A Memory Quilt for Chris

Last Fall, my good friend Jan lost her husband Chris. She came to visit from Southern California, bringing along a bag containing some of Chris’s clothing. She asked if I would sew them into a small quilt that she could put on the family room sofa and use on evenings when it was chilly.

It took some time to figure out what could be used, and how it should be sewn together. Here is the finished product:


There was an interesting variety of fabric types and weights, which made this challenging: a heavy sweatshirt –


A couple of very thin silk ties  and some pocket graphics –



And this t-shirt that had a heavy “leathered” logo on it.


There were several well-worn t-shirts that had to be backed with iron-on interfacing to give them enough body to be sewn. There was also a hand-embroidered denim shirt that he wore decades ago that was cut up for use. A few things didn’t make the final cut, including a heavy insulated coat.

Jan received the quilt in the mail yesterday, nine months to the day of Chris’s passing. I could hear the grief in her voice when she called to tell me it had arrived. This was a difficult project for a variety of reasons, but I was happy I could make this happen for her.



Quilt Show Inspiration

Quilt shows are a wonderful source of inspiration. I am always amazed by the creativity displayed at these events. Last weekend Amador Valley Quilt Guild held their annual show, so I hopped in the car and made the drive to visit the exhibit.  I will share photos of a number of the quilts with you over the next couple of posts.

Show 1

This quilt was made by Nancie Deprospero. The pattern is “Farm Girl Finery” by Kim Diehl. This quilt incorporates wool applique which gave the quilt a strong Folk Art feel.

Quilt show 2

 This small quilt was made by Karren Lusigman. The pattern is “Zinnia” by Melinda Bula. It is raw edge applique. It was hung about 14 feet from the floor, so I apologize for the poor photo.

Show 3

 These panels are “Big Cats” by Julia Colburn. The Tiger, Leopard and Puma were hand inked onto the background fabric and then free-motion thread painted. These pieces are stunning!

Show 4.1 Show 4.2 Show 4.3

While we are on a jungle theme, this tiny quilt is also made by Karren Lisigman. It is called “Z is for Zebra” and was the product of an alphabet challenge. Karren was obviously assigned the letter “Z.” The three dimensional mane and eyelashes are a fun touch.

Show 5

The next quilt was made by Irene Hucks and is called “Unexpected.” It was made from a pattern designed by Gerri Robinson which was published in McCall’s Quilting magazine.

Show 6


This quilt was made by Wendy Henderson. It is called “Mood (Not Indigo).” This was made in a challenge that required a quilt inspired by music. It was made with hand dyed fabrics. The variation in the dyes, metallic threads and raw fabric edges provide lots of visual energy.

Show 7


This very large quilt was hand-appliqued by Linda Perricone. The pattern is called “Birds of a Feather,” which was designed by Barbara Adams and Alma Allen of Blackbird Designs. It is not easy to quilt a top with this much applique, but the quilting was very nice on this piece. Notice the birds in the detail photo.

Show 10

Show 8

Of course, it’s just not a quilt show without a man in a kilt!

Show 12

This quilt was made by Laurie May and is called “Triple Crown.” The pattern is designed by Sandy Klop of American Jane Quilts.

Show 13

This quilt is called “Tranquil Treasure,” and was made by Dorothy  Ellis. It was made from a pattern of the same name, designed by Evelyn Sloppy from her book, “Strips and Strings.” The quilting features dragonflies.

Show 15

Show 16

We will stop and rest at this point. More to come!

Show 11

AMB/Clothworks Blog Tour Quilt


Several months ago, I posted this photo of the “license plate” I designed for the AMB/Clothworks Blog Tour. One blogger from each state was asked to design a license plate representing their state. Those license plates have now been sewn into a quilt and I thought I would share the photos of the completed project.


Toni, who works for Clothworks, was given the task of assembling these fun blocks. Putting together this much color and design had to be a challenge. She chose a grey border and white sashing around each block.

amb-license-plate-quilt (2)

Then she placed a small red border around the blocks, and finished it off with a wider blue outer border.

amb-license-plate-quilt (3)

Then it was sent off to the long-arm quilter for some straight line quilting, which is perfect for this quilt.

amb-license-plate-quilt (4)

What clever ideas!

