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

A New Quilt Pattern and a Giveaway

File Sep 11, 8 14 52 AMCalifornia is in the middle of a heat wave this week. The timing seems really odd to be announcing a new quilt pattern called Winter Brrrd Houses. But that is what I am doing! Winter Brrrd Houses is here, and now available through my Etsy shop and will be on our SHWS Pattern Page. And to celebrate, we are giving away a free pattern today!

WinterBrrrd Houses Pattern by Pati Fried
Winter Brrrd Houses has something for everyone. The pattern mixes piecing, improvisational curves, applique and a little bit of embroidery. Trust me, you will not get bored from making the same block over and over again with this project. I made 30 birdhouses from the start of the quilt to the completion of the pattern. Each one had its own personality. It was so much fun choosing the fabrics and sizes, that I could just keep on going!

The pattern is designed to give you oodles of options to add your own unique spin on the project. The quilt and the pattern have my name on it, but I will be the first to tell you – Laura was a huge part of writing this pattern. We all know that writing a pattern with solid technical instructions is tough. Choosing to include improvisational design options made it twice the challenge. I am so grateful to have had Laura’s expertise along the way.

Winter Brrrd Houses by Pati Fried

Last week, I gave a peek of the sample that Laura and I put together at our sew day. I’m excited to say I just received a few photos from Kerry Reed, who has been busy quilting for me and sent some teasers while working away. This is the Spring version of the quilt. Same technique, just different fabric choices and layout. Remember, I mentioned oodles of design options? Spring Bird Houses by See How We Sew

Laura and I are teaching a birdhouse workshop to the Piece by Piece Quilters of Morgan Hill, Ca. next week. It will be fun to team teach this project now, after working so hard together to complete the pattern.
Indigo Bird Houses close up by Pati FriedAbout a week ago, I tried making two more versions. The first time, I followed the pattern exactly, with not a stitch of improv in sight. I even omitted the curve piecing. Ok, I did decide to change the birdhouse doors a bit. I also used some of my cherished indigo fabrics to punch it up. Simple, quick and still lots of fun to make.Indigo Bird Houses by Pati Fried

In the second version, I threw all the rules out the window except for the cutting instructions for the roofs. I wanted to see what would happen if I sized the houses differently. How would it look if my points were off?


I also over sized the background sections, to give me a chance to play with the layout. The curve piecing was a natural fit at this point – I was just filling in the blanks. At some point it became a little French city, not a flurry of birdhouses. And can we just take a moment to notice the quilting?
French Houses by Pati FriedSo there you have it. Four versions of what can be done with one pattern. My hope is that a few of our readers will take my lead and create their own unique designs, using the tips and techniques shared in the pattern. In fact . . .


leave a comment on what your version might be like – and I will choose a winner to receive a free pattern!

Have a great weekend!


Sneak a Peek at a New Birdhouse Quilt from Laura and Pati’s Sew Day

Today was a sew day for Laura and I. We are teaching a guild workshop in September on the Winter Brrrd Houses quilt. We thought it would be fun to experiment with making a different version of the quilt.

Laura brought some Kaffe Fasset fabrics and this wonderful white-on-white background fabric. I’m not sure if it was the white against the saturated color, or the strong graphics against the organic florals – but something really popped between this fabric combination. I had a stash of Moda Grunge, along with Robert Kaufman Quilters’ Linen that were just begging to be added into the mix. And so, with no preconceived notions in mind, we decided to start by making two houses each.


Winter Brrrd Houses – Pattern Available Soon!

The houses were oh-so-cute, but we were a bit befuddled about what fabrics to add into the background plan. As you can see in the original quilt, the background represented a winter scene with drifts of snow. As much as we liked the background we chose, it just didn’t look right with any of the grays in my stash.

So we simply switched seasons!

Striped posts against a spring green hillside – now that works!

And so we’re off and running. It’s funny how things work out. Neither of us knew where we were headed with this quilt, but we just kept sewing until the ideas surfaced. It’s so fun to collaborate on quilts!

If you are interested in watching the progress on this quilt, I will put some photos up on Facebook Page and Instagram as it develops. If you’re not connected with us – now is a good time to do so.

See you Friday!


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.


My Urban Tunic in Crossroads Denim and a Pattern Giveaway!

