Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks Blog Tour

myblockisin13_200_68131I was excited to be selected for the latest issue of Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks. They are hosting a blog tour this week and I am on the first stop. So welcome everyone!QM21115

The issue hits newsstands May 3, or you can purchase right now as a print or digital issue in the Quiltmaker’s shop. You will find instructions for 100 original and very unique blocks.magazine spread

My block, called Girl’s Best Friend, block #1219, is a take on deconstructing a diamond.

Deconstructed Diamonds

I used some of Tula Pink’s collection, True Colors because I had been looking for an excuse to play with them. I really like the eclectic feel of this collection.
True colors

Part of the fun that I had with this block was playing with pattern designs. I am self taught in Photoshop, so, I am always looking for opportunities to get a little more familiar with the program. So, after using it to crop my block photo, I thought I would just play with some repeats, flipping, rotating and moving around. I think this block has a lot of possibilities.

#1. This might make an interesting border idea . . .

variation 2

#2. Or a horizontal band running across the width of the quilt.

variation 1


#3. I love the zig zag effect in the center of this setting . . .


variation 3

#4. and the last one looks like layers upon layers of diamonds.

100 Blocks Quiltmaker
What do you think? It ‘s fun to build a virtual quilt once in a while, just to get the inspiration flowing.

Be sure to follow the rest of the block tour. There are giveaways and lots of talented designers that will posting this week about their block designs.

Have a great week!


Our Top 10 Tips for Quilt Designs with Solid Fabrics

100qbThe 100 Blocks in 50 days Project sponsored by Janome and Michael Miller Fabrics will soon be wrapping up.  I shared lots of links and giveaway info about the project back in November,100 Quilt Blocks in 50 Days and soon after, Laura wrote about designing her first block Jigsaw Landscape Block. Our final three blocks will be debuting on the Janome Blog on December 16, 17 and 22, including free downloadable directions for our blocks, along with the other 96 blocks that make up this fabulous quilt! I will add the links to each as they are released.

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1. Laura’s Jigsaw Landscape released on 11/9/15    2. Laura’s Squared Block to be released on 12/16/15    3. Pati’s Two Blocks from One, Block 2 to be released on 12/22/15    4. Pati’s Two Blocks from One, Block 1 released on 12/17/15

Since you already have access to the instructions to make the blocks, thanks to Janome, I thought we might discuss some tips for designing with solid fabrics. Because most quilt fabric companies now offer their own signature line of solids, there are so many options available to us, that it can be a bit daunting to know where and how to begin. So, let’s do that – start at the beginning.2015-06-16 11.25.18

When the fabric first arrived in the mail for our 100 Blocks project, Laura and I had a tough time deciding how to ration out our stash. Michael Miller’s Cotton Couture Fabrics are, as you may know by now, some of my favorites. I love the saturated colors, the wide range of color options and the oh-so soft hand of the fabric, which make it really enjoyable to work with. But, it was still a challenge to commit to a color palette for our blocks. We were working at a cutting table that happened to be holding a  beautiful display of gladiolas. I looked up and realized that our color palette was right there in front of me in nature’s display!

Fabric inspiration

It’s not always that easy, though. So, read on for a few great tips. Once you have omitted the need to balance the scales of prints, you will see that you have opened up so many opportunities to new design possibilities! But balance is still the operative word. The balance of color, texture, proportion and warmth in choosing solid fabrics are a key part of your design. Here are our tips –  choose one or all, but be mindful of all of them as you work through your design.

Top 10 Tips for Quilt Designs with Solid Fabrics

Inspiration-Jennifer Rounds, Citrus fruit plate1.  Consider starting with an inspiration piece. This could be anything from a photograph to a ceramic pot, or a historical quilt. You are looking for something that inspires you emotionally, not literally. Draw from the color combinations that are used.

Selection of Solids at Wooden Gate Quilts

2. Be aware of texture, sheen and weave in the solids you are choosing. It may be a simple answer to choose from the same manufacturer’s line for consistency. But by mixing it up a bit in these three areas, you may be adding depth and interest to your final work. Check out all your options at your favorite quilt shops.


Vintage Cheddar and White Quilt3. Choose a minimal color palette to create elements with striking graphic design. Consider the one and two color historical quilts and the strong graphic elements that they evoke. Think of the overall impact of the finished quilt and don’t get caught up in focusing on just the individual blocks.



Salvege-Markings4. Choose a multi-color palette to create a dynamic and exciting overall design. Or as, Gianni Versace once said, “less is a snore.”  A multi-colored print is a great place to draw color inspiration from. Use the colored dots on the selvedge to shape your color palette. These are the manufacturer’s registration marks and are usually tried and true. Now, take a moment and look at the amount of each color used in the fabric design. Read on to # 5 . . . .

