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


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

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




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.

2015-03-22 10.41.14

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!!!

2015-04-29 16.40.11

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.

2015-05-05 13.35.19

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,