Free Quilt Pattern · Heart's Garden · Patterns by Elizabeth of OPQuilt

Heart’s Garden Mystery QAL • Part 5

Heart’s Garden
57″ square• Quilt #264

Gardens can be mysterious. In our case we planted the melons and the round cucumbers and some nocturnal visitor came and dug it all up. Will those seeds pop up somewhere else? Were they get eaten? What’s in the heart can also be mysterious, even to those who might have some experience in the matter. Are we charitable? Are we passionate? Are we kind, snarky, tough or tender?

But in the case of the QAL for Heart’s Garden, the mystery is now solved!

This is the final free pattern for the 2022 Mystery Quilt-A-Long. I will have a Part 6 that will show some embellishments, but that will be a post, and not a pattern release. Heart’s Garden Part 5 will remain free until early June when all the patterns will be combined into one that can be purchased. So make sure you download Part 5 quickly.

I’m sure you’ve seen these images of Part Four on Instagram. Joan’s quilt is a brilliant range of hues from yellows to pinky purples. Lisa has used a wonderful selection of blues, pinky reds and tans to great effect. Linda’s quilt took a different turn when she used the borders from my Evergreen, Ever Life quilt, amending them to fit the center, and Susan (on Instagram or at her blog) has also made changes, using five flowers on two sides. I love them all! [As I receive updated photos, I will post them.]

Heart’s Garden finishes up with a row of heart blocks, like a happy picket fence around our garden. Generally I used medium-dark fabrics with a scrappy low-volume background. All fabrics are by Sherri and Chelsi, from their Sincerely Yours line. I love the brightly colored prints from peach to purple and think this makes a really happy quilt. Sherri is a friend of mine (we both taught English Composition classes) and I think this quilt would also be great in her newest line, Seashore. One reason I love showing all the quilts at the beginning of the post is for you to think of different colorways for your quilt than the one on the front of the pattern.

And speaking of the front of the pattern, Part Five is ready for a free download at my PayHip shop. (Reminder: In case you didn’t get any of the other parts, they are there for sale as well.) But, again, in early June all the parts will disappear to be replaced with a complete Heart’s Garden Sew-A-Long pattern for sale. Now let’s talk construction.

I started with the corners, making a Log Cabin block with darker outside corners.
Then I discarded this block and made the ones you see in the quilt. That’s why I have a full box of orphan blocks!

I like to sew Log Cabin blocks from measurements, but in case you like paper piecing, that option exists for you as well in this pattern. In fact, I made up FPP options for all parts of this border: the log cabin corners, the heart block bottoms and heart block tops.

I ended up using the paper piecing for the heart block tops and was happy I did.

There is a slightly different proportion on these hearts than usual, as I wanted a certain look for the border. I cut out backgrounds and tips and triangles. Detailed instructions for how to do this accurately and carefully are in the pattern. (Tips to make wonky hearts are also there.)

I smoothed out the center onto my design wall, then as I made hearts, I arranged them around the quilt.

There’s always this moment that you wonder: was this quilt worth it? I had only seen it inside, in my room and a lot of time I was sewing at night during winter.

But when I took it outside and saw the natural light hitting all those fun hearts and flowers and birds and patchwork, I was really glad I persevered. And I love the stained-glass photo of the quilt from the back. Sigh. I was content.

When the top was finished, I sent it off to Krista of KristaStitched, who used the Bebop e2e panto at my request. I used a neutral backing and Soft and Bright polyester batting. She did a great job. I bound it with a narrow strip of the geranium color that was in the fabric line. I did have to send away for the half yard, as I’d pretty well used up all my fabrics.

I have one more post about this quilt, showing a few more bits in Part Six, but there won’t be a download for that one–it will live here on my blog. So head over to my pattern shop and get your free pattern. If you don’t have time to sew it now, feel free to save it for later. But please–do not share the patterns with your friends or families. I did this free sew-a-long as a thank you to all my blog readers, and do want you to download your patterns in my shop, not post or share them without permission. Thank you 🙂

For those who have been following along, I hope you’ve enjoyed this Heart’s Garden Mystery QAL. See you soon for Part Six!

