Special Ingredients


So, I have to admit it, when Lucky Spool posted something on IG months ago talking about publishing their first cookbook, I fell for it hook, line and sinker.  I was excited too because I like to cook!  However, the actual project, The Quilt Block Cookbook by Amy Gibson, was not a let down by any means.  It’s a beautiful, hardcover book with 50 block patterns, or recipes, and unique sampler quilt layouts to showcase the blocks. Amy has figured out the quilt math for you and provides you with many options so that you can use the blocks in a myriad of ways and make them your own.  That’s just what I decided to do.

Owl Medallion by Amy Friend

I had recently made a paper pieced owl block of my own design (pattern can be found in my book, Intentional Piecing: From Fussy Cutting to Foundation Piecing). I enlarged it to 16″ and pieced it using Maureen Cracknell’s new collection called Nightfall.  I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with the block and was pondering some sort of medallion when The Quilt Block Cookbook arrived at my doorstep. I added a 2″ border so that I could surround the owl block with 9″ blocks.


I used the Plus One Block from Amy’s book.  I was so happy to see that she had the templates for the orange peel applique in a number of sizes so there was one that was just right for my 9″ block even though the recipe was for a 12″ finished block.


The quilt backing is a fun mishmash of the rest of the Nightfall Collection.

Owl Medallion by Amy Friend

I’m really happy with the way the design worked out. The appliqued leaves on this block are just perfect with the owl.  I added one leaf on the otherwise plain corner blocks to make a sort of ring around the owl.  They lend the perfect softness to the design, balancing the pluses.


I think my favorite part of the book, besides the beautiful photos and Amy’s inspirational blocks, are the truly unique sampler layouts.  Often, I find sampler quilts a little too busy and like to see the blocks have some room to breathe.  Amy handles this beautifully–here is one example, the Princess Cut Quilt.  She has incorporated negative space into many of the layouts too, requiring fewer pieced blocks–I can see this being really helpful for those stacks of bee blocks that we all have hanging around waiting to be made into quilt tops!

I believe that I will turn to this book again for inspiration and am happy to add it to my quilt book shelf.  I think you would enjoy it too.  It can be purchased here.


My Tribe Quilt

My Tribe Quilt by Amy Friend from Intentional Piecing

The My Tribe quilt seems to be one of the most popular quilts in my new book, Intentional Piecing.  I have to say that I really enjoyed making it as well.  It’s a fun combination of paper piecing and applique.  There are three tee pees that have animals peeking out from behind them!  Such a fun dash of whimsy!  My book outlines the steps you need to take in order to place your appliques appropriately while paper piecing. It takes a little bit of planning but isn’t difficult!

My Tribe Quilt by Amy Friend from Intentional Piecing

I had fun using alternate gridwork here with the addition of those oversize arrows.

My Tribe Quilt by Amy Friend from Intentional Piecing

I have to thank my step father, John, who really went all out for me setting up a campsite in his yard so I could take these pictures.  All his years of collecting canvas tents, wooden poles, furs, baskets, wool blankets, etc. really came in handy!  And to think that I tease him about his collections all the time…I should bite my tongue because those props made for such great pictures!

My Tribe Quilt by Amy Friend from Intentional Piecing

The bottom band of each tee pee is a fussy cutter’s delight.  I used some of Maureen Cracknell’s Wild and Free fabrics, particularly Sun Tracks which is a fun print made of stripes of different motifs. They can be cut to look like they came from different pieces of fabric! This quilt ended up bring kind of an ode to Art Gallery Fabrics! I used prints from so many of their collection. In addition to Maureen’s, I used Hello Bear by Bonnie Christine, Wanderer by April Rhodes, and an older collection, Indian Summer by Sarah Watson.

I look forward to seeing more of these blocks appear! If you use the hashtags #intentionalpiecingbook and #mytribequilt, I will be sure to see them!


