Category Archives: quilting

A Gaggle of Geese

Do you ever get an idea for a quilt in your mind and you need to see it realized, no matter how time consuming it is?  Yeah, that is me right now.  I love drawing up a design and then figuring out how it can actually be sewn.  It’s like doing a brainteaser.

If you read my blog, you know how much I LOVE flying geese. I wanted to make a Mariner’s Compass completely from flying geese.  Here was my photoshop design:

Flying Geese Mariner's Compass by Better Off Thread

It’s only 320 geese.  That’s not so bad, right?  The diameter of the circle is 40″


I drafted the templates in Photoshop, then printed them out half-scale and taped them together to make sure they would work.

Flying Geese Mariner's Compass by Better Off Thread

It’s always fun to see a pattern coming together.  Here is the inner circle.

Flying Geese Mariner's Compass by Better Off Thread

Inner and middle circle completed.  I was so ready to slap a background on it and call it done, but I am persisting!


Currently I am working on the last 32 (yes, 32), templates.  They are all identical,  except for the colors, so I am working on all of them at the same time.


Half done!


A few people have asked me how I get my paper-piecing to look so smooth.  First, I press after every seam.  I think it helps tremendously.  Second, before I take a photo, I place my work on two layers of batting and press with steam.  I leave it on the batting to take the photo. If you scroll two photos up you can see a lot of wrinkles on my geese, but once the papers are removed and it’s pressed onto batting everything looks crisp and smooth.

Hopefully I can update a finish soon!  I still need to figure out what fabric to use for the outer background (to square it all off).  Any ideas?

Right Round Pattern

Right Round Pattern by Better off Thread

I’d like to share my newest Craftsy pattern with you.  If you have read my blog enough, you know I LOVE flying geese and circles and this design popped into my head one evening.  I had to make it right away!

I named the pattern “Right Round” (Yes, like the 80′s song) and it is partially paper-pieced and measures 22″.   The circle is 18″ in diameter and is a great size for a mini quilt, pillow or the center to a medallion.

Right Round Pattern by Better off Thread

I am making mine into a medallion quilt and here is my progress so far.

Right Round Pattern made by Random Thoughts...Do or Di

Diane of Random Thoughts…Do or “Di” tested my pattern and made this beautiful circle of polka dots!  Stop by her blog today to read more about it.

Right Round Pattern made by Elisabeth Woo

Elisabeth of Woozy Quilts  made this fantastic rainbow circle with the most adorable fussy cutting.

Right Round Pattern made by Elisabeth Woo

How perfect are those little Heather Ross prints?

If you are interested in making the pattern, it is now available on Craftsy.

 Send me a photo it you make it!

Shimmer Blog Hop and a giveaway!

Shimmer Fabric by Jennifer Sampou for Robert Kaufman

 I am very pleased to be a part of the Shimmer Blog Hop to celebrate Jennifer Sampou’s latest fabric release.  Shimmer is fun, sophisticated, textural and the best part…it shines!

Last Spring, I made a quilt for Market from Jennifer’s Studio Stash line and I’ve been using the fabrics in my projects ever since.  I really love fabrics that add visual texture and come in beautiful colors.  The current line, Shimmer, certainly does not disappoint and the projects in the lookbook are stunning.

Shimmer Fabric by Jennifer Sampou for Robert Kaufman

I had fun making the Cargo Duffle featured in the lookbook and Jennifer is lucky I didn’t keep it for myself!  The dresses in the book are positively drool-worthy.


When Jennifer asked me to be in the blog hop and design a project, I jumped at the chance.  I had this image in my head of a quilt with tons of shimmering X’s on a neutral background.

Shimmer X Quilt from Better Off Thread

The block I used is called “Road to Tennessee”, but I changed the proportions to make the X’s thinner and more delicate.  I didn’t realize when I came up with the design that I’d be sewing together 268 3″ squares and 536 2″ squares, but it was well worth it!

Shimmer X Quilt from Better Off Thread

 The background color is Kona Pewter (one of the newest Kona colors) and it is the perfect shade of gray with a hint of warmth.

Shimmer X Quilt from Better Off Thread

 I angsted over the quilting and then decided to sew simple, wavy, lines to add texture.

Shimmer X Quilt from Better Off Thread

Check out those great prints!

Shimmer X Quilt from Better Off Thread

I pieced the back using leftover Shimmer I had from making the Cargo Duffle.  Look at it shine!

Shimmer X Quilt from Better Off Thread

 View from the back.

The quilt measures 47″ x 59″ and it is currently glamming up my living room.


