*New* Western Auto Quilt Workshop

Did you know that the Kansas City Regional Quilt Festival is holding a silent auction to benefit The Sewing Labs and Once We Were Refugees? You can find out more about it here. The quilts are donated by members of the participating guild. When I heard about it, I knew I wanted to help out. I decided that I wanted to make a quilt that centered around Kansas City, so I went with the newly renovated Western Auto sign.

It’s been getting a lot of love, so now it is being offered as a 3 hour workshop at the festival on Friday, Jun 14 starting at 3pm. You can find more information here. The workshop will teach you all about foundation paper piecing, some tips and tricks, fabric selection and quilting. It will be available in 24″ and 36″ versions.

Read on to find out more about the quilt.

I designed this quilt in 4″ tiles, each tile is foundation paper pieced. Anyone who knows me knows I’m not the biggest fan of paper piecing – I don’t mind the process, it’s the repetitive-ness of it that I don’t enjoy. Well, not much is repetitive in this quilt so I really enjoyed making it.

I posted my progress on Instagram as I went (@hadleystreetquilts). Sifting through my scraps of blues and grays was fun – there are a lot of quilty memories in those scraps.

It came together faster than I thought it would. I usually made 5-6 blocks at a time.

I think I’m going to have to made another one! If you can’t make the workshop, the pattern will be available in our Everyday Stitches booth at the Festival! Hope to see you there!

Fruit Stand at the Kansas City Regional Quilt Festival

I will be teaching two classes at the Kansas City Regional Quilt Festival in June. The first class is based on my Fruit Stand quilt. I will be teaching it on Thursday, June 13, click here to go to the class listing. I love this quilt, it is so fun to look at and to make. 

This quilt makes a great workshop because it is full of skills to learn – I love taking workshops where I can learn or polish a skill. The most obvious skill for this quilt: piecing clamshells! It can be a little intimidating at first – but once you know the tricks and get into a rhythm, it goes together quite easily.

You may also notice that there are some pieced clamshells in the quilt in the way of some fruit slices. These blocks are foundation paper pieced then set into a circle. So you will learn how to foundation paper piece and how to set a circle inside of another circle. When I inset a circle, I simply piece it in using a couple of pins – it’s the fastest, easiest technique that I’ve ever used.



Then there is a little applique! There are lots of ways to conquer applique and there is not much of it in this quilt. We’ll work on needle-turn hand applique and machine applique.






Finally, we’ll talk about quilting and strategies to get clamshells quilted quickly, continuously and the importance of variety!

Inserting 1/2″ Strips

Here is a (probably overly) detailed tutorial on inserting 1/2″ strips into a block. This is the block in question:

First, cut a rectangle of fabric: 4″ x 5.5″. Then cut two strips for the inserts 1″ x 7″. How did I come up with 7″? I just measured the diagonal of the rectangle and rounded up.

Next, mark the center of the short sides of both ends of each strip.

Cut the rectangle across one diagonal (oops, I didn’t take a picture of that!). Take one triangle from that cut and lay it down on your cutting mat. Line up one strip parallel to the long side – making sure the center mark is to the left of the side (or to the right if you cut right handed!). Disclosure: I am left-handed, although I cut with both hands, I typically cut with my left!

Lay your ruler down so it is parallel to the left (or right!) side of the triangle, with the edge of the ruler touching that center mark at the end of the strip. You want to cut off that tiny piece so you have an easy way to line up the strip to the triangle for piecing.

Put the strip RST on top of the rectangle, you should have a nice 1/4″ notch to line up your pieces — stitch! (This is actually a picture taken for the second side, but it shows how the notch is formed!)

Press that seam – I like to press to one side, usually toward the strip. Now, line up the other triangle, place the piece triangle so the strip is parallel to the long edge with the center mark beyond the edge just like we did in the previous step. Trim off that triangle and piece.

Press – again, I like to press to one side, toward the strip. Now on to the next strip. Generally, just repeat the same steps. Cut across the opposite diagonal. Line up the strip. Trim the little dogear. RST and stitch.

To make absolutely sure that the X lines up perfectly, you’ll do a little extra for the second side of the strip. From the back side of the block, mark the stitch lines across the strip and then mark a line 1/4″ from the raw edge. (It’s really light – if you can’t see that let me know and I’ll make it clearer.)

