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!

Quilt-A-Long · Quilts · Something to Think About

Bee Happy in April 2020

While I titled this Bee Happy in April 2020, part of that is a statement: I’m working on my Bee Happy Quilt, started at least a year ago.  But part of that is also a question: is it possible to be happy in April 2020?  Let’s tackle the first, wander through the second and I promise I’ll leave you with something funny.

BeeHappy6_2

Like many of you I’ve been reading — no, gorging — on the news at this time, and one article about how nature is taking back the canals of Venice, the meadows of Yosemite and how we are seeing less pollution in our skies also commented on the amount of bird songs available now to us in our own backyards.  So one mopey day, I pulled out my Lori Holt Bee Happy quilt (!) and started anew.  I sat at the kitchen table, stitching, listening to the avian calls, and took a break from the chatter.

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BeeHappy6_1
BeeHappy6_full quilt April 2020

Hens stitched, blocks sewn and what I’ve finished is all smoothed out onto my design wall, a sort of vertical storage these days. Three of her rows are finished, ending with the clucking hen sisters.  I numbered how many I have left: 13 blocks.

I’ve been making a little tip sheet to go along with all the weeks on Lori Holt’s blog, where she has all her photos and pictures.  However, sometimes the info is not arranged as easily as I would like, and so I offer these as an adjunct to those working on the quilt who also need a bit more.  Click to download the PDF files. They are found on a page up in the tab section, under 2020 Projects, if you need to find them again.

Bibimbap Bowl
African Peanut Stew

I laugh at those COVID-19 memes that list a full menu for dinner on the first three days then devolve down to cereal and soda by Day 20.  I alternate between complete angst at dinner time and diving in to make a cool meal.  Here are two of my successes: bibimbap (top) and African Peanut Stew (bottom, recipe on ElizabethCooks.com).  My daughter, who lives too far away, has been baking these:

Barbara Macarons

Baking and selling them.  She’s really mastered this treat.

Like the rest of you, I spend far too much time scrolling on my phone, I’ve been happy to see the contests sponsored by major museums across the world to have those of us keeping quarantine to mimic famous works of art.

Art Imitation Frida Kahlo
Art imitation Last Supper
Art Imitation Rivera
Covid Meme Quarantine houses

I also follow the hashtag #quarantineart to break up the quilty quality of my IG feed, where I found this image.

Other components of our COVID-19 lives: Zoom conferences (this time with my brothers and sisters and my two elderly parents highly quarantined in their senior living building), memes, walks around our neighborhood in the morning, and finally, peering into the homes of TV newscasters, where I spotted a quilt on the back of a sofa.  Hey!  A quilter lives there…or at least they appreciate a quilt.

So, can we be happy in April 2020?  Possibly.  Probably.  Often.  Sometimes. Always.  Occasionally.

In January 2020, way back in another time and place, my local quilt shop asked us to nominate someone who could use a sewing machine in their lives, along with some sewing helps from Olfa and fabric from the store.  I wrote about my friend Hayley, a young mom who is in my First Monday Sew-day group, who has really taken to quilting.  She’s the wife a medical student, and has a sweet young daughter.  I then waited…and waited…and finally heard this week that she had been chosen!

Hayley Wins Machine
Hayley Wins Machine2

We all wore our masks, kept our social distance, and Janet, the shop owner read from a prepared paper, thanking all those responsible for giving this award.  Then the curtains parted to reveal a sewing machine–Hayley started to cry, I started to cry, Janet started to get emotional.  I was so happy that someone who is starting to love quilting could get her own machine.  Here’s the video on Facebook.

Kay sews a mask

Now a funny video about how to sew a mask.

Here’s hoping you’ll  Bee Happy/be happy in April 2020!

Quilt-A-Long · Quilts

Hexagon Millefiore Update, July 2018

Rosette 10b Finished

And with this Rosette (#10b), I finished up The New Hexagon Millefiore Quilt-A-Long.

All Rosettes_OPQuilt

Contractually.  At least according to the rules of the The New Hexagon Millefiore Game.

But I really hate the crenellated edges.  I don’t mind the zig-zag edges on the sides, and have loved what others have done, by appliqueing the quilt down to a solid border.

Millefiore border maybes

But for this quilt, these colors, every border fabric I chose just looked terrible.  Clunky.  Admittedly they are kind of wild, but really, the quilt is kind of wild.

