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!



Catnap Patchwork Pillow

I’ve got to say, it’s nice when you can sew something for your “tween” son and feel like supermom. It doesn’t happen all that often. My son will be turning 11 next month (yikes!) and loves cats. When I told him that Lizzy House had a line of cat fabric coming out he begged me for a pillow. Now, some of the fabrics in the Catnap line are a little more on the feminine side so I had some strict rules. I could only use the fabrics you see in the pillow above! And I needed to fussy cut the cat floating from balloons and make it the centerpiece of the pillow.  I received a FQ bundle of this colorway courtesy of Andover Fabrics last week and spent a few days mulling over the design.

I decided to work on something similar to an X and+ block.  So I drafted a design with a plus in the center so that I could fussy cut the cute cat floating from the balloon. I used the dimensions needed to fussy cut him nicely to figure out the rest of my patchwork piecing. I bordered my plus with little rows of mice, again based on their dimensions because I wanted to fit in their whole height.  They are too cute!  I made sure that they all faced right side up too because my son would notice that for sure.  I used the cat faces to finish out the plus. I deviated from the X and + block on the corners and made quarter square triangles using two more prints from the collection.

Catnap Pillow quilting detail

I decided to quilt the top heavily, just for kicks, with lines spaced every 1/2″ in both directions in a diagonal grid.  As it turns out, my son actually noticed that detail and thought that the quilting was “cool.”

ZipperI finished it off with an invisible zipper from Zipit.

I am happy to report that the pillow was very well received. He loves it! Phew! Now I can use my scraps to make a fussy cut mosaic block for my growing collection (my ulterior motive for making his pillow so promptly!). I also can’t wait to sew with some of the other colors in this collection, like the coral, without any restrictions from my son!

Buoy oh buoy

I made this pillow for my Dad. One childhood memory that I can recall, is my dad giving me “word lessons” while washing my hair.  One time I remember that we were talking about words that are spelled differently but pronounced the same.  One of his examples was “buoy” and “boy”.  See, Dad was a former English teacher.  It’s funny because I now hear my husband giving the kids science lessons on the properties of water in the tub…he was a science major.  You share what you love I guess!
My Dad also loves the ocean and all things nautical so the two thoughts came together in the design of this pillow.
I drafted my own pattern for the lobster buoys.  I am comfortable with curved piecing when using precut fabric from my die cutter but this is the first time I drafted my own pattern with curves.  Granted, they are gradual curves, but I am pleased with how they came out!    

I used my Sizzix to cut the letters using Tim Holtz’ Alphabet Die.  The pillow is closed with an invisible zipper from Zipit. The narrow border which you can hardly see due to my overstuffed pillow form, and the backing, are Kona Modern prints in the Pacific colorway.   

I’m worried that the nautical colors, which tend to be primary, make the pillow look too juvenille. I hope not. Fingers crossed.

Poinsettia Ring Pillow Cover

As a part of the Holiday USA/UK Sizzix Blog Hop, I made this Poinsettia Ring 16″ Pillow Cover.  
To make this pillow, I used the Sizzix 4″ finished Tumbler Die.  I cut 24 tumbler shapes using all the soft green charms from a charm pack of Aneela Hoey’s Cherry Christmas, Odds and Ends Happy Thoughts in Leaf, Olive Kona, Chartreuse Heath, and Juniper Grunge
I sewed each row together from left to right.  
I ironed the seams to the right in the top row, to the left in the second row, and so forth so that the seams nested together nicely when I sewed the rows together.
I then applied fusible fleece to the wrong side of the pillow front and quilted with straight lines.  I squared up the pillow to measure 16 1/2″ on all sides.
I made a group of seven poinsettias out of wool felt from National Nonwovens using the Sizzix Tattered Poinsettia die by Tim Holtz.  I cut the largest flower on the die from green felt for the leaves and then cut all the flower shapes on the die from the red felt to form the flower.  The flower centers are composed of clusters of french knots made using Aurifil‘s wool thread.  I arranged the poinsettias in a wreath shape and tacked them in place with hand stitches just through the green felt leaves.
I finished off the pillow with an invisible zipper from Zipit.  
If you are looking for more holiday pillow ideas, I have a tutorial for another one that will appear on the Sizzix blog on December 7th.