Manusco Show Management has picked up the quilt for display in their 2015 quilt show schedule, so the quilt will be traveling to California for Quiltfest in Palm Springs, and Pacific International Quilt Festival in Santa Clara in October. I am looking forward to seeing it in person at PIQF!



Paper Piecing Using Freezer Paper Templates

Woven Star1Woven Star Block photo

I love paper-piecing. I like the precise points and seams that align. What I hate about paper-piecing is tearing the paper foundation off the back of the block when it is finished…pulling tiny bits of paper out of stitches, hoping the seams will hold.

A couple of years ago, I learned how to use freezer paper as a foundation for paper-piecing and it revolutionized this technique for me. It is fast, does not require removal of the paper foundation, and the foundation can be reused at least a dozen times, saving time and paper.

I have provided a PDF pattern for the block “Woven Star.” This pattern is for a 10 inch block. You can download the PDF here. (Please note you will need to have Adobe Reader installed to open this file. You can download the Reader for free at

There are two units, A and B. Units A and B, when sewn together, make one-quarter of the block. So, you will need to make four of each unit to complete the block. There are only three seams in each unit, so this block goes together fairly quickly.

The first step when doing any kind of paper-piecing is to measure the individual areas within each unit to determine the size of the fabric patches you will need to cut. I have given you the sizes for this block in the pattern, but I want to show you how I determined these measurements. For experienced paper-piecers – feel free to skip ahead!

Woven1To determine the size of the fabric needed, lay a clear ruler over the area to be covered. The fabric must be large enough to extend outside the seam allowance (the dotted lines) and the solid seam lines by at least one-quarter inch. The red line shows this piece must be 5 3/4 inches by 2 3/4 inches.  I have recommended this be cut 6 inches by 2 3/4 inches. Always cut the patch larger than you need.

Photo2To measure the second patch in the A unit, place the 1/4 inch line on the ruler just above the seam line to ensure the patch will be large enough. You can see that the patch will need to be a minimum of 4 1/2 inches long and 2 3/4 inches wide to cover this patch adequately. Continue measuring patch 3 and 4 and compare them to my suggested measurements in the pattern. The good news is the patches in Unit B are the same size, so you would only need to measure one unit!

Using these measurements, cut four pieces of fabric for each section of Unit A and Unit B. Place them in order, A1, A2, A3, A4 and B1, B2, B3, and B4 to help keep things organized.


Next, cut apart the two paper foundations to make them easier to use.

Next, use a bone knife, a wooden roller, or your fingernail, to crease each seam line in Unit A and Unit B.  The seam lines are the solid black lines. This will make it easier to fold back the seam line when you are ready for stitching.


Use an index card or card stock as a straight edge to fold the seam lines. It is important to keep these folds as straight and accurate as possible, as this will become your seam guide.


After all the seams have been creased, begin by placing your A1 fabric on the shiny side of the freezer paper, making sure there is a 1/4 inch seam allowance extending beyond the A1 – A2 seam line. Gently press the fabric to the paper with a dry iron, hold it in place.


Fold the paper template back along the A1 – A2 seam line, exposing the 1/4 inch seam allowance. Place the A2 fabric right sides together with the A1 fabric. Flip the fabrics over, so the A1 seam allowance is on top. You will be sewing exactly next to the paper fold for this first seam.





Stitch as closely to the paper as possible, without stitching through the paper foundation. As you can see, my stitch line is not perfect here. I should have slowed down a bit for a more precise seam! The more perfect this seam is, the more precise your block will be.


After stitching the seam, turn the foundation over and gently press the A2 fabric down onto the shiny, sticky side of the freezer paper.


Turn the foundation over, and fold back the seam line between A2 and A3, exposing the excess fabric from the A2 patch. ( I have to apologize – I am left-handed, so I will try to orient this for right-handers from here on.)



