300 Quilts · Giveaway · Patterns by Elizabeth of OPQuilt · Quilt-A-Long

Heart’s Garden • Quilt Finish

This weighty world needs a tender, light touch this week, so I thought I’d finish up my Heart’s Garden with you today.

Heart’s Garden in my garden, with the flowers of the silk oak in bloom above it.

I thought this quilt might be a fun place to try some embellishments, including these wooden buttons I purchased at a quilt show from a booth with Japanese fabrics, patterns and notions.

The birds now have eyes.

I quilted around a heart shape, trying this out.

Sew Sassy thread is a quilting thread developed by Jane Sassaman with Superior Threads. Since it is polyester, it doesn’t fray out as badly as floss when I’m stitching with it, and leaves a line like 3 strands of embroidery floss.

This is me, ordering colors online (and on sale) so I can do some more stitching. I’ve picked up spools here and there over the last few years. Obviously I have a couple extra: one in pink and one in spring green. Leave a comment below and I will pick two winners from the comments and send them out.

One of my constant helpers at the computer. The other one is Totoro.

I was able to cross off a couple of more things this week. No way I’m going to get this all done by the end of June, but it’s okay. Time for good vibes to go out into our fragile world.

Recently on the PBS NewsHour, they had a discussion how many people are going online to try and back up Ukranian digital assets before they might be destroyed. In the middle of this serious business, I noticed that behind the librarian from Stanford was a Bernina sewing machine and a serger. Even in the hardships around us, we can find common ground.

I would be remiss if I didn’t let you know that Affinity by Serif is having a 50% off sale. I had my husband download Photo for his computer today (steal at about $27) and then had my daughter download both Designer and Photo for her computer. It even got a mention this week in the Craft Industry Alliance newsletter this week, as another way to get your digital artwork made.

So, this is the last of Heart’s Garden. I will post photos from our other makers in a future post, as I so appreciate all the beautiful quilts they are making, and believe they are worth letting you know about. I’ll have some time in the next little while to do more hand-stitching on this quilt, so I decided not to rush for a blog deadline. It will evolve and change, but I don’t feel like I have to do too much. . . just enough fun stitches to make me happy.

The pattern is up on my PayHip shop. I will leave Part 5 (heart border) up in my shop for another week or so, but the other patterns have been merged into the full pattern (I hope you were all able to grab them when they came out). Since there are tons of photos and illustrations, and PayHip has a download limit, I broke the pattern into two parts. Be sure to download both segments.

Affinity Photo helped me try this out in a different color.

UPDATE: GIVEAWAY FINISHED. Leave a comment if you want to win a spool of Sew Sassy Thread (US domestic only). I’ll pick two winners this week.
Then take a breath, and quilt!

Other Posts About this Quilt • Quilt #264

All of the individual posts are linked on the Heart’s Garden Info Page
Did I mention who quilted this? It was Krista of KristaStitched. She is delightful!

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

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!

Mystery Quilt · Quilt-A-Long

Heart’s Garden • Mystery QAL Part 2

Here we go again, this time for Part 2 of Heart’s Garden.

How did I arrive at this design? I thought I was going to go for a whole quilt of EPP circles, yes I did. But I became increasingly unhappy with the quilt that was up on my screen, so I scraped all the pixels off the computer and threw them into the trash. I wanted to expand, yet honor, the circle but leave enough room in the design to go where I wanted it to go.

First, some eye candy:

Lisa was the first to send me a photo of her completed circle. I love this group of fabrics from Laundry Basket Quilts, and Lisa’s placement of colors.

Susan’s was next, a photo grabbed from her IG feed. Can hardly wait to see how this one evolves, as I love those deep colors playing all together.

I’m keeping to one bundle of Sherri and Chelsi’s Sincerely Yours fabric line, so that helped determine what I chose next. I went with one fabric for all the arcs, and a variety of fabrics inside the arc. I’m keeping in mind how I want the quilt to flow outward from the colorful center circle, and this made the most sense to me.

back of the first part of the assembly

The arcs are sewn together, then the seam allowance on the outside large arc pressed under. I made a template of the large arc pattern out of freezer paper, and used that to help me get that pressed edge, but you can also eyeball it. Don’t burn your fingers with the iron!

I put the arcs to the feed dogs, so I can help manage everything from the center circle side, keeping a straight seam when the presser foot hits the center circle and wants to wobble.

The twidgiest part is where the arcs meet the corner. You can just stop sewing at the larger arc’s pressed outer edge, or you can sew the seam (photo #2 and #3) and then unpick those four stitches later. I did that method. Both methods work.

Then you’ll appliqué the whole unit to a larger square. Tips are in the pattern.

Cut out the back and save it for more uses.

(Hint: Yes, there will be more uses–coming in March!)

I had a pretty good idea of what colors I wanted for the inner appliqué hearts (pinned on here), but I dithered on the outer circles, ending up with red. My advice: wait until you choose the border before you decide on those circles.

I have had fun working with this group of cheery fabrics, but after seeing Susan’s and Lisa’s I’ll want to try some different fabrics, too.

I have a hashtag going on Instagram (yes, with the heart on the end):

If you are making this, please tag it when you post, and I’ll draw from there for some photos next month.

Part 2 is now live and living in my online pattern shop. Hope you enjoy making this second 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.

Happy Quilting!