Wet Suit Bag Tutorial

Wet Suit Bag Tutorial by Amy Friend


You can find my free tutorial for this Wet Suit Bag on the Therm O Web blog today. It is fully lined with vinyl coated fabric so that you can toss your wet bathing suit in it, zip the bag, and throw it into your larger tote to bring home without getting everything soaked. The bathing suit is a simple and fun applique. Enjoy!


Tim Holtz Countdown to Creativity

Tattered Florals scarf

Tim Holtz is introducing a few special release dies at CHA that are available for preorder.  One of the dies is a larger version of the Tattered Floral Die, aptly named the Jumbo Tattered Florals (659441).

I decided to use the dies for an applique scarf project. I’d like to thank my mom for modeling in the picture above. It’s hard to take a picture of a scarf just flat!

To begin, I cut two lengths of linen about 11″ wide by the WOF. One linen is a plain brown and the other has a slight pin stripe. They were purchased at my local JoAnn Fabrics.

Next, I fused Thermoweb HeatnBond Lite to the back of a number of coordinating scraps of solids and prints.  I cut an assortment of flowers using both the Tattered Florals and Jumbo Tattered Florals and another one of the new releases, a Garden Green Bigz Die.  I arranged them at both ends of the solid linen and fused.



Next, I used my free motion quilting presser foot to stitch around the edges of the appliques.  I added a couple of BasicGrey embroidered buttons at the center of flowers for added texture.  Next, I sewed the two lengths of linen together with right sides together leaving an opening for turning.  Once turned and pressed, I top stitched around the edges.

Ta da!  One more Christmas gift is ready!

Linen Scarf

Other Sizzix Design Team members will be sharing projects using the new dies over the next few days. Check the Sizzix blog!
You can find more details about the new dies here and here.


Seahorse Skirt

School gets out next week and it’s time to update Lily’s wardrobe for summer!  I’ve noticed a sea horse trend in children’s clothing this year.  My daughter is a big fan of sea creatures and has latched onto that trend so I decided to design this oceany summer skirt with a seahorse applique.


I used HeatNBond Lite for this applique which is available online right here.  I highly recommend it because the applique isn’t stiff at all which makes it perfect for clothing that you want to drape. 

 My full tutorial is available on the Therm O Web blog today. 

Butterfly Cardigan

Continuing on with the spring wardrobe enhancements…today, Lily gets a new cardigan!  I purchased a plain cardigan at Target and then appliqued the butterfly, half on either side of the button placket.  She loves it!

If you have a little girl to sew for, the complete tutorial can be found on the Thermoweb blog today!

Bunny Skirt Tutorial

Ahh, what picture of a little girl with bare legs is complete without a few bruises?  Although there is snow outside my window and I will be sharing a snowy tutorial later this month, I felt a need to do a little spring sewing.  I made this skirt with bunnies chasing each other around the hem for my first grader.
I used Art Gallery Fabrics Floressence Joie du Jour, purchased from Fresh Squeezed Fabrics, for the skirt.  My simple, pattern-less skirt formula is to measure my daughter’s waist and then cut two panels (one for the skirt front and one for the skirt back) with that measurement as the width.  That makes for a nicely gathered skirt that isn’t too bulky at the waist. Then I measure from waist to knee and add about 1 1/4″ for the casing at the waist (using a 3/4″ elastic) and a couple of inches for the hem.

I cut six bunnies, three for the front and three for the back, using Quilter’s Linen in Chocolate, cut with my Sizzix Bunny die. This is a big die, measuring 6″ x 8 3/4″.  The size and the gradual curves make it easy to applique.  I first backed the fabric with HeatNBond Lite and then ran the fabric through the die cutter.  I fused the bunnies to the skirt panels before assembly, taking into consideration the seam allowances and hem.  I wanted them to land above the hem line.  I used my free motion quilting foot to raw edge applique.
It’s so Easter-y springy.  Come on spring!
(If you were inspired by this skirt and want to pick up the fabric, Fresh Squeezed Fabrics is having a sale- Free US shipping on all orders over $40 this week!  Equivalent shipping on international orders ($5.25 for a FRE) will be refunded.) 

