Sunday, August 30, 2020


NOTE: This will post August 30, so it is available when the September 1 patterns are posted. 

We arrive at September, already, and there are two new applique blocks. Maybe you are working on those Double 9 Patches too.

These two applique blocks each have circles. I am loving using Applipops to make circles! Here is a fun project I've just started that uses circles, lots and lots of circles:

I wrote about Applipops HERE--in Month 7.  The Shoppe here on The Quilt Show sells them or you can order directly from the company. 

I find I can make two circles in just a couple minutes. Using my stiletto to get the circle off the bottom of my iron is helpful--the starch can really stick to the soleplate of the iron. I have used Magic Sizing and a 50/50 Sta Flo Starch/Water combination with equally good results. The white flakes visible on the purple are dried starch--that will all wash away when the quilt is complete:

The Month 9 blocks include a one-piece design, like Hawaiian applique--Block 27. I wrote detailed instructions for that type of block in Month 1--Part 2.  It includes 5 circles. Here is the one from the sample quilt I made with the Sunday Sew and Sews:

Block 28 is similar to Blocks 13 and 25 from Months 4 and 8. My sample:

Show and Tell Your Blocks on the Forum  The Forum for Afternoon Delight has been kind of quiet lately. There are several beautiful photos posted of blocks that are starting to look really amazing all together. Please take a look and post your own photos at this link.


I check the Forum several times a day and always get email notification when posts are made.

To do this quickly, here are my tips:

1. Go to the Forum--be sure you are signed in

2. Select Recent Topics--this will show you the Topics that are most active

3. One of those currently is How to Post on the Forum--where I answer questions on how to add photos and other things related to the Forum. The first post on that Topic has a link to this 6 minute video on how to attach photos--it should really help you see how that is done:

How to Use the TQS Forum

4. When you want to post on a Topic that already exists, like Afternoon Delight--Show and Tell Your Blocks, use Reply Topic in that Topic---it's near the top of the each page. You will be posting in the place where everyone will see it. If you "create a new topic", people have to go there instead of staying on the Topic set up for these photos.

5. If you don't want to get an email notification each time someone posts on a Topic you have posted on, Unsubscribe--it is also up on top of each page. And you can Unclick the box when you write a post on a Topic--to decline getting emails each time someone posts. On an active board, there can be many posts each day--which means many emails. 

I hope that helps. Like anything else online, once you know how to use it, it's not hard.

Let's quilt.


Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Small Finishes and the Joy of Giving

Recently, I took the time to finish a few small quilts that only needed quilting and binding:

A Lone Star that was a class sample, 23" square, the top was made years ago when I wanted to play with these colors/fabrics:

Three small minis, all about 10" x 13":

A baby quilt, ready the next time I need one, leftovers from Afternoon Delight, 35" square: 

After being involved with my friend Janet's Estate Liquidation sale, I looked at my own abundance of wealth quilting stuff. There were 381 unfinished quilt tops at Janet's sale and almost all of them found good homes. Some lacked one border, and the border was included in the bag with the unfinished top. We often wondered why? Why did she not spend another half hour and totally finish the top? They ranged in size from baby to king size. 

Here is one of hers I got--it needs some kind of outside border and I think I will remove a few of the bottom rows to make it a better size:

Just some of the tops packaged for sale, prices ranged from $10-50, depending on size and complexity:

A satisfied customer, Denise Panter, wrote about her acquisitions in her blog Blog

Now I am on to quilting a few of the larger tops I have ready. Basting is my least favorite part of the process, but once done, the quilt is ready for the magic to happen. Once 3 large quilts are quilted, I will get back to piecing a new top I have in progress.

In addition to finishing my PHD's--projects half done--I have been giving a few quilts away. Mostly to non-quilters who I think would appreciate having a quilt I made. Last weekend I did that in Dallas. Shelly Heesacker is the TV producer who works with The Quilt Show. I have appeared as the "guest artist" three times now, so have had telephone interviews with Shelly each time to prepare the show. And then have the pleasure of working with her in the studio. She is the consummate professional--no wonder she also works with Harpo Productions and other top notch companies. 

A week before the trip I asked in an email about her favorite colors. Then I sent her photos of 5 quilts and asked her opinion. She thought I was asking about which to bring for set decoration and raved about one in particular. That was the ONE I had hoped she would choose. The first day of taping I had her read the label, where I had added the phrase "Presented to Shelly Heesacker 8/2020". It was the  perfect gift for the perfect person. She was overwhelmed and I was happy to see her so thrilled with her totally unexpected gift. That evening she asked that we take a photo together of the occasion:

The quilt was a class sample from 15 years ago, never to be taught again, and I am so happy it has a new home. My kids are happy too--they don't want them all and I still have at least 100. Here is Shiloh resting in my hotel room after being in the luggage for the trip:

The most important thing I have to do now is move the photo of this quilt from the folder "Quilts for Classes" to "Quilts Given Away". That will save me time  years from now when I forget I have given it away and search my home to find it. Been there, done that!