Hope you can occasionally piece and quilt–

Heart's Garden · Patterns by Elizabeth of OPQuilt · Quilt-A-Long

Heart’s Garden Mystery • Part 4

The Heart’s Garden has been planted.
It is filled with flowers of all colors, and in many sizes. The birds are nestled in, the outer border acting as a fence for the blossoms to climb. Part Four is appliqué, but the appliqué can be done by hand or machine. Examples of appliqué are in this post.

I always like to feature those quilters who are sewing along with us; and who have finished Part 3: Lisa Johnson, Susan Snooks, and Joan Hinchcliff. Their quilts are all so beautiful.

In looking at our home at this Instagram hashtag, I also found the beginning of Linda’s quilt:

I am fascinated by how different all the quilts are. (Linda was my roomie at QuiltCon in Phoenix, in February, and is an awesome EPP-er.)

The pattern for Heart’s Garden Part 4 is now up in my shop, and you can download it for free. As usual Part 3 will be switched to a purchased pattern, but if you are just starting in, all the earlier parts can be purchased individually, or you can wait until mid-summer when the full pattern will be available. More at the end of the post.

My first planting. I started by pinning the stems around the quilt, having them overlap the inner border by 1/2″ on the bottom, as shown.

I take a lot of process pictures, but in reality, everything changes all the time.

Flowers, stems, leaves are all pinned up. Some like to use the glue method, some like the machine method (I do too), some like hand appliqué. I give tips and tricks in the pattern, including how I “dig” that stem into the “dirt” of the inner border, so it looks like it’s planted. You might also want to watch a wee video showing the basic technique for Karen Kay Buckley’s Perfect Circles.

Part 1 can be purchased here.
Part 2 can be purchased here.
Part 3 can be purchased here.

Part 4 is now live and living in my online pattern shop and can be downloaded for free.

Hope you enjoy making this fourth part–post them so we all can enjoy them.  P.S. If you can’t manage another project, feel free to download for another time. I keep the posts organized on this page (also in the header at the top of the blog). A full pattern with all the parts will be available for purchase in mid-summer.

There is always the option to stop here, with the garden all planted, but there is a reason why it’s called Heart’s Garden. This will be obvious to you when Part 5 is released in May.

Happy Spring and Happy Quilting, and most of all, Happy Easter.

A short video for Easter: Because of Jesus Christ, All Things Are Possible

Giveaway · Heart's Garden · Something to Think About

Writing Poetry

The famous and prolific writer Joyce Carol Oates was once asked,
“What do you do when you finish a novel?”
“I’m spent,” she said. “Can’t write another word of fiction. So I turn to writing poetry.”

Late Friday night, I finished stitching on the final border of the Heart’s Garden Mystery QAL (the slice of pink in the picture below). I sunk down into my sewing room chair, took a couple of photos and went to bed.

The next morning, her quip — about poetry — began boinking around in my head. I started my day by cleaning up my sewing space: emptying bins, throwing away junk-that-accumluates, vacuuming crevices and window frames. Then my husband came in and asked me to go out to lunch with him.

We happened on our town’s Saturday morning market and bought vegetables, a perfect tray of strawberries, and lunch at the local deli.

We ate outside on the plaza, escaping before the BoJangles Man set up with his amplifier, microphone and guitar.

We walked down the pedestrian mall and shared a Crème Brûlée donut complete with a crackling sugar top.

We wandered into Mrs. Tiggywinkle’s shop, and came out with this small Elenor Easterly figurine by Lori Mitchell. I sometimes find that aimless wandering and buying tchotchkes can often help a Mood.

Back home, I finished cleaning up. But I kept thinking about poetry. I used to write poetry, and was once Poet Laureate for University of California-Riverside as an undergraduate. I do have times when I hop onto Poetry Daily and just read for a while, sometimes typing in a search keyword but other times, just reading at random. It’s also great for quilt titles, if you need them.

I think, with poetry, there is an assumed connection between the external life and the interior life–one is linked to the other in a reciprocal relationship. But I feel that as well with creative or quilting projects. How I’m feeling internally will affect what I do externally, and if I’m exhausted or unsettled or wrung out, I have to deal with this. However, sometimes that creative connection is automatic — and I have to try to shut it down to relax (like wanting to take a photo of the table because it looked like it could be a quilt design or something.)

