Free Quilt Pattern · Patterns by Elizabeth of OPQuilt · Quilt-A-Long

Heart’s Garden Sew-A-Long

I received a stack of fat eighths as a gift from my friend Sherri last fall, from her new line of Sincerely Yours, and the question of what to do with this yummy range of fabrics has been percolating in my head ever since.

A Sew-A-Long? A Mystery? A Freebie Pattern? How about all three? So yes, this is a sew-a-long, mystery, free pattern that should run for several months. I thought it was only four, but then I had another idea, so I had to add an extra month. I will put the patterns up on my pattern site, one month at a time. The usual caveats apply: Don’t print them off for your mother or eighteen of your closest friends; instead send them to my pattern shop to download their own.

The first downloadable (free) pattern is found here.

Follow the directions and print off four pages of Page 4, then cut them apart on the lines. Prep them for English Paper Piecing {see this post (which uses thread basting) or this post (which uses glue basting) for some tips}, then start stitching them back together in the units.

I’ve placed small colorful dots to help guide you in getting the pieces sewn. Follow the guidelines on the pattern.

I like to sew it in two sections, as it is easier to hold it. I also like to take stitches across the seam points on the outside curved edge, for stability. For example, I join one G1 to the F point, then add the G2, taking an extra stitch at that outer point. It will make more sense as you sew it.

Once I’ve gotten this far, I sew those last two seams.

I always love the look of these from the back. One trick I use for the inner circle is that I don’t glue down the inner curve, instead leaving it flat. This helps when you go to stitch on the center circle.

I write about how I do the center circle in this post, and I will again express my undying love for Karen Kay Buckley’s Perfect Circles: both sizes. Sometimes I put the circle on first, then appliqué it the background. Other times I appliqué it to the background square, then sew on the center circle.

For this round, do the center circle first.

Then cut a large square the size mentioned in the pattern. I always iron creases: fold in half, iron; fold in half the other way; iron. You’ll have a giant cross so you get your circle centered. Pin it evenly around the circle while on a flat surface. Then start to sew it down.

I give you the tips in this post.

Yes, I’ve been doing the EPP-circle-bit a while now, and there are lots of tips and tricks under the tab SHINE: The Circle Quilt (found above). And yes, I’ve probably made millions of mistakes, but after sewing over three dozen EPP circles, I’m getting the hang of it.

Here it is, sewn to the background. Don’t trim this yet. If you are curious, your circle will probably measure about 12 1/4″ in diameter, largely due to the thickness of all those fabrics spreading it apart. We will deal with any variations in the next post, coming mid-month February.

I use several methods of construction: piecing, appliqué, English Paper Piecing for starters. While the theme is Heart’s Garden, there aren’t a billion hearts on this quilt, so you could make it in other palettes or groupings of fabric or from scraps. I started with one fat-eighth stack of Sincerely Yours, from Sherri and Chelsi, then purchased four one-yard lengths of the lights (always good for the stash, if I don’t use them all). I also bought two half-yards of the strongest colors; perhaps that is overkill, but I didn’t want to let this line get away from me. I am happy to have this great inspiration, so thank you Sherri and Chelsi!

So head over now to my pattern shop on PayHip, and download your free mystery pattern. At the end of this series, I will combine all the sections into one pattern, and will list it for sale in the same place. Feel free to stash the pattern until you see the end, or to just pick up a little piecing here and there as we go.

Happy Heart’s-Garden-ing!

Christmas Quilts · Free Quilt Pattern · Gridsters

Tannenbaum, in construction

Many years ago, my mother stayed up all night on the 24th of December, worried that the child she was carrying would actually come on the due date of Christmas Eve. Who would help the other three young girls? Who would get the ironing done? But I did not arrive on my due date. Nor on New Year’s Eve. But I came 12 days later on Twelfth Night, and dodged forever having my birthday on Christmas. (And she did get up early that morning to get the ironing done before she went to the hospital.) Now I share a birthday with Richard Nixon, the arrival of the Three Kings and the Storming of the Capital.

Why do I bring this up? Because Tannenbaum will most likely suffer the same fate, arriving somewhere around Twelfth Night. It’s because I wanted a longer drop on the sides, and didn’t have enough of the beige fabric (earlier version is seen here). So as long as I was playing around, what would the quilt look like with red? I quite liked it. Many iterations and consultations with my quilt gurus (I have a couple) and I ordered some red fabric from Laundry Basket Quilts. Like me, in my almost early days…this probably won’t be done by Christmas.

Trying it out for size; I like it!

This is where I am now, with the two borders attached (big smiles), the wrinkles that will need to be quilted out in the center, and sideways on my design wall, because it’s too big now to go vertically. (In other words, it looks like it needs its make-up put on, the lipstick applied, and good blow-out for the hair. You know, like all of us in the morning.)

