Revolution Quilt

Time has gotten away from me and it’s been almost two weeks since I shared a quilt from my new book, Improv Paper Piecing: A Modern Approach to Quilt Design. The book is available on Amazon and signed copies are in my Etsy shop (sent with a free postcard while supplies last!).  I love this photo.  And sharing it provides a good opportunity to thank my mom who came along with me to many of these photoshoots.  She helped me with this one, when I took photos in our Old Town Hall built in 1842 with its beautiful light and high ceilings.  The ladder was found in our barn when we moved into our house, the chair was found on the roadside and refinished by me, and the orchid is my husband’s.  That’s why these photos mean so much to me. They incorporate so many of the things I love and a lot of my personality.  I am grateful to have had the opportunity to take the photos for both of my books.

This photo was taken in the Everett Mill building in downtown Lawrence, MA. It was a former cotton mill and later shoe manufacturer. Again, my mom and her husband were with me, which was very helpful, especially when a big nail became imbedded in my tire and I had to carefully drive home with a flat. It was a beautiful space and I was able to take several photos there.

This quilt is based on the traditional Tallahassee block, sketched in an improvisational fashion with askew lines and asymmetry. Part of what makes this quilt successful is the layout. I placed the blocks in a sort of serpentine fashion, echoing the motion I felt from the block.  The colors are bold and the binding is another color all together–a fun bit of whimsy.

You can find this quilt pattern and related design exercise in the section of my book based on Traditional blocks. I hope you enjoy it!

Arboreal Quilt

Arboreal Quilt by Amy Friend

I’m really happy with the way this quilt turned out!  I designed a paper pieced block using my improv paper piecing method.  The inspiration for my block design was the branching of a tree.  When I incorporated the mirror image of the block into the layout and then inverted every other row, I got this great repeating pattern.

Arboreal by Amy Friend

Admittedly, the finished quilt doesn’t scream tree branches, but I love that!  It does have a really cool organic feel to it due to its improvisational design roots.

Arboreal by Amy Friend

I have been wanting to make a quilt that incorporated cinnamon and pink for awhile now.  I love these colors…so adding mustard (another favorite) only made it better!  I colored and recolored the design in EQ7 until I hit upon this combination and it felt right. It certainly feels like fall to me so I am grateful that I was able to photograph it before the leaves were covered with snow.  The solids are a mix of Kona and Bella Solids and the cinnamon is a basic by Cotton + Steel with a tiny scattered dot.

Arboreal Quilting by Amy Friend

The quilting is straight line in 3 shades of Aurifil 50 weight thread. I matched the pink background fabric for the majority of the quilting using #2410 but I also stitched the occasional line in cinnamon and mustard. I love the subtle variation.

If you are intrigued by this design process, I encourage you to order my upcoming book, Improv Paper Piecing: A Modern Approach to Quilt Design. I explain my technique and provide a series of exercises to encourage you to design your own blocks. I think you will enjoy it!


Plumb Line Quilt

Plumb Line Quilt by Amy Friend

It’s so nice to have a finish!  It’s tricky to find time for my sewing with all the end of the school year/beginning of summer events and the demands of the garden which can be very appealing after a long winter.  I am naming this quilt Plumb Line, a suggestion made by @turquoiseprism on Instagram.  The name describes the shape so well!

The pattern is block based and paper pieced from a template of my own design.

I enjoyed working on this layout and playing with the placement of light and dark solids.  However, the turning point for me came when I removed some of the shapes from my layout to incorporate negative space.  I wasn’t satisfied so I  reintroduced of half, or one side, of the shapes I had just removed from my design.  The half shapes represent the darker sides and then the light side becomes part of the negative space or background.  Once I made that decision while playing around with the design digitally, I was happy and felt that I had hit upon a successful layout!

Plumb Line Quilt Detail by Amy Friend

I like the simplicity of the design and the clean lines.  I decided to make my quilting simple, accordingly.  I used an off white color Aurifil thread that was a little darker than the background but wasn’t too stark against the colorful shapes.  My lines are spaced 1/2″ apart.

Plumb Line Quilt Detail 2 by Amy Friend

The finished quilt measures 60″ x 64″. It is pieced with Art Gallery Pure Elements, quilted with Aurifil 40 weight thread and backed with Cotton + Steel Posy Leaf from the Paper Bandana collection.