Oates’ poetry allowed her to keep creating, yet still leave the scene of her most arduous work. One example of this that we know all too well is our past two years which has kept us immersed in a strange world; many of us turned to our creative connection to help keep ourselves sane. We have all spent our two years chipping away at the gloom while trying to stay mentally and physically healthy. More than once I’ve wondered how my grandmother got through the 1918 flu, but she didn’t write about it. We’ve obviously found tiny slivers of poems (in the abstract sense) to help us — a child’s drawing, a phone call, or just taking a walk — things that can bring us back to ourself.

So after thinking about it, here were my poems for today:

I created a clean space.
I admired the completed quilt top Heart’s Garden on the design wall.
I created a space for me to listen the jet that roared through the skies, shaking our home, its contrails like two steaming taillights.
I opened the window to feel the breeze.

I let myself rest.
I let myself empty out.

Saturday afternoon, I sat at my neatened desk and read poetry, then copied and pasted two poems in below; hope you have time to glance at them.

And…I have already found two quilts that intrigue me, here and here.

(QCR’s Posh Penelope quilt, not mine)

I took a look at the quilt I started at Road, and thought I’d like to make some more blocks. I do have one extra pattern from that day, and will send it to someone, if you are interested. To enter to win the pattern, please tell me what your “poetry” is when you are wrung out–how do you restore yourself…to yourself? How do you replenish that creative urge? How do you find your way back to creating again after a long project?

Leave me a comment below!

Happy Quilting!

Links, etc.

That’s a statue of Eliza Tibbets up there in the collage, with her skirts flowing. Tradition has it that when the first batch of navel orange seedlings arrived in the United States from Brazil, she persuaded the Plant Importation Program to give her some. They sent two, and they flourished — so the story goes — because she watered them with her dishwater. (She really didn’t look like that, but I still love that statue.)

Poetry Foundation, where you can read poems daily, and from where I pulled the following two poems.
I also like for reading poems.

from here

My mother has gone blind over the last decade, but she sewed intricate needlepoint canvases. All three of my sisters and I worry about losing our sight. After reading this poem, I should probably take up crocheting.

poem is from the September 1918 issue of Poetry, from here

This poem is haunting, reflecting our world today, but instead of pink roses, we stitch blue and yellow patchwork. Armistice Day for World War I was a month later: November 11, 1918.

Leave a comment about what your “poetry” is, to enter the giveaway. Thanks!

Heart's Garden · Patterns by Elizabeth of OPQuilt

Heart’s Garden • Mystery QAL Part 3

This month is what I call a supporting month in the Heart’s Garden Mystery QAL. Of course you can figure out that flowers will be planted here next go-round, and so you’ll keep that in mind as you create your garden beds for them to grow in. There are three borders: the first inner one with large blocks and corner birds; a second one of interesting bits; and finally, a third one for stability and delineation for what’s coming next. All things rest on your creation this month, but first! some eye candy from Part 2 from Joan, Lisa and Susan:

Joan has put a butterfly in the center. Lisa (middle) also fussy cut her center and the striped border is really perfect. Susan decided to create a four-patch in the background of her Part 2 as she didn’t have any one piece of fabric that she liked. I’m really enjoying the creativity of these quilters!

This month includes making four sparrows in the garden.

I made more samples out of scraps to refine the pattern, but most of the fabrics I’m working with are Sherri and Chelsi’s line of Sincerely Yours, with a lot of warm pinks, reds and fun neutrals. After seeing the quilters above, I now want to remake it in something different.

Then the rest is cutting small bits, creating a background for what comes in Part 4–easy, peasy, right? I know it’s hard to create without knowing the future of a design, and my hat is off to Joan, Lisa and Susan for giving this mystery a go. As I mentioned in the last post, it was a bit of a mystery to me, too, after I scrapped the design of what I’d been headed toward and reworked it into a medallion quilt, but now I’m full steam ahead.

Here’s the front of this month’s installment. Parts 1 and 2 have come down, but all parts will be available in a stand-alone pattern, for sale in mid-summer. Our Instagram hashtag:

You can find Part Three in my online pattern shop. Hope you enjoy making this third part. If you can post them on Instagram they will be fun to see! P.S. If you can’t manage another project, feel free to download for another time.

