The Farmer’s Wife 1930’s Quilt-Along: Block #32 Fanny

Today I am a guest blogger for the Farmer’s Wife 1930’s Quilt along, brought you by Angie at Gnome AngelThe Fat Quarter Shop and Marti Mitchell.  If you would like to purchase the book, scroll to the bottom of this post for more information.  If you would like to join the 5000+ other quilters participating in the sew-along, click here.


Welcome to my blog and my second block in the quilt-along!  When I started this 100 block adventure, I was determined to cut all the blocks with templates and then hand-sew them together.  It proved quite difficult to find time for hand-sewing.  I thought I could do it during my kids activities, but I can’t seem to sew and watch their sports at the same time!  Now, I’ve relaxed a bit and I’m making each block based on what I think the best method may be and also what my mood is at the time.


As of right now, I have 23 blocks completed and 11 more cut out (using the Marti Mitchell templates).  I am really loving the process and being able to take my time with the blocks.  I do a ton of rushed sewing for various projects, so this is relaxing for me.  I’m not working on any set time structure, because that would just stress me out!

If you feel like you are falling behind, overwhelmed by missed blocks, or just want to give up, then you are missing the point of the quilt-along!  Simply have fun, try new things and work at your own pace.  If you fall behind, just start with the most current block and do the others at a later date, when you have time. I know that I will finish this quilt someday.  I want to look back on it as a long, relaxing journey, not a sprint.


Ok, that’s enough of my lecture!  On to the block!

I decided to paper-piece Fanny.  It’s a lot of tiny pieces and I’m using Liberty Lawn in my blocks (very woodgy). By now in the quilt-along,  you’ve probably read paper-piecing tutorials out the wazoo.  I’m going to quickly go over how I organize and paper-piece such an intricate block.


First, I chose my fabrics (of course!).  This block called for three fabrics.  In general, I choose one Liberty-esque print, one textural/blender print and one geometric print .  Sometimes I switch out the textural or geometric print with a fussy-cut novelty print.  I find that this combination (Organic-Blender-Geometic) creates good contrast and keeps the block from becoming too busy.


This block as a LOT of little pieces, so I snagged three crayons from my kids and quickly marked where each fabric will go.


Then I started sewing.  I like to work on all of the templates in a block at the same time.  This way I can be lazy and walk to the iron fewer times!


Once the templates were complete, I trimmed to the seam allowance lines and then gave everything a good press with starch (I’m using a bit more starch because of the lawn prints.).  I decided to leave the papers on until the very end, but if you are using normal quilting cottons, you could remove the paper at this point. Whatever makes you happy!


Sew the templates into 5 rows.  If you left the papers in, tear away the paper from the seam allowances you just sewed.


Sew the rows together, matching your seams, then give a good press with starch (I like to do this on top of one or two layers of batting), and you are done!

Have a great week!


The Splendid Sampler: Family Affair

The Splendid Sampler, A Family Affair Block by Better Off Thread

I’d like to welcome everyone visiting my blog from The Splendid Sampler.  Take a look around and stay awhile. If you haven’t heard of The Splendid Sampler yet (is there anyone who hasn’t?!), go check it out and prepare to be sucked in.


Are you ready to try your hand at paper-piecing? If you are new to piecing on paper, take it slow and try not to get frustrated. If you can count to four and sew a straight line, you can make this block!

Here are a few of my paper-piecing tips:

If you are new to paper-piecing, cut your fabrics larger at first: It always helps to have a big more wiggle room when you are just learning!

Use light-weight paper: I use basic copy/printer paper (20lb).  You can also use newsprint, which would be even easier to tear off the back of your block.  Don’t use fancy, heavy printer paper.  You will NOT be happy!

 Decrease the stitch length on your machine: When I am paper-piecing I set my stitch a bit below a 2.  You want your stitches to be tight enough that they don’t rip out when you tear your papers, but you want it large enough that if you make a mistake you can use a seam ripper.

Press and trim after each seam: your block will turn out much smoother if you press liberally and trim your seam allowances.  You can set up your iron right next to your machine, so you don’t have to get up.

Place your fabric on the UN-printed side of the paper and sew on the printed side.


Let’s get started!