On to basting then Let's quilt!


Sunday, August 23, 2020

It's a New Day. Every Day!

 It is such an honor and pleasure to be the "guest artist" on The Quilt Show--for the 3rd time now.

In a new studio, this time in Dallas:

This show will air January 1, 2021, and be FREE for the entire year for everyone. It features a truly exciting quilt designed by Wendy Williams of Flying Fish Kits

NONE of the quilts shown here are "THE ONE", but you get the idea--Wendy's quilts are bright and bold, energetic and fun to make. This quilt was designed exclusively for The Quilt Show and will only be available on The Quilt Show for all of 2021--and, best of all, the patterns are FREE FOR STAR MEMBERS!

Look at the amazing detail of Wendy's work. Here is Round The Garden, a quilt she is well known for. It is full of such intricate hand embroidery and embellishments, you can stare at it for hours:

Wendy is a well-known designer and teacher from Sydney, Australia. Her work is influenced by the bright colors, creatures and shapes of her landscape. She is most known for wool applique with amazing embellishments. Our new Block of the Month quilt does not have any wool or embellishment and just a bit of very simple applique. 

Here is one of Wendy's designs I was thrilled  would be in the Studio for taping. It is the 2020 Block of the Month quilt for Material Obsession, a quilt shop in Sydney, owned by Kathy Doughty, where Wendy teaches lots of classes. I first saw this on Instagram when  a student showed her work and I was so excited by it. Wendy should have the pattern available for sale now, if not soon:

Wendy says she likes to make Sampler quilts and this Block of the Month definitely falls in that category--BUT it is not your usual Sampler. 

Just a tease--I expect the quilt to be revealed in October, watch for a big announcement:

I learned a "new to me" technique, of folded edge freezer paper piecing. Judy Mathieson wrote about this method in her 3rd book on Mariner's Compass quilts, published in 2005. In my copy of the book I have hand-written notes and highlighted sections so I know I read about this method way back then. For this quilt I actually used it and it is such a great method for this quilt and others that use many of the same patterns over and over. I am very eager to teach it to you:


COVID has made things a bit different this time around. To minimize the number of people on set, only Ricky is hosting--Alex and her husband John remained in CA, along with the amazing techno-guru Mary Kay Davis. Everyone wore a mask at all times. The guest artists were provided a form of mask with a clear plastic front that we could wear during the actual taping. At least this allows our face and mouth to be seen. If the guest preferred, they could wear their own mask, but masks are required for all.  I look forward to the day this show will air and people will say "MASKS--what is up with THAT?!"

And there is no studio audience. As the guest, this seems like it will make it easier for me, less nerve-wracking to have all those people watching hour after hour of taping. BUT, no laughter either--I am energized by the laughter of my audience and I want us all to have FUN, as we learn. Oh, well, just one more thing a little different this time.

If you are not yet a member of The Quilt Show I encourage you to try the super special price of $19.95 for 6 months, currently available--or $39.95 for a full year--the lowest prices ever for this subscription service to a world-wide quilting community. You have access to ALL 13+ years of shows and so much more. Including the current Block of the Month patterns, Afternoon Delight by Sue Garman, and you will be all set to start the 2021 Block of the Month quilt--by Wendy Williams, coming in January. 

I have been a fan of The Quilt Show for a lot longer than I have been involved "behind the scenes". Check out this post to see why you should join now: What The Quilt Show Offers One of the things I love most, is when someone sends me a note to say "I finally took your advice and joined--wish I had done it sooner!" This happens a lot.

It was fun and exciting and a bit scary, but I loved every minute of my visit to Dallas for taping. The new crew seemed to learn how The Quilt Show people work and what the plan is to produce excellent shows for our audience. Behind the scenes:

And it was wonderful to work with some of the best folks in television again--Zumi, Betsy and Shelly--all have worked to produceThe Quilt Show for at least 10 years. These are really good people:

 After dinner at The Ranch at Las Colinas 

I hope you will watch when the show airs January 1, 2021. You can bet I'll remind you.

Let's quilt,


Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Simple Math for Quilters

I have been teaching quiltmaking for more than 30 years. It quickly became apparent that some quilters were petrified of "math" and didn't think they could make quilts if they had to use math skills. As long as they have a pattern with all sizes explained, they are happy. And that is perfectly OK.

