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




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



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.



Happy Little Placemats – Easier Than They Look with a Video and Free Downloadable Pattern

Earlier this week, I wrote in my post, A Little Happiness with Cotton Couture Solids, about the latest project I have been playing with. My paper pieced placemats were created to tell a color story using Michael Miller’s great collection of solids. As you can see, no two are alike, which made my job soooo much fun. It was as if I were making 4 different miniature quilts!

Happy Little Placemats by Pati Fried for See How We Sew
As complicated as they look – once I got the hang of it, they were actually quite easy. I thought it would be fun to share with you the process, a few tips, along with a free downloadable for you to play with and create your own paper pieced project.

Photo Courtesy of Michael Miller Fabrics

Writing the instructions is definitely harder than making the actual project! I tend to work improvisationally, so it is always a challenge for me to translate my work into words. Since this is a free download, I am going to take a different approach today and simply talk you through the process – there will be more specific directions in the download.

So, put the rotary cutter down, grab a cup of coffee and let’s just walk through the steps together to make these little gems. I urge you give it a try, be open to experimenting and you will end up with your own unique creation.

You can print out the the free downloadable here:     Happy Little Placemats Instructions and Foundation Papers

I recommend printing them on a lightweight newsprint or specialty foundation paper. If you have never paper pieced before, Connecting Threads has a very thorough blog post on all things paper piecing. It also discusses the different types of paper to use.

My finished placemats are 12 x 18”, but both dimensions can be easily adjusted to make a pillow, tote bag, or whatever your heart desires.

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I chose 6 colors of solids in small cuts, a white “sashing” for impact, and gray for the final edge, face binding and backing. Experimenting with mixing solids and prints to get the look you want. That’s what this is all about, right? Playing!

I cut strips of each color to make the variegated stripes. Don’t let the printout scare you. It is actually quite easy and a great way to practice paper piecing. It takes a little time, but you will soon get a rhythm going and you will never more perfect 1/4″ piecing than this!!!

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Paper piecing is one of those things that makes a lot more sense as you go through the motions. Do it once and you will get it forever. Once the sheet is filled with your lovely piecing, follow the directions on the printout to trim the sections out to the correct widths and tips on how to extend the lengths.2015-03-31 08.18.57

Now that you have some practice under your belt, try your hand at the triangle designs. I suggest you cut a 3″ x 9″ wide strips of fabric to start. The size you need will vary with each design. After one or two passes, you will know how big the rectangles need to be. Remember, stitch and flip, stitch and flip. More directions are listed on the printout. Believe me, you will knock them out in no time. If you like one design more than the others, try repeating it in a different color combination. Mix and match for a new look.

Once all your strips are pieced, it’s time to play with your design!!! Yay! That should make you happy. If not, hmmmm, maybe you need to watch my video:

Inspired to finish now? Great! Line up the strips to your liking. The width of the solid strip in the center is determined by the amount needed to reach your desired width. This is where you might be happy to have a little extra length to position your sections where you want them.2015-05-03 12.01.47

Time to sew your little gems together. Here is a hint: leave the foundation paper on until you have sewn all the white sashing in place. It will help keep your lines neat and straight. I cut my sashing oversized, stitched one side in place, then trimmed to 1/2″. I then stitched the next strip in place. It worked really well and kept the wavy seams away. I also decided to insert gray as the last few on each end and then finished with a 2 1/2″” strip as my edge. 2015-05-05 12.20.03

I kept the quilting very simple, in the ditch and not too much of it. I chose a Faced Binding, so as not to distract from the design. For more on Faced Bindings, read Jennifer’s Round’s post Infinity Edges in the Quilts.

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And there you have it! Happy Little Placemats for you to brighten your summer table with. I hope you share your finished projects with us on our SHWS Facebook Page or catch me on Instagramunnamed (1)

As always, thanks for reading! Have a great weekend.


A Little Happiness with Cotton Couture Solids

I have been doing a bit of teasing on social media lately. If you follow our Facebook  page or my Instagram, you may have seen snippets of some overly zealous paper piecing I have been working on. The good news is the project is finished and I am finally ready to share!
Paper piecing with Cotton Couture Solids A few months ago, I was asked to work on a project featuring Cotton Couture Solids for Michael Miller Fabrics. It was to showcase a color story from this beautiful line. They sent me a few ideas on what they were looking for, along with the oh-so-cool Color Card Swatch Book. Michael Miller's Cotton Couture Swatch BookJust flipping through the swatch cards put me over the moon with happiness. The colors are amazing and the fabric feels buttery soft and light. But to pick a color palette? Oh, my, that was a tough decision. There were so many to choose from. Being the creature of habit that I am, I of course, eventually chose their red collection in all it’s glory.

Cotton Couture by Michael Miller Fabrics

Somewhere, in bouncing ideas around, I got it in my head that I wanted to do some over-the-top paper piecing. Ok, a quilt would be out of the question – but what about placemats? That would be manageable! So I cruised Google Images, looking for a spark of inspiration. I found an unusual, graphic rug that had an interesting design element to it.