I’m working on the pattern now, and that’s coming along too. But what has arrived?

This one’s mine…you’ve seen it before.

Several of my Piece Maker Quilt Ladies have arrived from the Gridster Bee, along with their cloth sewing treasures, like buttons and rotary cutters and topiary trees. You can read more about this project, written a few whiles ago, but basically I got the idea from Surfside Quilters, from their Blocks of the Month page. I’ve always wanted a Freddy Moran-style quilt, and now it looks like I’ll make one.

To help further this quilt along, I’ve been collecting black-and-white prints to go with other 400 black-and-white prints (dear, I’m kidding). I have discovered there’s a particular kind of black and white print that works with Freddy Moran style quilts, and I think I probably have enough now. Too much white? It bleaches it out. Too much black? A blot in the quilt. Black and white — that when you squint your eyes — turns into grey? Nyet. I think two of the prints above are perfect (on the outer edges) and we’ll see where the others may go.

In keeping with the red theme of today’s post, here’s a treat I want to try: Cranberry Lemon Bars, from New York Times Cooking.

And I’ll see this, next week. First airplane ride in over 20 months (better get it in before Omicron shows up).

But before that, we have to finish putting out my husband’s nutcrackers, arranging the lights on the mini-tree, switching out the quilts, and generally getting ready for the Christmas season. Another work in progress.

Merry Quilting!

In case you want something fun, here’s a free pattern to make this little tree on a frame, from my earlier days of pattern making; still good to go, but not quite as fancy.

And here’s the teeny tree:

More info is here.

And here’s a sneak peak of what I’m working on for 2022. I’m thinking a monthly quilt-a-long, sort of easy, no sign-ups, free patterns, work together, have fun, make a nice-sized wall hanging. And if you can’t deal with any more outside pressure to produce, it’s okay if you just want to grab the patterns and squirrel them away. That’s fine, I’m fine, you’re fine.

I also always make colorful quilts, and this one may go there yet, but I was gifted a little stack of Sherri and Chelsi’s newest line (thanks, Sherri!), and I’m starting there, because — oh my gosh — I do need a cool Valentine-y quilt. So that’s my starting line. I’ve got the first month’s pattern done, but I want to make samples, so you won’t see it until after the holidays. Maybe even by Twelfth Night!

300 Quilts · Free Quilt Pattern · Quilt Finish

Is a Tablerunner a Quilt?

When you are stuck, it is. I love those houses, but…No.

New favorite. I ordered two more yards.

I love having scraps of batting that are just the right size.

Letting us both rest after a few hours of quilting.

Here come the beauty shots. (Isn’t that little bee with the branch arms the cutest?)

I quilted whatever came into my head.

I haven’t measured it, I haven’t labeled it, but the saga of the Orphan-Blocks-into-Table-Runner is now complete. I’m sorry to say, it didn’t empty out my orphan blocks bin much. Now I have to think up another way to use some of those up. And I have to think up a name. These orphan blocks came from when I taught the First Monday Sew-day class of beginners about Square-in-a-Square, or Economy blocks.

I still love these little houses. Now I have the beginning of another quilt! Get the Pattern Lite here.

Happy Memorial Day Weekend.

Or, as my mother would say, Happy Decoration Day (some fascinating reading in this link). The weekend before Memorial Day, my mother and father would go out and decorate the graves of their grandparents and great-grandparents with flowers, the cemetary made beautiful with pots of mums everywhere. This is the gravestone of my Scottish gr-grandmother. I have two namesake gr-grandmother Elizabeths and I remember them both on this Decoration Day. While the origins of Memorial Day are generally thought to be about the war dead, because of my mother, I remember it also as a day to honor those long gone.

I think we can do both.

In case you need to whip up a flag quilt, here’s a quick free tip sheet to do so!

Free Quilt Pattern · Something to Think About · Tiny Quilts

Weary | Hopeful

Blog-writing for other organizations can sometimes make me weary. I’ve been the blog-writer for a local guild here, and the other day — Blog Writing Day, as I like to call it, when everything stops and I won’t do one more thing before writing out the news and stuff for the organizaion — I sat at the computer, my mind blank. I wrote the usual paragraphs, then wondered if I should delete some of it, as I am turning everything over to a new person in a month, and would she want to have to write this in her tenure? It all became very complicated, trying to write what’s in someone else’s head, in someone else’s world.

When I write for this blog, on the other hand, I try to find some space and some quiet — a recent challenge during covid-time and we’re all shut in our houses together.

The conditions of these two aforementioned things may explain why you haven’t see a post from me in some time. But here goes.