Scroll down one post to enter the BasicGrey Picnic Basket quilt pattern giveaway-I will draw two winner’s names tomorrow and email them.

Snowmen Coaster Tutorial

I recently had the opportunity to play with the most adorable Sizzix Bigz Die with Bonus Die-Snowmen Let It Snow by BasicGrey.  I decided to make a set of quilted coasters.  Since I happened to have some Blitzen on hand, it was a no brainer–I had to use it for this project!

I started off using the Sizzix 4″ Square Die to cut four backings, four fronts and four pieces of cotton batting. As you can see, the Blitzen snowman print that inspired this die was used for the coaster backings!  Because the snowmen are applique, I backed my fabric with Steam A Seam 2 prior to cutting my snowman shapes.

I then placed the snowmen on the coaster fronts, making sure I had a 1/4″ seam allowance all the way around.  I set them in place with my iron.  I placed the batting behind the coaster fronts and used my free motion quilting foot to outline the shapes with coordinating thread.

With right sides together, I stitched the coaster fronts to the backings leaving an opening for turning.  I turned the coasters, pressed, hand-stitched the openings and then top-stitched around the edges.

Here is the cute little set all done!

An “action” shot with the hot cocoa here.
And all wrapped up and ready to go.  Don’t you think that this set would make a great teacher’s gift or hostess gift this winter?

Fanciful Flight Table Runner Tutorial

I was inspired to make a “Fanciful Flight” table runner by not only the Tim Holtz Fanciful Flight die but by the masses of butterflies that have been appearing in my garden in recent days. Just the other day we counted over a dozen butterflies on my ornamental oregano.

I wanted the striking design of the butterflies to take center stage so I created a low volume patchwork background.  Indie fabrics by Pat Bravo proved to be just the thing for colorful butterfly wings!  I also used one Anna Maria Horner print.

I quilted with Angela Walter’s double loop pattern because I thought it looked like butterfly flight.

My tutorial is available on the Sizzix blog today.

Oakshott Leaves

I was so excited when Lynne contacted me with an offer to try some Oakshott Rubies.  I have been wanting some Oakshott ever since I saw Krista’s quilt. I love the subtle variations in color, the sheen, the depth and the texture.  When I pictured Rubies in my head, I was thinking of true reds and had a Christmas project in mind.  When they arrived, however, I could think of nothing but fall in New England.  And that is how I arrived at this raw edge applique table runner.

I appliqued a series of New England leaves onto  my “way low volume” patchwork that I blogged about the other day.  I pieced the leaves in a variety of ways.  The maple leaves were free pieced and I think my absolute favorites.

I thought it was getting a little busy so this Sumac like branch is not pieced at all but made out of two shades of Rubies.

The other leaves were paper pieced herringbones.

I used free motion quilting with a variegated thread to stitch down and quilt the raw edge appliques.  Then I had a little fun on the background stitching rows of leaves and the words “leaf” and “fall.”  You can sort of see this in the picture above.
The stems are embroidered using Lecien’s Cosmo Seasons variegated embroidery floss.  They were a perfect match for the Oakshott colors.
I have more Rubies left so another project will be coming eventually.  I just loved working with them.  

Back to School Applique Tute

Dare I say it?  Back to school time is rapidly approaching.  Clothing catalogs are filling our mailbox lately. My daughter was looking through one of her favorites the other day and spotted these applique shirts.

See the shirt over there on the left?  It has a colorful squirrel applique.  There were other little woodland creatures featured on shirts as well.  It reminded me of the new Sizzix die called Squirrel and Flower by Dena Designs.  I decided to use the die to make similar shirts for the girls to wear this fall.  I started off buying a couple of nice quality tshirts on clearance and prewashing them. I always prewash before appliqueing.