Place the 1/4 inch line along the fold in the paper, and use your rotary ruler to trim off the excess fabric from A1 and A2 that extends beyond this seam line. This leaves you with a 1/4 inch seam allowance for your next seam.


Flip over the foundation and place your A3 fabric right sides together with the A2 fabric, matching up the edges. Take a moment to notice the seam lines and the outer seam allowance line that show through the paper foundation. Make sure the A3 fabric patch is aligned so when it is sewn and flipped over, it will cover both the outer seam allowance, as well as providing at least a 1/4 seam allowance for the A4 patch on the right.


Flip the foundation over, and stitch the A2 and A3 fabrics together, staying as close to the paper fold as possible.


Open fabric A3 and gently press it down onto the shiny side of the foundation.


Flip the foundation over and fold the foundation along the A3 and A4 seam line. Place the 1/4 inch line of the ruler on the paper fold, and using your rotary ruler, trim off the excess fabric from the A2 and A3 fabric patches.


Turn the foundation over to the fabric side and place the A4 fabric patch right sides together with the A3 fabric patch, aligning the edges. Take note of the dark seam line and dotted seam allowance lines that show through the foundation. Make sure the A4 fabric patch is aligned so when it is sewn and flipped over, it will adequately cover this area. Fold back the paper along the A3 – A4 seam line and stitch along the fold, as you have done previously.


Fold the A4 patch over the shiny side of the foundation and press it lightly with a dry iron so it will adhere to the foundation. You have now completed all the seams in this A unit.


Turn the foundation paper so the printed side is facing up. Using your rotary ruler and rotary cutter, cut out the A unit along the dotted seam allowance lines. Peel off the freezer paper foundation so you can use it to make the remaining 3 “A” units. Follow the same steps to make the remaining A units, and then do the same to make the four B units.


One A unit and one B unit form one-quarter of the Woven Star block.


Four A and B units, arranged together form the completed block.


Take care when sewing these two units together. You will find that the seam on the right hand side of this photo will “nest” together. Use your finger to press these seams together, and pin them. Pin the opposite edge of the block to ensure nice even seams.


Units A and B sewn together. Nice even seams! Now sew the top two units together, and the bottom two units together. Press the center seams in opposite directions.


After you have sewn two A/B units together to form the top row of the block, and two A/B units for the bottom of the block, it is time to sew the top half and bottom half of the block together. Place them right sides together, and using your finger, nestle them together along the seam lines marked in red and pin them to ensure an accurate seam.


After the two halves of the block have been sewn together, there is something to notice. All of the seams in this block have been moving in a counter-clockwise direction. So please press the center seam to continue this motion. The left side should be pressed down and the right side press upward. You will notice that this results in the center of the block collapsing into a flat spiral. This distributes the bulk of the seam around the center of the block. This is another benefit of paper-pieced blocks. The back of the block will be almost as beautiful as the front of the block!

Photo32Flip the block over, and this is the final product.

This block has a “star” corner, which means it will produce a secondary star pattern when the blocks are sewn together. I love these!

Woven Star Quilt

Paper piecing requires some patience when you are first learning the technique. The beautiful blocks that can be produced using this method are well worth the time invested.

Until next time,


An Invitation to Broadcast with Pat Sloan!

American Patchwork and Quilting Pocast guests Joan Lucchese March 2015


A few weeks ago, I received an email from Pat Sloan inviting me to be a guest on her weekly podcast hosted by American Patchwork & Quilting magazine, and sponsored by Moda. To say I was surprised would be putting it mildly. I will be a guest on the show on Monday, March 23rd, 2015. It airs at 1 pm Pacific Standard Time. The podcasts are archived on American Patchwork & Quilting’s website so if you are curious you can find this show, and many others archived there.

I am an admirer of Pat Sloan. Frankly, I suspect she never sleeps. She has websites, several blogs, organizes at least one monthly quilt-along (for Aurifil thread), does a weekly podcast, has multiple Facebook pages with tens of thousands of followers, not to mention traveling extensively to teach quilting.  Her Creative Talk website has easy links to all of her shows, and provides free patterns and project ideas from her guests. Check it out!