Bauhaus Mini

Bauhaus Mini by Amy Friend

Recently, I asked my former colleague, Victoria Solan, for some suggestions for modern inspiration to use in my quilting. She recommended Bauhaus 1919-1933; Workshops for Modernity by Barry Bergdoll and Leah Dickerman. Well, before I even opened the book, I was inspired to somehow replicate the cover image by Joost Schmidt from 1926.  His was an offset print on cardboard measuring 12 1/8″ x 9 3/16″.  Mine is an improvisationally pieced mini quilt measuring 18″ x 21″.

The Bauhaus was a school of art and design founded in Germany in 1919.  It was shut down by the Nazis in 1933.  In that sort time, they discussed and experimented with the idea of modern art.  I love the graphic quality of the cover image and the radiating circles.  I didn’t even attempt the fine lines that you will see on the cover but rather began with an inset circle and then hand cut curves of about 1/2″ to an inch and a quarter. The initial curved were tight and therefore tricky, as was hand cutting the black circle and matching its seams with the black arc. But I really enjoyed that challenge.

Bauhaus Mini by Amy Friend

Due to the difference in media, I had the opportunity to add another dimension to my piece with quilting lines. I chose to echo the arc like shape in the black and grey sections with dark grey lines of quilting spaced 1/4″ apart.  Then I quilted in concentric circles in light grey thread for the colorful portion of the mini.

I had a lot of fun with this experiment. I found it technically challenging and forced myself to reach a bit for my color palette including that green that isn’t normally included in my work.


Pointed Statement

Pointed Statement by Amy Friend

I am so pleased to share this completed quilt today!  I showed you a few of the blocks a number of weeks ago.  I designed my own paper pieced pattern for this quilt and pieced it using 5 shades of Kona quilting cottons.

Pointed Statement by Amy Friend

I scattering the colors rather randomly while piecing, intentionally favoring the peaches over the greys.

Pointed Statement by Amy Friend

I really love the colors in this quilt; they are most accurately represented in this photo. They are so soothing and at the same time fresh and uplifting.  I worked on this quilt while waiting for spring to arrive here in New England and I think that the colors were just right for that.

I chose to quilt using straight lines and three shades of Aurifil 50 weight thread because the vertical rows of stitching work well with the vertical orientation of the triangles.  As you can see in this detail, I quilted with my lines spaced 1/4″ to 1/2″ apart.

Pointed Statement by Amy Friend

I used one of the prints from Art Gallery Fabrics’ Maker collection for the backing along with bits of leftover solids from the front.  And I bound the quilt in the background fabric color, Kona Light Flesh…an awful sounding name for a pretty color!  The finished quilt measures 48″ x 60.”  My mom suggested the name, Pointed Statement, which seems just perfect.

I am planning on offering this pattern for sale soon. It’s in the works!


Improv Fans Mini Quilt

Improv Fans Mini by Amy Friend

Last week I worked on this mini for our Seacoast Modern Quilt Guild exhibit at this year’s The Gathering in Manchester, NH.  Our guild has been asked to create an exhibit that will give a clear idea of what constitutes modern quilting.  So, we are attempting to include only quilts that have alternate gridwork, negative space, solids, improv, bold colors, etc.  For one portion of the exhibit, each member has been asked to make a mini measuring 18″ or 22″ square.  They are to be modern takes on traditional blocks and use only solids.  We were assigned traditional blocks and mine was the Grandmother’s Fan. You can see a sample here.

Improv Fans Mini by Amy Friend

I decided to take an improvisational approach to the block. I chose a selection of Kona and Pure Elements solids based loosely on the Cotton + Steel color scheme.  I then handcut and randomly pieced a small fan and three larger arcs.

Improv Fans Mini by Amy Friend

I hand cut curves and sewed the arcs together. I squared up after adding each new arc.

Improv Fans Mini by Amy Friend

I had my quilting planned from the beginning. I quilted in arcs from the lower left to upper right corner, spaced 1/4″ apart.  Then I reversed the arc and quilted a wide band through the quilt in the opposite direction. I love how the lines crisscross and overlap and form diamonds.

Improv Fans by Amy Friend

I had so much fun with this mini!  While paper piecing is my go to technique, I love to mix it up once in awhile.  I’m looking forward to seeing what the other members of my guild come up with. I think it will be a fun portion of the exhibit and ALL members’ minis will be accepted so everyone has a chance to have their work shown in the exhibit.


Irish Chain Variation Complete

Irish Chain Variation by Amy Friend

I have finished my Irish Chain Variation!  As I mentioned in a recent post, this quilt was inspired by an Amish quilt on the back cover of the book A Gallery of Amish Quilts.  The original quilt was all yellow and blue.  I obviously went with white and black and then broke into the negative space with reds in an ombre progression. I had been calling this a Nine Patch Variation because that’s what I thought it was…then I read the caption on the original quilt and it is an Irish Chain.  So I guess I will now call this my Irish Chain Variation.

