Tell Me A Story Holiday Sewalong!


You are invited to join my Tell Me A Story holiday sewalong! First off, credit where credit is due, this sewalong was inspired by my fellow guild member’s blocks.  Colleen made a Christmas themed Tell Me A Story block and the wheels started turning!

Here’s the idea.  Use the Tell Me A Story quilt block pattern found in my book, Intentional Piecing.  This time, we are going to tell holiday stories with our fabric selections!  Mine are very Christmas themed but feel free to simply go with a winter theme if you do not celebrate Christmas.

Tell Me A Story holiday block by Amy Friend

Here’s an example.  This little girl is happily skating around the pond, putting on an amazing performance, for her audience of snowmen that she built earlier that afternoon.  The stories can be simple or you can go crazy and name your characters, etc.  It’s completely up to you!

Because most of us are so busy this time of year, I thought pillows might be an obtainable goal.

Tell Me A Story Holiday Pillow by Amy Friend

For one 18″ finished pillow cover:


Intentional Piecing by Amy Friend

assorted holiday scraps for fussy cuts and borders

1/8 yard fabric for inner corners

1/2 yard fabric for outer corners

18 1/2″ square fusible fleece

5/8 yard fabric for pillow backing

18″ pillow form

optional 16″ invisible zipper

Project Directions:

Make 9 Tell Me A Story blocks found on page 27.

Assemble in a 3 x 3 grid.

Fuse pillow front to fleece and quilt.

Finish pillow following instructions on pages 56 and 57.

Feel free to make more than one pillow…they are addictive! I made these two and have one more in the works!  I will be sharing my blocks on Instagram and here on the blog, as well.  I hope you will join in!

Tell Me A Story Holiday Pillow by Amy Friend

To enter, simply share the Tell Me A Story Holiday announcement that I am sharing on IG today.  No purchase necessary.  For additionally entries, share each block and tell your story!  Always use the hashtag #tellmeastoryholiday because it is from that hashtag that I will draw 4 lucky winner’s names on December 31st.


Thanks to our sponsors, the winners will win one of the following prizes:

A fat quarter bundle of Snow Day by Maude Asbury from the Fat Quarter Shop.
A fat quarter bundle of awesome striped fabric from Sew Me A Song which just happens to give you a really great start should you want to sew my Crazy Eights quilt (also found in the book).
An assorted color bundle of 16″ invisible zippers from Zipit, perfect for finishing your pillows (because remember, they don’t have to be done to win!).
A box of Pat Sloan’s Perfect Colors thread from Aurifil–12 spools in 50 weight–perfect for piecing or quilting!

I hope you are excited to play along. These blocks are paper pieced but suitable for the beginner.  I walk you step by step through making them in the book, including fabric placement, with color photos.  Enter as many times as you wish with as many blocks and/or finished pictures as you wish. Each tagged picture is an entry.  Most importantly, have so much fun digging through your stash and telling stories!


Happy Halloween

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Happy Halloween from Elsa…

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and an archer!


Valentine’s Day Tutorials

Valentine's Day tutorials


It’s nearly that time already, isn’t it?  I thought I would do a little round up of some Valentine’s Day tutorials that I have available on my blog.

To start, from left to right, top to bottom,

Valentine’s Day Crossword Pillow Sham

Shades of Love Table Runner

Be Mine Wreath

Sealed with a Kiss Block and/or Journal Cover This isn’t a free tutorial but rather my project from Playful Little Paper-Pieced Projects

Candy Heart Potholders

Heart Houndstooth Mini This is a paper pieced pattern and it could work just as well for a pillow cover, runner or full quilt!


I hope you have time to try one of these this year!

Felt Wreath Ornaments

Felt wreaths 2
I have always been tempted by the felt wreath ornaments made with lots of colorful circles or squares, like these. I wanted to make something similar but maybe a little more polished looking. I decided to use my Sizzix Hydrangea Die by Eileen Hull to cut lots and lots of green felt blossoms.

