Midsummer Moments

I’m so happy to have planned the summer the way I did, with camp for the kids in June and August and a month of unstructured summer time in between. (Even though it seems like all of our friends have done exactly the opposite.) It has given us a chance to have moments like this:


And it allows me to slow down and take in inspiration like this:


We have one more week left to hang at the town pool, get sticky with popsicles in the back yard, and play Go Fish until after regular bed times. Then the kids will go back to camp for a bit, I’ll get ready for classes, and work on some quilt designs that have been body surfing inside my brain. (They bob around in the back before catching that perfect wave of inspiration and flooding to shore.)

I started working again on the Quilt Camp sample, which should be done by the end of the week. It’s become a medallion mini-quilt, and I’m totally smitten.


I brought my machine in for a tune-up while we were at the shore, and after a week away, sewing is pure joy.

I hope your summer has had its own beautiful unstructured moments. (If not, there’s still time!)

Upcoming Events

Just a few updates and announcements while I’m spending some family time at the Jersey Shore this week.

NJMQG is honored to be hosting Heather Grant on August 4, and all MQG members can attend for free! Visitors are just $5. All info here.

Quilt Camp is August 9 at Rock Paper Scissors! It’s going to be so fun.

Screen Shot 2014-07-19 at 10.58.13 AMAlso, I’m so honored and excited to be teaching two classes at the Montclair Art Museum this fall in coordination with their quilt exhibit From Heart to Hand: African-American Quilts from the Montgomery Museum of Fine ArtsWe’ll be using the exhibit as inspiration for modern quilt appreciation and education. In one eight-week class, From Hall to Home, I’ll help each student design and make their own quilt inspired by the exhibit. In a two-day workshop, Modern Quilting 101, students will make a complete 20-inch mini quilt and talk about the entire quilt process. Both are through a partnership with Rock Paper Scissors. Registration begins August 4 for museum members and August 11 to the public. The entire fall course catalog, including dates and pricing, is available here

See you next week! 

Breeze – a Friday Finish

 Introducing Breeze, my entry to the Michael Miller MQG challenge:

IMG_9195This quilt was NOT a breeze to make. I remember getting the fabric and having absolutely no clue what to do with it. It’s not my usual palette, though I thought the prints were pretty, they didn’t send me in any one direction or another. So I left it in a pile for a month (or three) and waited for inspiration.

It didn’t come.

I must have absorbed the fact that the fabric line is called “Petal Pinwheels” into my subconscious, because when it came time to make some blocks, I started making quarter circle pinwheels. (I used Jen Carlton Bailley’s awesome templates, Etsy shop here.) It was only when I saw so many others in the challenge thread that I saw the name of the collection. Summer brain, anyone?

Anyway, the blocks were adorable! I decided to use coordinating Michael Miller solid charm squares for one petal of each pinwheel to add some interest Then I set them a little wonky, hoping it would add motion.


This quilt was an exercise in plugging along. Just keep working on a design until it’s done. Once July rolled around, there was no time to be precious about it. So I kept moving the blocks around until they looked right. I used lots of negative space and quilted a breezy texture (using a technique from my SMS walking foot tutorial).


I like that it was a little minimalist, so I decided to extend the blue into the binding. But that seemed like a LOT of blue. And I foolishly used all the remaining scraps of challenge fabric on the back.

IMG_9198So I decided to use some tiny scraps from my solid petals to make a little rainbow in the binding.


 It’s a little sticky sweet, but I love the detail, and it reminded me a little of my Rainbow Brite childhood. I’m going to try this again for sure.

Finished, the quilt is 32″ square. It would make a nice stroller quilt or baby play mat.  I’m happy with how it turned out, even though inspiration never struck in the way that it can, and it served as a good reminder of how I try to break out of a creative block. Just keep making.


Quilt Camp

I was teaching a lot of great skill-builder classes in the spring at Rock Paper Scissors, and during kids camp sign-up one of my students came in with a brilliant idea.

“Why do only kids get to go to camp? I want to spend a whole day sewing and making things away from reality just once this summer.”

Ding ding ding!

And a class was born: Quilt Camp. One day for adults away from responsibilities where we can sew and pick up a few new skills along the way. Three lessons, lunch included, surrounded by good quilty people and beautiful fabric, with wine and cheese at the end of the day. More than just a class. Less commitment than a retreat. Quilt Camp.