Your templates should already be printed (at 100%, please check, because there is nothing worse than making an entire block the wrong size…I’ve been there). Cut the templates out along the seam allowance line and cut your fabrics out according to the directions.  Next, place your #1 piece RIGHT-SIDE-UP on the UNPRINTED side of the paper so that it completely covers space #1 and 1/4″ over on all sides.  I glue the first pieces to the paper with a dot of glue stick.

I like to sew all of my templates at the same time (as pictured above).


Place piece #2 WRONG-SIDE-UP on top of piece #1 so that it is 1/4″ over the line between section 1 & 2.  The first time you do this, pin your fabric along the sewing line and flip it, so you can be sure it will completely cover space 2 and the seam allowances around it.   Remove the pin before you sew ( I generally don’t pin when I am paper piecing.  The fabrics usually grab together well enough).


Flip your template over, so the printed lines are up, and stitch along the first line.  You will be using a shortened stitch length and you will back-stitch at the beginning and end of each seam.  Trim the seam allowance to 1/4″ and press the pieces flat.


Fold and crease the line between space #2 & #3.  This will allow you to see your sewing line from the top.  Place piece #3 along and 1/4″ over the crease and sew from the printed side.  Trim the seam allowances and press flat.


The last piece is quite skinny, and it’s difficult to make a crease, so I just lay the pieces together under the presser foot as accurately as possible.  There is plenty of extra width, if you aren’t exact.


Now you will have templates that look like this (doesn’t look like much yet, does it?).

IMG_0198 copy

Trim all around the paper, leaving 1/4″ seam allowance.  I like to line my ruler up with the black line, not with the outer edge of the paper.  It’s more accurate.


Peek under the last strip and make sure you have trimmed the seam allowance to 1/4″ under there.  I still need to trim the mustard colored fabric on this template.


At this point (if you’ve been working on all your templates at the same time), you will have 8 completed templates (yay!).  Do not remove your papers yet, I repeat, DO NOT REMOVE YOUR PAPERS!


Now, take a center strip and finger crease it in half (short ends together), to mark the center.  Line that center up with the tick mark on a completed template.  The layers are thick so don’t even try to pin it, just sew it on!


Repeat with the opposite side.  Match up the center, hold with a finger and sew.


Press the seam allowances toward the center strip.  I like to press gently from the wrong side and then flip and press (with steam) on the front, giving the square a light tug as I press (as pictured above).


Trim (again, line the ruler up with the black line, not the outer edge of the paper).

You may now GENTLY remove the papers.


Now you are just going to sew the squares together. You know how to do that!


One last tip: If you are worried about the center matching up, machine baste the very center and check to see if it all lines up.  If it does, go back and sew the entire seam.  If it doesn’t, try again!


Your block is complete!


Here is my version of the block using the Splendid Sampler fabrics.


And here are a few of my blocks.  I have more done, but I forgot to take a photo of them in the sunlight.


I hope you enjoy making the block!

If you have any questions, leave a comment, email me or flag me in the Facebook group.  I’ll do my best to get back to you quickly.


Quiltcon Magazine: The Ripple Effect Quilt



Quiltcon Magazine will be hitting newsstands on March 1st and I have pattern in it!  I called the quilt “Ripple Effect”:

Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 5.30.44 PM

The pattern is fast, easy and requires absolutely no templates, curves or paper-piecing (how very unlike me!).

It’s loosely based on a mini I designed for a swap (pictured below).  The mini had TEENY-TINY pieces, so I am happy to say that the full-sized version went together much easier.

Screen Shot 2015-01-05 at 9.03.30 PM


Do you want to know how to submit a pattern for Quiltcon Magazine next year?

The MQG will send out a call for submissions later in the year, so get on their newsletter list.  Last year, it went out in September and here were the submission guidelines.  I wrote up a blurb about the quilt and then attached the PDF below with layout options.  You can see that the block has a lot of possibilities!   In my typical Gemini fashion, I couldn’t narrow the layout down to one option, but I would think one option would be fine too.

ripple (dragged) ripple (dragged) 1

Most of my designs are more modern-traditional, but I submitted one of my designs that definitely fit into the modern genre (it’s a magazine for the Modern Quilt Guild, after all!)

