Paying it Forward at SHWS with a Giveaway

Doesn’t it always feel good when something nice and unexpected comes your way? Or better yet, when you are on the giving end of such a gesture. I recently returned from Tennessee and while standing in line for lunch at a local restaurant, the young man in front of me asked the cashier to pass his change (about $3 or so) on to the next person in line. That would be me! It just gave me a moment to pause and smile. How lovely, I thought. I decided to keep the chain going by passing my change on to the next person. Who knows just how long it went on, it really doesn’t matter. I only know that in the moment, it felt good.

I returned home to find this sweet treasure waiting for me in the mailbox.  My dear friend, Anita Grossman Soloman, knows how much I adore ladybugs so, as you can read, has passed her leftover piece on to me. The fabric is Indochine: Lotus Leaf Ladybugs Indigo by Alexander Henry Fabrics. I have it in red but had not yet seen it in indigo. Thank you, Anita!


This is a beautiful large scale print by Alexander Henry Fabrics. The ladybug is about the size of a dime.
This is a beautiful large scale print by Alexander Henry Fabrics. The ladybug is about the size of a dime.

I plan to use the fabric to make some little treasure that will remind me of Anita and how much I both love her work and am so grateful for her friendship. But, before I do, I’m going to cut the piece in half and share it with Pati. I don’t want her to feel obligated to use it or even challenge her to make something specific, but I will be anxious to see what she might come up with if she does decide to use it.

Giveaway-GoldWe could go on and on sharing our pieces and cutting them in half until there is nothing left but a pile of threads. Instead I would like to send one of you a 1/2 yard piece of fabric from my stash and encourage you to share with someone special. If you are interested in playing along, please simply leave a comment by November 25th telling me if you have a particular style of fabric or color that speaks to you.  I will put your name in the hat and announce the winner in my next post. I’ll be anxious to hear what you have to say and then have fun hunting through my stash to find just the perfect one to share.

Until next time, enjoy this wonderful season of giving thanks!

Laura Signature


100 Blocks in 50 Days! – Jigsaw Landscape block

Pati and I are finally able to share with you the first of the four blocks we made for the 100 Blocks in 50 Days challenge sponsored by Janome and Michael Miller Fabrics. It is called Jigsaw Landscape and is made using fabrics from Michael Miller’s new Cotton Couture line of solid fabrics.

Jigsaw Landscape by Laura Nownes.
Jigsaw Landscape by Laura Nownes.


Here is the collection of fabrics we had to choose from for our challenge blocks.

Cotton Couture solids by Michael Miller Fabrics.
Cotton Couture solids by Michael Miller Fabrics.

For this block, I decided to try my hand at cutting and piecing free-form curves. You can watch our video tutorial here and Pati’s advanced curve piecing post here. You will find complete downloadable instructions for making this block, along with all other 99 blocks, on Janome’s blog. In addition to getting free instructions, you will find a few exciting offerings so please take time to visit the website and take advantage of this opportunity. If you are just joining the viewing fun, you might want to check out our previous  post to see what these two companies have in store for a few lucky winners.

Have fun with this challenge and we hope to see you back here for my second block on December 16th and Pati’s on December 17th and 22nd.

If you are new to our blog, we thank you for visiting and hope you take time to look through some of our previous posts, enjoy some free patterns, recipes and video tutorials.

Happy sewing everyone!

Laura Signature


Tips for Constructing a Tumbling Diamonds Quilt Block – Part 2

FinaleditIn my last post, I shared some tips for drafting and cutting pieces for a Tumbling Diamonds quilt block. As some of you suggested in the comments, it may have been easier to paper-piece this pattern. This may certainly be the case, for those of you who enjoy paper piecing. You will however, need to start with the drafted pattern and then cut into sections required for paper piecing. For those of you, like myself, who like traditional piecing, I am including some tips for construction of this block. the more I work and play with it, the more I just love it. I can see it in many fabric and design options.