Here’s the plan: We’ll start of with some improv and move on to basic curves. After lunch we’ll tackle creating designs with walking foot quilting. If students would like, they will have time to finish a mini quilt or table runner with their work from class. Or they can use their work to apply to a bigger project at home. The third option is to replicate my sample, which I started last night:


I’m going to add an improv border before quilting and binding. I hope to bring it to the store ASAP. But I’ll naturally post the finished piece here too.


At the end of Quilt Camp, we’ll share a drink and the pretty things we’ve made. If you’re in the North Jersey area I hope you can join us– I’m really looking forward to it.

Quilt Camp – Saturday August 9 – $75 plus supplies

Rock Paper Scissors, Montclair, NJ

Call the store for details – 973-337-6759



Blip – A baby quilt tutorial

I have a lot of respect for huge, detailed quilts. And I’ve enjoyed the satisfaction of completing one myself. But sometimes you need to make a quick baby quilt. Or you just want the satisfaction of finishing something. I feel that way often. I felt that way this week.


So I whipped up a green and peach version of a quilt that I first made for my son last summer. It’s the perfect size for a baby or toddler— Miles is 3 1/2 now and still uses his when he naps at school. It is simple enough to make quickly, but with the right fabric it packs a lot of punch.

I chose the name Blip because it’s like a little disturbance in a strip quilt, a slight tremor in the status quo. It’s fat quarter friendly— if you like the way a stack of fat quarters look, you will like how they look in this pattern. I started with this:


and fell in love with it. I wanted to change the order a bit, but mostly enjoy how these fabrics look together.

I often like to pick a multi-colored print and pull in the colors with blenders or single-colored prints. I did that with the green and peach Meadow print, using both green and peach in high and low volume with a pop of yellow. To be honest, the greenish yellow that I used isn’t quite the same as the more golden one in Meadow, but I think it works!

One more word about fabric selection before I get to the tutorial. The pattern uses half square triangles (HSTs), so large or directional prints will get chopped up in the middle of the blip (see the multicolored fabric). Stripes will tend to look a little off. If that’s ok with you– I happened to like how the large print came out–then go for it! But stick with prints that will read with unity when cut and reassembled.

Ok, here’s my tutorial:


Size: 38” x 42”

Fabric requirements: 7 FQs or quarter yards

Cutting instructions:

From each fabric, cut the following:

2 – 7.5” square

1 – 6.5” square

1 – 6.5” x 20.5 (these can be as short as 18.5” if your FQs are on the smaller side, but I prefer them a little bigger. Just be sure that all seven are the same length.


Arrange your fabrics in rows as you desire like so: small square, two bigger squares, long piece. Label the rows A – G.


Next, pair up your 7.5” squares to ready them for HSTs. Make one set of A/B, one B/C, C/D, D/E, E/F, F/G,  and G/A.

Place the two 7.5” squares in each set right sides together. Draw a diagonal line  between corners with your preferred marking tool on the top piece. Secure with pins (I rarely use more than two— just enough to prevent shifting.)


Sew a line 1/4” from each side of the marked line. I like to use my quarter-inch foot. I also like to chain piece all the seams on one side, then turn them around to do the other side.


Remove the pins and cut along the marked line. You’ll now have two HST units from each set. Press seams open.


Trim to 6.5”, making sure that points are precise. This will make the points sharper on the quilt top too.


Lay rows out, rotating HSTs to form the blip in each row.


Assemble top using a consistent 1/4” seam allowance.


Traditionally, I would then piece each row and then sew the rows together, but I realized that piecing vertically, so to say, would involve far less pinning and seam nesting. Here’s how I did it.

To avoid having to match seams in every horizontal row, I assembled the quilt in vertical rows. First all the 6.5” squares, then the long rectangles. I pressed all the seams to the “side” in a “downward” motion, meaning that seams are pressed toward the bottom of the quilt.

Next, I put each pair of HSTs together. I alternated pressing right and left on each side so that I could nest the seams to match points.

Here is a picture of nested seams. You can see how the seam allowances are pressed in different directions, then butted up against one another for pinning. I just love the feeling when they lock together just so.


Once all the HST pairs were assembled, I pieced them all together in a vertical row. At this point I had three large pieces— the row of 6.5” squares, the HST column and the rectangles. Next, I nested the seams and pinned, then sewed them together. There were only three rows with multiple seams to match!


Voila! an easy but striking baby quilt top that shows off beautiful fabric. You can use a single 1 3/8 yard cut for the backing along with 1 3/8 yard of batting.


If you make a Blip quilt, let me know! I’d love to see it. I need to make a boy version now, or a black and white one, or one in solids with a scrappy stripe…