Close up of Achoo by See How We Sew5. Explore proportions. You can control the interaction of color choices by size and placement. Solid fabrics have a greater visual impact than prints. Manipulate this with the interaction of large and small elements to create drama and effect. 


Michael Miller Cotton Couture

6. Rely on the rules of color theory –  Just as with prints, be aware of balancing the amount of light, medium and dark colors you choose. You will find solids in every hue, value, tint and shade.Line your stash up in a manageable order by one of these categories. Move them around, tweak the order and placement. Make sure that they all play well together.

Happy Little Placemats by Pati Fried7. Be aware of saturated colors vs. non-saturated colors. Saturation offers wide range of impact and can also play an important role in the final results. Use a large amount of a strong color for a wow factor, or just add a sliver of an unusual color for accent or interest.

8. Combine warm colors with cool colors. Warm colors tend to advance, while cool colors recede. Think of designing a room in your home. Would you be happy with a completely cool, blue bedroom? Adding a lavender lamp to your bedside may give just the touch of warmth needed. How about a sumptuous red dining room? A slate blue vase might be the perfect accent to  offset the warm reds.

9. Add a repeating neutral to bring cohesiveness to the design-even if your neutral is red or turquoise. It will give consistency and flow to a busy design.


Let It Rain by Pati Fried

10. Consider negative vs. positive space. This could be a complete topic on it’s own . . .  but in short, use negative space to your advantage, allowing a resting place between solid color elements. This allows each element and color to be appreciated. I think of it as the difference between a photo collage on a refrigerator vs. choosing a few precious photos to frame and hang on the wall. Each is wonderful in it’s own way, but you are looking at the refrigerator as one big photo essay, and the wall as individual moments in time.


Congratulations go to MoeWest, the winner of a copy of Laura’s book, Quilts! Quilts!! Quilts!!!, third edition.  Laura will be in contact with you shortly to arrange shipping.

Laura and I want to wish you all a wonderful holiday season and a new year filled with peace, happiness and love. We will see you back here in 2016 for another year of fun with See How We Sew!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Laura & Pati

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


100 Quilt Blocks in 50 Days!

Janome and Michael Miller Fabrics have teamed up with a really fun project we would like to share with you. 100 Blocks in 50 Days.

Laura and I were asked to design some blocks for this project a few months ago. The blocks were to be made from a selection of 10 scrumptious colors from one of my favorite fabric lines, Cotton Couture by Micheal Miller. 100 blocks total, were created by quilters from 40 different states and 5 different countries. The blocks were then assembled and presented at Quilt Market in Houston last week in this stunning quilt. Isn’t it amazing?

100qb So, this is where you come in . . .

All of these wonderful blocks are now being released, two at a time, on Janome’s blog, along with FREE downloadable instructions for each block! There is also a link for you to check out who the designer is.  Every weekeday beginning on October 19th going through December 25th  two new blocks have, and will, be released. How cool is that? It’s not too late to sign up to have the remaining blocks delivered to your email box every morning – Sign up here100quilt-blocks-3

If you want to catch up on the blocks already released, you can find them at 100 Quilt Blocks Downloads or follow along on Michael Miller’s Pinterest Board – 100 Blocks in 50 Days. Laura and my blocks will be released on November 9th, December 16th, 17th and 22nd. We will post a little info on how we created these blocks  on the days they are released. So, stay tuned!

Interested in making the quilt? I sure am!

janome cc

This Cotton Couture fabric bundle just happens to be the right amount of each color to make all 100 of the blocks. It is available to purchase at any Authorized Janome Dealer.

And – there are some opportunities to win some cool prizes.

Submit photos for a chance to win a Horizon Memory Craft 8900QCP Special Edition

Share on Instagram with #100quiltblocks

I feel like an infomercial, but . . . Wait! there’s more!


Whew! I am exhausted – that’s a lot of info!

I am going to finish up by mentioning that Carol Van Zandt has been busy photographing the beautiful quilts at Houston Quilt Market last week. I think I will take a little time to enjoy her wonderful photos here. You should too!

Have a great week!Pati

Tumbling Diamonds Block – Improvisational (Re)Design – Part 3

Untitled-1I hope you have been following the past few weeks with See How We Sew, as we continue to explore quilt block design. Laura passed the baton on to me this week to see what I would do with the Tumbling Diamond Block that she found in one of her old favorite quilt books, The Quilters"Tumbling Diamonds" quilt featured in the book, The Quilters.

