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 New Craftsy Class – “Improve Your Quilts – 37 Trouble-Shooting Techniques”

I am so happy to announce today that my new Craftsy class, “Improve Your Quilts – 37 Troubleshooting Techniques” is live. I am grateful to everyone who has supported me on this journey but especially to my very talented production team for making this dream a reality.

Here they are, my Dream Team! This photo was taken at the end of three long days of filming. The are such fun loving and positive troopers. I truly loved working with them. We called this “the wrap” What better way to wrap up a class then with the sampler quilt made in 1988 for my first book, Quilts! Quilts!! Quilts!!!?

My Craftsy Dream Team: Lori, Laffrey & Max.
My Craftsy Dream Team: Lori, Laffrey & Max.

From the moment I entered the studio and was given my own dressing room, and

I was in heaven . . . the walls were covered with fabric!
I was in heaven . . . the walls were covered with fabric!

a makeup artist, my experience was nothing but positive! Thank you sweet Danica, for making me look my best!


Appearing natural in front of a room full of cameras can be a bit intimidating, so my thoughtful producer, Lori put a photo of my “special students” onto the teleprompter to help keep me calm and focused. How sweet is this?

“My Girls”

During this class, you’ll discover an array of tips and tricks no quilter should be without. We’ll dive in with the first step for every quilt project: the fabric! I’ll share helpful strategies for selecting harmonious color palettes, incorporating value and contrast, and even fixing fabric that bleeds. You’ll also learn how to improvise if you run out of fabric, and how to include seam allowances when fussy cutting. Plus, I’ll reveal my go–to sources for inspiration — they’re sure to spark your imagination, too!

Each Craftsy class includes video lessons that you can access anytime, anywhere. They include close-up instruction and I am always there to answer any questions.

Without further ado, please enjoy this class trailer.

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Of course, a BIG thanks to all of you for your continued support of my work. The lucky winner of this class,  selected by Craftsy, has been notified. To all of my other readers, here is a link for my new class. In case you missed it the first round, my Craftsy 2013 Free Block of the Month class is still available. You can access it by simply clicking on the image in the sidebar.

Hope to see you in the classroom!

Laura Signature

A Month to Remember – a wedding, a new Craftsy class and a Giveaway!

ALL good things going on here . . . just super busy. So much so, that I really have not had time to share with you all the exciting details of this past month. Here’s a quick recap, hoping you enjoy!

Last week, my dear Diana McClun and her two daughters hosted a beautiful bridal shower for my daughter, Sara. Diana knew that last year Sara put in her request for a blue and white Double Wedding Ring Quilt. Diana also knew that although my heart wanted to make this quilt for Sara, I was over-the-top busy with a new Craftsy class (more later) and wedding prep, and as a result, I put the quilt project on the back burner. Diana stepped in and with a lot of help from her friends, this is what Diana surprised ALL of us with at the shower! Yes, even I didn’t know this was being made.


Diana says they worked feverishly and completed the quilt in 15 hours!


While Diana and friends were busy making the quilt, I was happily making 16 table runners and 144 cupcakes for the upcoming big event.

Getting ready for a full day of baking!
Getting ready for a full day of baking!

Vanilla, chocolate, carrot and lemon.  My girls and I had a full day of baking and decorating. Not only was it so much fun, they were a huge hit.


The wedding took place last weekend at Ardenwood Historic Farm in Fremont, CA. It was truly a magical day, with the ceremony at the gazebo in front of the beautiful Victorian Patterson House Mansion. The elaborate Victorian gardens provided the setting for the reception. Way too much delicious food and lots of dancing kept everyone warm and happy.  We could not have asked for a better day and most importantly, it was everything Sara had dreamed it would be.


Now on to some more exciting news-

5159_300x250 My NEW Craftsy class will be available on May 22nd! I’m so excited about this one as it is packed with lots of helpful tips and hints for improving your quilt making skills. If you haven’t yet visited the Craftsy website, please be sure to do so. There are an abundance of classes for all levels and styles of quilt making. Once you have purchased a class, it is yours FOREVER . . . and you can access it anytime.

The Craftsy team is offering my class to one of our readers so please take a minute to follow this link for a chance to win my class for free! As soon as Craftsy selects the winner, I will announce it in a future post. Don’t miss this opportunity. I would love to have you join my classroom!

FYI – my first class on Craftsy is the 2013 FREE Block of the Month. It is still available if you missed it the first round.

That’s it for today everyone. Hoping this finds you all well and happy.

Laura Signature

One of Those Weeks. . .

It’s been one of those weeks. . . you know the kind. . . a whirlwind on events that fill every space of your calendar. I’m not complaining, though, because I find I am always more productive when I have to make every moment count.

The week began with a wonderful invitation from Wooden Gate Quilts. I was asked to share my quilts in a trunk show at their shop. Wow! What a surprise! Wooden Gate is such a lovely quilt shop filled with so much inspiration and creativity. I just love to hang out there, so to have my quilts on display in their shop is definitely an honor.