Happy Quilting!

P.S. This is how I feel about Daylight Savings Time.

Heart's Garden · Something to Think About

Adding To Do Items onto a To Do List

So many organizational systems do not account for a trip to the fabric store, where immediately I have to reshuffle, re-prioritize not only my To Do List, but also my sewing room. I have five red tabs in my Get To Work Book and they read To Do 1, To Do 2 and so on to the fifth one. I have half-filled lists in my quilting planner. A lot is crossed off using my yellow highlighter, but when your organizational lists get out of control, how do you organize and get things done?

Research: I read this article which suggests compiling four different types of lists: Master, Monthly, Weekly, Daily (he describes them on the site). Lisa Jackson recommends a service called WorkFlowy under the post title of A Tool for Organizing Your Brain. Bette has declared this the Year of Focus and has organized segments of the year dedicated to her sewing goals. Sherri of A Quilting Life has a good planner for quilting goals.

And here’s my classic Goals List from over two decades ago. I should frame this–what an ambitious woman I used to be! (I’ve abandoned housework, physical fitness goals and scrapbooks — but did complete most of the quilts in the list. I also got the children raised.)

As we’ve noticed, our lives have shifted underneath us. We kept going, but perhaps our outlook changed, our friendships dwindled or expanded. I liked Brad Stulberg’s article, where he writes:

“Many of us felt seen when, last April, the organizational psychologist Adam Grant wrote of languishing, “a sense of stagnation and emptiness … as if you’re muddling through your days, looking at your life through a foggy windshield.” There was a relief in having a name for our experience, and a kind of solace in realizing that we weren’t alone in experiencing it. But now, nearly a year later, as with just about everything related to Covid, we’re sick of languishing too.”

Perhaps that’s why when I went to QuiltCon in February, I tried to find things to give me a spark. I loved my two classes from Cassandra Beaver and Verushka Zarate, and enjoyed the lectures. It was fun to see people again in the wild, but there were some interesting moments of confusion in identifying people because we were all masked. And perhaps that’s why — when I went into a real-live quilt shop in Phoenix, and maybe because they gave QuiltCon-ers 20% off, I snapped up a range of beautiful colored semi-solids. Some one in line asked me what I was going to do with all those, all I say was, “We’re supposed to have a plan before we buy?”

Perhaps I was exhibiting Stulberg’s mention of “behavioral activation…based on the idea that action can create motivation, especially when you’re in a rut.” He writes:

“The challenge with behavioral activation is mustering enough energy to start acting on the things that matter to you: Make that phone call, schedule that walk with friends, write that email, get off social media and start on the creative project you’ve been procrastinating on. This may sound simple, but when you are languishing, simple does not mean easy.

“But a mind-set shift can be a powerful tool. When you feel down, unmotivated or apathetic, you can give yourself permission to feel those feelings but not dwell on them or take them as destiny. Instead, you shift the focus to getting started with what you have planned in front of you, taking your feelings, whatever they may be, along for the ride. Doing so gives you the best chance at improving your mood.”

So To Do lists can sometimes become exercises in bloodless planning, an attempt to get organized (which is why my planner often has blank spaces). But walking into a fabric shop now becomes behavioral activation. That, we can all get behind.

So my To Do lists are more random. This was going to be my year of Focus, a la Bette, but then I started the Heart’s Garden Mystery Quilt-A-Long, which I had all sketched out. And which I totally scrubbed after Step One and rebuilt it anew. Which was no where on my Yearly To Do List. Here’s my first sketch:

Yep. Pretty hideous, excepting those EPP circles. I even got the birds around the border, but they look more like quail, than sparrows or finches. I’ve been working on writing up Part 3, which is coming next week, and part of that is making birds over and over, as I perfect the pattern:

blue and yellow blocks, for Ukraine

So I write — and cross off — “sparrows” on my To Do List, and wander back into the sewing room for some pleasant Behavioral Activation. I wish the same for you.

Happy Quilting!

Free Quilt Pattern · Heart's Garden · 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!