I gathered my supplies.  In addition to my Big Shot and the squirrel die I also collected some fabric scraps, buttons, Lite Steam-A-Seam 2, Tear-Easy and Sulky Tender Touch.  
I fused the Lite Steam-A-Seam to the wrong side of my fabric choices.  I ran them through my Big Shot and lay them out on the tshirt.  Then I used my iron to secure them to the shirt.
Next, I pinned a piece of Tear Away to the wrong side of the tshirt behind the applique.  You can also use an iron on version but this is what I had on hand.  The Tear Away adds stability while appliqueing. 
I changed my needle to a stretch needle and using a tight zigzag, stitched around the perimeter of the squirrel. I used my free motion foot and lowered my feed dogs to stitch around the flower, eyes, nose, and stem with a straight stitch.

Then I added some tiny buttons for the eyes and a larger button for the flower center.

I then removed the Tear Away from the back of the applique.  It tears away easily without pulling at the stitches.  Sometimes the applique stitches can irritate sensitive skin so I applied Sulky Tender Touch, an iron on “Cover-A-Stitch” product to the back of the applique.

Now both girls have new shirts for school!  I think that this applique would be adorable on a child sized messenger bag or back pack as well.  You can have a lot of fun changing the look with your fabric choices.  The girls are delighted. 

Cocorico Bee Block-Pippi Longstocking

Are you familiar with Pippi Longstocking? She is a fictional character in a series of books by Swedish author Astrid Lindgren. I remember reading the books as a child and thinking they were hysterical. Pippi lives alone, without parents, and does things in very unorthodox ways. She sleeps with her feet on the pillow and her head under the covers. She has a horse that she keeps on her front porch, and a monkey as a pet. For this month’s Cocorico bee block, Muriel asked us to make blocks inspired by Pippi Longstocking.

I found this image in one of the books. Pippi attends school for all of one day. While there, she shocks her classmates by drawing a picture of her horse on the floorboards and baseboard of the schoolhouse.

I used a variety of techniques in this block. Pippi is done in raw edge applique with some “thread sketching.” The horse is embroidered. The floor and walls with window and blackboard are pieced.

I look forward to seeing the other blocks and Muriel’s finished quilt top!

"Modern Blooms" Applique Tee Shirt

I was itching to try out one of my new “Modern Blooms” appliques on a tee shirt for Lily. Her big brother couldn’t resist getting into the picture too. I was lucky to get this one shot because the others are generally blurs of them rough housing rather than modelling the tee shirt! I ironed on a 4″ applique then pinned a layer of “Tear-Easy” stabilizer on the backside of the tee shirt. Then I finished the edges of the applique with a tight zigzag stitch. It should wash very well. Lily will be back tomorrow, weather and photography session time permitting, to model her Easter dress that I will be hemming tonight.
Edited to add: I am selling the appliques already adhered to a fusible web called Lite Steam a Seam. So when I mentioned that I ironed it onto the shirt. I meant that I peeled off the backing on the fusible web and then ironed it on to the shirt.

Another Custom Mini

Remember the mini quilt I showed you a few days ago? The same customer asked me to make another custom mini for her son. She requested a design similar to the quilt I made for a recent baby shower gift but measuring 15″ x 15″. And, in place of animals, she wanted cars and trains. Her son is about 4, I believe, and he likes blue with touches of other boyish colors like red, green and yellow.

I ended up making three rows of 5″ squares. The borders are just 3/4″ wide so the squares within are 3 1/2.” The appliques had to be TINY!!

It was a sewing challenge to simplify my designs for each square to the point where I could neatly applique them. I am happy with the results though! I had fun embellishing with all sorts of buttons for wheels. I hope he loves it!

Knock off T-Shirt

I saw this really cute boy’s t-shirt in the Chasing Fireflies catalog this spring. Timothy loves pirates so I knew he’d like it but I can’t pay $34 for a t-shirt! So I stuck the picture on my inspiration board and finally did something about it!

Here is my little pirate! I got the t-shirt at Target for $4.00. I used Kona solids and Steam a Seam Lite fusible web and appliqued my sketched version of the pirate image. I’m really happy with the way it came out and the savings too of course! I do wish I had done this earlier in the summer but I think it is big enough for next year, he can layer it in the fall, and this way it isn’t stained for school!