Pat Sloan – “The Voice of Quilting”
Host of American Patchwork & Quilting Radio – 

Until next time,


Quilts Using Men’s Neckties


The Shirt

Last Fall I wrote a post about making quilts using men’s neckties. The subject had a lot of interest, so obviously there are a number of quilters who are interested in ways to use discarded neckties. Indeed, neckties are made of expensive, beautiful fabrics. I posted a link to a paper-pieced pattern for this 12-inch block called “Starched Shirt.” That link had an issue, so I am now posting a replacement link for simple templates for this block. You can find the pattern here: Starched Shirt PDF. Note the long pieces of the shirt front span onto a second page, so you will need to tape the pages together and cut out this template.

Shirt detail


There are three inset seams in the block. Don’t panic, they aren’t too difficult. Sew the sides of the shirt to each side of the tie. Then sew the neck piece to the tie section (seam 1), starting and stopping 1/4 inch from each end of the seam. Turn the left side of the neck piece and fit it to the upper left shirt collar and stitch (seam 2) from the tie to the top of the collar , and repeat for the other side (seam 3). Then do the same for each background pieces. Sew the small seam at the collar, starting and stopping 1/4 inch from each end of the seam (seam 4). Then turn the background to fit along the neck, and sew from the top of the collar to the top of the block (seam 5), and repeat for the section along the shoulder (seam 6). Be patient, and gently ease the fabric pieces into place. Leaving the 1/4 spaces at the ends of the short seams is important, as it allows you space to start your next seam.

While we are revisiting the subject, I thought I would share a few more photos of these creative projects using men’s neckties.

This quilt was made by Nancy Sturgeon. I love that she has not only incorporated shirting fabric into the design, but she has also used the label sewn to the back of the tie in her border design.


Virginia Anderson has given these silk ties new life by using them in this beautiful Crown of Thorns block. This is an amazing use of color and she has done a great job of mixing a variety of fabric designs.


This lovely quilt was a custom design done by Linda Gutherie McClelland. For those of you who have ties and need some help getting them into a quilt, you can find Linda on Etsy.


I cannot provide the name of the maker of this quilt. If someone can provide the maker’s name, leave a comment and I will update this image. I love the use of the dark grey solid fabric between the tie fabrics in this quilt. It allows the use of a variety of fabric designs and colors, without it looking mismatched.


I don’t have a maker’s name for this quilt, either. The ties are sewn together and cut into blocks, then separated by solid black strips which helps unify the design. The solid blocks also provide a place for the eye to stop and rest.


This art quilt was exhibited at Quilt Expo Beaujolais in 2013. I love the movement created by the soft curve in the ties when they were sewn together.  The circle of appliqued ties on the surface helps reinforce the circular movement.


I could hang this Christmas Tree skirt on the wall and look at it all day long! This custom tree skirt is made by Chicago Lost and Found. Each skirt uses over 250 neckties. Beautiful!


This last piece of necktie inspiration comes from the website of Italian architecture firm Oreste Ruggiero. They do not identify the maker of this beautiful labyrinth style quilt, but it is a stunner. It appears to be an applique piece, and has such a calm, meditative quality to the design. Bellisimo.

Hopefully, these beautiful and inspiring quilts make you want to grab an armload of ties and a pair of scissors! So many options….

Until next time,


Birds of a Feather

This is one of my favorite little birds. It is a Western Phoebe. I volunteer once a week in a local public garden, and last week one of these sweet little birds followed me around the garden, watching me rake up leaves and watching for the worms I accidentally uncovered. (Sorry, worms!) Phoebes seem to prefer sitting on the tip of things like sprinkler heads, or a fence post. The ruffled feathers on their heads make them look like they just got up and forgot to comb their hair! They have a sweet song and lovely colors. So why am I waxing poetic about birds?

