Sunday, October 14, 2012

A Walk in the Woods

Today my son and I took a walk through a wooded park near Geneva, one of our favorite places to go.  I took along my camera, just to see what it would make of a drizzly October late Sunday afternoon.  The lighting was grey and bleak, but it was sooo good to finally get out of the house!

At the frog(-less) pond:

There were tons of mushrooms of all kinds:

but what really got my attention were the dried out seed heads, which reminded me of fireworks.  The three photos at the bottom were taken with the flash.  The first flash photo was taken by accident, since I'm not so familiar with the camera.  But then I saw what it did and kept going...

 Have a great week!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Does size matter?

BLOCK size, that is! (tee hee)  Adolescent humor aside, I have been considering block sizes in my patterns lately.  Though all my patterns include a scaling chart to allow copying the pattern in a range of sizes, my usual full-scale ready-to-print-and-go size is 6 inches finished (6-1/2" with seam allowances).  There are some exceptions, of course, but generally I choose a 6 inch size because it's easy to draft and easy to fit on standard 8-1/2 x 11" or A4 paper sizes.  For digital PDF patterns, other paper formats just aren't feasible, since most home printers (mine included) can't manage larger paper sizes.  And personally, I enjoy sewing smaller blocks since I usually make smaller projects like wall-hangings.  So my 6" standard seemed reasonable.

Recently a quilt magazine asked me to submit a block. They asked for a sewn 12" sample block with corresponding 12" foundation pattern.  I knew exactly the design I would send in, since I'd been working on the idea for awhile.  But I'd drawn the pattern to my usual 6".  To sew the block, there were 2 choices:  I could enlarge the 6" pattern on a copy machine like my customers do, or I could enlarge it to 12" in my drawing software.  Since I had to send the printed foundation with my sewn block, though, it only made sense to redraft it as a 12" block. 

Fortunately, even for the 12" block, most sections of this design were small enough to fit on a standard page.  But one section spanned the full 12" width.  I had to split the section into two pieces to fit on the page and attach the two sections together before starting to sew. I used a Pritt permanent adhesive roller which held up to pressing beautifully, unlike many tapes which shouldn't be ironed over.  The process was a bit fiddly, but not too bad.

This little episode has caused me to ponder what size most quilters actually prefer their block patterns - is the 12" block still the gold-standard?  Would it be more convenient for my customers if the ready-to-print size of my designs was 12" instead of 6"? What about single-section designs (e.g. Birdie Bird and Yin & Yang) -- at 12", these would have to be broken down into four sections to fit onto standard printer paper -- would quilters find it a real nuisance to cut and glue those sections together?

I would love to hear from you on this topic! What block size(s) do YOU generally work with? Take the poll at the top right side of this page!

By the way, I sent off the finished block to the magazine and am waiting to hear back from them with fingers crossed!  Can't tell you yet what the design is (hint, it's NOT the one pictured above, which is still a work-in-progress), but it turned out really cute and would be perfect for winter projects and kids' quilts!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Hearts, Roses and Scotties

To me, absolutely the best part about designing quilting patterns is seeing finished items made from my designs. It is soooo cool to open an email to find that someone's sent me a photo of their latest creation! I get more than a little thrill knowing that my design provided a creative spark for its creator.

Whether it's an unexpected choice of colors and fabric prints, or how the design is incorporated into an item (not just quilts, but all kinds of things!), I am constantly surprised and humbled to discover what clever and original things people do with my patterns. This is why I generally design block patterns, as opposed to complete quilt designs -- blocks are literally building blocks (pun quasi-intended) for quilters. They provide a basic starting point for a quilter to build her project upon, while leaving plenty of creative space to develop and express her own ideas and tastes.

Two quilters recently sent me photos which help illustrate my thoughts on this. The first is Suellen M.'s quilt made for her mother's 90th birthday, using a variety of PBN heart blocks with some Rosie's Roses scattered around. A true labor of love, each block is beautifully unique. I love how she uses a different set of colors and fabrics in each block. Click on the photo for a better view - Suellen's workmanship is exquisite.

Diane S. created the totally adorable door banner at left for her daughter and son-in-law who own a Westie and a Schnauzer. Diane says "The eyes are googly eyes. I just glued them on with a little fabric glue. The nose is felt. The pattern was easy to follow. It's the first time I ever did foundation piecing, but the instructions you sent me to on the web were easy. I made some of the typical beginner mistakes, but I corrected them and went on with the project. Thanks again for a very cute pattern."

The red, black and white color scheme with lime and yellow highlights is perfect for this project. The googly eyes give the Scottie blocks such a mischievous personality (click on the photo for a better look), and the overall feel is modern and fun. A thoroughly successful project, even more so for being Diane's first attempt at paper piecing.

Many thanks to Suellen and Diane, for their generous permission to post these truly inspiring photos!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


Have you heard? I'm talking about Craftsy, of course! If you haven't checked it out yet, waste no more time! This wonderful site is dedicated to all things crafty, in particular on-line classes and workshops in just about every major area of crafting - sewing, jewelry, knitting, food, gardening, weaving, and of course, quilting.

A class you won't want to miss is the Craftsy Block of the Month with Amy Gibson. You can sign up any time, watch it any time, go at your own pace, and best of all, it's FREE. I'm even more excited because Amy will be demonstrating paper piecing with my Circle of Geese block in the October 2012 installment. Woo hoo! Craftsy is constantly adding new classes, so sign up for their free newsletter to get the latest offerings and news.

You can indulge in instant gratification shopping in the Craftsy Pattern Shop. The PDF e-patterns are from small independent designers, including yours truly :-) Once you pay for them via PayPal, they are instantly downloadable! How cool is that? Need a handcrafted wedding gift for Saturday? No problem! A costume for the kindergarten play by tomorrow? Easy peasy. The only thing left for Craftsy to offer is the TIME to take all the great classes and make all the terrific projects...

Thursday, May 10, 2012


Sherrie recently sent me this photo of her beautiful wall hanging based on my Sunflower block, made for a friend's birthday. She enlarged the pattern to 43 x 26", and says "I love using paper quilting patterns. It makes the job so much easier!"

I love Sherrie's choice of colors, and the simplicity of the white background and borders really makes the sunflowers pop and glow. The inversion of the smaller leaf on the center block adds just a little unexpected twist - as does Mother Nature every day, every where. Lovely work, Sherrie - thanks for sharing!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Oh Baby Oh!

Who can resist sharing a photo of a sweet baby lying peacefully on a quilt? Certainly not the quilter who created it! (The quilt I mean, not baby Hailey, who was created by friends of mine :-) )

It's the first quilt I've finished in quite some time now. The cheerful, bright fabric came from Moda's Oh Cherry Oh! line, a pre-cut "Turnovers" triangles pack. It's now out of print, as I learned recently when trying to find enough fabric for the border and backing. But E-beth Designs over on Etsy had the wonderful aqua zigzag print, which then inspired the zig-zag quilting. A quick, easy project that couldn't be simpler or cuter!

My shiny new Ikea pizza wheel made marking the quilting lines a breeze. With a 24" ruler, I just ran the pizza wheel where I wanted to quilt. This produces a nice straight crease that lasts long enough for quilting, with no need to mess with masking tape or worry about washing out marking pen/pencil.