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.

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








Quilt-Along Panel 2 for Blackbirds & Blossoms Oh-La-La!

                                         Panel 2 (A) applique  Panel 2(B) applique

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!

Panel 2(A) cropped

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!

Panel 2 (A) appliquePanel 2(B) applique

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!

Panel 2(A)         Panel 2(B)

And that my friend, concludes round 2 of our Quilt-Along! Be sure to share photos with us on our SHWS Facebook page and I will pin them to our Quilt-Along Pinterest Board!

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!

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Quilting Wisdom: Collected Thoughts from See How We Sew

Probably one of the nicest aspects of sewing arts is our tradition of sharing knowledge and expertise. As we absolutely love to spread quilt making, sewing, and crafting know-how, here’s a few lessons and insights picked up by your “quilting sisters” at See How We Sew:

Inspiration-J:  Thread

Best piece of quilting advice you ever got?

Darra: It was a quote I saw in American Quilter magazine, probably in the late ’80s, in an article written by Joen Wolfrom. In it she said: “A finished quilt which has no imperfections, artistically or technically, is one that was created within the quilter’s comfort zone. No significant learning will take place when we stay in this safe place.”

I had never met Joen, but this quote struck an enormous chord with me.  I copied it down and taped it on the wall of my sewing room. When I began to travel and teach, I carried the quote with me and read it at the beginning of almost every workshop.

In 1993, I found myself teaching at a quilting event in Northern Virginia. Joen was one of the other teachers. We connected almost immediately, and—over the past almost-20 (!) years—have become close personal, as well as professional, friends. To this day, I still continue to try something new—however small—with every quilt I make.

Jennifer:  My bit of gathered advice is really a visual lesson I picked up back in the days when I did Publicity at C&T Publishing.  I came across, to my mind, one of the most insanely compulsive quilting titles ever, Stripes in Quilts by Mary Mashuta. I was dumbfounded by the attention to striped detail she displayed:  every striped block or strip was fussy cut to the nth degree for perfect matches. The resulting quilts were masterful, but I seriously doubted I would go down that road with my own quilts. Ah well, the years pass, experience grows, and a sense of craftsmanship blooms. All told, that book delivered a serious lesson in respecting a fabric’s print design–I think, I look, and I plan before I cut!

Laura: I often find myself in a stuck spot with either color and/or design. Years ago I remember my co-author Diana McClun telling me that if I was not pleased with my design it was often a matter of value. I always keep this thought in the back of my mind and try to include a variety of light, medium, and dark-colored fabrics. When I remember to listen to this advice, I am always happier with the results.

Pati: The best advice I ever got came in the form of a question while I was stressing over perfect center points on very small Lemoyne Stars. “When you are finished, and it is quilted and sitting on your lap, will you really care if it doesn’t have perfect points?” I go back to this each time I am worrying over something–quilting-related or not!

Inspiration-J:  Thread still lifeFavorite quilt book(s) for inspiration?

Darra: Any of the Quilt National books. Other favorites include Fabric Gardens: An International Exhibition of Quilts at Expo ’90 (catalog for a Japanese exhibit that traveled to The Dairy Barn in Athens, OH), Patchwork Pictures (the work of British fiber artist Edrica Huws), Landscape in Contemporary Quilts by Ineke Berlyn, and Quilts in Bloom (Blumen der Mainau; catalog for an exhibit in Germany).

Jennifer: Anything by Ruth McDowell—she’s a genius after all. Kaffe Fassett’s early hardback books with the photography by Steve Lovi are among my favorites for eye candy, I like the newer ones as well, but the original ones set the standard.

Laura: I often start with either Barbara Brackman’s Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns or Jinny Beyer’s The Quilter’s Album of Patchwork Patterns. I enjoy tweeking and changing some of the traditional patterns to suit my needs.

Pati: The Ultimate Quilting Book by Maggi McCormick Gordon. I curl up on the couch on a regular basis with this book for historical inspiration. I also tend to go to Folk Art and Textile books for inspiration. One of my favorites is Ralli Quilts – Traditional Textiles from Pakistan and India by Patricia Ormsby Stoddard.

QQQ3 cover

Book that most influenced you as a new quilter?

Darra: Pieces of the Past by Marsha McCloskey and Nancy Martin was a big one for me. I collected antique quilts before I became a quilter, and have been very inspired by them right from the start . . . especially scrap quilts. I was also very drawn to The Scrap Look by Jinny Beyer, Calico and Beyond by Roberta Horton, and Threads of Time by Nancy Martin. There have been tons of books written on scrap quilts since, but I still go back to these classics, over and over. From the first day I started teaching, Quilts! Quilts!! Quilts!!! has always been my #1 recommendation for new quilters.

Jennifer: An old McCall’s series (1980’s) on quilting—my starting point—and then Quilts! Quilts!! Quilts!!! of course.  Imagine my surprise, the authors are now my friends!

Laura: Shortly after learning to quilt, I was fortunate enough to spend 5 days at a quilting seminar with Mary Ellen Hopkins. She taught out of her book It’s OK if You Sit on My Quilt. The book was chockfull of patterns and techniques. I wanted to make every one. The seminar and book inspired me to share my new found passion with others in the classroom.

Pati: Definitely, the first edition of Quilts! Quilts!! Quilts!!! by our own, Laura Nownes and Diana McClun. This was my first quilting book I had ever purchased. I referred to it so many times for myself or to teach others, that I wore it out!


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