Part of the title of this post, weary, might describe us all at this time. We’ve been covid-ing since March (wearying), made it mostly through an election (wearying), our energy levels are low, and now we are all putting up our Christmas lights early, trying to bring in some light into this weary world of ours. Ours went up last Saturday, and since we celebrated Thanksgiving early — a social distanced, outside on our patio, meal with local family this past Sunday — all our Christmas decor is creeping in to the house, well before the end of Thanksgiving Day.

It feels right. We need something to celebrate, to rejoice in, and I am looking to the familiar warm-hearted feelings that the Christmas season can bring, and if that means early tinsel and lights and nutcrackers, bring it on. If that means putting out the Christmas quilts, and pillows and table runners, I’m in. Christmas tunes? Now on the playlist.

I was trying to think of ways to help lift the weary and wondered if you were interested in a quilty make to up the holiday cheer. If so, here are two possible ways:

This is a teeny little quilt (4″ x 6″) that can be slipped over a frame. These make cute gifts for friends, for shut-ins, for people you visit but who are still fretting about their gain of the Covid-fifteen-so-no-more-chocolates-please. Directions are found *here.*

This is my field of Christmas trees, made so long ago from *this free tutorial* and which needs to be finished. What always stops me in a project is that I get plans which then complicates everything to that something perfect in my mind, which then shifts me to never-getting-it-finished. Keep in mind that just participating in the act of creation (like our quilts and blocks –and even wooden blocks on barns), can help us feel better about life.

Example of Complicated (work in progress):

Second Iteration

Example of Uncomplicated:

Pumpkins quilt top, finished Tuesday night

Maybe December 2020 is the season for simple, for easy, for uncomplicated. Maybe it’s the time for bringing light, for sharing our lives, for writing holiday cards, letting people know we are still here. And next year, when we’re all vaccinated (my Christmas 2021 wish) and we’re out and about and full of vim and vigor and excitement, and even in spite of all the recovery work that will be around us, we’ll not be weary.

We’ll be hopeful.

from here

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Free Quilt Pattern · Shine: The Circles Quilt · This-and-That

This and That: Pattern Release, Quilts, and Variations on the Puss-in-the-Corner Block

Recently QuiltMania Magazine and I entered into a collaboration — one of those collaborations that finds you in the middle of the night cleaning out the front closet, or tidying up the bookcase in the family room, or hunting all your sewing studio for your favorite piece of fabric. So I tidied up rewrote wrote a new finishing pattern and it’s now up for sale on PayHip. This pattern provides the setting templates and instructions for putting all those circles together cohesively.

Eventually I’ll put out a pattern with all the blocks, but for now, the Shine series consists of the free ones on QuiltMania, four more blocks for purchase, and this pattern to set the quilt together.

The original pattern was from my write-it-up-in-Microsoft-Word days, all the while plugging in poorly lit photos of the steps. Now it has many illustrations, as I’m finally getting the hang of my creative software, and what I don’t know how to do, I’ve figured out a few workarounds. The above illustration was one of those.

I made up a new EPP circle pattern, Summer Day, and threw that in at the end, figuring whoever checks this out would like a freebie.

Last week I taught a live-online lecture for the Alabama Station Quilt Guild, and the Criss-Cross Quilt below was sent to me by Gisele, one of the participants. I love the colors she chose and thought the quilt was really terrific.

A few weeks ago my friend Mary of ZippyQuilts sent me a photo of her version of my Merrion Square pattern, made larger as it had a specific size need. I love her interpretation and the cute bunnies in the town square.

Last year, in April 2019, I received this comment from Karin on an old post:

“I’m just embarking on making this quilt (Crossed Canoes) as a memory quilt for my parents. We lost my brother, an avid canoeist, in December. Thank you for that idea! I’m making mine with my brother’s shirts and a few other fabrics from my stash for extra vibrancy.” My original post was about my sister and her group of friends making a memorial version of Crossed Canoes quilt for a friend. I love this pattern, and this post tells that story as well as provides a free downloadable pattern of this block.

Last post I had put up our Gridsters Bee Block for September, attributing it to a variation of Puss-in-the-Corner block.

On further look, it is more like a variation of Illinois, from the periodical Hearth and Home, published from the 1880s to the 1930s.** What a difference a few well-placed color shifts can make! What would happen if I made a few color shifts, or line shifts, I wondered? The following riot of squares and triangles ensued. In my defense, it was late, and I was too tired to do the dishes, so I sat down to play with what my friend Janet calls “a quilter’s video game,” our quilting software.

These are grouped by first, the block, then a grouping of possible quilt designs. There’s a lot so feel free to just scroll quickly.

The basic Puss in the Corner block. I guess those little square blocks are the farmhouse cat, tucked away in the corner sleeping.