Felt wreaths 1
I used the two smallest flower shapes on the die. The smallest flower results in an ornament that is about 2 1/4″ diameter and the middle sized flower gives you a wreath just shy of 3″. I cut my shapes using about a dozen different shades of felt from National Nonwovens. This is a great project for scraps since it only takes tiny pieces but it takes A LOT of tiny pieces. Each of the small wreaths used about 90 flowers and the medium one used well over 100. The die cuts a center hole in the flower which is great for easy stringing. It would even allow a child to string the felt pieces with a plastic yarn needle.

Felt wreaths 4

I just love the texture of felt for projects like this!

Felt wreaths 3

For my second small wreath, I decided to add a tiny red pompom after every group of 10 flowers. It adds a fun bit of color. I am now on the hunt for mini jingle bells to make another. I know I have them somewhere in my house but I can’t locate them at the moment!

I hope you are all having fun Christmas crafting! I will be back tomorrow with my last quilt finish of the year and a great giveaway from Art Gallery Fabrics!


From Santa

From Santa Paper Pieced Block

I found some time to work on another pattern for my slowly growing collection of winter/Christmas paper pieced patterns. I so look forward to making this quilt one year (not this year!). This block is called “From Santa” and features BasicGrey’s Aspen Frost collection which is available at the Fat Quarter Shop.

From Santa Paper Pieced Block Detail

I chose to stamp “From Santa” on the tag but it could be personalized in so many ways. You could put your loved one’s name on the tag, for instance. You could choose to embroider or print your fabric instead of stamping. By changing up your fabric choices, you could make a birthday present. It’s a lot of fun.

Because I didn’t want all my blocks in my finished quilt to be the same size, I decided to make this block 12″ finished.

From Santa Paper Pieced Pattern

The pattern is now offered in my Etsy shop and Craftsy shops. The pattern pieces are included for the 12″ version like I made but also for a 10″ version to match the last few blocks in the collection in case you would prefer to keep your blocks more or less the same size…but where is the challenge in that?


Ice Skate Ornament

Iceskate Ornament
I’m just popping in quickly today to share this ornament that I made for an ornament exchange with Melinda. I think it might be arriving at her house today, as she is finishing up a beautiful hand knit star ornament for me!

I made this ornament using National Nonwovens Felt and the Sizzix Ice Skate die by Brenda Walton. First, I applied some Thermoweb HeatnBond Lite to the back of the felt pieced that I was going to cut into the runner shape, the sole, and the flourish. HeatnBond Lite is a great product to use when fusing wool felt because it is a low temperature fusible and you know you don’t want to put a hot iron on your felt. Then I cut all my pieces using the die and my BigShot.  I handstitched clear seed beads on the flourish for a little sparkle.  Then I used a whipstitch to stitch around the outside edges of the ornament and stuffed lightly.  I used a double strand of red and white bakers twine to lace the skate through the holes cut by the die.  If you try this, be very gentle so that your holes don’t stretch and rip through.  That happened on my first attempt!    I think it is a sweet ornament and I hope to make one for our tree too!


Pumpkin Pincushion Tutorial

I’m smitten! I had so much fun making these pumpkin pincushions. I’ll show you how today on the Sizzix blog.

pumpkin pincushion one
Come join me!


The Making of a Rainbow

Rainbow Costume 1

Maybe some of you share my predicament.  Our children are asked to bring their Halloween costumes to school for a Halloween parade.  Like me, you are left wondering what costume you can send that can be packed into a backpack without getting ruined before Trick or Treat.  This year, I think our plan really works!

Rainbow Costume 2

Lily decided to be a rainbow. I loved the idea.  Her skirt is made from 3 1/2″ strips of Kona from Marmalade Fabrics. I used Red, Torch, Sunny, Peapod, Copen and Purple.

Rainbow Costume 3

We decided to make her top the blue sky with some fair weather clouds. I used a sweatshirt because Trick or Treat in New England is chilly! She can layer under there as well.  I had fun making the clouds cutesy!  You can read more about the applique on the Therm O Web blog today. I wrote up a brief tutorial for you.  Her cuffs were also dipped in fluffy clouds (white fur strips).