Be sure to check out all the other amazing bloggers and the fantastic projects they are creating from Shimmer.

 Blog Hop Schedule:

April 1- Robert Kaufman/Jennifer Sampou
April 2- Janice Ryan- Better off Thread
April 3- Alissa Haight Carlton- Handmade by Alissa
April 4- Julie Herman- JayBird Quilts
April 5- Natalie Barnes- Beyond the Reef
April 6- Stash Books- C&T Publishing
April 7- Amanda Jean Nyberg- Crazy Mom Quilts
April 8- Lee Heinrich- Freshly Pieced
April 9- Cheryl Arkinson- Naptime Quilter
April 10- Christina Cameli- A Few Scraps
April 11- Elizabeth Hartman- Oh Fransson
April 12- Faith Jones-Fresh Lemon Quilts
April 13- Gemma Jackson- Pretty Bobbins
April 14- Katie Blakesley- Swim Bike Quilt
April 15- Amy Smart-Diary of a Quilter
April 16- Laura Nownes, Jennifer Rounds, Pati Fried, Darra Williamson- See How We Sew
April 17- Holly DeGroot- Bijou Lovely
April 18- Jennifer Sampou-Wrap Up
April 21- Jennifer Sampou- Announce Winner of Giveaway


At the end of the Blog Hop, Jennifer Sampou will be giving away an entire fat quarter bundle of Shimmer.  Check out this luscious stack of fabric:

Shimmer Fabric by Jennifer Sampou for Robert Kaufman

To enter the giveaway, new readers should sign up on Jennifer’s mailing list and  comment on her blog before the end of the hop.  Be sure to comment about your favorite projects and why. Existing followers are automatically eligible to win.


I also have a charm pack of Shimmer to giveaway to my readers! 

Shimmer Fabric by Jennifer Sampou for Robert Kaufman

 To enter to win the charm pack, just leave me a comment.  I’ll announce a winner by random number generator on Friday, April 4th.


You can check out Shimmer on the Robert Kaufman Website


And if you can’t wait until the end of the giveaway, The Cotton Patch is taking pre-orders.

CottonPatch copy

Thanks for stopping by!

Countdown To Christmas Quilt-Along: Link-up and Prizes!


How is it the final week of the Countdown to Christmas Quilt-Along already?  I am SO happy that Melissa asked me to run this quilt-along with her, because I finally got the advent calendar done after being on my list for four years and working with Melissa was a joy (thank you, Melissa!).  I can’t wait to see everyone’s finished advent calendars and what you are putting in them!

Advent Calendar at Better Off Thread

Here is my finished calendar, again.  I’m so thrilled with how it turned out. If you would like more information on the quilt-along and the great pattern by Elizabeth at Oh Fransson!, click here.

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I debated a lot over what to fill the Advent Calendar pockets with.  My children are younger (2 & 4), so I didn’t want them to start each day in December with candy and I also didn’t want them to get some sort of toy every single day, because they are already greedy little toddlers!  I decided to make the calendar activity-centered, with a couple candy/gift treats thrown in here and there.

Here is my list (mostly, but not all in order):

1. Visit Santa
2. Make family photo ornament
3. Donate toys to charity
4. Trip to the library for Christmas books
5. Make paper snowflakes and paper chains
6. Make christmas ornaments and felt wreaths
7. Pizza night out
8. Get a new Christmas book
9. Make Christmas cards for Grandparents
10. Picnic under the Christmas tree
11. Christmas shopping for Daddy (shhhhhh)
12. Go out for hot chocolate
13. Donate canned goods
14. Ice skating
15. Drive around the neighborhood and see Christmas lights
16. Make a gingerbread house
17. Get Christmas coloring books
18. Get gold chocolate coins
19. Make cards for the teachers, make /get gifts
20. Christmas movie night w/ popcorn
21. Make christmas cookies and take to neighbors (give little cookie cutters)
22. Christmas train ride
23. Snowfall at Americana
24. Special candelit dinner and Mass

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I purchased these gift tags at Jo-Ann’s to write each day’s activity on the back.  I added the gems and red ribbon to embellish them a bit.  I think when the kids are older and can read, I’ll use little notecards sealed in envelopes (no peeking!).

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My son is VERY excited to get started!


Now it’s time for the prize link-up! We have 4 amazing sponsors giving away a variety of prizes:

A $30 gift card to Green Fairy Quilts



A fat quarter bundle of “Holiday Sweet Tweets” by Laurie Wisbrun from Robert Kaufman Fabrics



A fat quarter bundle of “Santa’s Little Deer” by Benartex from Fat Quarter Shop



A $50 gift card from Sew Modern 



The link up will be open until Sunday, December 1st at 11:59pm EST.  Show us your finished advent calendars! You can link-up a blog post, or from your Flickr account, but make sure you mention the Countdown to Christmas Quilt-Along.