Irish Chain Variation by Amy FriendThe fabrics used are Kona Pepper and Kona White, along with various shades of red to salmon in Free Spirit Solids.  The finished dimensions are approximately 63″ x 75″.

Irish Chain Variation by Amy Friend

The quilting was done in irregularly spaced but straight (as possible) lines to form a diagonal grid. I debated thread color a lot. I ended up going with a soft gray Aurifil which blends well in the white and red areas but certainly shows in the black. I didn’t want to change threads and do freemotion quilting inside the black shapes because it just wasn’t the look I was going for.  I sort of like the overlay of lines.  It adds another dimension to the quilt.

Irish Chain Variation by Amy Friend

I chose to use the solid white for the binding, a foolhardy choice, I know. But I like how it blends with all those setting triangles.

Irish Chain Variation by Amy Friend

And here is one last picture for fun.

Thanks for visiting.



Nine Patch Variation WIP

Nine Patch Variation by Amy Friend


I have been working on a new quilt recently and thought I would share a couple of pictures here that I have previously shared only on Instagram. This is the top as it was about to be basted.  Honestly, it’s pretty square!  The angle was just really off because I was standing on a chair trying to get a shot of it with my phone camera.

The quilt was inspired by a two color (yellow and blue) Amish quilt. In my verions, I broke into the negative space with my ombre design elements and am really happy with the way it worked!  The black and white are Kona solids and the ombre shades are Freespirit Solids.

Nine Patch Variation by Amy Friend

I got the quilt basted two nights ago and hope to find time today to start quilting. I want to do an all over cross hatch like I did on my recent mini, but the lines will be further apart and perhaps irregular this time (not evenly spaced but straight).

I’ll show pictures of the finished quilt when it is complete.  Enjoy your day!



Curious by Amy Friend

As I made my Melon Ice table runner recently, I was reminded of how much I like the diamond shape. I wanted to explore it a little more in a minimalist design using large scale piecing.  I drew several diamond designs and settled on this one.  While it is a simple design, I contemplated the placement of the diamond quite a bit.  The finished mini measures 20″ x 20″ and I used Art Gallery Pure Elements Solids.
Curious by Amy Friend

I quilted using a 50 weight Aurifil thread, in a diagonal grid, with lines spaced just over a 1/4″ apart.

Curious by Amy Friend

The texture is really amazing.  It was worth the three solid hours of quilting.

It was a fun exercise for me and I think I will work on a few similar projects because I enjoyed it!  I am naming this piece Curious after a comment made by a friend on IG.


Sizzix at Quilt Market


I had the pleasure of joining the Sizzix team in their booth for Quilt Market this past weekend.  

Fabi Quilt Market

This was the booth!  For those of you not familar with the Fabi, it is the latest Sizzix die cutting machine.  Basically, it is a redesigned Big Shot made to appeal to quilters.  It has stitching details on the sides and a Cathedral Windows like pattern.  So many people have the misconception that the Big Shot only cuts paper.  This machine intends to make it clear that it is also for fabric!  In fact, you can cut up to 8 layers of fabric. You can still cut paper with the Sizzix too, without worrying about dulling the blades.  This allows you to cut paper hexies, for instance, with the smaller 1″ Hexagon die and your fabric with the slightly larger 1 1/4″ Hexagon Die for English Paper Piecing. The product is very versatile.

**Edited to answer some questions I am getting. The Fabi and the Big Shot are the same exact machines. They use the same 6″ Bigz dies. The Big Shot Pro is the larger machine. It takes 12″ wide dies. You can use it for the smaller 6″ dies too but the 12″ dies obviously will not fit in the 6″ machines (Big Shot and Fabi).

The Sizzix team made me feel very welcome on this trip. I spent time in the booth showing people how to use the machines and letting them give it a try. With the pieces they cut out, they could design a block on the design wall. I spent much of my time sewing the blocks together on a nice Bernina machine borrowed from the folks in the Bernina booth. We joked that it was “Survivor” sewing because I was without an iron or a seam ripper but those blocks got done just the same! They will be assembled and the finished quilt will be donated to some lucky girl.


I was happy to have a number of online friends come visit me in the booth and become “real life” friends. In this picture you can see Katy from The Littlest Thistle. She is one of my most faithful blog readers and commentators (much appreciated Katy). She stopped by to design a block. It was so fun to meet all the people who I have chatted with through email in person! That was definitely one of the highlights of the trip. I realized once I got home that I still missed finding a few people I had hoped to say hi to but I did see so very many!