Rainbow Costume 4

Here is a close up of one of the clouds simply because they make me happy. Fortunately, they make my daughter happy too!

Rainbow Costume 5

And my daughter’s face is the sun itself! Her crown is made using glitter foam cut into rays and hotglued to a yellow satin headband.

I’ll share some more pictures on Halloween of all three kids together in costume. Penny is wearing a costume that I made years ago for Timothy. Timothy’s request was pretty simple and only required a couple of store bought accessories. I’ll be back with those pics before you know it!

Candy Heart Potholder Tutorial

I was honored to be asked to join the Thermoweb Design Team.  Today, I am sharing my first tutorial!  You can find it on the Thermoweb blog, complete with a pdf download for the potholder pattern.  I made these simple but fun potholders inspired by candy hearts or conversation hearts, whatever you prefer to call them!  I thought that they would be a fun way to decorate your kitchen in the middle of a white, cold, bleak February (says the woman with 2 feet of snow outside her home). 

I am looking forward to sharing my ideas for other projects you can make fusing and adhering fabrics with Thermoweb’s great supplies.  They are having a fun sale right now if you want to check it out, 20% off all pink and red products through Valentine’s Day.

And if you’d like, go on and Tweet Me this Valentine’s Day…I’m on Twitter @duringquiettime!
(If you missed my earlier post today, scroll down to see my Paint Smock tutorial.)

Valentine’s Day Crossword Sham Tutorial

This project has been planned for some time now.  The idea first came to me when I saw the crossword fabric from Sew Me A Song.  It’s from Bungle Jungle by Tim and Beck for Moda in grey.  In addition to Sew Me A Song, this print can also be found at Sew Fresh Fabrics, the The Fat Quarter Shop and Marmalade Fabrics in multiple colors (but the grey is my favorite!).  
I wanted to make a Valentine’s Day crossword patchwork.  I made this pillow sham to fit a normal bed sized pillow. What I love about it is that it could be made for a guy and how many Valentine’s Day projects can you say that about?

I started by cutting 19 squares measuring 3 1/2″ from Alexander Henry’s grey crosshatch using my 3 1/2″ square Sizzix die. Then I appliqued the letters needed to spell “Valentine,” “Kiss,” “Heart,” and “Love” using two prints from Basic Grey’s Kissing Booth and Sizzix Lollipop Shadow Alphabet Dies.  I applied the letters using a fusible webbing.

Next I sewed the word “Valentine” together with 1/4″ seams.  I cut all the “filler” pieces that I needed out of the crossword print.  You can use the Sizzix 3 1/2″ strip cutter for many of these.  I cut the narrow red border to 1″ using the 1″ strip cutter. The solid Kona medium grey borders were cut with a 2 1/2″ strip cutter.  I applied fusible fleece to the back of the pillow sham front and quilted around the edge of each letter, in straight lines in the grey section, and in a meandering box pattern in the crossword sections.

I made the back of the pillow a simple envelope closure and bound in the red grunge print.  The finished dimensions of the sham are 27″ x 20″.

If you want to make one, you’ve got a month still till Valentine’s Day!

Blitzen Patchwork Stocking Tutorial

I’m sharing a tutorial for creating this simple patchwork Christmas stocking today at Basic Grey. The stocking is fully lined with a fold over cuff. Do you have a new baby or grandchild in the family? If so, he/she will need a Christmas stocking in just 5 months! Get stitching! The pdf file can be downloaded from the Basic Grey blog.

Edited to add, for those who have asked, you can find Blitzen for sale at Quilted Treasures and the Fat Quarter Shop.

And now, for the Art Gallery Fabrics Giveaway winner…it’s lucky number 57.

Congratulations Becca!

A Partridge in a Pear Tree Ornament Set

You may think that it is too early to start thinking of Christmas.  I might agree except that summer is the perfect time to start a portable project and Christmas ornaments are just that!  I love this little set that I just finished.  Each ornament takes quite a bit of hand stitching time but it can be done on the lake, at the shore, pool side, in waiting rooms, etc.  