On Monday, December 2nd, Melissa and I will announce the winners (randomly selected).

Have a great Thanksgiving!

Candy Corn Table Runner and Bunting Tutorial


When Jo-Ann asked if I’d like to be a part of their Celebrate the Season Campaign, I jumped at the chance!  I love creating holiday crafts and the kids get really excited about seeing the decorations.


Our neighborhood gets pretty crazy on Halloween and my husband does up the entire outside of the house.  I had abolutely no decorations for the inside, though, so I decided to create some festive decor for the mantle and coffee table. My kids are 2 and 4 and don’t really like spooky, so I decided to play it safe and use candy corn as my inspiration.  This table runner and bunting are super easy to make and customizable to any size table and mantle.



Candy Corn Table Runner and Bunting Tutorial

(All amounts and measurements are for a table runner that is 17 1/2″x 40″ and bunting that is 6′ long.  You can modify the patterns by adding more, or less, candy corn triangles.)

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Materials Needed:

All seam allowances are 1/4″

Step one: Cut fabrics

(Fold all fabrics in half, selvage to selvage.  Tutorial assumes your fabric is 44″ wide.  If your fabric is several inches narrower, you may need extra strips.)

White Fabric
- Cut 3 strips 2 1/2″ x 44″ for strip sets

Gold Fabric
- Cut 3 strips 2 1/2″ x 44″ for strip sets

Orange Fabric
- Cut 3 strips 2 1/2″ x 44″ for strip sets
-Cut 3 strips 2 1/4″ x 44″ for binding

Black Fabric
-Cut 3 strips 6 1/2″ x 44″ For background
-Cut 3 strips 3″ x 44″ for border

Step 2: Sew and Cut Triangles

Take your 2 1/2″ strips, and sew a white, orange and yellow strip together lengthwise (orange will always be in the middle). Press seams open.

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You will now have three sets of 3 sewn strips that match the photo above.

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Line your Pyramid Ruler (or your printed template) up with the top and bottom edge of your strip set and cut out your first triangle.  (Don’t worry if your strips are wider or narrower than the template, just line your template up with the top edge.)

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Flip your template and cut your next triangle.  Repeat until you have 21 triangles.

 Next, take your 3 black 6 1/2″ wide strips and cut them the same way you just cut your strip sets.  Cut 21 triangles.

Step 3: Sew Triangles for Table Runner


Untitled-1 copy copy

Sew triangles together using the diagram above as a guide.

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Triangles are sewn right sides together using a 1/4″ seam allowance.  Press all seams the same direction.

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You’ll now have two strips of triangles.

Step 4: Assemble your table runner

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Sew the two strips of triangles together, matching the point of the candy corn triangle with the center of the black triangle. Press seam open.

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As an alternate layout, you can match your triangles point to point to create diamonds.

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Trim  sides of table runner, so they are even, as pictured above.

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For the border, sew the black 3″ wide strips to the sides of the runner, trim,  then  sew to the top and bottom.  Press all seams towards border.

Most of my readers are quilters, so I am not going to bore you with instructions on quilting and binding (plus it would get really long!), but here is a list of my favorite tutorials, if you need help:

- Making a “Quilt Sandwich” at Oh Fransson: that’s quilter speak for layering the top, batting and backing.

- Straight line quilting tutorial at Amy’s Creative Side.

- Double Fold Binding Tutorial at Canoe Ridge Creations.

Step 5: Make your bunting!

You should have 10 orange and 10 black triangles left over.  Feel free to cut more and make longer bunting.

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With right sides together, sew an orange and a black triangle along two sides.

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Clip point, turn and press flat.  Repeat to make 9 more triangles.

Clip off those tiny seam allowance points that are sticking out of the raw edge.

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Open bias tape up,  align with raw edge of a triangle and sew.  Butt next triangle up to first and sew to the same piece of bias tape.  Continue for all triangles.

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Fold bias tape around to orange side of bunting and press.  Sew just inside the edge of the bias tape.

You are done!

Happy Halloween and enjoy your new decorations.

For more craft and sewing ideas, check out Jo-Ann Fabric’s Celebrate the Season website.  There are tons of project ideas from very talented craft and sewing bloggers. You can also search #spookyspaces on Instagram and Twitter.

 As an added bonus to you, I have a 50% coupon to get you started on your holiday projects!


