Barn door quilt-a-long!

So, um, do you guys maybe want to make a quilt with me next year?

Maybe this one? (More pictures here.)


Ok, let’s do this!

I plan to keep the pace pretty slow because I know there are plenty of other great projects you may have in mind for the new year. But I’ll give you the information you need to work ahead too, in case you’re like me and you get all excited and like to focus on one thing at a time.

Barn door quilt-a-long schedule:

  • November /December – fabric requirements & selection
  • January 6 – cutting
  • January 13 – assembling the HSTs and hourglass unit
  • January 20 – assembling the strips
  • January 27 – piecing the X
  • February 3 – adding the top and bottom borders
  • February 10 – quilting & finishing
  • February 24 – final link party celebration (with at least one giveaway, possibly more!)

I wanted to post the fabric requirements early so that you can plan ahead a bit. (Maybe allocate a Christmas present or 2 in this direction!)

This quilt is a little bit different because it is primarily long strips rather than small components. I used a set of 6 half yards of the Japenese text prints (available here) and a couple yards of the polka dots from my stash.

For simplicity, in calculating the fabric requirements below I assumed you would use just two different fabrics – one light and one dark. I also assumed you’d be using a non-directional print or a print that runs the length of the yardage rather than selvedge to selvedge. If you are using a print that runs selvedge to selvedge (as the text print I used did) you will have to piece a couple of the longest strips. This didn’t bother me a bit. This is patchwork, let it be patchy! 

Ok, fabric requirements. In short, you’ll need 5 yards for this quilt top – 2 1/2 light and 2 1/2 dark. But here are some more details: 

  • Light fabric: a 2 yard cut will provide enough 3 1/4 inch strips for the main X and the top and bottom striped borders; you’ll need an additional 1/2 yard for the 44 HST (you’ll have some left over, but 1/4 yard is not enough)
  • Dark fabric: same as light fabric above
  • Finished size of the quilt: 63 3/4 by 79 3/4

It might be helpful to know that the 2 longest light strips are 58 1/4 inches and the 2 longest dark strips are 52 3/4 inches. If you don’t want to have to piece your strips at all, you’ll need at least that length.

I haven’t 100% committed to my fabric choices for my 2nd version of this quilt yet. I haven’t made a quilt for my 2 year old yet so I’m thinking this one will be for him! My initial thought is to combine my men’s shirt collection with Carolyn Friendlander’s new line Botanics, but I reserve the right to change my mind.

Here’s a little inspiration to get you thinking. These are the types of images I originally had in my head when I designed this quilt.

barn door

Barn door 2

barn door 3

For more great inspiration and ideas, I’m so excited that my genius friend Anne of Play Crafts generously agreed to do a post about some color choices for us today! She also drew it up in Illustrator for us, which is way beyond my technological abilities. Be sure to check it out. Thanks Anne!

I also created a Flickr group so please feel free to start talking about ideas and posting potential fabric pulls.

This is going to be fun!

Inspired by Ann Loveless (art quilter)

Have you guys heard of this amazing lady?

iphone + fluorescent lights = we looked way cuter in person

iphone + fluorescent lights = we looked way cuter in person

This is Ann Loveless, art quilter. She recently won a huge (HUGE) art contest in my home state (Michigan) called Art Prize. She won (wait for it…..) $200,000! (Let me translate that into a number you can better understand: that’s 20,000 yards of fabric ppl!) Isn’t that better than those absurd Etsy prices?

The amazing thing for the quilting community is that this wasn’t just a “quilt” contest. It was open to any kind of art. And a quilt won!!

Here’s the winning quilt:


And for perspective on how huge it was:

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Now, since I’m fortunate enough to live near where Ann is from, I was invited by a friend (hi Nancy!) to attend the local quilt guild meeting to see Ann and her quilts in person. (Not the winning quilt, unfortunately, since Art Prize now owns it. I guess I’d part with my best quilt for $200,000 too!)

I’ll be honest, my first thought was, “Well, that’s not the kind of quilt I make. I’m not sure it’ll be relevant to me.”