This month’s Quilting Arts magazine introduced their new Reader Challenge called “Birds of a Feather.” They ask for a 9″ x 9″  quilt based on a bird theme. It may be made of any materials, must be quilted, consist of three layers and be bound or closed along the edges. They request two low resolution images be emailed to them by April 3rd to Finalists will be posted on their blog at on April 8th.

So, if you have a favorite bird, why not take the challenge and make one of these tiny quilts?

Until next time,


A New Year and Some New Projects


This sums up the weather here in Northern California today. I woke up to rain, thick clouds and the furnace running full blast, and by one o’clock the sun was out and it was warm enough to garden in my t-shirt!

I have been investing some major time over the last few months learning Illustrator, Photoshop, and the finer points of designing technical repeats. I have always dreamed of designing quilting fabric and that is becoming a reality. With digital printing services like Spoonflower, creating fabric has become almost as easy as having a digital photo printed. My designs are getting a little better with practice. I thought I would share some of my first designs from last Fall, if you promise not to laugh.



These patterns were in response to an assignment to design a retro geometric fabric for swim wear.

Poppy Pattern

This design was practice using a hand-drawn and hand-painted object and then flipping and turning the object to make a pattern with a layered background.


This was practicing with abstracts. I love the colors in this one! It is not in a repeat yet, but when it is, I will have this printed.

More about this soon…

Until next time,


Art Quilt Tahoe – Day Four/Five

I can’t believe this week is over. It just flew by. I can highly recommend this workshop. What fun.

Day four was spent cutting, fusing and sewing our flora. At 3:30 on Thursday afternoon, everything was tidied up, our work was hung on the wall in whatever state it was, and we spent a couple of hours visiting the other classrooms to see what everyone else had been doing during the week.

It was astonishing to me how much work was accomplished in this class. With a day and a half spent drawing and practicing abstraction, these pieces were cut and sewn in a little over two days. This is the work completed by our class. The first one is mine, which I am going to use as a study for a much larger quilt. I am excited to get started on it.













My photo of these gorgeous succulents does this piece a serious injustice! It is gorgeous.


 The one above is my absolute favorite. Her colors and fabric choices were stunning……




You can see that some amazing work was done this week. I can highly recommend Jane Sassaman as a teacher. She is patient, kind, and not afraid to tell you if something is looking like it is from outer space.

Today we packed up, said goodbye and made our way home. Tomorrow I will share some photos taken from the visits to the other classrooms.

Until next time,


Art Quilt Tahoe – Day Three

It was another busy day at Art Quilt Tahoe. Our assignment for today was to do a number of studies of the flower we intend to abstract. I am doing a Stargazer Lily because it’s one of my favorite flowers and I think it will make an interesting subject. We had to draw the flower from all angles, as well as make it fit into a square, a circle and a triangle. This forced an abstraction of the flower.


After that, we abstracted it even more. Once we were finished with that, we chose our favorite view and enlarged it to about 24 inches square. This is my enlarged drawing (sorry, it is pencil on tracing paper and it’s hard to see).


After that, we traced the pattern into parts on to tracing paper and cut out patterns for the various parts of the flower.

This was followed by trying out a number of fabrics to find the best color and print for each part. I thought the black background would be dramatic with the pink flower, but it is too harsh and will need to be changed.


By the end of the day, I had finished with this. (Sorry for the Reader’s Digest version of this process, but this has been a long day!)



Tonight, I have to sit down and draw some abstract leaves to put on this in the morning.

As far as quilts exhibited today, there was a Challenge for this week which was an optional activity. We were invited to bring a quilt celebrating the number 16, as this is Art Quilt Tahoe’s 16th anniversary. Here are some of the Challenge quilts:


By Peg Pennell, Celebrating her 16th Birthday and her first Car


By Eileen Searcy, 16 Petals


By Carol Ann Frocillo, One to Grown On – the candle flames are beautiful spiral glass buttons


There was no identification on this tiny quilt, depicting a toddler stacking 16 spools of thread.

That’s all for tonight!

Until next time,