This tutorial is part of the Jo­‐Ann Fabric and Craft Stores® Celebrate the Season campaign. I was given a gift card to create a unique holiday projects, but all views, opinions and designs are my own.

Kite Flight Quilt Top

photo 4-1

I am excited to say that I have completed my Kite Flight Quilt top!


This was my third Kite Flight top, but I was really excited to see this one come together with the mix of rainbow solids and text prints.  The second I was finished, my kids took ownership and spent an hour rolling around the couch with it.  Their favorite song right now is “Rainbow Colors” from the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, so the quilt is a huge hit (and I think the song will be trapped in my brain forever).

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If you are interested in the pattern, it is available as a free download at Robert Kaufman (you can find the links under my tutorials/patterns tab at the top of the page).  This one is the 2.5″ Roll-up version and with the added text strips, it measures 70″x 84″ with one block left over to make a pillow.  If you want yours to be this size, you just need to start with 16 strip sets, instead of 13.

Robert Kaufman is having a quilt-along on flickr right now for both the roll-up version and the 1.5″ Skinny Strip version.  You can follow along or join in at #kiteflight and #skinnystrips.

WIP Wednesday

I have been up to WAY too much, but I have a bit of a breather for a second.  I actually counted that I have 8 quilts in progress right now and 3 smaller projects that I need to start, but nothing with an exact due date and most of it is for fun.

Here are the items I would like to finish in the next month:

photo 2

I completed the first block  for my Kite Flight Quilt.  Robert Kaufman is having a quilt-along on Flickr and you can follow along at #kiteflight. If you want to join in on the fun, the free pattern is here for the 2.5″ roll-up version I am making.  There is also a 1.5″ strip version to use with RK’s new skinny strips that are coming out next month and that pattern is available here.

photo 3

I have all my triangles cut and I am working on piecing my blocks. I’m excited to see how this looks all together.  I’m loving those big Kumiko Fujita text prints.



Next is a Superhero baby quilt I am making for a friend who is due in October.  The shower is in a couple weeks, so I’d like to get it quilted by then.   I am co-hosting the shower at my house, so we’ll see if I get the quilt done in time!


 Lastly, I want to get this Robot quilt done by my son’s birthday. He’s turning 4, so really, if it’s not finished, he won’t care.  He sleeps in a twin bed now, but all he has is  his little baby quilt, so he needs a BIG boy quilt.  The pattern is called “Does Not Compute” from Boo Davis’s book, “Dare To Be Square”.  I’ve been collecting tone on tone and white on tone robot/outer space fabric and I’m just waiting on a bit more.


That’s it for now!  I’m trying to find time to write up various free patterns and tutorials that I really want to share with all of you, so keep checking back.

Linking up with WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced.

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Reverse Spiderweb Block Tutorial

PicMonkey Collage

June is my month for Bee Happy Quilting Bee, so I am posting a quick tutorial for a Reverse Spiderweb Quilt Block.  If you are not a part of my bee, feel free to still use the tutorial.  I probably won’t get this quilt done for a long time, so I’d love to see what a finished one looks like (ha-ha!)


Here is a diagram of the finished quilt.  There will be more touches of color, though.  I was inspired by this lovely quilt by “Swim, Bike, Quilt”.  I love the way the various solids create movement in the quilt.  I also wanted to use an amazing shade of yellow fabric that I saw at Sew Modern.

You’ll each be making two 12.5″ blocks using the fabrics I have provided.  Please feel free to cut the strips narrower, or just leave them wide.  The solid background pieces are precut for sewing.

What you will need for one 12.5″ block:

  • Templates- I am printing them out for my Bee members, but if you need them they can be downloaded from google docs.  If you have 8.5″ x 14″ paper, go here.  If you only have 8.5″ x 11″ paper go here.  Make sure you download the file to your desktop and print at 100%.
  • Various scrappy strips for diamond templates.
  • Eight 5.5″x 6.5″ rectangles  for background.

Before you begin:

photo 1-2

  • Cut out your templates and set the large triangle aside for now.
  • Shorten your stitch length to about a 1.5.
  • All seam allowances are 1/4″.

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1. Take a diamond-shaped  template and lay your strips out to get an idea of placement. I’d like any directional prints to be oriented so that the shorter point is towards the top and the longer point is towards the bottom.  If you mess-up and flip a strip (or two, or three…), please don’t change it! 


2. Starting at the shorter point, place two fabrics, right sides together, on the template and stitch.

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3. Continue to sew strips, until you have covered the entire template.

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4. Trim off excess fabric along outer edge of template.

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5. You have one diamond down. Now do that 3 more times!