Before getting started – can we just take a moment to appreciate Laura’s knowledge and instruction in her posts the past 2 weeks? I learned so much! I hope you did too! And what about the cool design created when she used the mirror to show her block in repeat? Just saying . . . it was a real eye opener for me. If you missed her posts, take a moment to go back and catch up on all the fun:

Introduction Video

Drafting a Tumbling Diamond Quilt Block

Constructing a Tumbling Diamond Quilt Block

I loved the fabrics Laura chose for this challenge. But, I was drawn to the very minimalist block in the second row of the inspiration quilt. So, I decided to add solid white to the combination to help achieve that same feel.FabricI guess you could call today’s blog post, Tumbling Diamonds Part 3, The Sequel, or maybe even Technical Block Design Goes Rogue. I began as I often do – by cutting and sewing a few curves, kind of like a little bit of warm up to get me started. If you are interested in learning this technique, check out our video, Cutting and Sewing Curves Tutorial.

2015-09-24 15.12.27

I followed Steps 2 and 3 of Laura’s instructions to construct my diamonds. By adding the curved strips, my diamonds took on a life of their own, though. I see this as a good thing – I want to focus on movement and a whole lot of wonky direction.

2015-09-24 16.34.07

I knew that the block needed to be completely improvisational to obtain this. My challenge was, how to keep the free form construction when the original block had so many angles and y seams? It just wasn’t as obvious to me as deconstructing a Nine Patch or Log Cabin would be. I decided that the answer was to construct my block in three respective rows, which would allow plenty of room to emphasize those wonky angles to my diamonds.

2015-09-24 17.30.30

Once I created my three rows, the next step was to attach them. Remember my warm-up excercise? I went back to cutting more curves, this time, the angles of the diamonds dictated the shape of my curve.  This made it fairly simple to attach the three rows.

2015-09-24 17.33.25

Because of all the random angles and curves I added into the block, it definitely did not end up square at this point.
2015-09-24 17.55.58

Adding a border to square up my block was an option. I simply relied on curved piecing again to accomplish this step.2015-09-24 18.47.02

The busy print added a lot of movement, but the border was not exactly what I had in mind.  This is where I went a little rogue. I wanted to think outside of the box on this re-design and here it is. . .2015-10-16 09.14.01

Why not trim the busy print down to 1/2″, then turn it under to look almost like a binding? Just enough to show a peak of the busy lines in the fabric.

2015-10-16 09.30.06


Then finish as an applique block with a background block. By doing this, the block takes on a totally different look, depending on the background choice. It also keeps the wonky movement that I was trying to achieve. Which one do you think works the best? Leave a comment and let me know!


That was fun, Laura!  I guess I need to come up with a challenge to hand off to you next time.

In the mean time, Carol Van Zandt has had her camera out and taking photos of all the wonderful quilt events that have been happening in our area. We will be sharing the links over the next few weeks. Be sure to check out her blog, The Plaid Portico for a lovely photo post Freddy Moran at Quilting in the Garden.

Have a great week and keep on quilting!


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

Shortcuts! A few quick tricks for a fast, fun quilt.

A while back, I kept hearing about quick and fun ways to make blocks using unusual construction techniques. I would hear about one, then someone would say, “Oh -that reminds me of another one!” That’s when I started thinking it would be fun to put them all together into one quilt – and so I did.

It is appropriately named, Shortcuts!


Shortcuts! was designed so that it could easily be made with one layer cake, along with a few extra scraps, and a background fabric. Many of the blocks have a 3-dimensional aspect to them, which adds even more fun to the quilt. I taught this last spring in a workshop and the results were wonderful! I was surprised at how quickly the blocks went together. You can see some of the work here. Most of the students used a layer cake, so each quilt had a look completely different from the next.

At the end of January, I will be teaching the class again at Broadway Quilts in Sonoma, California. I wanted to make the quilt in a completely different color palette and a more contemporary style of fabrics to take with me. I used a colorful group of Grunge Basics, a selection from a layer cake called  Comma by Zen Chic and a fabulous background fabric from Jennifer Sampou’s newest line, color:Full.

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Same blocks, just a few tweaks on how many of each and a totally different placement.

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This time, I chose to showcase the background fabric and use it for the centers of my snowball blocks. It completely changed the overall look, don’t you think?
2015-01-12 12.14.31   2015-01-12 12.13.26

Most of the blocks have a 3-dimensional element tucked in.

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Awesome quilting by Kerry Reed. I love the back almost as much as the front.

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I am always looking for a new way to finish off the center of a Dresden. This one adds a bit of a rustic, folk art feel to the quilt. I simply stacked and fused some circles and then raveled the edges.

I love to rework a quilt in different fabrics to see how much it can vary from one quilt to the next. This quilt is so fun to make, I could just keep going and going! I am now putting the finishing touches on the pattern for this quilt. I will let you know when it is ready.

