Courtyard Garden

Hi there friends!  I took some time over the weekend to update my Etsy shop.  I have been sewing for months with my favorite new shape, the 90 degree kites, and I thought it might be a good time to actually list them in the shop so you could sew with them too.

Courtyard Garden Mini

I used the 2″ 90 degree kites, together with 2″ 45 degree diamonds, to make my #handpiecedminiswap2 quilt. If you follow me on Instagram, you may have already seen this- if you’re not on Instagram, I joined what is surely the only hand piecing swap going on right now and made this quilt for one participant, and received a mini quilt from another participant.  It was a blind swap, so we had to “stalk” our partners to figure out what they might like to receive.  It took me a long time to decide on something, but there were some beautifully colored yarns in my partner’s feed, and I used those as inspiration for the colors in this quilt.


My favorite part of this quilt is that dark raspberry border.  That and the geometry of the quilt made me think of a formal courtyard, so I’ve named this quilt Courtyard Garden.


I decided to use some creative value placement to create a medallion layout, but there is actually an allover grid pattern going on with the shapes. 4-pointed stars or 8-pointed stars, depending on which way you look.

I’m working on another version of the quilt that highlights the 8-pointed stars.  I am so in love with these stars btw!  As a derivative of the above pattern, I’m calling them Courtyard Stars.

I have made downloadable design sheets for this pattern; one highlights the value placement of the medallion mini, and one has just a plain grid so you can do your own experimenting.  They are listed as a set in my Etsy shop.

Courtyard Stars


To make either the medallion version of the pattern, or 16+ of the above stars, you will need:

Medium pack of 2″ 90 degree kites

Small pack of 2″ 45 degree diamonds

Downloadable design sheets

The pieced portion of the mini is 20.5″ square, and I recommend appliqueing onto a 24″ background square.

I hope you’ll give these shapes a try!  I’ll be back later in the week to show some of the other layouts you can achieve with these beautiful 90 degree kites.  Octagons feature prominently in these designs so first I need to get them ready and listed 🙂

Happy sewing!




Color Palette- Summer into Fall

I’m not sure I started out to create a summer-into-fall palette, but that’s definitely what’s on my mind these days so I’m not surprised!  I am so ready for apple cider, apple pie, cold nights and bright sunny afternoons, planting winter greens, picking up my knitting needles, watching the leaves change color and then drop… Summer in Maryland is no celebration in my book, but here the Fall seems to stretch out forever, and for that I will be grateful.

Fabric images courtesy of Pink Chalk Fabrics
1.Erin McMorris Astrid Mitte Poppy 2.Free Spirit Designer Solids Chartreuse 3.Tula Pink Acacia Pixel Dot Honey 4.Heather Ross Briar Rose Cricket Clover Pink 5.Anna Maria Horner Hand Drawn Garden Fanfare Brass 6.Moda Bella Solids Orange 7.Robert Kaufman Kona Cotton Honey Dew 8.Heather Ross Briar Rose Nanny Bee Orange 9.Tula Pink Prince Charming Snail Scallop Olive 10.Andover Chambray Pumpkin 11.Denyse Schmidt Chicopee Shirt Stripe Red 12.Robert Kaufman Essex Yarn Dyed Leather 13.Lily Ashbury High Street Floral Ingrid Clementine

Once again Pink Chalk Fabrics had just what I had in mind in stock- rich, warm fall colors set off by a few pale summery greens.  Perfect.

I love this star block which I first saw on the blog of Eleven Stitches, who got the block out of Carol Doak’s book 50 Fabulous Paper-Pieced Stars.  I am not a machine-paper-piecer so I modified it to something that I would enjoy doing.  I figured you could do this in slightly- improv- fashion and love the results just as much!   (Or in my case, much much more!)

In real life this would look scrappier -especially where the corners meet- but my I do have my limits when it comes to Photoshop time. 🙂  Now I’m off to place a little fabric order to celebrate Fall’s arrival.  Oh and a little knitting as well.  So happy this time of year!

Charity quilt block tutorial

As part of the DC Modern Quilt Guild’s charity sewing event next month, I’m coordinating one of the quilts we decided to work on as a group!  Dear Stella donated a fat quarter bundle of these fabrics:

I decided that it would be perfect to use a quilt pattern I designed earlier this year, which was designed especially to be easy to construct but still interesting to look at:

Volunteers were given fabric packets with three,  6.5″ x 18″ strips of the dear Stella fabric, and a 6.5″ by 44″ strip of solid white.

Following are cutting instructions to make the best use of the fabric that was distributed.  For this quilt, the finished blocks will be 8.5″ from raw edge to raw edge.