The partridge ornament was made using the Sizzix die Bird 2 with Bonus Textured Impressions.  I cut two of the bird die using some gorgeous natural white wool felt from National Nonwovens.  I took one of the pieces of precut felt and placed it inside the embossing folder on the multipurpose platform , Tab 1, in between the cutting pads.  
This is what the felt looks like embossed. I know that the embossing will not hold in untreated felt, as the fibers shift around, but my hope was that they would last long enough for me to use them as an embroidery pattern.  And they did!

I more or less followed the embossing patterns using a simple back stitch, a lazy daisy stitch and french knots. I used Cosmo‘s beautiful Seasons variegated embroidery floss.

After the embroidery was complete, I added a single sequin for the eye held in place with a clear glass seed bead.  Then I used a blanket stitch to hold the two layers of the bird together, left an opening for stuffing, and then closed it up.

The pear was cut using the Sizzix Pear Die.  Again, I used National Nonwovens felt to cut the pieces of the pear.  I cut two of the complete pear for the front and back of the ornament.  I cut the inner pear out of a wheat colored felt and the innermost pieces out of the natural white like the bird.

I stacked the felt pieces on the pear and used Cosmo embroidery floss to secure them with a blanket stitch.

I added tear shaped beads that I happened to have for the pear seeds.  I added three sequins to the leaf for a little sparkle.

Again, I used the blanket stitch around the perimeter and stuffed.

Happy summer sewing (thinking of Christmas)!

Blitzen Table Topper

Blitzen, BasicGrey’s holiday line, is now available in stores!  I know that you can get it at the Fat Quarter Shop right now.  In honor of the occasion, even though it is nearly summer time, I am sharing a tutorial for this Blitzen Table Topper on the Basic Grey blog today.

A few months ago, I wrote a pattern for this Christmas Cogs quilt, also using Blitzen.  Now that the fabric is available, I wanted to remind you of the link to the free tutorial.

It’s never too early to start your holiday sewing!

Christmas Cogs Tutorial is Ready!

I know that there have been a few people patiently waiting for the tutorial for my Christmas Cogs quilt since I showed you pictures of the finished quilt last month. The tutorial is up today on the Basic Grey blog. Click here for more!

Be Mine Wreath

I am participating in Basic Grey’s Cupid Countdown! I crafted this Be Mine Wreath using Basic Grey’s new collection “Kissing Booth.”

The papers and embellishments in this collection are so beautiful and perfect for Valentine’s Day. Next, I am hoping to find the time to make some Valentines for my family using the papers I have left.

Pop over to the Basic Grey blog if you want to know how I made it!

Christmas Cogs

We’ve only had a dusting of snow since I finished my Blitzen quilt top. I decided to just take some pictures for now and more later if we get snow! I’m calling this quilt Christmas Cogs.

The top measures about 56″ square and is made of interlocking cogs. I used Basic Grey’s Blitzen exclusively for the quilt top and binding.

The backing incorporates a large 27″ pieced block made of Blitzen scraps. The rest of the back is Ruby Dot in Aqua and Grey. I found it at Fresh Squeezed Fabrics.

I will be posting a brief tutorial for making this quilt on the Basic Grey blog in March. I’ll be sure to let you know when it is up.

Village Ornaments Printable

While Christmas cleaning, I came across the patterns I drafted last year to make village ornaments. I had intended to make the patterns into a free printable in time for Christmas crafting but forgot all about them. Rather than let it go another year, I thought I would do that now. You have plenty of time to make them now before next Christmas!

The printable can be downloaded here. It includes a pattern for a small house, a townhouse, a barn, a church and a Federal style house/mansion. Mine were cut from a tissue box, assembled with a hot glue gun, and decorated with acrylic paints, varnish, stickers, sequins and puffy snow glue.

Christmas Origami Continues

I loved the look of the flowers I showed this morning made with text from discarded books but I wanted to see what they looked like in color too! Again, I followed the tutorial here.