For me, and those like me, it is just the opposite--math skills make it easier for us to make quilts, in the sizes we want to make them. We use our calculators to figure out what sizes to cut our pieces. This gives us freedom to design our quilts as we choose.

Student work: made in a 5 Easy Pieces Workshop I taught in Panama City, FL--isn't this beautiful? It has half square and quarter square triangles, and squares. Once you know the "magic numbers for quilters" you can make anything: 

I always tell beginning students: "if you had known you were going to be a quilter, you would have paid more attention in Geometry class". What we do is pretty much basic geometry--shapes and sizes--all determined by the basic "rules" of geometry.

Rotary Cutting Changed Everything--we used to cut templates from cardboard or plastic, and trace around them. Now, we cut with a Rotary cutter and rulers, getting the pieces quickly cut the exact size we need, usually for machine piecing.

So, let's just look at a few of the Basic Magic Numbers Every Quilter Needs to Know:

1. We need to know the FINISHED size of the piece we need to cut--that is the size it will be AFTER it is sewn into the quilt. 

2. SQUARES and RECTANGLES: add 1/2" to the finished size--2" finished square would be cut 2.5",    2" X 4" finished rectangle would be cut 2.5" x 4.5" 

3. HALF SQUARE TRIANGLES: add 7/8" to the finished size, cut in half ONCE on the diagonal--you may choose to add 1" to create a bit of insurance--you will have to "trim to size" when sewn. The "trim to" size is simply 1/2" larger than the Finished size--just like ALL squares and rectangles.

4. QUARTER SQUARE TRIANGLES: add 1.25" to the finished size, cut in half TWICE on BOTH diagonals. These can also be over-sized--add 1.5" to finished size to oversize. Then "trim to" 1/2" larger than the finished size--it is a square and that is still the rule, just like Half Square triangle squares and plain squares. 

Let's Practice with this simple project, a little table topper, about 17" square:

The Shoo-Fly blocks are 6" finished so the floral print square in the middle is cut 6.5" I like to make HST with a HST ruler--see how to make this block here: Shoo Fly blocks

The Perimeter Triangles are Quarter Square triangles--we want the LONG side of the triangle, which is along the outside edge, to be straight of grain. We need to do a bit more math. 

We know the SHORT side of the quarter square triangle finishes at 6"--it is sewn to the 6" Shoo Fly Blocks. To figure out the length of the LONG side, MULTIPLE 6" x 1.4142 (another magic number, the square root of 2"--don't worry, there will not be a test at the end). 

6" x 1.4142 = 8.4852" --that is pretty darn close to 8.5" so we will use 8.5" as the FINISHED size of the LONG side of the QST. 

From the Magic Numbers above, we now add 1.25" to 8.5" = 9.75" to know what size square to cut that will give you 4 QST the correct size. I like my blocks to "float" just a bit so I cut the square 10":

Now let's figure out what size squares we need for the four corner triangles--they are HST--we want the straight of grain on the SHORT sides of the triangles.

We know the LONG side of the HST will measure 6" finished--it is sewn to the 6" Shoo Fly blocks. To figure out the short side measurement, DIVIDE 6" by 1.4142.

6" / 1.4142 = 4.24268"--that's pretty darn close to 4.25" so we use 4.25" as the FINISHED size of the SHORT side of the HST. 

From the Magic Numbers above, we now add .875" to 4.25" = 5.125" to know what size squares to cut to get the 4 HST needed for the four corners. Again, I like that "float" so I cut two squares 5.5", then cut them in half once on the diagonal. I can always trim them down if I like once the top is sewn.. You could use 5.25" for less "float", you decide.

I designed a sew-a-long a few years back to practice using these numbers. All 5 posts are still there, an a excellent step-by-step project with lots of photos. How to Make a Quilt in 5 Easy Steps

There are more advanced "magic numbers" for more unusual shapes but let's save those for another day.

Let's quilt.


Sunday, August 16, 2020

New Workshops

 In between other projects, and "secret sewing", I've been working on a few new ideas for workshops. For when we all get together to sew and laugh again.


I love this great block, from an antique quilt. After searching Barbara Brackman's Encyclopedia of Pieced Patterns to no available, I drew it in EQ8. I tried it in 12"--too big. I tried it in 9" and 8" and 7" blocks--the measurements were too wacky, hard to rotary cut easily. The 6" size was just right. It is not as easy to piece accurately as it looks so the class is recommended for the "Confident Beginner"--someone who knows how to sew an accurate 1/4" seam on their machine. The centers--the square in a square in a square--are made with Freezer Paper Piecing--a nifty skill to learn. I used scraps of repro fabrics in red, blue and tan, but any colors/style you like will work. The plain alternate blocks are perfect for fancy quilting--use a print there if you want simple quilting options. 