A few weeks later, F+W Media contacted me saying that they would like to include my quilt and pattern!  They liked option 1, 2 & 3, but requested that I don’t use blue (they already had enough of it in the issue).  I decided to go with the aqua in Option 2 (I had fallen in love with it), but I wanted to add more color.  Oh, and they wanted the quilt in their office in three weeks, which was October 30th!

Between September and October we sold our house and the move date was November 8th.  Kristi Ryan came to my rescue by quilting, binding and adding a sleeve to the quilt, then mailing it off to F+W in time to be photographed.  In the meantime, I wrote up the pattern and created the illos (and moved!).

It was all worth it and I feel very honored to be in the magazine.


I was also very happy to finally get to go to Quiltcon and see one of my quilts hanging on display.

Quiltcon: Conquering Curves Class

Conquering Curves Sampler

Quiltcon was last week and I think I’ll be recovering until March! It was four incredibly amazing and draining days of classes, lectures, quilts and community. I also had the opportunity to teach an introduction to curves class to a wonderful group of ladies.  I named the class “Conquering Curves” and each student worked on a mini sampler of 12″ blocks, beginning with gentle and tame molehills and finishing with hysteria-inducing clamshells.


I’ve taught many classes, but never 24 people at a time, so I was a bit nervous as to how I would juggle everyone and make sure they all received individual attention in a short, 3-hour, class.  Yes, 3 hours is short for a sewing class!  The time goes FAST.

Alyce at Blossom Heart Quilts was my lovely assistant throughout the class.  She was a lifesaver and dealt with the set-up, class fees and prepping anything that I overlooked.  She also made sure I had dinner and a drink at 9pm when class ended.  Thank you Alyce!

I also want to thank Jeanne Delpit at Bernina.  She prepped all of the uber-fancy machines and made sure that everyone knew how to drive them.


Look at all of those curves!!  I was impressed that so many people brought special fabrics to use for their minis. They had a lot of faith that I wouldn’t steer them awry.

Seeing the blocks go up on the design boards made my heart happy. I love teaching quilters new skills and seeing their faces when they realize that they ARE smart enough, they ARE good enough and gosh darn-it, curves like them!


Even at 9pm, there were still smiles to be seen and no one ran screaming and crying from their sewing machine (though that would have made for a good story).


When creating a new class it can be hard to gauge just how far into the project your students will get during the time allotted. People sew at various speeds and abilities, so it was my hope that everyone would at least make it to the third block during class (which I believe they all did).  I threw the clamshell block in there as an extra challenge for anyone who was super-fast, or as homework. I was pleased to see that many of my students went right home and finished their blocks!



I had so much fun teaching at Quiltcon and now I’m sad that I decided to teach only one class.  I can’t wait for Quiltcon West in 2018!


Scraps, Inc. Vol. 2 Blog Tour and a giveaway!

Scraps Inc Vol. 2

Welcome to my stop on the Scraps, Inc. Vol. 2 Blog Tour!

I was thrilled when Susanne asked me to contribute to Scraps, Inc. Volume 2.  I do adore a good scrap quilt and Scraps, Inc. Vol. 1 was simply beautiful, both the quilts and the book itself.  Volume 2 is filled with delightful eye candy and fun projects by 15 talented and unique designers.

'Sweet Emmeline" by Janice Zeller Ryan from Scraps Inc Vol. 2 (Lucky Spool)

My contribution to the book is “Sweet Emmeline”, a scrappy orange peel quilt.  I named the quilt after my daughter. She constantly claims every quilt I make as her own, so I decided to cut to the chase and just name the next one after her! (And yes, I do sing the Neil Diamond song to her and change the lyrics.)

'Sweet Emmeline" by Janice Zeller Ryan from Scraps Inc Vol. 2 (Lucky Spool)
photo by Nydia Kehnle

The quilt measures 58″ x 78″, the perfect size for a couch throw.

'Sweet Emmeline" by Janice Zeller Ryan from Scraps Inc Vol. 2 (Lucky Spool)
photo by Nydia Kehnle

 There are gobs of colors and prints in the quilt, so I wanted to keep them controlled and focused.  I chose to use a selection of dark and light tones paired together for each orange peel .  The quilt can be made even scrappier, as long as there is either color or tonal variation in the orange peels.

'Sweet Emmeline" by Janice Zeller Ryan from Scraps Inc Vol. 2 (Lucky Spool)
photo by Nydia Kehnle

The quilt is also tactile and textural with the use of metallics, linen and the closely spaced wavy quilting.