St. Nick Stockings

While I was visiting my home town in Iowa a few weeks ago, I was part of a 2 day “Quilt Fest” fundraiser. I shared a project with the quilters called St. Nick Stockings. I can’t take too much credit for this pattern, because it started with a freebie pattern from Moda called Secret Santa Stocking. You can get a Moda’s free downloadable pattern here: Secret Santa Stocking.

Moda Secret Santa Stocking

If you know anything about me, you know that I can’t ever leave well enough alone. I decided to enlarge it, make a few different sizes, then add a lining and a contrasting cuff. Here are my 3 sizes that I used for class samples.St. Nick's Stockings
It was so fun to watch the quilters at Quilt Fest come up with different fabric combinations. Here are a few of the stockings created that day.

 Iowa stocking 1     Iowa stocking 3

Iowa stocking 2   Iowa stocking 4

Iowa stocking 7   Iowa stocking 8

Iowa stocking 5   Iowa stocking 6

 Aren’t they fun?

Have a wonderful weekend!

Pati Fried Signature

Mom & Me Quilt Boutique

Since SHWS offered its first post to the world of bloggers, we have had our very helpful and knowledgeable “behind the scenes” gal assist us with everything from designing the banner, adding and re-sizing images to uploading videos. We were all new to the world of blogging so having someone knowledgeable to guide us was a big plus. Our wonderful go-to girl just happens to be my niece, Michelle. She was always there for us, day or night, when things just became too challenging for us to manage.  Thanks, Michelle for always coming to the rescue!

Over the years, I think all this “quilty” stuff has rubbed off on Michelle, as she has traveled and worked with me at shows and other quilt-related events. I was thrilled when a few years ago she expressed an interest in taking one of my beginning quilting classes, and even more delighted to see the beautiful quilts she has made for many of her friends and family members.

We are all happy to have Michelle share some of her first creations with you today. Please enjoy!

Laura Signature


Hello See How We Sew Readers! I am so happy to be able to share with you my new patterns for children’s quilts.

I started my first quilt at age 14 with my mom by my side. I think I got all of the fabric cut out and a few pieces sewed together. Then it sat on a shelf until I was 21. My mom came to visit me in Green Bay, WI and we sat down and finished the quilt together. Mainly me looking over her shoulder and bringing her the next piece to be sewed. But, we did it! The quilt top was finally done and it looked great. I had a friend who was willing to help me tie the quilt and show me how to bind it. This was the easiest part! I love this quilt because it was the start of something. I didn’t know at the time how much quilting would be a part of my life.


About a year after finishing this quilt I moved to the Bay Area. I was less than 15 minutes from the famous Laura Nownes, who I am honored to call my Aunt. She has been such a great influence on my quilting skills and knowledge! I started working with her on her patterns and doing the graphics for them. She suggested I take one of the classes she taught at Thimble Creek Quilt Shop. This was the start of my quilting bug! I learned so much and had such a wonderful time each week gaining more knowledge in this wonderful craft of quilting.


Each week I visited my Mom in Sacramento and we would talk about my fun times quilting. She was going through chemotherapy and when she was feeling up to it we would spend our time together quilting. I would cut, she would sew, and we would figure out how to put a quilt together. It was such great fun and has left me with great memories.  She told me that I would be in charge of making quilts for all of her grandchildren.  Little did either of us know that I would end up making the four quilts we finished into patterns!

Quilt Patterns

I’ve since given the ‘Child’s Play’ quilt to my son, Warren (left) and ‘Zig the Zag’ went to my nephew, Arlo (right).  Mom’s fight with cancer ended in December, 2011 and though she never got to meet either of these little ones, her legacy lives on in the quilts we made together. I am so grateful to have these quilts as treasures for her grandchildren and the memories that I have from making them with her.



I hope you will look at each of the patterns and find one that excites you. We used basic blocks and put them together in fun new ways. Head on over to Etsy and check out my shop!


1-Giveaway Icon

I am so honored to be able to share my patterns with you that I will be giving away one of each pattern to 4 lucky winners. Leave a comment below telling me which pattern is your favorite and your best quilting memory.

Crossover to the Middle with Pattern Designer Jessica J. E. Smith

True Evening © Jessica J.E. Smith

Once again, let me introduce this week’s guest, Jessica J.E. Smith of The Quilt and Needle. If you missed the Tuesday post, be sure to go back and read it. “Jess” is back today to answer a question she hears often in her business as a quilt pattern designer. Welcome back, Jess!. – Pati

Labels can mean everything to a designer. Modern, traditional, art, whimsical – what is your design style?