Based on an antique crib quilt, this looks far more complicated than it is. A simple little block in 3", 4" or 6"size, some dark, some light, will give you lots of design options to play with. A great project for those times when you just want to sew, and not  have to think real hard. A scrap buster for sure.


Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Photo Shoot

 It is good to have a professional photographer in the family. I recently took 25 quilts to Nashville so my son could shoot excellent photos of them for an upcoming online Special Exhibit. 

Our son, Joshua Black Wilkins, makes his living as a photographer--when there are jobs. Check out his website: jbw photography Please note, there is a section of nudes that may not be for everyone.

I found myself saying "this is one of my favorites", over and over. Only two of these are published patterns, all the rest are my original design or a very traditional quilt pattern. Most of the rest of the Exhibit are almost my own design. Called "My Joyful Journey", it is the story of my work as a quiltmaker, from the beginning in 1985 to today.

Here are just a few "behind the scenes" shots I took during the shoot:

Back in Time--I hand quilted this one and it is one of my most favorites:

Lone Star Garden:

Pieces of the Past--Circa 1875: 

Lifetime Quilt:

Waste Not, Want Not:

Devil's Claw:

A-Symmetrical Six-Pence: 

First time being photographed, not for the Exhibition, Foothills: 

The oldest one in the group: Charm Quilt--Thousand Pyramids, made with blocks swapped in my first guild, 1988-1989. The inner black border is badly faded from sunlight damage: 

It took some effort to gather all 25 from  around my home and load them in the car. Then we drove 2.25 hours to Nashville. Having some help made it go pretty fast, we were done in 2.5 hours. After lunch we hit the road south and were home before dinner. 

My plan is to publish an e-book with all the quilts and their stories. More about that when it happens.

Let's quilt,


Sunday, August 9, 2020

Quilter's Estate Liquidation Sale

A few months back I wrote about our dear friend, Janet, a member of the Sunday Sew and Sews who passed away suddenly in February. Read about her distinguished life here: A Tribute

Recently, Janet's daughter had the BIG SALE of all of Janet's quilting stuff. The Sunday Sew and Sews had received a huge donation of yardage months ago, to thank them for their work finishing 50 small charity quilts she had started. Read about that here: A Quilter's Legacy

Her many sewing machines have found new homes. Lots of fabric was also donated to the North Alabama Mask Makers for face masks. So, what could be left?  

There was quite a lot. The stuff we worked on to prepare for the sale, just a few photos:

There are hundreds of completed quilt tops, priced from $10-50. Janet was an excellent piecer with eclectic taste so there is a wide variety of sizes, styles and colors: 
Staging in the master bedroom once they are priced, just a small view: 
More to take to the garage for sale: 
Many mats and  rulers, boxes of scissors and cutters, more stuff: 
In time of COVID 19, things are a bit different than normal for such a sale. Not open to the public, invitations went out to two local quilt guilds, about 400 people, and the NA Mask Makers. Anyone wanting to attend had to make an appointment for 1 hour of shopping time, and masks were required. Only 8 people were permitted to shop the double car garage at once.  All 8 hours for the first day had 8 people signed up. 

Here is what the garage looked like as the the first shoppers arrived:

"Parking Lot" for each person's stuff--we kept their hands open so they could really look:
Photos of some of the 381 completed quilt tops Janet made--almost all were sold:
There was little left by the second day so, all in all, the sale was a great success. Janet's daughter, Nancy, got to meet many of the nice quilters who were giving her mother's beloved possessions a new home. And  money was raised to pay the bills that continue for our estate, even after we're gone--like mortgage payments, utilities, etc. The quilters were thrilled to get "new to them" quilt tops to practice quilting, or to finish as gifts that are needed now, not later, or just because they loved the quilts they bought and now don't have to make the top. 

I certainly felt that way about the one top I bought, a house quilt so popular right now as most of us are spending lots of time in our homes. This one just makes me smile with it's cheerful little houses and fun forest of trees. While putting out all the tops we discovered a SECOND one of these and someone else took home another happy house top: 

What we learned about Janet from this experience: she had eclectic tastes, from wild, bright fabrics to soft two-color quilts, like pink/green, yellow/blue, desert colors, gray/taupe--any combination of color and fabrics caught her eye. And she was an excellent piecer, from the simple nine-patch blocks, to complex, intricate blocks. One shopper said "It is hard to believe this is the work of just ONE person".

We miss Janet, but are happy the work of her hands and her heart can live on in new homes, with new families. 

Many shoppers also said "My kids will have to deal with all this some day". That's right. Part of me wants  to de-stash a lot, and part of me says "just keep on making quilts for someone to love."

Let's quilt,