Millefiore border fillins

Instead, I’m try to fill them in.

All Rosettesbeginning fillin

You can see what the first two look like.  There are 9 crenelations on the top and 9 on the bottom, so two down, 16 to go.  This is actually not as hard as I thought, as the fabric choices have already been made, and it’s just sort of filling in and figuring out how the pieces will work.  I am trying not to use just one-fabric half-hexie blocks, but instead, create interesting seamed fill-in pieces.  I figure the sides will be faster–just a sort of background fabric from the nearest rosette.

Stay tuned.

tiny nine patches

Research photos (culled from the web, from Instagram and from the Facebook page):

Millefiore v5
This one looks great with the appliqued-to-borders treatment.

Millefiore v12
Not technically a Hexagon Millefiore quilt, but those borders!

Millefiore v2

Millefiore quilt again
Another that is not a hexagon-based EPP, but I love the way they broke the borders.

Millefiore v4Millefiore v1Millefiore v3

Millefiore v8
This one filled in many edges, and moved a lot of the rosettes around.

Millefiore v7Millefiore v9

Many of these quilts turned the design on the its side, or upside down. I should note that I also changed the lower edge of mine, melding 4 different rosettes into one gigantor rosette, plus I tweaked a few more places (there is NO star in the middle of my quilt, for example).

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Millefiore Quilt July 18_2
My leftovers (paper pulled out that was still in good shape). I’m using them to build the edges.

200 Quilts · Oh Christmas Tree QAL · Quilt-A-Long

Oh! Christmas Tree Quilt

christmas-tree_8

Oh! Christmas Tree Quilt
Quilt #175
Began January 2016 • Finished December 2016

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It’s finally finished.  I started this once I saw the QuiltMania magazine it was featured in.  It is a pattern from Wendy Williams of Flying Fish Kits.  I had a companion in the making of this, in Wendy Welsh from New Zealand.  She was about a month ahead of me in construction and was such a great help, especially in untangling the borders dilemma.  All of the posts about the making of this quilt are referenced in the Quilt-A-Longs tab, up above.christmas-tree_2

I did finish it by my goal of December 1st, but had to find the right locale accessories, like the lumber-jack looking guy above.  (By the way, the most important man in this photo is unseen, holding up the Christmas Tree quilt.  Thanks, dear!)christmas-tree_3adetail

I had written about how I quilted the center: a meander with tiny stars here and there.

oct_fmq-for-starsAs usual, I printed out my quilt with partial transparency and doodled and doodled, coming into a dead end always.  But finally, inspired by an idea from  *here,* I chose to do swirls around my stars with a spiral in the center, linking them all together.christmas-tree_3detail

I quilted the cream background fabric around the wool felt appliqués, then in around those red triangle points, leaving them unquilted.  I did outline them in a straight stitch, helping them to stand out from the background.

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My husband Dave and I went out for a photo shoot as the sun was dimming, first hitting the tree lot at Teen Challenge (below), a charity near our house.
christmas-tree_7 christmas-tree_6

And then we went looking for more evergreens for backdrops, a near herculean task in Southern California.  We finally found these pines in the university parking lot.  I told my husband that Marsha, in Vermont, could photograph hers out in the woods amid the snow, but that typical to our climate and locale, we have to pose in an asphalt parking lot.

christmas-tree_back

The back is a series of panels and fabrics from Cori Dantini from her Merry Stitches line, purchased at Quilt Market this past May and available now.  It’s fun to use them on the back.christmas-tree_front1

This quilt (or parts of it) have gone to Spain, all around my town, and then finally tucked in at home to be finished with the quilting. I took inspiration from all of those who followed along on the Quilt-A-Long and on Instagram, but am indebted to my husband for his love of my quilting and constant support.  Lastly, the design for Mary and Joseph and Baby Jesus are found here on the blog. Uusually we say that what’s important about Christmas isn’t found under the tree.

But in this case, it is.

I hope your Christmas season is merry and bright and filled with the love of our Savior.

Halloween QAL · Quilt-A-Long · Quilts

Hallowe’en 1904 QAL–Step Six • Final Post

Step 6 halloweenQAL

First up, some business to take care of.

UppercaseGiveaway7_2016

I recently had a post about creativity/uniqueness/Uppercase/Collaboration, where I had a giveaway with two Uppercase magazines and a charm pack of Uppercase Fabric.  So many of your comments were incredibly thoughtful about the process of creativity and the quality of being unique.  Several were very encouraging to me, which was quite appreciated and touched my heart.  Of course, I’ve pasted them in my journal for those less-than-stellar creative days.  Thank you all so very much.