Here’s the line up for the day, make sure you check them all out to get some truly festive inspiration…

Tammy Tutterow
Paula Pascual
Elina Strömberg
Anna-Karin Evaldsson
Loredana Bucaria
Gretchen Schmidt
Hilary Kanwischer
Jan Hobbins
Jeanne Streiff
Tammy Roberts
Tiffany Johnson

Watering Can; a paper pieced pattern

Admittedly, I have been on a bit of a paper piecing kick lately. I agreed to design a block for a garden party themed blog hop next month, see here for more details. I have my block all ready to go and enjoyed designing it so much that I thought I might make more garden designs. If you have read my blog for any length of time, you know that I love gardening as much as I love sewing. So, it’s the perfect fit.
I just finished designing this 10″ paper pieced watering can. Since it has the feel of an old metal can, I used Vintage Notions from The Dressmaker’s Collection by Amy Barickman for Red Rooster Fabrics, a treat sent to me by Kristina of Quilted Treasures. Don’t let her Etsy shop fool you, her shop has over 3000 plus bolts, just not everything is listed on Etsy. Feel free to convo her, tell her I sent you, and let her be your personal shopper. She loves that! I think that the solid I used for the block background is Ochre Kona but I am not a hundred percent sure. I really need to get myself a Kona color card!

I made my first sample block of this design with a text print from Lakehouse for the watering can and Elizabeth’s Letters by Jill Finley of Jillily Studio for Henry Glass Co. for the background. Both are older prints. I love how these fabrics worked for the watering can and spent a lot of time lining up the text just so along the handle and the “Guaranteed to Grow” bit at the top of the spout. I also fussy cut the blue background so that the little flower rested inside the handle. But when I was finished, I realized that the block really lacked contrast. The spout, in particular, blended in with the background as did the bottom of the can. So I decided to try to rectify it with quilting since I couldn’t stand to toss it.

Of course, I never thought to take a before picture but the quilting worked wonderfully! I used a very dark contrasting brown thread and held my breath while trying to quilt ever so slowly in the ditch. It almost creates a tiny shadow, just enough to define the watering can and make me happy.

I combined it with Essex Natural Linen and some Hometown to make a pillow, finished off with my favorite invisible zipper in beige.
If you would like the pattern, this one is in my shop.

For the Love of Invisible Zippers

Last year, right before Christmas, I installed my first invisible zipper. I haven’t made a single envelope closure style pillow cover since! I love, love, love invisible zippers. First off, I love the challenge of getting it as invisible as possible with just the little pull dangling off the end. Secondly, it allows me to make an 18″ pillow cover backing with just a fat quarter! And finally, I think it provides such a nice and professional looking finish.
Well, sometime between my last order of zippers from Zipit and my most recent order, Jennie started carrying invisible zippers! I have to share my excitement with you because second to my love of invisible zippers is my love of a bargain. I had been paying $2.99 for a single 12″ invisible zipper at my local big box sewing supply store. Check this out…ten 16″ invisible zippers for $8.00. That’s 80 cents per zipper! I must use at least two invisible zippers a month. This is a significant savings!

Invisible Zipper Hints

Zipper? What zipper? If you google “invisible zipper tutorials” there are bound to be countless hits. I don’t see the need to repeat it all here but I was asked to share some hints with you about the invisible zippers that I have been putting into my pillows lately. The obvious challenge is sewing as close to the zipper as possible (without catching your finger!). I think that the two things that help most are ironing the zipper teeth flat and using the proper presser foot and needle position.

Here is your basic invisible zipper. Do you see how the teeth curl over to the back of the zipper? Before pinning your zipper to your pillow, you need to open out the zipper and iron it flat.

I am attempting to show that here. I used a medium heat setting on my iron with no problems. If you use a high heat, you will likely melt your zipper.

If you look in this picture, the bottom part of the zipper has been ironed flat and the top has not. Can you see the difference?

After you pin your ironed zipper to your project, it is time to put change your presser foot to the zipper foot. Place your project under the presser foot and adjust the side to side position of your needle so that it will come as close to the ironed out zipper teeth as possible. After you stitch both sides of the zipper, give it a test run and make sure it zips closed. If you are prone to overachieving, you might find that your zipper does not close because you stitched too close and the thread is caught on the zipper teeth. You’ll need to rip out those overzealous stitches and try again.
I apologize for the icky photos today. It’s rainy and dark out. I hope this helps!