Dylan’s Ball Pillow

My nephew, Dylan, is turning 6 tomorrow. Not too long ago, he had his first loose tooth so I whipped up a tooth fairy pillow and sent it to him. My sister doesn’t sew at all so I knew that if I didn’t make one, she’d have him use a ziploc baggie! I couldn’t have that. It was a super simple pillow with a baseball applique. My sister told me that he loves it so much that he sleeps with it every night. And apparently, he is jealous because I made his brother a monkey tshirt for his birthday present and he wanted something else made by Aunt Amy. I was so touched and flattered. After consulting with my sister, we decided that a larger pillow, more appropriate for sleeping with than a tooth fairy pillow, would be the perfect gift.

For Dylan, it has to be covered with balls.

I appliqued a football, tennis ball, baseball, soccer ball and basketball. I hope he likes it. I admit that I pushed this project off a bit because it isn’t as appealing to me as printing linocuts and making little feminine patchwork items. But I had fun with it and I look forward to hearing about its new life with Dylan. I will hear it through my sister, not Dylan, because he is too cool to care about a pillow (but we know otherwise thanks to my sister).

What a Hoot!

I just heard from one of the members of the first Potholder Pass and she still hasn’t received her potholders! It has been over a month since the deadline and her potholders were not travelling far. I am not sure what happened. I am trying to get in touch with her partner to see if she was unable to meet the deadline or perhaps they were lost in the mail. Either way, I decided that she had waited long enough.

These little owls are heading her way today and she should have them by the beginning of the week. Her colors were denim blue and yellow and among her inspirational images was this little hooty potholder. I never like copying something exactly, so this is my version. I have to add that she was very sweet and told me not to worry about it. She joins swaps to meet people and was happy to meet her partner and me. Everyone gets sad when they don’t get the fun mail that they were expecting though. I wanted to do this for her.

On a side note, I thought of a new way to add a hanger to the potholders that is very simple but effective. I attached a piece of ribbon diagonally across the corner of the potholder as I stitched down the binding.
My sewing machine update: It quilts through two layers of batting and two layers of denim effortlessly! I haven’t mastered free motion quilting yet. I gave it a try and the tension is a problem so I ended up using the walking foot to quilt these. I will try to practice that some more over the weekend. I am still in love with the thread cutter. I have found that the thread sometimes slips out of the tension and requires rethreading. That is a nuisance and I am hoping that it is due to my improper threading and as I get better at it, the problem will go away.
Edited to add: With my new sewing machine, there is an extra lift position for the presser foot that you use when attaching the dual feed foot. I found that it was helpful to put the presser foot in the extra lift position to slide the thick potholder underneath, and then put it into the normal position for quilting. It was much easier than trying to jam the material under the presser foot and upsetting the placement of the layers!

Fellow Moms of Boys

I know that there has been a bit of talk on blogs here and there about how much harder it is to sew for boys than girls. I completely agree! And of course there is sibling rivalry when sister gets her third new outfit in a row and brother hasn’t gotten anything new sewn for him in ages. This was my solution last summer; after sister got 3 new sundresses! I appliqued a shark, turtle and dinosaur onto three solid colored t-shirts that I bought at Target. The t-shirts were under $5.00 each and then the material cost wasn’t much at all since I bought only a 1/4 of a yard of each piece and had leftovers for other projects. I used my standby, Stitch Witchery, to bond the material to the t-shirt and then I used a tight machine zig zag to applique. I just had to be careful to not pull the t-shirt material at all while I sewed. I feared that it would be harder working on the knit than it was. Now fortunately, or unfortunately, the t-shirts still fit this year so I will need to think of another boy project if I make anything more for his sister! I was particularly excited when my son wore the shark t-shirt to school the other day and one of the teachers (who has a son his age) asked where I bought that shirt because she wanted to buy one. My son proudly said, “My Mommy made it!” I know there will be a day very soon when he will refuse to wear anything I make so I will enjoy this while it lasts!