I used the True Random Number Generator (I like to spread the love around the random number generators), and it picked Mary, of NeedledMom.  Email is on it’s way to you, Mary, and I’ll get the treats mailed off to you this week!

Okay, back to Halloween 1904.  This was our schedule:

Step 1 (Preparation): February 13, 2016–buy all the fabrics and find the pattern.  Patterns are available from Primitive Gatherings.  The quilt measures 90 by 90, which is too large for me, so I’m only doing nine blocks.  Each block is 20″ square, and with the outer borders, that should come to roughly  65″ square.  I may change my mind, but this looks good from here.

Step 2: March 13, 2016–Cut out the quilt: the tan backgrounds of the squares, the border triangles, the smaller half-square triangles, strips for the wonky stars, but save the piano key border for later.

Step 3: April 13, 2016–Assemble four blocks and add large appliques; use Thelma’s method (of Cupcakes and Daisies) for adding the curlicue stem. Make and add half-square triangeles (HSTs) around these blocks, using the 8-at-a-time method of HSTs.

Step 4: May 13, 2016–Cut and make the wonky star blocks from templates and strips.  I’m doing five blocks, so will need to make twenty wonky stars and true them up.  Add on the large outside triangles.

Step 5: June 13, 2016–Assemble the rest of the star blocks, by adding their HST borders. In the pattern, they are mixed up and varied, but also harmonized (some have a mix of orange and black, some have just black, some have just orange.)  Make your own rules and go with it.

AND NOW!  WE ARE AT Step 6: July 13,  2016–Arrange the blocks on your design wall and stitch together.  Cut the pieces for your borders.  Make the four corner pinwheels. Sew borders together and attach them to the quilt. Ta-Done!!

AND THERE IS AN UPDATE AT THE END OF THIS POST, added December 2016

Halloween4_ninesquares

We finished up here last time, with the center of the quilt put together, the blocks placed and sewn together (and yes, I fixed the lower sawtooth edge on the right). Leisa and I are making a 9-block quilt; the pattern calls for 12 blocks.

Halloween6_0Make more HST blocks: there are four blocks per pinwheel, so this time I didn’t use the eight-at-a-time method, but instead, followed the pattern’s recipe for two-at-a-time (check there for dimensions). Halloween6_0a Halloween6_0b

Trim each HST to 3″ using your favorite method, then stitch four together to make a pinwheel.

Halloween6_2Press, as shown, with all seams to the dark, popping a few stitches in the middle to allow the seam allowances to make their own tiny pinwheel.Halloween6_1

True the corner pinwheel square to 5 1/2.”

Halloween6_3

You’ll be making four corner pinwheels.

Halloween6_2a

Cut your pieces for your borders, following the pattern directions.  For the smaller nine-block quilt, adjust down to 24 total per side.  I tried to randomize the sewing of the oranges in between the black pieces, as I had many more different types of orange.  Just do your best. Halloween6_2bHalloween6_2c

Press the seams going one way.  You’ll notice that you begin with a black and end with an orange piece (or visa versa).  I chose to press my seams toward the orange, from the black, doing the same on all four border strips.  Halloween6_4

Matching all the seams, pin and stitch on the borders: I sewed on the top border and the bottom border and pressed the seam away from the quilt top (towards the border).  Then I sewed the sides on, but I left one inch free on the beginning of that seam and on the end of that seam, which would allow me to stitch on the pinwheel blocks later.  You can kind of see where it’s not sewn down, above.

Now, audition your pinwheels–you’ll like them going one way or the other, or swap them out to get the look that pleases you.  But please don’t overthink this step.  When you get them how you like them, stitch them on the side borders at both ends.  Press.  Then finish stitching the side seams.

Halloween6_5Now press those seams away from the quilt top, towards the border.  You are done!

Halloween6_quilt2I went outside in the sunset and took pictures of the completed quilt top.