Here’s the block, now let’s get started.

Tumbling Diamonds quilt block
Tumbling Diamonds quilt block.

If you missed my previous post and would like to follow along, click here to get all of the cutting instructions.

Step One: Sew the A-1 and A-2 strips together lengthwise. To avoid waste when cutting, offset the strips 2″, as shown.

Offset Fabric strips A-1 & A-2.
Offset Fabric strips A-1 & A-2.

Step 2: Use the 45-degree angle marking on your ruler to cut diamond units. The cut width of the units is the same measurement used to cut the individual strips. The photo shows a 2″ wide cut.
















Step 3: Place the diamond units exactly as shown, and then use pins to secure at the center and near the ends. Be consistent with the placement of the fabrics in all four pieced diamond units. In my sample, the navy fabric is always at the ends. Sew two units together. It is important to note that the stitching line begins and ends where the two units touch. Press the seam first on the wrong and then right side to complete the pieced diamond.




Step 4: Sew the pieced diamonds to the fabric B triangles. Note the exact placement of the pieces when stitching, as there should be extensions on both ends.



Step 5: Sew the new units to the fabric C center square. It is important to begin and end the stitching line 1/4″ from the edge of the C square, as shown and indicated by the pencil line on the fabric. Take a few backstitches at the beginning and end to secure the stitches. Repeat with all four sides.



Step 6: The final block construction joins the side pieces at the corners….yeah, y-seams!! The most important thing to remember in this construction is to never stitch beyond the 1/4″ lines, as shown.



Step 7: Give your completed block a final press, first on the wrong and then right side.

Let’s look at some design options for this block. 

Without having to make multiple blocks, you can preview what four will look like together. Often times, the secondary designs formed where blocks are joined can be just as interesting or perhaps even more so that the original block. I used two mirror squares that are taped together to form a hinge. I am just loving this block and plan to play with more colors and fabric options.


Two mirrors joined together.
Two mirrors joined together.


4block mirror


Here’s what the block looks like if side triangles are added. An alternate block is created joining them together. I think it would be fun to use a variety of fabrics for the corner triangles.

Side triangles form the look of alternate blocks.
Side triangles form the look of alternate blocks.


I think I need to play more with this block. I hope you might feel the same. Up next, Pati will share her interpretation of this blocks, using the same fabrics. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with. Be sure to join us.

In the meantime, happy creating everyone!

Laura Signature

Problem Solving Tips for Drafting a Tumbling Diamonds Quilt Block – Part 1

Hello Readers,

In my last post, I included  a short video that Pati and I recently made.  In the video I suggest to Pati that we share with you some of the steps we each use in designing our quilts. I looked through the very first quilting book I ever purchased, “The Quilters” by Patricia Cooper and Norma Bradley Buferd and was intrigued by an image of the quilt labeled as “Tumbling Diamonds”. The credit indicates the quilt is from Texas around 1910 and in the Cooper and Buferd Collection. I suggested to Pati that we use this pattern and challenge ourselves to make blocks using some current fabrics.

"Tumbling Diamonds" quilt featured in the book, The Quilters.
“Tumbling Diamonds” quilt featured in the book, The Quilters.

Here are the 5 new fabrics that I selected for our projects. Since I failed to include the names of the fabric manufacturers and designers on the video, I am adding them here, just in case you are interested in adding some of these beauties to your stash.


  1. White multi-print – “London Calling” (Spice) by Robert Kaufman
  2. Black floral – “London Calling” (orchid) by Robert Kaufman
  3. Pink with bowls – “Zephyr” by Rashida Coleman Hale for Cotton and Steel
  4. Green/Yellow geometric – “Birch Farm – Chicken Coop” by Joel Dewberry for Free Spirit
  5. Navy with letters – “Playful” by Melody Miller for Cotton and Steel

Often we find patterns or inspiration in a book, magazine or an online source. Making a traditional pieced block without a pattern or instructions can be a bit challenging. It’s nice to at least have a starting point so I consulted my two usual resource books.  I was not successful in finding this exact block. I did however, find one in Jinny Beyer’s book that is very close. It is called “Roads to Berlin” and listed under the 4-patch category of blocks. I could easily draft a block similar to Tumbling Diamonds using the diagram shown. But my stubborn self likes a challenge so I decide to attempt drafting it as close to the original as possible Note that the diamonds are both long and not pieced, as shown in the quilt pattern.