Jessica Smith

My style? Uh . . .well . . . um . . . so the thing is . . . . Hey look, a butterfly!

I have nothing against labels, but I really have a hard time fitting myself into one category. I have been fortunate enough to dabble in designing quilts that fall into each of these categories. And if you ask me to choose, I’ll split myself apart trying to decide. I love all my . . . wait for it . . . babies.


The design process varies for every artist, but one step for any responsible quilt designer is to test your design. Over the years I have developed a great relationship with a large handful of testers, and I have learned which of these “labels” each of my testers fancies for themselves.

My mom, for example, is a traditional pattern piecer. She is also quite keen to speak her mind when she is not impressed with a design. I can trust that designs that appeal to Mom will also appeal to other traditionalists out there; and those that don’t, won’t.

Mom Loves Chrysalis!
Mom loves Chrysalis! © Jessica J.E. Smith

Those that don’t appeal to Mom, however, are held in high esteem by my quirky editor, Lizzie Haskel of Frolicking Threads. Her modern-minded family also likes to chime in on my designs. I always have a good guess on which patterns my modern followers will go gaga over.

Urban Runner and High Line Table Runner
Urban Runner and High Line Table Runner © Jessica J.E. Smith

I’ve noticed an interesting trend with my testers, however. Some of my patterns are favored by all. These patterns have been standouts for me when I attend Market, garnering attention from both sides of the traditional vs. modern debate. Internally, we (at The Quilt and Needle) have started to label these appealing designs Crossover patterns. Ugh. I know. Another label. But since this new label actually combines two existing labels into one, I think it’s a win win.

Outside the Box
Lizzie Haskel’s Outside the Box; Pattern © Jessica J.E. Smith
Flingo © Jessica J.E. Smith

So what makes a pattern a Crossover pattern?

Sometimes I take a traditional (read old) block and mix it up, twist it up, cut it up, pull it apart . . .  you get the idea. I mess with a traditional block to liven it up a bit, and come up with a pattern that traditionalists enjoy because they love the block. And modernists love them too because they like the freshness of the design.

True Evening
True Evening © Jessica J.E. Smith

Sometimes a great Crossover pattern is appealing because of its simplicity. This allows the quilt-maker to choose their favorite style of fabrics, which will ultimately dictate the label their quilt top will fall under. 

Group 2

Let’s be real. Many of the same characteristics that are used to define modern quilts are prevalent in traditional designs. When I have asked modern quilters over the years what makes their quilts modern, they have said:

Lots of negative space
Solid fabrics
Improvisational piecing
Geometric shapes 

It occurred to me though, that these elements have always existed in quilting. Yes, there is absolutely a modern quilting style and a list of characteristics that define it. Modern quilting has birthed amazing quilts and given inspiration to such a large number of young quilt enthusiasts that quilting is no longer known only as a grandmotherly craft. Much like new knitting trends and yarn bombing have morphed from an old craft, modern quilting has absolutely enhanced our fabulous trade. But some of my conversations early on made me wonder – Were some of the folks in the modern movement unknowingly, closet-traditional-quilters? Or if perhaps, they were somewhere in the middle!

Here are two examples of quilts that use traditional characteristics with a modern influence.

group 3

There is room for all styles in quilting, modern, traditional, or whatever floats your boat. As for me, well, the view from the middle of the road’s not bad. Not bad at all. – Jessica J. E. Smith

Thanks Jess! What a great way to get the best of all the quilt styles! I especially loved Windsong!  I’ll see you at International Quilt Market Houston next week, when you talk about Crossover Quilts in the Schoolhouse series!

Pati Signature

The Signs are Out There: Amish Quilts Redux + A Book Giveaway!


Quilt-J:  Ocean Waves from Amish & Urban Myra Harder
Ocean Waves from Urban and Amish by Myra Harder, Martingale & Company/That Patchwork Place, 2014

giveaway2It’s inevitable really, the road to learning the quilting craft always passes through Amish Country at some point. While modern quilters may point to the Gee’s Bend quilt exhibition as a clarion call to explore quilt making, Amish quilts also cast their lure with minimal design layouts and vibrant coloration.