Halloween6_in the garden Halloween6_quilt1 Halloween6_quilt3I know when you were deep in wonky stars and then deeper in making millions of half-square triangles, you wanted to quit; however, this last part is easy-peasy, so you should come roaring into the finish line.

halloween-1904_front

All Hallows Eve
Quilt #174
68″ square

Update (December 2016):  I finished the quilt, taking it over to my quilter.  She got it back to me by the end of November and by December, the binding and sleeve were on.

halloween-1904_back

Here’s the back!
(Now back to the original post)

Congratulations on finishing your Halloween Quilt, and so early!  Thanks for following along our QAL.  Hope you enjoy your quilt this Halloween!

1halloweenQAL logo

When you finish, send me a photo (or two) and I’ll put them up on the blog.  Happy Haunting, everyone!

Giveaway · Oh Christmas Tree QAL · Quilt-A-Long · Quilts

Oh Christmas Tree QAL • STEP 3

4XmasTreeApr

Here we are again, gathering together for the next step of the Oh Christmas Tree Quilt-A-Long (#ohchristmastreeqal), using the pattern found in Quiltmania’s Simply Moderne, issue #3, designed by Wendy Williams of Flying Fish Kits.

ohchristmastree3_flowers1 ohchristmastree3_flowers2

At this point, you’ve been working on your flowers for a month, and if you are like me, that first one was like jumping off a high dive, and thinking the pool was empty and you’d go splat.  But you didn’t, and your flower circles are looking wonderful and you are actually having a great time.  Keep working on them, you’ll need 21 of them in the various sizes shown on the pattern.  I have to admit that all of mine are not the “perfect” size, as some are larger than what is called for.  I mocked up the tree the other day (I’ll show you this at the end) and it was okay.  So no fretting.  Just #startyourneedles and keep creating and stitching.

But. . . this month we’re adding two easy tasks: leaves and birds.  First up, birds.

ohchristmastree3_birdsA

Remember all that tracing you did of the birds, and how you labeled them and marked the dashed overlap lines on a folded piece of freezer paper, so you’d be making two copies of the bird (one regular, and one reversed) and you stapled it together to keep the pieces from shifting? Now’s the time to get them out.  Hold them up to the light and transfer the dashed overlap marking on the wing to the wing piece on the other side, then cut them out and start picking your colors.ohchristmastree3_birdsB

Be bold!  Red beaks! purple bodies! wild wings!  I ironed down the freezer paper patterns, using a wool setting (NOT your regular cotton setting–or you’ll scorch the wool), and then cut them out.  I tucked the beaks under the body, guesstimating where they’d go (hint: NOT even with the top of the body) and pinned them.  Then I place the wing on the bird, using the dashed overlap line to place them, then pinned that in place.ohchristmastree3_birdsC

(No worries…I fixed that purple bird’s wing before I pinned it down!)ohchristmastree3_birds1

Wendy of Wendy’s Quilts and More gave me a tip to sew on the beak first.  I just used a few overcast stitches to get it on securely.  I’d never qualify for a bird plastic surgeon, that’s for sure.ohchristmastree3_birds2 Then attach the wing by blanket stitches (or overcast stitches, or a back stitch or a running stitch), beginning where it attaches to the body and work your way around the lower edge and back up again. ohchristmastree3_birds3

Now do the floaty part of the wing, and tie it off.
ohchristmastree3_birds4

Add a few French knots, or seed stitches, or whatever small decorative stitch.  Cut a teensy circle of white, then an even teensier circle of black and secure them both with a French knot, done with white thread.  I started by cutting 1/2″ squares of white felt, then rounded them off, and then cut smaller squares of black and just kept going around and around, cutting, until it was the right size.  Be prepared to sacrifice a couple of eyeballs until you get the hang of it.ohchristmastree3_birds4a

Ta-DONE!ohchristmastree3_birds4b ohchristmastree3_birds5

I got fancy with that red bird, attaching the wing with running stitches, and doing a zig-zag stitch across the wing.

ohchristmastree3_63birdsallI took them with me on my trip to Portugal and Spain (pictures of that trip are on my Instagram, to the right and on a previous post) and was able to get them sewn without too much trouble on the [long] flight out there.  These go MUCH more quickly than do the flowers, so I’m also adding LEAVES to this month’s tasks.

ohchristmastree3_leaves1 ohchristmastree3_leaves2 ohchristmastree3_leaves3 ohchristmastree3_leaves4