Basic Quilt with no sashing. If you squint, you can start to see a secondary pattern emerge. #needshelp

So I added some color. It needs some value shifts, I think.

Variation. I cleared out the undergrowth.

This final rendition has some different versions of coloring the blocks, along with some sashing.

I thought the prominance of the flying geese might make for some goose tracks throughout the quilt.

Here’s the basic Illinois block, in the coloration from Hearth and Home publication.

Okay. Maybe we could do something with this one.

I must have been really tired to use so much purple.

Okay, how about I keep the flying geese and Puss-in-the-Corner corner blocks, but just turn them all inward-facing?

Busy, but could be fun as a scrappy quilt, playing around with where the blocks touch. Of course, our quilting foremothers would have always had sashing, right?

This was a neighbor to Puss in the Corner, and is called Big T.

I went this direction first, swapping out the center. Nah.

Here’s the variations of that block. I kind of like how it looks like the corner edges are folded down.

Here’s what I played with, all capsulized. And below are the blocks in white, and then further down, a PDF of the pattern templates.

Final thoughts: The top left block looks like it has more possibilities, less places to call a halt to other ideas. The other three blocks kind of box in the quilter, confining the creativity to the block itself. I would like to try matching these up with other nine-patch variations, and see what kind of quilts those combos could yield.

Here are the basic block PDF files for download. They all make a 12″ block.

Happy Stitching!

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +
**This information was gleaned from the quilter’s bible, The Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns by Barbara Brackman.

First Monday Sewday · Free Quilt Pattern · Gridsters

Basic String Piecing • First Monday Sewday Lesson (and a few other things)

Nice and tidy bag of “strings”

This month’s First Monday Sew-day Lesson was on teaching the newbie quilters about String Piecing, or Strip Piecing, or whatever you want to call it, but it involved laying out a shape on paper, arranging fabric and stitching through the paper. Foundation Paper-Piecing? except that we are using long strips of fabric. So I’m going with String Piecing. And the block I chose to teach was a traditional Spider Web Block.

For the handout for the Making a Spider Web block, click to download a PDF file:

It’s bit longer this time: multiple pages instead of just one sheet. There were a lot of illustrations for teaching this, like this one:

Since it is free, please don’t distribute — send your mom and your kid sister and your friends here to download the handout. (If you are a quilt shop or quilt guild, and need a virtual activity, please ask first before distributing.)

So this was my final block, taken at night, when all the lighting is really mellow. I chose low-volume prints for the centers, a deeper blue for the first strips near the center, and then circus-circus after that.

I did a virtual layout after that, trying to approximate how interesting this block can be in a quilt. More discussion of this is on the handout.

My “string bag” was left exploded on the floor after all this mucking around, but I just wadded everything back into it and threw it back in the closet.

I also made two sets of Gridster Bee blocks: first one was for Mary, for June. She requested a whole lot of little houses, and we used the free download pattern from Moda.

Kelly was up next, and for July she chose to miniaturize a flag, using the Grand Ole Flag handout from Pat Sloan as a starting point. These are tiny little things, finishing at 4″ x 7 1/2.”

Here’s a whole slew of them, all laid out together.

I was tipped off to two new mask patterns, and the Creative Grids mask template also arrived at my house. Updates are on my Face Mask Info Post, up there under Projects for 2020 tab at the top of the blog.

So this was interesting to see all week. Mancuso Brothers surprised me by using my Ladybird quilt in all their advertising for their online show in August. I had entered Ladybird in their Pacific International Quilt Festival, held in Santa Clara, California last fall. The picture they are using is my image, I must assume, as the lighting is good and the colors are bright (the lighting in that show was problematic). Most of the time my name and the name of the quilt were attached, but often I saw it with the orange lower banner chopped off, so no accreditation whatsoever.

Should I be honored and flattered that someone wants to take my artwork/quilt/work and use it for their ad campaign without asking permission or offering some compensation, like a teaching spot or something? (The real irony is when they use my quilt to announce another teacher.) I am very happy that, most of the time, my work is acknowledged. Should I just let this roll on by, knowing that I get “free publicity” — which is always what is said — although I don’t have a pattern for it, and I’m not teaching it anywhere, so it’s hard to know what good the free publicity does.

It’s a tricky proposition. I am not angry. I might be perplexed. Mostly I don’t yet know how I feel about it, but I do think it would be nice to be asked. I’d be curious to know what you all think. (Leave your comments below.)

Thought I’d show you the Betsy’s Creation quilt on the bottom of my bed for July. The smaller one is hung in the downstairs hallway. That pattern (which includes both, and really more like a handout) is free, found here. Hope your last few days of July find you quilting!