Stack the three print strips on top of the solid strip, which should be folded with the selvedges touching.

Trim the selvedges and straighten the edge of the prints.

Spin the cutting mat and cut one rectangle at 5″x 6.5″, one at 4″x 6.5″, and one at 2.5″x 6.5″.

Peel off the top layer of the remaining fabric and set it aside, then make one more cut at 2.5″x 6.5″.

Crosscut this rectangle into two, 2.5″x2.5″ squares.  The leftover 1.5″x2.5″ rectangle is waste.

From the remaining bits of fabric, you should be able to cut one more of each of the rectangle sizes listed above.  You already have enough squares.

Now mix and match your cut rectangles into 6 blocks.  Vary where the white falls in each block, and allow some blocks to have more white space than others.

Chain-piece the blocks together, first in horizontal pairs.

Then sew the pairs together to finish the blocks.

In the final quilt, the blocks will be rotated randomly, and will be much scrappier than this, as everyone received a different strip set.  Can’t wait to see the final results!

Color Palette- At the Seashore

I am dreaming about our trip to the beach in a few weeks…  Since we homeschool, we have the luxury of waiting to go until September, when everyone else is back in school and the beach is nearly deserted during the week.  And the weather is so much nicer, too!  I think that going to a beach packed full of people in the searing summer sun is pretty miserable, trying to keep track of all the kids in the crowd and watching your camera and feeling faint from the heat.  But last September it was cool and nearly deserted and we had free reign, casting far and wide for interesting shells and digging pools in which to keep the sand crabs we kept finding.  I can’t wait to go back!

I used a favorite pic of Evelyn from last year to make up this soothing little color palette.  That was her first time at and she was perfectly content to stay well away from the water. She’s going to be so different this year!

1.dear Stella Lola Jacobean Sterling 2.Robert Kaufman Kona Cotton Dusty Blue 3.
Moda Bella Solids Coastal 4.Jane Dixon Poppy Modern Small Floral Grey 5.Sarah Jane Let’s Pretend Marionettes Berry 6.Robert Kaufman Veronica Voile Grey – VOILE 7.Free Spirit Designer Solids Arctic White 8.Dena Designs Sunshine Linen Ornament Aqua 9.Denyse Schmidt Florence Four Dots Malachite 10.Valori Wells Wish Treasure Patience 11.Kate & Birdie Paper Co. Winter’s Lane Linen Tiles Snow 12. Robert Kaufman Essex Yarn Dyed Leather 13.Valori Wells Jenaveve Linen Tribal Floral Teal

As always it was a joy to “shop” Pink Chalk Fabrics for the fabrics for this mock-up!  The muted blues are cool and soothing, and the tan makes the quilt cozy and comfortable as well.  The pop of pink is a cheat, I guess, since I didn’t find it out there at the beach, but I love the spark that it brings to the palette.  I like to use tons of neutral fabrics to build a wide, stable base of color, and use that to support just a sprinkling of something wildly different.  The pattern is a classic called Kaleidoscope, and it’s been on my dream to-do-list for years.  Hopefully someday?

Palette Parade- Aquamarine Glass

This pale blue glass bottle came from an antique mall nearby.  A few weeks ago when Garrett took the kids for a weekend at his parents’, that was the first place I headed.  I was actually looking for cobalt blue glass, but the first rule of antique malls is that if you go in looking for something specific, you are sure not to find it!  I was bummed at the time, but since bringing this (and a few friends) home, I realized that this color goes with just about anything!  Today I’m pairing it with pale green for a nice soothing palette.  I have plans, though, to pop in some orange flowers and lots of white linen in the background.  I think that will be just smashing.  Have to order the flowers though.

Fabric Images courtesy of Pink Chalk Fabrics
1.Denyse Schmidt Shelburne Falls Deco Fans Willow 2.Free Spirit Designer Solids Arctic White 3.Moda Bella Solids Feather 4.Robert Kaufman Quilter’s Linen Platinum 5.Moda Bella Solids Ruby Ice 6.Lucie Summers Summersville Spring Tread Lime Juice 7.Robert Kaufman Kona Cotton Honey Dew 8.Monaluna Modern Home Mod Boxes Blue ORGANIC 9.Robert Kaufman Spot On Mini Dot Pond 10.Trenna Travis Bekko Tatami Aqua – Home Decor 11.Trenna Travis Bekko Swirl Aqua – Home Decor 12.Valori Wells Cocoon Shine Aqua – VOILE

For now let me say though that if anyone wants to make this quilt for me, I pay in fabric.