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So, my week began with gathering up a bunch of quilts to take out to them. I never realized how many of those buggers were hiding in every nook and cranny of my house. There are some that I totally forgot I even made! It’s kind of funny how my house looks now without quilts everywhere. There’s a bit of an echo going on.

If you live in the Northern California area, stop by for a visit next week.

Trunk Show

Next on the to do list was finishing up a project that needed to be mailed off for Quilt Market. Here is a sneak peak –

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It is part of a color story with the Michael Miller Cotton Couture collection. I promise to share more about this project in a week or so. I also shot a fun little video as I was working on it. I will share with you on how I made it.

My next few days were filled with lot’s of little details for some new quilt patterns to come out soon. I have been running around the city looking for the perfect location for photos of the quilts.

Shortcuts by Pati Fried


Winter Brrrd Houses by See How We Sew

Shortcuts by Pati Fried

Okay, I probably can’t use this, but it’s definitely my favorite photo. This is in a lovely park near my home. The sculpture is a Benny Bufano. You can see more of his work at Benny Bufano Sculptures of San Francisco.

The rest of the week was filled with meetings, some much needed shopping for my house and prepping for a group swap project. See? I told you it was a crazy week!

I ended my week by gathering with some incredibly, creative women for an opportunity to share ideas and work on hand projects. The home that we met in had the most gorgeous garden and everything was in full bloom. Strolling through the garden paths was such a lovely way to end my action packed week and reflect on how fortunate I am to fill my days being around creative people in such colorful surroundings.

I will share one last photo with you and wish all the mothers out there a very special Happy Mother’s Day!

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Have a fabulous weekend!



A Yoyo Lei for Rosalie

Looks like it’s my turn to wax nostalgic. Last week, my Friday class of 10 students met for brunch to bid our farewells to one of our dear friends, Rosalie. After spending the first 84 years of her life in California, she is now moving to Hawaii to be with her only daughter and family. Although we are delighted that she will be close to her family, we are saddened to see her leave. Wanting to gift her with something meaningful from all of us, we came up with the idea of making a yoyo lei; so perfect for her new home on the big island.

When we arrived at the restaurant, the yo-yos were placed into a small basket. During brunch, the basket was passed around and one by one we strung the yo-yos. It was such a lovely gathering of friends, remembering . . . .


the special moments we shared together over the past 10 years,


the many friendships that were formed,


Rosalie’s joyful spirit and contagious giggle,


her love of quilting and sharing stories of her dear grand dog, Finnegan,


and the day we named her our team captain. You see, we often took breaks during class to shoot baskets on the basketball court next door to our classroom. As hard as we tried, no one could complete with our Rosalie! Here’s a photo of her with her jersey. She says it’s time to pass the torch. However, we must come to Hawaii to claim the title and the jersey! I see a trip in my future.


Rosalie with her team jersey.
Rosalie with her team jersey.

When the final yoyo was attached, the ends were joined and then placed over the head of our special guest of honor. The expression on her face says it all.


Aloha, Sweet Rosalie.  You will be missed.

Laura Signature

My Friendships in Quilting

friendsI have spent a lot of quality time with quilting friends over the past few months. Retreats, outings, quilt shows, planning sessions for quilt events, and sew days have filled my calendar since the beginning of January. I feel quite blessed to have taken part in all of these events.

While driving home from the last gathering, I found myself thinking about how important these friendships have become in my life. They say we choose our friends, but not our relatives. Where do quilting friends fit into this saying? We don’t choose those who have an interest in the quilt craft, but we do choose who we socialize with in our quilting circles. The quilters I gather with are all over the map in terms of ages, styles of quilting and the interests they have outside of quilting. So what is the element of attraction?

The Quilting Party painted y an unknown artist circa 1840-1850.
The Quilting Party – Artist Unknown, circa 1840-1850.

The history of quilting bees may be part of the answer to this question. Women used to gather to help each other complete a quilt for various reasons – but it was a reason that bypassed age and personality. A common goal brought them together, such as helping a neighbor or teaching a young bride to quilt. In the time they spent creating something with their hands, quality moments were shared and friendships developed. The same could be said for a sew day or a quilt class. Quilters from all walks of life gather to create and in the process build friendships. It is a natural opportunity to share life stories, thoughts and ideas in the slow paced moments of stitching.

Looking at my huge circle of quilting friends, I can think of only three friends that I would still know if I hadn’t followed the path of quilting. Wow. My life would be so different if I would not have enrolled in that very first beginning quilting class – with Laura Nownes, by the way!

Perhaps if I golfed, played Mahjong, or belonged to a book club, I would have different circles of friends with just as much to offer as my quilt groups. But quilting found it’s way into my life and I feel blessed to have chosen the path I have, taking time to get to know each quilter individually and build friendships along the way. Would I have thought to strike up a conversation in a coffee shop with one of them? Probably not. But when sitting together, working with your hands and being creative, it is a natural process to share your thoughts and ideas, in to getting to know each other. We are  lucky to be able to do this. I am lucky to have this in my life.