'Sweet Emmeline" by Janice Zeller Ryan from Scraps Inc Vol. 2 (Lucky Spool)

I have to say, “Sweet Emmeline” looks pretty fantastic in my new house, on my new couch.  It makes me happy every morning when I walk out and see it.


Would you like to win a copy of Scraps, Inc. Vol. 2?  Just comment below and you will be entered to win!  I will announce a winner (chose by random number generator) on Saturday, February 13th.


Lucky Spool is also offering 30% off your book if you purchase between now and 2/16.  Simply go to this link and enter the code Scraps30 at checkout.


Scraps Inc Vol. 2
photo by Nydia Kehnle

Follow the tour to see all the other designers and their amazing quilts!

Monday, February 8

Amy Smart, Diary of a Quilter

Nydia Kehnle, Nydia Kehnle Design + Photography

Tuesday, February 9

Amy Friend, During Quiet Time

Alexandra Ledgerwood, Teaginny Designs

Wednesday, February 10

April Rosenthal, April Rosenthal – The {Studio} Blog

Dorie Schwarz, Tumbling Blocks

Thursday, February 11

Erin Harris, House on Hill Road

Janice Ryan, Better Off Thread

Friday, February 12

John Adams, Quilt Dad

Kari Vojtechovsky, Craft Happy

Saturday, February 13

Katie Blakesley, Swim Bike Quilt

Kati Spencer, From the Blue Chair

Sunday, February 14

Melissa Lunden, Lunden Designs

Allison Harris, Cluck Cluck Sew

Sherri McConnell, A Quilting Life


Glad Tidings: A Free Christmas Quilt

I know, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, Christmas just ended, but if you want to get your Christmas projects done by next December, the time to start is now (ha-ha!).

Glad Tidings By Better Off Thread featuring Winter's Grandeur by Studio RK

Glad Tidings is a medallion style panel quilt that I designed for Robert Kaufman using their Winter’s Grandeur 4 collection.  I made Oh Tannenbaum for Winter’s Grandeur 3 last year and I always have fun trying to figure out a unique design for around a panel.  I think I like this year’s quilt even better than last year’s!

Glad Tidings By Better Off Thread featuring Winter's Grandeur by Studio RK

The beautiful quilting is by Angela Walters.

Glad Tidings By Better Off Thread featuring Winter's Grandeur by Studio RK
Attaching the final border.

The piecing for the quilt is quite easy (and mostly strip pieced!), but it takes organization, because there are alot of subtle variations in the Irish Chain blocks. Hopefully the thorough instructions will make it all easy-peasy!

Glad Tidings By Better Off Thread featuring Winter's Grandeur by Studio RK
Two alternate colorways

Winter’s Grandeur 4 will be available in February and the pattern comes out in March.  You’ll be able to download it for free right here.  My last two Christmas quilts were also sold as kits on Craftsy, so I’m thinking you may find this one there too!


Glad Tidings By Better Off Thread

Quilting by Angela Walters

Measures: 66″ x 82″

Fabric: Winter’s Grandeur 4 by Studio RK (release is February 2016)

Simple Twist: A Free Pattern

I have two more free patterns coming your way soon at Robert Kaufman!  Both will be released in March as free downloads on the Robert Kaufman website and would you believe that NEITHER of them have any paper-piecing or templates?? That is unheard of from me!

Today I’m going to introduce you to “Simple Twist”:

"Simple Twist" by Janice Zeller Ryan for Robert Kaufman.

Simple Twist

Finished Size 56″ x 64″

Fabric: Kona Solids by Robert Kaufman Fabrics

About this Quilt:

Bill Coleman, a photographer from my hometown of State College, Pennsylvania, recently passed away and I have always admired his work. My husband and I have a couple of his photos hanging prominently in our house. I love having a little bit of home way out here in California.  Mr. Coleman’s primary subject was the Amish community and when I was perusing his online gallery I came across a photo of three quilts hanging on a line.  The quilt in the center was just so simple, bold and modern.  I was compelled to make it right away!

I had a lot of fun figuring out how the block was most likely constructed and picking out Kona colors.  I never thought I would be a fan of brown quilting fabric, but I am digging Kona Spice right now!

