able to make big hashmarks, so that I don’t have to spend much time looking for them. I also feel more comfortable pinning while the right sides are joined and facing each other. This way I can view the marks on the outer (wrong) sides, .

At some point, you will get comfortable and decide you don’t need to mark and pin. That is perfectly fine. I will warn you, though, that when I stop marking and pinning, my curves start to get a little wobbly and out of skew. If you want perfect, gracefully pieced curves, take the time to mark and pin. Especially when they are more than 8″ in length.


10_instagram 02_facebookShare your photos!

I am collecting photos for a blog post on Favorite Pincushions. If you have a favorite pincushion, take a photo and post it with on ourt SHWS Facebook page or share it on the SHWS Instagram account, #favoritepincushion, #seehowwesew.





Congratulations to Jean Stringfellow and Dee Carter for winning the Making Waves Quilt Pattern! We will be contacting you for your mailing information.