Typically, thin paper is recommended for origami and for good reason. However, I tried them using some double sided cardstock from BasicGrey’s Nordic Holiday line. Specifically, I used “Half Pipe,” “Lift Ticket,” “Sweater Weather,” and “Catching Air.” They were less forgiving than the thin paper. It was also harder to make a nice edge. I’d recommend using a bone folder to avoid sore thumbs! I made one of the flowers using a 3 1/2″ square as the tutorial calls for but then made the others a little bigger to better use the size of the scrapbooking paper and to make it easier to fold.

I am not sure what I am going to do with these yet. They would be pretty on the top of packages, resting on a shelf, nestled into the branches on the tree, or attached to florist picks and added to Christmas centerpieces. I love them!

Christmas Origami

When I saw this tutorial, I needed to make one! Aren’t they beautiful?

They are simple to make but you do need a little bit of patience or perseverance in the face of tedium/boredom. Each flower ball requires the folding of 72 pieces of paper. But they are totally worth it in my opinion. I can see so many variations in my mind too.

Today I would like to challenge my friend Michele of Michele Made Me to make one out of her colorful junkmail. Have you seen her junkmail snowflakes? They are genius. Get folding Michele! (I hope you play along. After all, I did play along with your tissue box challenge and the recycled jeans challenge…) Can’t wait to see it!

Candy Cane Love

Today Kerry is releasing her second foundation pieced pattern, a perfectly Christmassy item called Candy Cane Love! Kerry has designed the pattern such that you can use just one candy cane for your project as I did OR mirror image candy canes to create a heart. She shows you how to make a little bag using the double candy cane image here. This pattern is a little more difficult than her last Winter Woolies design but it is very doable. Don’t be scared off!

As soon as Kerry told me that her new pattern was a candy cane, I knew I had to use Mrs. March’s Sweet Treat Candy Shop by Lecien that I had picked up at Sew Fresh Fabrics a few months ago. It was perfect for the project! I had just a fat quarter but it was enough for a stocking with coordinating cuff made from BasicGrey’s Hello Luscious. I used tape measure twill for the hanger and attached it with one of BasicGrey’s essential buttons.

The candy cane is pieced with muslin and various bits of pink with a natural essex linen background.
Now, head on over to Kerry’s blog and let her know what you think!

Whimsical Walnut Shell Ornament Fun

My most recent foray into ornament making was was the direct result of reading Franklin’s Thanksgiving to my children the other day. In the book, Franklin (the turtle if you are not familiar) was making corn husk dolls at school. The illustration showed corn husk turtles with walnut shells. I decided that I wanted to use walnut shells to make some fun little turtle ornaments for the tree.

Here they are in their natural habitat! I painted the shells with acrylic paints and then varnished them. This little craft can easily become a family affair. My son helped me crack the walnut shells and empty the meat from the shells. My husband helped eat up the walnuts. Kids could help with the painting. You will need to drill a hole into the shell for the hanger so that’s a job for a grown up. The heads are fabric balls that are then hot glued to the walnuts. To make that easier, you could use pom poms.

I was then inspired to make a few ladybugs. They have embroidery floss antennae.

While I was painting the turtle shells, one of the kids asked what I was doing with the yellow shells, making a bee? Well, the green just didn’t have enough coats yet so it appeared yellow…but a bee, how genius!

So a bee came next. The bee was tricky because it required a perfectly cracked walnut shell. I could have left it whole but I didn’t like the idea of storing a nut in our attic when it wasn’t on the tree. I thought it might be too appealing to little creatures.

These ornaments are my children’s absolute favorites. I can completely see it. They definitely have kid appeal. Each of them has chosen one for the tree.

We Forgot the Glasses!

It was mentioned in the comments to my last post, that Harry Potter was missing his glasses. Ack!!! We have them but had forgotten! I made Timothy get dressed up again for a daylight shot.