"Simple Twist" by Janice Zeller Ryan for Robert Kaufman.

“Siample Twist” is fun and easy to make. It measures 54″ x 64″, but since it’s only one block, you can make it as big or small as you like.

I was really sad I didn’t have a chance to quilt it before the fabric release.  We moved in November and between having strep, Thanksgiving and then a 5 day fever, I got a bit behind!  I just found out today that it has been quilted and is on it’s way to a quilt shop to be displayed!

"Simple Twist" by Janice Zeller Ryan for Robert Kaufman.


Here’s a sneak peek of the quilting.  There’s that yummy Kona Spice!

I’ll post a quick update once the pattern is available for download.  You’ll be able to find it right here.


The Farmer’s Wife 1930’s QAL: Block #26, Daffodil


Today I am a guest blogger for the Farmer’s Wife 1930’s Quilt along, brought you by Angie at Gnome Angel, The Fat Quarter Shop and Marti Mitchell.  If you would like to purchase the book, scroll to the bottom of this post for more information.  If you would like to join the 5000+ other quilters participating in the sew-along, click here.



Thanks for stopping by my blog!  Today I am going to show you how I assembled my “Daffodil” block.  For the previous blocks, I have been cutting all the pieces with Marti Mitchell’s wonderful templates and hand-sewing them together. Wouldn’t you know that my first tutorial is NOT Marti Mitchell Template friendly?!  For this block, I printed the templates from the Farmer’s Wife 1930’s CD and machine sewed the pieces together (machine, because I just moved and I needed to get this block done quickly!).

Normally I am a huge fan of paper-piecing, but I wanted to try using only templates and rotary cutting for this quilt.  I found Daffodil to be very easy to free-piece.  There aren’t even any “Y” seams!

A few notes before you begin:

• There is an error on the templates.  Once you print them out, switch the letters on template N and template I.

• My block is a mirror image of the block in the book.  If you want your block to look exactly like the one in the book, you need to place your templates so that the wrong side of the fabric and the printed side of the templates are together.

Cutting the Pieces:

Before tracing the templates, press the fabric and starch it if necessary.  Some cottons have enough sizing in them, so they don’t need to be starched.  I like to starch thinner fabrics, such as Liberty of London.


Once the templates are traced and cut out, draw in the seam allowance lines.  You don’t HAVE to do this, if you are machine sewing, but it definitely improves your accuracy since there are many odd angles in Daffodil.

I always draw in the seam allowances, since I am hand-sewing and I don’t trust myself to eye-ball a straight 1/4″ line!

Assembling the Block:


Lay your pieces out and make sure they are facing the correct direction.  You will see that there are three distinct sections to the block.  We will be assembling each section separately and then sewing them together at the end.



Follow the photo above to sew the first set of pieces together. I pressed my seams open for this step.



Next, you’ll just sew the one little seam that the arrow is indicating.  Press the seam allowances toward the pink triangle.



Sew the horizontal(ish) seams together, beginning at the top and working your way down.



Sew the three sections together and you are done.  No paper to rip off!

I hope you enjoyed the tutorial.  Have fun sewing!


The Farmer’s Wife 1930s Sampler Quilt: Inspiring Letters from Farm Women of the Great Depression and 99 Quilt Blocks That Honor Them by Laurie Aaron Hird for Fons & Porter/F+W; RRP $28.99 – Click here to purchase.

“DIY Block Design” Blog Hop

DIY Block Design devices

Have you seen the “DIY Block Design” e-book yet?  My good friend, Alyce, of Blossom Heart Quilts has published an e-book which makes designing your own quilt blocks so easy! Here is my honest to goodness review of the book:

Alyce Blyth has created a gem with “DIY Block Design”.  The clean, easy to navigate layout and clear, conversational writing make this book a must-have for any budding or seasoned quilt designer.  Presented in workbook format, “DIY Block Design” has beautiful illustrations, graphically appealing and accurate charts, and handy formulas so you can be designing your own quilt today, no matter what your skill level.  As an experienced quilt designer, I love having all the calculations done for me in an easy to reference, consolidated guide. I know I will be referring back to the charts and formulas again and again. For beginning designers, the step-by-step workbook format is straight-forward and concisely presented.  I will definitely be suggesting (or insisting!) that my quilt students purchase this book. 