Palette Parade- Flowering Cabbage

One thing that really charmed us on our visit to Seattle last month was these adorable flowering cabbages.  They were everywhere, planted in medians and parking lots and flower pots.  We have these back east too once in a while, but by February they are looking pretty haggard.  These were so fresh and lovely.  And my favorite shade of orchid-pink-lavender.

Fabric Images courtesy of  1.Lush – Tossed Leaves – Candy Pink 2. Fun Filaments – Candy Pink 3.Japanese Import – Whitewash – Sampler Style – Eggshell 4.Cool Weave – Charcoal 5.Kona -Snow 6.Salt Water – Tortoise Shell – Ivory 7.Dakota – Ikat Yarn Dye Square & Linear Patterns – Natural/Black 8.Kaffe Fassett “Shot” Cotton – Bamboo 9.Fun Filaments – Hunter Green 10.Sateen Solids – Opulent Cotton – Jungle Green 11.Urban Cosmos – Flower Filigree – Pear Green 12.Japanese Scallops – Dk Green

I have been wanting to make a spiderweb quilt for a long time.  After one disastrous attempt at using true scraps, I realized that I would need to actually plan my color scheme in order to like my final project.  This would be so fun to make!  I would use really thin strings and not try to keep them rigidly straight, but not make them intentionally wonky, either.  Just enough variation to show the human hand.  Of course I would make it scrappier than this mock-up.  This pattern just begs to be made scrappy.

I would also love to just make a pile of cushions, each one a variation of this block, in all different sizes.

My fabric images this time are courtesy of  I divide my fabric money pretty evenly between eQuilter and Pink Chalk, so I am thrilled that they have both given me permission to use their images for this feature!  Going forward I’ll be switching between the two.

Palette Parade- Witch Hazel

So, I went to Seattle a couple of weeks ago. My first time anywhere on the west coast.  I am in love.  I simply adored the weather when we were there.  40s and misty/foggy most of the day, but somehow still bright and pleasant.  It was just beautiful. So many shades of grey.  The filtered light made all the flowers simply glow.  Yup, flowers in February.  But mild in the summer.  What a lovely climate…

We went for a walk at the Bellevue Botanical Gardens one morning.  We were still on east coast time, so we were up and ready hours before anything was open, which left us hours to leisurely stroll the gardens and snap photos.  It was so serene.  One of the first things to greet us was this spectacular witch hazel.  Remember now, this was early February- so, it’s winter!

The crisp yellow against the foggy trees was almost too much- we could have gone back to the car at that point and I would have been satisfied.

What are those scraggly pine trees in the background?  Larch?  I think it’s the same one that is on the Oregon License plate.  I love their irregular shape so much.  Our boring old spruces with their perfectly triangular forms just can’t compare.

Anyway, the witch hazel.  As if it wasn’t enough to find a sunny yellow flower against a foggy grey sky, each flower emerges from a base of deep rusty red.  That little bit of rust does a lot of things here-  it warms up what can be a very stark color combination, It adds a third color which can be useful when planning the design of a quilt, and I think it gives the composition a more organic feel.

Fabric images courtesy of Pink Chalk Fabrics

1. Carolyn Friedlander Architextures Hatch Grey 2. Robert Kaufman Quilter’s Linen Platinum 3. Sarah Watts Timber & Leaf Pine Stickers Yellow 4. Robert Kaufman Essex Linen Linen 5. Sweetwater Noteworthy Sing Out Loud 6.Tomotake Muddy Works Currants Yellow – Double Gauze Cotton 7. Michael Miller Fabrics Cotton Couture Khaki 8. Amy Butler Alchemy Memoir Zest 9. Carolyn Friedlander Architextures Map Grey 10.Robert Kaufman Essex Linen Putty 11.Moda Grunge Basics Maraschino Cherry 12.Robert Kaufman Quilter’s Linen Rust

My quilt mock-up is obviously a pretty literal interpretation of the blooms.  I think it would be fun to sew these free-form.  Because machine paper piecing is just not my thing.  It really wouldn’t take too long, right?  Sew, press, trim, then add the little rust triangle, repeat.  I have a quilty weekend coming up, so maybe…  I think for this one, I would hand quilt some irregular wavy lines, sort of mimicking the branch structure, from the bottom right up to the top left.

I went back and recolored my Candy Hearts Quilt with these fabrics as well.  Because that quilt was really bright 🙂  Love this.

Witch Hazel- Jelena by Ruth B McDowell

I also want to share a quilt I have admired for years, Witch Hazel by Ruth B McDowell.  This photo is from her book Fabric Journey.  It’s one that I have probably stared at for hours, trying to absorb all the fabric information that is incorporated into the work.  I adore all the pale greys she used for the background of this quilt, especially the one at the top with the branches.