I’m seeing a trend here. In the space of a few hours last week, I heard about a challenge issued by  the San Jose Quilt & Textile Museum to several of the modern quilt guilds in the San Francisco Bay Area called  Amish:  The Modern Muse; an  exhibit of antique Ohio Amish quilts from the Darwin Bearley Collection set to open at that same museum in mid-November, AND, a new release from Martingale & Company/That Patchwork Place called Urban and Amish:  Classic Quilts and Modern Updates by Myra Harder. You don’t have to be a seer to note the signs:  Modern Amish is on its way! (Although, there’s always been a timeless modernity about the spare and bold quilts of the Amish.)

Urban and Amish Embraces a Hallowed Tradition and a Modern Aesthetic

Screen shot 2014-10-08 at 4.15.01 PM

Author of Urban and Amish, Myra Harder, comes by her love of Amish quilt making from childhood exposure to the Amish community of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Myra’s Canadian parents moved the family to Lancaster County and lived there for several years before heading back north. The time spent in that rural fastness had a strong impact: Myra’s mother learned quilt making from the Amish women and Myra spent many hours playing with Amish children and learning about their mode of life. Later, when Myra took up quilting, it was an Amish Pineapple quilt displayed in a Lancaster, PA shop that set her on her quilting journey. Myra is a twenty-year veteran of the textiles and quilting industries and attributes her fascination to an ancestral calling “to the cloth,” so to speak, as her family traces its roots to Moravian cloth traders in early colonial history.

Quilt-J: Amish Center Diamond Urban and Amish Myra Harder
Duet partners: Amish Center Diamond from Urban and Amish by Myra Harder
Quilt-J:  Lightening Strike Urban and Amish Myra Harder
Duet partners: Lightning Strike from Urban and Amish by Myra Harder

Urban and Amish brings together two of Myra’s abiding interests: the Amish quilting aesthetic and the modernist trend in contemporary quilt making.  Her tactic is to juxtapose them in 8 duets of quilts: one faithful to Amish tenets of quilt design, and the other, a modern riff on the theme block. The result is 16 quilt projects that can be tackled by all skill levels. The challenge, of course, is in the execution which is something she addresses in her book:  color palettes, print or solids, scale of design, deconstructing blocks. It was interesting to learn that Amish color schemes are specific to each community–Lancaster County quilts do not use black as the darkest hue, navy is the preferred color. (That’s a factoid I’ll store for future use!)

Quilt-J: Amish Bars from Urban and Amish Myra Harder
Duet partners: Amish Bars from Urban and Amish by Myra Harder
Quilt-J:  Horizon Line from Amish & Urban Myra Harder
Duet partners: Horizon Line from Urban and Amish by Myra Harder

Myra Harder’s Urban and Amish is available now through Martingale & Company. Visit the publisher’s website for additional information about the book and author. Ah, don’t neglect to scroll to the bottom for giveaway details–you could win an Urban and Amish eBook from Martingale!

Quilt-J:  Trip Around the World from Urban and Amish Myra Harder
Duet partners: Trip Around the World from Urban and Amish by Myra Harder
Quilt-J:  Trip to NY fromUrban and Amish Myra Harder
Duet partners: Trip to New York from Urban and Amish by Myra Harder

Antique Ohio Amish Quilts from the Darwin Bearley Collection, San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles

Staring November 15, 2014, and running through March 1, 2015, the quilt museum in San Jose, California will host an exhibition of more than 40 quilts from the Bearley collection. The quilts range from doll to bed-sized and cover a timeline from 1880 to 1940. The provenance of each quilt is fully documented with the story of the maker, recipient, and the dealer(s) who found the quilts.

Amish:  The Modern Muse at the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles

To coordinate with the exhibition, the museum issued a challenge to Bay Area modern quilt guilds–East Bay Modern, Bay Area Modern, and South Bay Area Modern–to interpret the Amish style in a modernest vein. The juried exhibition will run concurrently with the Antique Ohio Amish Quilt show. Quilt artist Joe Cunningham will select the quilts that best represent a 21st century interpretation of traditional Amish quilt making. Of course, our resident modernist and guild member, Pati Fried, has a challenge contribution and she’s giving us a peek!

Quilt-J:  Detail of Pati Fried's Amish style quilt

Giveaway Details Here!

Martingale & Company has kindly offered an eBook version of Urban and Amish for a lucky winner. Leave me a comment by Monday, October 13 and I’ll announce the winner in the Tuesday post on the 14th. Here’s your question:  Why the hoopla, aren’t Amish quilts already modern?

Later gators, gotta go make another quilt–modern, but not Amish . . .

Jennifer Signature