Okay, that wasn’t hard!  I traced half of all the leaves I’d need onto freezer paper, doubled it over to get two layers, then cut them out.  Iron on to your felt using a wool setting, and cut out.  Repeat for the inner, smaller, leaves.  I cut a few out of a different green just to give some variety.  Place the smaller leaves as shown, setting them closer to one end.  Using a backstitch, sew them down.  It’s tricky near the tip, but you can see how wobbly mine are and how it really doesn’t matter.  (Last time I checked, The Creator didn’t use a ruler to create his leaves either, and our world is the more beautiful for that variation.)

ohchristmastree3_mockup1

So I was curious as to how I was doing at this point, so I smoothed my tree up on the design wall, and stabbed pins through all the flowers and the four birds I’d finished.  Then, ACK! I was stuck.  What number flowers were where?  What had I sewn and cut and what was I lacking?  I got out all the baggies of labeled flowers and set up a little station on my ironing board, right below the tree.  I wrote out post-it notes labeling the flowers as in the pattern, and then a master list of where they were supposed to go.  I then lined up the circles from the pattern, drawn out on freezer paper below each sticky note, so I could see the relative sizes.ohchristmastree3_mockup2

Now that I was organized, I could figure it out.  I had enough of certain flowers and needed more of others.  Some of the directions in the pattern were wrong, so I corrected for those:

OhChristmasTree_pattern errataIf you want it to look like the one in the magazine, Flowers 6: should read “floating above branch 2” and Flowers 7: should read “on branch 3.”  I say, just squinch them all in where they’ll look good.  This is just a test run, but later we’ll do it for real.
ohchristmastree3_mockup3

After a while, I could pin up what I’d cut out, fabric medallions, layered felts and all, and was pretty pleased with how it was coming along!  I’d encourage you to do this interim step, if only to give yourself a little pat on the back that you’ve come this far.  After taking the photo, I put everything away in the proper baggies, and planned to keep stitching flowers and finish up the birds.

ohchristmastree3_64stitchingAt the last minute, I decided to take a bunch of the flowers with me on our trip, squeezing them into a cute bag made by Sherri of A Quilting Life.  I snapped a photo of my stitching on the airplane tray table.  I kept stitching until I had nearly all of the flowers done:

ohchristmastree3_62flowers
ohchristmastree3_61mockup2

And after getting home, I did another mockup. I didn’t pay too much attention as to what number flower should go where, but instead put my largest one on top, then the next two largest on the lowest limbs, moving on up the tree and thinking more about size and color placement. I’ll let this stay up on the design wall for a few days while I move things around.  I did have one dud–a flower I ended up not liking, but that’s pretty good, I think.  I only had three flowers left to finish, which I did yesterday, so I’m ready to move on to the next phase.

A recap of where we are:

January, Step “prepare”: buy the magazine, books, gather your fabrics, buy the felt/wool, buy/find the pearl cotton. 

February, Step 1: Make the tree on the background and stitch it down.  

March, Step 2: Make 21 flowers.Keep stitching, keep stitching!

April, Step 3: Make 10 birds and the leaves.  Keep stitching, keep stitching!

May, Step 4: Scene at bottom of tree.

June, Step 5: Appliqué down the flowers.  (Wendy gave me some tips for this last week, which I’ll pass along.)

July, Step 6: Appliqué down the birds and the scene.

August, Step 7: Sawtooth border (reds); sew together and attach.

September, Step 8 (finish up Quilt-A-Long): Make wonky star blocks, sew them together and attach border #2.

See you May 2nd for the next step: scene at the bottom of the tree.  Wendy’s done one scene, the pattern shows one, and I’m cooking up another.  See below for the giveaway.

#startyourneedles for the #ohchristmastreeqal

Giveaway Banner

ohchristmastree3_65GIVEAWAY

Initially I wasn’t going to do a giveaway, but after visiting with Anna in Barcelona, I thought it would be fun to have a Spanish connection from our trip.  In Barcelona, I purchased five balls of size 8 pearl cotton (my favorite size) and will send that to the lucky person who is chosen from comments left below.  I’m also including a 1 yard piece of metallic purple embroidery floss that I purchased in Lisbon.  Even though it is a little like sewing with tensile steel, it makes fun accents on our flowers (I used mine for some back stitching here and there, and also for some French knots on another flower).

Please leave a comment below, telling me either where you’d like to go a a trip outside the US and why, or the place where you had your favorite trip (outside the US) and why.  I love to read about other people’s trips, or their hoped-for travels!  I’ll let this run for a few days, then will close it off and chose a winner.

UPDATE: Comments are closed now.  Thanks for writing!