Guys I was so wrong! Ann’s quilts were just beautiful and she was a really interesting and inspiring person.

I love traditional piecing, but she’s really got me thinking about some different techniques. She does this thing she calls the “confetti” method which involves fusing little squares onto muslin.


(I think she’s writing a book about it! I’ll keep you posted.) I could really get excited about trying that with bright colors and a more abstract design. You could really impress your next mini-swap partner with that!

(I’m afraid this is going to take my scrap hoarding to a whole new level.)

I guess the point I’m trying to make is that it’s good to go outside your “quilt zone” and experience what other people are doing. There’s such variety in today’s quilt world, but the internet makes it tempting to surround ourselves with quilters who make quilts that look just like our own. To really grow and be excited and get new ideas we have to be willing to open our minds.

I can’t get this thought out of my head: Ann Loveless confetti method + Anna Maria Horner scraps…

Tutorial: Cut a yard of fabric in a flash


Have you ever done a swap?

There are all kinds of them out there! People swap fabric (of course) but also finished blocks and even finished projects (usually small projects like mini quilts, bags, etc).

I recently joined an Anna Maria Horner charm square swap on Flickr (it’s full now but I’m willing to bet there will be another round soon). We each send 2 sets of 56 charm squares (5 inches) of 2 fabrics and get 2 sets of 56 different fabrics back.

I ordered some of AMH’s 2 new lines Dowry and True Colors.


(BTW, don’t be confused if you search for True Colors at your go-to fabric sources and find multiple lines coming up under that name. It’s actually a new collection of several lines by several Free Spirit designers- all basics intended to blend with each designers’ individual typical palettes).

When I made this order I ordered an extra yard of 4 different prints for my contribution to the swap (I signed up for 2 slots, so I have to send 4 sets of 56 charms).

What’s fabulous about this is that it’s incredibly fast to cut 56 charm squares from one yard of fabric. It would take way longer to go through your stash and cut 56 charms from 56 different fabrics (if you even have that many!).

As I was cutting these charms yesterday I was thinking about my cutting tutorial from my Your 1st Quilt series. I didn’t discuss cutting multiple pieces at a time because I honestly don’t think that’s a good idea for beginners. But just in case some of you might benefit, I thought I’d do a really quick tutorial on how I cut a yard of fabric if I’m fortunate enough to need a lot of one particular size cut.

I should give credit to Camille Roskelley’s excellent first Craftsy class. I do it a little differently, but this is definitely inspired by her method and I highly recommend her class. She has a second class out now that I’ll definitely be checking out.

A yard of fabric in a flash:

1. As always, starch and press your fabric first.

2. Now hold your fabric selvedge to selvedge so that it hangs straight and place it on your cutting board. (I explain this fully in my introductory cutting tutorial here.)

3. Line up a line of your ruler with the bottom, folded edge of the fabric. Create a straight, fresh edge on one side.

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4. Working from your new fresh edge, cut into 5-inch strips. To line up your ruler with the folded edge you’ll have to rotate the board or go to the other side of your table.

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Each time make sure you are getting a good 90-degree angle. Sometimes you may need to create a new, fresh edge if that angle somehow gets off.

5. This is where it gets fancy! Carefully lay out as many 5-inch strips as your cutting board and ruler can handle. I have a large board but only a 24 inch ruler. My setup can handle 4 strips at a time.


You’ll line the strips up using the lines of the board, but use your ruler to measure and cut.

5. Create fresh edges again by cutting off the selvedges.

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Then rotate the board and cut your strips into squares.


Frequently double check for 90 degree angles on all corners.

If you are having trouble with the ruler slipping at the end, try pausing to move your hand higher up the ruler. I usually move my hand half way through a long cut like this. You may even want to move it twice if your ruler is particularly wild.


When you get to the end you’ll have 56 charm squares and some small scraps left.



I do not like to stack multiple strips, even though that would make this even faster. I have not had good results when I’ve tried that, so I don’t do it.

Accuracy is more important than speed, so check your accuracy often. If you are not getting good results, you may need to change your cutting blade or simply try different methods until you find one that works for you. This is the method that works for me!