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween! This post is brought to you courtesy of our portable generator. We were hit with a very early snow storm on Saturday night and have been without power since. Schools are closed today so I decided to get the kids dressed up and bring them to see their grandparents and the town librarian while we had time during the day. Here we have Penelope, my two year old, dressed as a most adorable little lion! I made this costume for my oldest child 7 years ago. I love that all three of them have worn it.

Here is Lily, a newly turned 6 year old, as Belle from Beauty and the Beast. She loves her dress so it was worth all the frustrating slipping and sliding and fraying involved in its creation.

And here is Timothy, 8 years old, as Harry Potter. Watch out, I think he is casting some sort of curse on you! My only contributions to his costume this year are the tie and the Gryffindor patch.

Did you notice the wand? Here is a close up. It was hand turned by Daddy. The only flaw is that Timothy happens to know all the details of Harry’s wand, such as the dimensions. When Mark was done making the wand, Timothy asked how long it was. The answer was 13″. Timothy then informed him that Harry’s wand was only 11″. Mark told him that meant that this wand was more powerful. Ha! That answer seems to had satisfied.

Here Harry is casting some sort of spell on his sisters. I wish he could make the snow disappear and the power return!
Happy Halloween!

Christmas Countdown

Honestly, I don’t have any more BasicGrey Samplers in the queue! I just completed this “Countdown to Christmas” sampler using a large Rook sampler and the new BasicGrey scrapbook collection called Nordic Holiday. I really love this collection. The colors are my kind of Christmas colors and the patterns are so adorable.

The concept of a Christmas Countdown was not my idea. BasicGrey asked me to make a countdown using this line and I think it’s a great way to use the canvas. I got to take the idea and run with it! I first figured out how I would like to arrange the “windows” and how I could best make a window that opened and closed within an on point square. Then I decided to use some of the letter stickers to write “Hope” and “Peace” on the sides. I filled the remainder of the empty spots with diecut circles (and when I ran out of those, handcut by me circles). They are held in place by embroidered brads (love those!).
Each window has a little surprise inside. Some are shapes cut from Nordic Holiday by me, like this hat. The pom pom is a tiny essential button tied with embroidery floss.
This is a little Christmas tree with a tree trunk made from part of an exclamation point from the chipboard letter collection (also used the number the windows).
Some windows have stickers like this one or I spelled words with letter stickers like “joy” and “love.”
This little bunch of holly has three enamel brads for berries.
It was a lot of fun to make!
Thanks for all the birthday wishes sent to Lily. She did have a wonderful 6th birthday yesterday. The rainbow pasta necklaces and unicorn headbands were a hit.

Warming Up

I joined the Trim the Tree Handmade Ornament Swap on Flickr for the second year in a row. I am trying to back off swaps at the moment in order to have more time around the holidays but I can’t resist making ornaments…or receiving them in the mail. Last year I only fit in the time to make one little house ornament so this year I started off with some little houses to warm up. I am not sure what to make next. I plan to make several and see what comments my partners might leave before deciding what to send out and what to keep or give as gifts. I always prefer to make ornaments in batches of at least three because they look cuter in groups! These little houses measure 1 3/4″ wide by 4 3/4″ high. The windows and doors are attached with fusible webbing and a long, narrow, zig zag stitch in black thread. The door knobs are french knots.

Easter Eggs using Natural Dyes

I have loved the idea of natural dyes since I was in junior high. I did a science fair project testing how ph changed the results of each natural dye. It was fun! Now I only use natural dyes once a year on Easter eggs. I hope to try them out on yarn or fabric sometime when life is a little less busy.

This year the kids were more into helping which meant fewer experiments since each color took a bit longer. We used a few of our old standbys, frozen blueberries for the inky purple, red cabbage for the blue (we wished we had pulled them out earlier when they were a brighter blue), turmeric for golden orange, and tea for the brown. In each case, we boiled water with distilled vinegar and whatever we were using for the dye and let it simmer for about a half an hour. Then we let our eggs soak until we liked the color and pulled them out.
This year we had a lot of broken rhododendron limbs so we chopped up the healthy leaves from broken branches and boiled them in water with some alum. This resulted in pretty yellow eggs after a long, overnight soak!