Have a fabulous weekend.

Pati Signature

Don’t You Just Love it When Quilt Blocks Fit Together?

Theme and border fabrics for baby hexie quilt:  Wee Wander by Sarah Jane for Michael Miller Fabric. (click image to visit Sarah Jane)
Theme and border fabrics for baby hexie quilt: Wee Wander by Sarah Jane for Michael Miller Fabrics. (click image to visit Sarah Jane)

Hello. Yes, I’m still in project-making mode here and have just completed a baby quilt for the daughter of family friends that I’d love to share with you. Initially, I thought I’d go full Modern, but her mother’s words uttered years ago rang in my memory, “Rebecca is such a girly girl.”

Somehow minimal stripes and lots of quilted negative space weren’t suitable for her, especially with the naïve and pretty prints I’d selected for the baby quilt. I’d cued their selection on a preview photo of Rebecca’s freshly painted nursery.

A Pinterest tour (yes, again, I turned to that dazzling output of creativity) yielded good inspiration, but nah, I didn’t bite. For some reason hexagons piqued my interest, plus they are fun and current. I had so much fun making a Kaffe Fassett hexagon quilt last year that I decided to pull the book from my shelf and take a look. Okay, I felt a shiver of excitement—that was a good sign. If I reduced the number of hexies I figured I could execute a sweet little quilt.

Assembling hexies--opted for an inset detail with the setting triangles for a playful touch.
Assembling hexies–opted for an inset detail with the setting triangles for a playful touch.

Little did I know that “why not?” decision would set me off on one of the best quilt-building weeks I’ve experienced in ages. I had a blast because the pattern assembled like a dream and the cotton/linen fabric combination I’d selected made for perfect pressed seams with my brand-new iron. (Had to trash the old one because it sparked and burned me—fair warning: make sure your iron cord is intact, not worn to bare wire!)

Pressed like a dream--classical sewing technique suggests the reverse side should match the front in execution . . . maybe I had one of those moments?!?
Pressed like a dream–classical sewing technique suggests the reverse side should match the front in execution . . . maybe I had one of those moments?!?
Stained glass view:  back lit finished quilt top.  The insets of the setting triangles illuminated.
Stained glass view: back lit finished quilt top. The insets of the setting triangles illuminated.

As a technical sewer I’m typically a bit haphazard. Now I don’t mean to say that I’m sloppy, I just don’t always end up with a full set of perfect blocks and my quilt tops might have some squirrely matches as a result. Not so with the baby hexie quilt:  aren’t those points delicious?

Sewn with care, this Kaffe Fassett pattern builds perfectly!
Sewn with care, this Kaffe Fassett pattern builds perfectly!
Detail view of the long-arm quilting of Cyndy Rymer.
Detail view of the long-arm quilting of Cyndy Rymer.

I delivered the quilt to the new parents this past Saturday and met tiny William, a perfect little sweetheart of a baby boy. Very manly! Parents and grandparents are over the moon with his arrival—although the novice mother and father could do with a good night’s sleep! Oh I remember that well . . . one groggy night I got lost on the way to the nursery right next door to our bedroom!

Mini hexie quilt label made with scraps.
Mini hexie quilt label made with scraps.
Ready for delivery along with Woodland Bunny by Jellycats--I've got my own Jellycat puppy standing guard by my sewing machine (yes, small obsession!).
Ready for delivery along with Woodland Bunny by Jellycats–I’ve got my own Jellycat puppy standing guard by my sewing machine (yes, a small obsession!).

Isn’t it fun to share quilted love with a new generation? Check back on Friday for the next installment of the Blackbirds & Blossoms Oh-La-La! Quilt-Along–it’s time to finish up the quilt top! Type “Quilt-Along” in the blog Search bar to find the prior installments–also refer to the Pattern library for instructions.


Jennifer Signature


He’s Here, He’s Here (Again): It’s Christmas in July at SHWS!

Pattern-J: Santa Smiles by JenniferSeriously, Jennifer? Christmas in July?  It’s +90º outside!

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.

Pattern-J: Santa Smiles announcement

Blog update (9/22/15): To purchase the complete pattern, go to https://chasingbrightshinyobjects.wordpress.com/project

Check it Out:  Santa Goes Mod & Shakes Up Christmas Decor

Pattern-J: Santa Smiles by MarnieLast 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.

Pattern-J: Santa Smiles by Marnie

Then, when you put all the silvery blue and gray blocks together, you get a rather fabulous and daring tree skirt.

Pattern-J: Santa Smiles by Marnie

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.

Pattern-J: Santa Smiles by Jennifer

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.

Add a stitch for a better world . . . Peace Out! Image-J: Peace Out