Palette Parade: Red and White

This is cheating.  Does one color plus white really equal a palette?  I don’t know, but I have always loved the classic red and white quilts, so I’m giving myself a pass.

image source:

What I love is that, a red and white quilt made 100 years ago looks just as fresh as one made this year- and it’s often hard to tell from photos if a red and white quilt is old or new.

Did you hear about the fabulous exhibit of red and white quilts that the American Folk Art Museum put on in NYC back in 2011?  These 650 quilts are all from the collection of Joanna Rose and, if I remember correctly, the exhibition was a gift from her husband to celebrate a milestone birthday, and was made free to the public.

I wish I could have seen that.  I’m sure it was a once in a lifetime chance.

At the PA National Quilt Extravaganza (held outside of Philadelphia) last year, there was an exhibit of small quilts inspired by the exhibit in New York.  I photographed a lot of them.  I don’t have info on the makers of all these, but they are all from members of the Olde Kent Quilters Repro Bee of Chestertown, MD.

(Many more red and white minis on my Flickr Page)

I have always wanted to own a solid red and white quilt, but I wasn’t sure I would have the patience to make it. I tend to get bored making the same block over and over.  Now as I am getting older I think maybe I would be able to do it.

Like the process might actually be soothing instead of mind-numbing.  I could keep it around for a while and work on it any time I wanted to sew, but not wanted to think.  That’s most nights these days, after the wild things are all tucked away 🙂

Lately I have been seeking out blocks like this one:

It seems so simple, but you can build up complex patterns by spinning them different ways as you assemble the quilt.  I think it would help to keep the construction process interesting, because as you complete more and more blocks, there is the fun of putting them together in different directions to see what patterns you can get.


Which layout do you like?  I’m partial to 2 and 3, myself.  2 especially, because I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before.

Palette Parade- Candy Hearts

In general I like to pull my color palettes from nature, but these were just too tempting!

chalky pastels

touch of red

sweet shapes

1.Robert Kaufman Kona Cotton Lemon 2.Robert Kaufman Spot On Medium Dot Pink 3.Lizzy House Pearl Bracelet Sandbox 4.Michael Miller Fabrics Cotton Couture Bubblegum 5.dear Stella Cleo Bargello Sand 6.Robert Kaufman Kona Cotton Petunia 7.Free Spirit Designer Solids Chamois 8.Moda Bella Solids Cheddar 9.Michael Miller Fabrics Cotton Couture Spring 10.Alexander Henry Mecca For Moderns Mercer Dot Red 11.Michael Miller Fabrics Cotton Couture Soft White 12.Denyse Schmidt Shelburne Falls Fine Stripe Willow

It’s all half-square triangles.  I love half-square triangles!  I would bind it with the red dot.  Would you throw in a few red pinwheels, too, just to break up all the sweetness?

I guess the photo shoot ends here 🙂

Palette Parade: Rosy

When Evelyn Bea was just a wee babe, we took a day out to visit Hershey Gardens, to enjoy the sights and take some pictures.  It was a hot summer day and the sun was high in the sky by the time we got there, but as a mom-of-a-newborn I was just happy to be out of the house and in a beautiful spot with said newborn sleeping cozily in her sling.

The roses were in their full glory that day and even though I’m not usually a rose kind of person, I do love the colors I captured that day.

Soon Evelyn will graduate to her own big girl bed and I’d love to make her a new quilt using sweet girly prints and rosy hues.   A little bit of pale sky blue would ground all that pinkiness and add depth.

1.Free Spirit Designer Solids Dark Coral 2.Robert Kaufman Essex Linen Linen 3.Kate Spain Honey Honey Apiary Coral 4.Robert Kaufman Kona Cotton Flesh 5.Bonnie and Camille Marmalade Sugar Raspberry 6.Liberty of London Tana Lawn Suria 3161-D 7.Patty Sloniger Les Amis Star Pods Coral 8.Sandi Henderson Fresh Cut Flowers Poppy 9.Laurie Wisbrun Olive The Ostrich Scroll Red 10.Lizzy House Pearl Bracelet Glacier 11.Sweetwater Noteworthy Bucket List Blue Mist 12.Tula Pink Salt Water Ocean Ponies Coral 13.Kate Spain Cuzco Citadel Fuchsia

And lots of white would keep it light and fresh for a little girl’s room.

All fabric images courtesy of Pink Chalk Fabrics

This quilt would be so easy to cut and piece.  When I piece by machine, I like it to be something I can just sit and chain-piece without thinking too much and this definitely fits the bill.  If I want to fiddle with a bunch of little pieces that have to go together in just the right way, I’d rather be in a comfy chair away from the machine, English Paper Piecing.  Nice and easy, that’s my machine piecing style!