Penny sampler: last update before the BIG finish (I promise)

I have been hard at work sewing the final stages of the penny sampler quilt top. (You can see my most recent previous post here).


It occurred to me that it won’t be quite as exciting to show you the finished quilt if I show too many pictures now that assembly has started, so I’m only going to show a few sneak peaks and ask for some backing advice.


Is it totally OCD that I plan to take the time to count how many fabrics I used in this quilt? I’m curious! It felt like a lot, but that may be because I was cutting from yardage (mostly half yards) and not scraps. Interestingly, it wasn’t until the very end that I ordered anything specifically with this quilt in mind. Most of it has just been pulling anything aqua, teal, purple or orange from my (overly) copious recent fabric orders. At the end I did need more white quilter’s linen (which is not linen, by the way, it’s normal quilting cotton with a linen-like tone-on-tone print) and the white Architextures crosshatch. I used almost no solids in this quilt, but I reluctantly admit that this quilt needed at least a teeny tiny bit of negative space to provide structure. Rachel’s design includes sashing that forms a cross that I didn’t want to lose in the chaos. Almost every other background besides that sashing is a print.

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I’m going to keep the back really simple, because let’s be honest the party’s in the front on this one. The back is not likely to see the light of day, but of course I want to know in my head it’s pretty. And on the off chance I ever allow anyone to sleep under it I’ll want them to enjoy the back.

I love using beautiful large scale prints on my quilt backs so I’ve been stocking up on yardage whenever I see a sale on fabric that fits the bill. I pulled these 4 Anna Maria Horner options because #1 I’m completely in love with AMH lately and #2 there is A LOT of AMH on the front so it seems appropriate.

My plan is to use the WOF (width of fabric) of one of these prints down the middle and then fill out the edges with something subtle. That’s kind of my go-to backing plan because it avoids any complicated pattern repeat alignment.


I’m leaning toward one of these choices but I’m not going to tell you which because I don’t want to sway your answers. I’m curious what you guys will think!

Ok, I promise the next time you see this quilt it will be quilted and bound!

Linking up with Quiet Play’s Paper Piecing Party since most of what’s new here is paper piecing.

Pushme, Pullme blog hop

The talented Michelle from Factotum of Arts designed a super cool quilt block that I volunteered to test for her.


I had been looking for a great block that could read masculine enough for a set of pillows for a bachelor friend of mine. (Can’t say more just in case he reads this. Highly unlikely since this is a quilting blog, but I don’t want to ruin Christmas.)

This pattern was fun, fast and easy. The block finishes 15 inches so a quilt top would come together really fast. I love how dynamic the arrows are. Until quilting I mostly saw the inward dark arrows but now after quilting the lighter outward arrows seem to take center stage.


After becoming obsessed with sketch stitching for appliqué I decided to try sketch quilting. Do you like it? I love it for these pillows but I’m undecided on whether it’d be a good idea for a full quilt. It’d be awfully time consuming! I was surprised by how long this took. It basically multiplied my quilting time by 4.


I used this amazing paint by number print from Lush Uptown on the back. Couldn’t bear to cut it up for a quilt, even though in general I enjoy the effect deconstructed large scale prints can have in quilts. But now I have some good scraps from making these pillows so I’m sure they’ll pop up again. I’m pretty sure there is a paint by number of a woodland scene I did as a child that is exactly this percentage done!


As a side note, this is the first time I’ve used binding on a pillow and I LOVE it. I made all the pillows in my house but none of them are pieced or quilted… and none have binding. Looks like I’ve got some work to do.


I reluctantly admit that this block would be really cool in all solids. 😉 I can’t wait to check out what the other blog hoppers came up with! Be sure to visit them and see:

Ashley @ Wasn’t Quilt in a Day
Kristel @ Work-in-Progress Girl
Mara @ Secretly Stitching

Oh, one more thing. Thank you guys so much for your kind support of my first real quilt design. I can’t tell you how much more fun quilting has become since I found you guys to share it with. Watch for a 2014 quilt-a-long announcement soon…!!

Linking up with Fresh Sewing Day at Lily’s Quilts!