Do you have a special friend or group that you found through quilting? I would love to hear your stories. I encourage you to share a comment with us.

Have a great week!



Drafting From Ceiling Inspiration

It never ceases to amaze and excite me when and where I find inspiration for quilt designs. Last week during the final Shivassana, resting pose of yoga class, I opened my eyes to look closely at the ceiling tiles in the new studio. I have probably looked at this ceiling more than a dozen times, so why today did I see it in a new light? I’ll probably never know the answer to this, but I didn’t waste a minute to pull out my phone and take this photo.

Ceiling tiles at Indigo Yoga.
Ceiling tiles at Indigo Yoga.

I like all three of the block designs but decided to start with the one on the left; with the melon shapes. Out came my pad of graph paper, ruler and pencil to draft the block.

drafted melon

It’s a pretty simple block and easy to construct. I could leave it as shown but the shadows in the photo inspired me to divide the shapes with more lines, allowing me to play with color and shading.


I’m excited with the many possibilities and already starting to pull fabrics. I think I will work in neutrals. What do you think? The print in the foreground is the inspiration fabric I used for developing the color scheme. I may or may not use it in the quilt, we’ll see.


I’ll share my new blocks later this week, or early next, so be sure to check back.

While I’m playing with fabrics and construction, please enjoy some photos of quilts from Quiltcon 2015, taken by our contributor, Carol van Zandt.

Piecing Category – Part 1 

Piecing Category – Part 2 

Would love to hear if you have recently “opened your eyes to any new and exciting quilt designs”. We always enjoy reading your stories.

Until next time, stay happy everyone!

Laura Signature



Inspiration from Denver

Hello dear readers. March was such a whirlwind of travel adventures. It began with a family trip to Omaha, NE, then on to teaching a workshop at Empty Spools Seminars at Asilomar, next to the Lakeview Quilters Guild in Texas and finally filming a new class for Craftsy in Denver. Whew! I am so very grateful for all the wonderful people I have met and worked with along the way but as Dorothy says, “there’s no place like home.”

While I was busy working, my husband was out enjoying the sites of Denver. There is a permanent quilt exhibit on display at the Denver Art Museum and when we returned home and I browsed through the many photos he took, I was delighted to see that he had taken some of the quilts. I must say I was a bit surprised but oh so happy that I can share them with you.

Here’s one I especially like.

"Silk Ties" by Sue Bulkeley, 1883-1970.
“Silk Ties” by Sue Bulkeley, 1883-1970.

The sign next to this quilt reads “Max M. Bulkeley (1883-1958), a lawyer in Wray, Colorado, served one term as U.S. Attorney and then lived in Denver. His wife, Sue, pieced together dozens of his neckties to create this kaleidoscopic pattern. Among the geometric designs in a nude woman wearing a floral lei – a risqué figure that would have been on the underside of the tie and only visible when the wearer picked up the end to reveal the island beauty beneath.”

Don’t you just love it when there are little surprises hidden with a quilt? Here’s a detail of the same quilt. Clearly it was tied but I’m wondering if it was foundation pieced?

Detail of Silk Ties by Sue Bulkeley.
Detail of Silk Ties by Sue Bulkeley.

Here’s another interesting quilt on display at the same exhibit.

'Labels" by Libbie Gottschalk.
‘Labels” by Libbie Gottschalk.

The sign next to this one reads “A mending project gone mad, Libbie Gottschalk’s label quilt started out as a way to preserve a beloved quilt that belonged to her grandfather. Over a thirty-year period she mended each new tear by applying labels from various articles of clothing and other possessions. Eventually, she decided to cover each side completely. This amazing assortment of logos and trademarks, many from Denver-area businesses, is a time capsule of retail-and produce-related graphic art.”

I wish I had been able to see this quilt in person, as there appears to be a real $1 bill stitched into the upper left-hand corner. Here’s a detail image of the same quilt.

Detail of Labels quilt by Libbie Gottschalk.
Detail of Labels quilt by Libbie Gottschalk.

We stayed at The Curtis Hotel, a uniquely fun downtown Denver Hotel. From the moment you walk through the front doors into the lobby you know you are in for a fun adventure, with cartoons playing and a five & dime offering treats from the past. Each of the guest room floors has a personality all its own. We stayed on the “Perfect Hair” floor where we were greeted with this wonderful carpeting. Please excuse the poor photo as the lighting in the hallway was terrible. Can’t you just imagine this as a quilt?


I just may have to give this a try. I’m anxious to share with you more details of my new class with Craftsy. The editors are busy making final tweeks then it should be ready to go live around the end of May. I’ll keep you posted.

In the meantime, as the recording in the hotel elevator says when you return to the first floor, “Stay Happy!”.

Laura Signature