I designed and sewed one quilt for the booth. It’s the green, white and grey quilt seen here in the booth. I was asked to design a pattern using the 6 1/2″ square and 6 1/2″ HST dies.

Ombre Vibes by Amy Friend

Here is a quick picture that I took of the quilt before sending it off. I am calling it Ombre Vibes. As you can see, the fabrics move from lighter in the center to darker on the edges.

Quilting on Ombre Vibes by Amy Friend

Here is a close up on the quilting. I did some pretty tiny pebble quilting in the center square using a perfect minty colored Aurifil thread. Then I quilted with radiating wavy lines.

Sizzix has some fun new dies that were debuted at market. I think that the Crazy Quilt Die is sure to be a hit. It works perfectly with a layer cake. You cut up to 8 layers and then shuffle the fabrics to make 8 unique blocks. Repeat till your layer cake has disappeared! There is basically zero waste involved.

It was a lot of fun sharing the wonderful world of die cutting with people. It’s quite fun to see people’s reaction who have never tried it. They are so surprised at how easy it is to turn the handle on the machine and are excited to see all the perfect cuts.

Tim Holtz

Tim Holtz came to do some demos in the booth. He is certainly a crowd favorite. So many people asked for pictures with him! Tim designs dies for Sizzix but he also has his own booth, sharing fabric from his second collection for Coats. It was fun to meet Tim and his crew-Mario and Paula. They are all so fun to be around.

Pillow in Tim Holtz booth

Here is a peek of my tablet cover and pillow in Tim’s booth. I twisted Becca’s arm and she has ordered several bolts from Tim’s first and second collections so look for them at Sew Me A Song in upcoming weeks/months.

I am so wiped out today. I am not used to sleeping through city noises so sleeping was hard for me! I arrived home last night to 3 very grateful children and my husband. I think that they are all glad to have me back, which is a nice feeling. I am sure many other mothers feel as I do normally–completely unappreciated. So, it’s a nice feeling that I will enjoy for a day or two perhaps before things go back to normal!

I shared more pictures of market on Instagram but I will blog about the other booths later on this week. Now, it is time to catch up on laundry and school field trip permission forms and school pictures, oh my!


Cover Girl!

I have to say that it was thrilling to get an email from Michele Duffy, editor-in-chief of American Quilter saying “You’re a cover girl!”  Wow!  I designed and sewed and photographed the quilt shown here on the cover of the September 2013 issue.  The magazine will be shipping July 16th and can be found on newsstands on August 6th.

This quilt is paper pieced (surprise!) and called Spinning Wheel. I used all Art Gallery Pure Elements Solids for the quilt top and binding.

I sewed this quilt back in February and photographed it in early March, in New England, knowing that it would be in a late summer/early fall magazine.  You should have seen us trying to take pictures void of snow.  It was a trick!  We went to the beach even though it looked and felt cold.
I’m glad we did, because I love these shots taken at Plum Island.  The quilt is just the right colors for the ocean and nature has the best props!
Here is the image that they used for the cover with some cropping.  Thank you lobster boat for coming my way.
I really pushed myself on the quilting of this quilt. I free motion quilted my heart out and used more thread than I care to recall. I just know that I even had my mother driving around to quilting shops picking up more spools for me at the last minute.  I’m pretty proud of my efforts because the quilt has some amazing texture.
I’m sure I am going to post again when I have the actual magazine in hand, so bear with me. I’m just excited! I hope you love this quilt and maybe are inspired to make it!  Becca at Sew Me A Song has stocked all the solids that I used in the quilt and will be adding a quilt kit option so you can do some one stop shopping.  You can also find all the fabric used in this quilt at the Fat Quarter Shop, which is where I purchased mine this past winter.

Courthouse Steps Quilt Top

I just finished my courthouse steps quilt top! I started collecting fabrics for this quilt in the fall. I didn’t start sewing till last month and it went slowly with the holidays and school vacation thrown in there. But it is complete now and just the way I had pictured it which is always a nice surprise.

I used many, many shades of each of four colors: grey, mustard, aqua and coral. I will make a list of the fabrics used and share them when I finish the quilt. I am still working on compliling the list and wishing I had done so as I went along.

I used the basic design of the traditional courthouse steps block but varied the width of my strips from 1″ up to 3.” The quilt top measures 60″ square. I have a backing fabric all picked out but need to piece a strip to complete it. I am a bit stumped in terms of quilting. I’d welcome suggestions!