Alyce is doing a month long blog hop with guest posts from new designers attempting their first block design and experienced designers sharing their favorite tips.  You can find the full schedule at the bottom of this post.


When Alyce asked me to share my design process, I wasn’t really sure where to start!  Each block and quilt I design has a unique process, depending on my inspiration, and how traditional or modern the design is. I do get asked quite a bit about the tools and computer programs I use when I design a pattern, so I thought I would go over each one briefly.  If you have any questions, please ask!

Disclaimer: When you design a block, you really don’t NEED anything other than graph paper, a pencil and, of course, “DIY Block Design”! This list will come in handy if you want to take it a step further, or design patterns for other people to use.

Tools I Use For Quilt Design:

A Sketchbook:  I like to carry around a small sketchbook and pencil, so I can draw anytime I have a free moment.  I prefer to use plain paper rather than graph paper when I am first brainstorming, so that I am not limited by a grid.  I figure out how to make my design work as a quilt later.


A Camera Phone:  Whenever I see inspiration, I take a photo.  I like to keep these on my desktop in a folder, so I can look through it when I want to be inspired.

EQ7: EQ7 (Electric Quilt) is quilt design software.  I tend to use this for more traditional block-based designs.  I love being able to design a quilt or block in EQ7, because I can easily play with various fabrics and see exactly what the finished product will look like.  EQ7 will also give you templates, cutting measurements and fabric yardage, but you still need to do the math and check everything.  I find that EQ7’s calculations are often inaccurate (This is not a fault of the program.  It’s just that not all blocks will fit standard computer calculations).


Adobe Illustrator:  I still need to learn all the ins and outs of Illustrator, but I love that I can design a quilt in EQ7 and then pull the blocks apart in Illustrator to create construction diagrams.


These blocks were designed in EQ7 for my Spring Bouquet Quilt, and then “pulled apart” in Illustrator so I could show other quilters how to construct the blocks.

Adobe Photoshop:  I think most quilt designers prefer to use Illustrator over Photoshop, but it is what I learned to use in grad school, so I stick with it!  I love that I can draw up a quilt without being constrained by a grid, so it comes in handy for a non-traditional design.  I can also load an inspiration photo into Photoshop and draw a design right over the photo.  You can do this in EQ7 also, but it needs to work within a grid.



For Example: I wanted to design a block based on a Viewmaster Reel.  I uploaded a photo of a reel into photoshop and drew my design lines on top of the photo.   I used this computer sketch to develop my templates for the Viewmaster Block. 

Adobe inDesign:  I use inDesign to write up the actual pattern and layout the illustrations. I learned how to use inDesign myself after watching a few of Adobe’s instruction videos.  I find the program to be very intuitive and I don’t know what I did without it!

A pattern laid out in inDesign

Money-saving Tip: I get all my Adobe products through a monthly subscription.  If you are a student or teacher, or know a student or teacher, you can get a subscription for $19.99/month.  You are allowed to download the products to two computers, so you can each have access to the products.

Thanks for stopping by!  I’m in the middle of a move right now, so please check back.  I’ll be blogging more once I am settled in from moving!

Here is the rest of the blog hop schedule:

October 1 – Let the games begin!

October 2
Heidi @ Fabric Mutt
Christa @ ChristaQuilts
Angie @ Gnome Angel

Week 1: Inspiration

October 7
Ros @ Sew Delicious
Leanne @ Sewn By Leanne
Amy @ And Sew We Craft

October 9
Jennie @ Clover & Violet
Jane @ QuiltJane
Melissa @ My Fabric Relish

Week 2: Sketches

October 14
Jen @ Faith And Fabric
Beth @ Cooking Up Quilts

October 16
Sandi @ Crafty Planner
Anne @ Play Crafts
Jess @ Elven Garden Quilts

Week 3: Making

October 21
Joy @ Quilty Joy Joy
Linden @ Vine Lines Quilting
Cassie @ Cassandra Madge

October 23
Keera @ Live Love Sew
Janice @ Better Off Thread <—— You Are Here!
Michelle @ Factotum Of Arts

Week 4: Finishes

October 28
Kelly @ A Place Of My Own
Abby @ Color Bar Quilts

October 30 – Linky opens!