Safavieh Handmade Casablanca Moroccan Rug
Safavieh Handmade Casablanca Moroccan Rug

I pulled out my sketchpad – and so it began. Before I knew it, I was happily sewing multiple strips together of various tints, shades, shapes and widths with my glorious, red family of solids – which made me very happy!

Paper Piecing with Cotton Couture

It got a bit addictive. Each strip was an opportunity to try something different! Gray and white helped separate the busyness, so that you could really appreciate each color combination.

Paper pieced placemats by Pati Fried for See How We Sew

After a few Netflix episodes and some afternoons of stitching, I combined the strips into a set of two  placemats, which you see here. Each is unique and different, yet they are seem to play well together. Happy little things, aren’t they?

Paper pieced placemats by Pati Fried for See How We Sew

I quickly mailed them off to Michael Miller Fabrics for a photo shoot for last week’s Quilt Market. Kudos to their photographer. Isn’t the table setting wonderful?

Photo Courtesy of Michael Miller Fabrics

Photo Courtesy of Michael Miller Fabrics

Photo Courtesy of Michael Miller Fabrics

Photo Courtesy of Michael Miller Fabrics

My little placemats really dress up nicely, don’t they? I am so HAPPY about how they turned out!

Are you picking up on the word “happy” being used quite often in this post? Just remember that thought, because on Friday, my “happiness” theme will all make sense. I will be sharing with you a second set of placemats made from yummy shades of green, along with a fun video showing the process of making them.

And there’s more! I’ll share a free downloadable pattern of the project for you to make your own set of paper pieced placemats!

I would love to hear what makes you happy when sewing. Leave a comment if you would like to share some happiness.

See you Friday,


My Urban Tunic in Crossroads Denim and a Pattern Giveaway!

On the Design Wall with P&B Textiles

A while back, I received a lovely bundle of P&B Textiles to play with. It was perfect timing, because Laura and I were just beginning our exploration with wedge rulers. New fabric and new quilty toys – now what could be better?1st-shipment-of-fat-quarters-300x225

For my first project, I started with sewing up selected 2 1/2″ strips from Bella Suede and Suede Medley, along with one sweet little green print from the Blissful Moments line. Since I had no idea where I was going with this, I wanted to stay with a minimal color palette – to keep some control in the design. I chose a light to dark combination in greens and blues that had a gradating effect

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Next, I cut my strips to a 20″ width and then proceeded to cut out wedges with a 24 degree wedge ruler that we were experimenting with from Quints Measuring Systems. I alternated up and down, so that I wouldn’t have any waste.


Then I was off to the design wall to see what I could come up with! This is definitely my favorite part of the process.


I liked alternating them, but my wedges seemed to blend into each other too much, so spacing them out helped to emphasize their shape more. Hmmm… That just might work. Now to repeat that for another row.

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I added white strips between each wedge to give a crip, clean edge to the layout. .

Finish it off with white setting triangles and some borders. For my setting triangles, I just cut my wedges out of white and then sliced them in half lengthwise.


For quilting, I stitched some simple, straight lines with my walking foot. Almost finished, right?2015-03-15 13.12.40

Well, of course not. While I was quilting, I kept thinking about how cool some “Big Stitch” handwork would look. I could just follow the lines of the fabric strips in some coordinating threads to give it an interesting texture.

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So, I guess you won’t be seeing a finished project quite yet. But, the good news is, it’s a beautiful sunny afternoon – I think I will just plop myself down outside and get started on the handwork! Wish you could join me!

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Carol Van Zandt has been busy adding more photos to her blog. Be sure to click over to Plaid Portico to see her latest installment of Quiltcon 2015 photos. Quiltcon 2015 Improvisation Category Part 1 and Part 2

Have a good week!



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?
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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

Making Waves with Kim Andersson’s Tidal Lace Collection – Blog Hop & Giveaway Today!

Welcome to Day 5 of the  Tidal Lace Blog Hop showcasing Kim Andersson’s first collection with Windham Fabrics. We are so happy to be a stop on Kim’s tour!
Tidal Lace Blog Hop Tour
I’ve known Kim for a few years–remember she was one of our guest bloggers, earlier this year–and I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Kim bring her beautiful drawings to life in Tidal Lace. The fabric line has a special place in my heart as it reminds me of my favorite beach getaway, the town of Bolinas, just north of San Francisco. And would you believe that Kim also visited Bolinas while working on Tidal Lace! (It is so special that locals have been known to remove the highway sign telling you how to get there!)
Beach Ball Quilt
Pattern for Making Waves is now available on our Pattern Page.
We designed A Day at the Shore for the Tidal Lace fabric line to capture a feeling of a day at the beach. Remember that moment when you unfold and flick your beach towel so it catches the wind and then floats down to a patch of sun-warmed  sand? Grab your ice cold drink, sunscreen, and summer-time read . . . it’s beach time!

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