In this post I will share with you how I drafted the Tumbling Diamonds block and then determined the cutting sizes of the fabric shapes. My next post will include tips on block construction as well as some fun setting options. I hope you might be tempted and inspired to play along and make one for yourself.

"Tumbling Diamonds"
“Tumbling Diamonds”

I did play with this pattern on graph paper, but found the sizes to be challenging, especially when working with the pieced diamonds. So, rather than working in the traditional way of marking a finished size block onto graph paper and then filling in the shapes, I decided to start by drafting the pieced diamonds and build from there to complete the block. This is definitely not my usual way, but it worked great for this block and I too learned something along the way.

My goal was to both use easy to cut measurements and strip-piece the two fabrics together that are used for the diamonds. I randomly decided to make make each small diamond 1″ finished, and started the drafting process, as shown. I know that many of you skilled with design programs can do this much quicker and easier than this, but I’m one of those old-school girl types! I enjoy working with graph paper and pencil. Either way, I hope you might give this a try.

Step One: Mark a corner of the block, then a 45-degree angle line from the corner into the center. Finally, mark two parallel lines, 1″ apart, as shown.


Step Two: Mark two additional diagonal lines, as shown. This completes one pieced diamond.



Step Three: Use the 45-degree marking on your ruler to add more lines, as shown. These lines determine the finished size of the quilt block. This one is 6-7/8″ x 6-7/8″.



Step Four: Refer to the photos to continue marking lines to complete the shapes in this block.



Step Five: This photo includes all the markings needed to define the shapes in the block. The shapes are labeled, A, B & C and cutting measurements included. Note that the A diamonds are labeled 1 & @ to indicate that two fabrics are used.




Here’s an easy reference chart for cutting fabric shapes to make one Tumbling Diamonds block. I am also including cutting measurements for a 10-3/8″ finished block, just in case you are interested in making a larger block but want to avoid the drafting process ; ). Get your fabrics out and start cutting. I know you will enjoy the process.


To make one 6-7/8″ x 6-7/8″ finished block

A-1 & A-2: One 1-1/2″ x 42″ strip, from each of two fabrics

B: One 5-1/4″ square. Cut the square twice, into quarters diagonally.

C: One 3-3/8″ square


To make one 10-3/8″ x 10-3/8″ finished block

A-1 & A-2: One 2″ x 42″ strip, from each of two fabrics

B: One 7-1/4″ square. Cut the square twice, into quarters diagonally.

C: One 4-7/8″ square.

Be sure to check back as my next post will include helpful hints for construction and setting options. Following that, Pati will share her block using the same inspiration pattern and fabrics. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with, and hope you will feel the same.


Laura Signature


















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



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



















Cutting and Sewing Curves, a Video Tutorial & Giveaway

Beauty Shot 2

Several of our readers have asked for a tutorial on cutting and sewing curves without using a pattern. We have made a video tutorial showing how easy it is to add curves to your quilting projects. This is the technique we used on our Making Waves pattern.


It’s fun, it’s easy and if you haven’t ever done it, I suggest watching the video and give it a try. It will be permanently living in our How-To Videos page, which can be accessed through the button above. While you are there, be sure to check out some of our other helpful videos.



We are offering two copies of our pattern to two of our readers. Please leave a comment by end of day Friday, July 31st if you would like a chance to receive a pattern.

We will also have the video posted on our SHWS You Tube Channel Enjoy the show!

Laura Signature