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6. Take a 5.5″x 6.5″ rectangle and pin it, right sides together, to the long side of your diamond. Sew.

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7. Press seam allowances towards rectangle. Repeat with other side and with three other diamonds.

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8. Now, grab that triangle template you cut out earlier and pin it to your triangle, lining up seam lines and points.

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9. Cut off excess fabric, using template as a guide.  I save time by laying all four triangles on top of each other and cutting them all at the same time. 

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10. You now have a triangle!

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11. Arrange the 4 triangles like photo above.

photo 1-3

12. Sew two triangles together and press seam allowances open. Repeat with other half. Be careful not to stretch your fabric while sewing. 

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13. Sew two halves together and press seam allowance open. I like to remove some of the paper from the seam allowances before sewing the two halves, but it is your personal preference.

You now have a finished Reverse Spiderweb Block!  Pull those papers out, or mail the block back to me and I’ll pull them out.

Notes to my Bee Members:

• I’d like you to add a personalized strip to one diamond on one block.  Take a solid scrap  from one of your rectangles and write a message on it with permanent marker.  You can choose any of the solid fabrics I sent you for the strip and you can use a black, yellow or light aqua pen.  You can write anything you like, but I’d like you to include, at least, your first name.

PicMonkey Collage

• Latifah, Katie, Ramona, Nicole and Kelly will each be making one Spiderweb block and one Wonky House Block.  Information on the Wonky Log Cabin House Block is here.

Blogger’s Quilt Festival

It’s that time of year again when we normal, common, quilting citizens sit at home and cry about not attending Quilt Market, (well ok, maybe it isn’t that bad, but I know I’m at least a couple shades of green).  Luckily, Amy at Amy’s Creative Side has organized The Bloggers Quilt Festival and it gets bigger and better each time!

My favorite quilt I have made this year would be my Spiral Geese Mini Quilt.



I created this rainbow mini for a Flickr swap and it was a fun challenge all around.  I enjoy experimenting with curved geese and I had this image of a spiral in my head.  I wasn’t even sure if it would actually work, but it did!  You can read about my process for creating a pattern for this mini here.



I quilted it on my Juki and hand embroidered teeny-tiny white geese in the center.
I’m currently working on a pattern for this mini, so check back, if you want to make your own!


Size: 20″x 20″
Special Techniques: paper-piecing, reverse appliqué
Quilted by: Janice Ryan (that’s me!)



Bees, BOMs, WIPs and a sneak peek.

I’ve been working on a little of this and a lot of that lately.  I’m mostly trying to get caught up on blocks I owe people!



This is a sneak peek of a quilt pattern I’ve been working on for Issue 14 of Fat Quarterly.  Check for it in the next issue!  (Don’t worry, I’ll announce it…you’ll be sick of me announcing it.)



Would you believe I just started this quilt top yesterday?  I had a bit (ok, a ton!) of Robert Kaufman’s “Studio Stash” leftover from a project, and my husband has been asking me to make a quilt for an aunt who lives in a convent in Ireland.  I inquired on Instagram for a quick, fun, pattern and the St. Louis 16-Patch was suggested.  It was amazingly fast and I love the bold, checkerboard look.  There is a whole sew-along on Instagram right now (check out #stlouis16patch to see photos).


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These Courthouse Step blocks were made for Latifah from the Quilt Engineer, for Bee Happy Bee.  She is capturing the feel of an antique quilt (happy mistakes and all) with modern fabrics and it is looking divine!  I can’t wait to see this quilt finished!



These X-Plus blocks were also for Bee Happy.  Nicole mixed together Denyse Schmidt’s “Hope Valley” with various low volume fabrics.  I really love these blocks and the fabrics she chose.  I’ve been wanting to make one of these myself.


Screen Shot 2013-05-08 at 9.13.06 PM

And yet another Bee Happy block!  This one is for Alison and it’s a Quirky Star Block from the book ‘Fresh Perspectives’ by Carol Jones and Bobbi Finley.  It is based on an antique quilt and the visual impact of all the blocks together is really stunning.



I managed to finally catch up on my “And Sew On…” paper-pieced blocks.  This is a Block of the Month series over at Quiet Play and they are going to make a really cute wall-hanging for my sewing room when I finish.


Lastly, are my blocks for the “Lucky Stars” BOM being hosted by Don’t Call Me Betsy.  I’m having a lot of fun doing both of this and the “And Sew On…”BOM.  They are both paper-piecing, so they are a good way to exercise my brain (some people do Sudoku, I do intense piecing by number!)


Whew!  That’s all for now!