This indicates exactly where the piece needs to be aligned. Stick a pin through one cross and then to the pieced side 1/4″ in from the raw edge. This is where you want the pieces to connect. Repeat with the other cross. Use those two pins to help you get everything lined up then pin the pieces together – I place a pin parallel to the stitch line and remove it once I get to the first intersection. Once the pieces are secured with a pin, remove the two pins that you used to align the pieces.



Stitch. Press. Voila! I know that’s a lot of detail – but after the first block you can start making shortcuts. Why does this work? Because the 1/2″ strip takes up the same amount as the seam allowance, so you aren’t taking anything away from the rectangle. Here is a view from the back that shows that.

Happy Piecing.

The Nautilus Quilt

I have been working through my latest book, Tree of Life Quilts, and designing – even making every-now-and-then – derivations of the quilts. Some derivations are inspired by the designs and some by technique – the book is full of new techniques. All that to say, I recently finished another variation. This one is based on a technique from the book – although I varied that a little as well. The new quilt is The Nautilus Quilt.

I have a little spot in my foyer where I can display a quilt – I have several that I rotate through – so I often use this footprint when I design a new quilt. I have also discovered that when I go to speak (1) smaller quilts are better when I am flying and (2) holders get tired of holding bed-sized quilts!

The Nautilus Quilt was inspired by the Architect quilt from my Tree of Life Quilts book. Here’s a picture of that quilt.

These quilts are constructed in a similar fashion – the biggest difference is that the sections of The Nautilus Quilt are improvisationally pieced. I started the quilt with a set of 10 by 10 squares of Blueberry Park fabric by Karen Lewis. I laid them out and only used the colors ranging from red to gold – the rest will have to find another quilt to become.

Here’s a peek at the progression.









Next, I added the background, quilted it and covered the transition lines with my go-to neutral: Kona Raisin. If you want to see more details and some video of the quilting, hop on over to Instagram!

A Visit to Birmingham

I recently visited the Birmingham Quilters Guild. As much as I have traveled, this was my first trip to Alabama – an extra perk: it was snowing when I left KC (and, yes, it was just a couple of weeks ago!). Birmingham was beautiful and the quilt guild was a delight. I love sitting through business meetings of different guilds and seeing what they are up to. In Birmingham, they are very busy!

I was there to talk about negative space and teach two workshops. I really just want to share a few photos of their work. I always forget to get a group shot, honestly, I’m lucky if I remember to take any pictures!

The first workshop was ‘Circles & Sticks’ where we covered insertion techniques and bias curves. The designs were diverse – it’s always fun to see what everyone comes up with!

The second workshop was Shattered 9-Patch. Some opted for the ombre effect, some went without. This is one of my favorite techniques.

Improv Quilting!

I love to make improv quilts. I find it both exciting and exhausting – it is very rewarding because I find that it brings life to my studio! So, when I was asked to join Rayna Gillman’s blog tour for her new book, Create Your Own Improv Quilts, how could I resist?


I often get asked about how to make improvisational quilts – it’s not an easy answer because I find that I use different techniques depending on what I want accomplish. Generally speaking, it’s just hard to put into words. Another hard question: what makes a good design? I think some people overlook improv quilts as not having design – in fact, the best improv quilts have a very strong, well thought out design. Rayna addresses both of these questions quite well in this book.

She starts out defining improvisation and giving specific techniques that can be followed. Then she talks about experimentation – a key in making improvisation successful. She offers a list of questions to ask while experimenting with an improvisational design. At one point, she compares improv quilting to taking a drive. Do you prefer to wander while you drive or have a GPS on? Personally, I’m a GPS kind of girl! I do like control – but even if you like control, improv has a place in your quilting. I almost always have some kind of controlled element in my improv quilts. This book has both: control-freak kind of improv (that’s the kind I lean toward making) and all out improv. Here is an example of what I fondly refer as the control-freak kind of improv:


Rayna defines elements of design that should be considered when it comes to quilting – improv or not, these elements are universal to all design. It’s a great list with straightforward definitions. So, the ‘what makes a good design’ question is answered! Yay, Rayna! I need to print out this list and pin it next to my design wall to make sure I consider all of these elements as I create. She illustrates these points as she walks through some designs using some orphan blocks. This is the final design.

11209 Gillman F'17

11209 Gillman F’17

If you are short on ideas, don’t know where to start, or you just feel like you have hit a mental block (haven’t we all been there!): the last part of the book addresses inspiration – where to find it, how to get it, a gallery to enjoy and some new ideas on string quilting and using orphan blocks to get you started. I particularly liked Debbie Anderson’s series of houses!


If you want to be entered to win an eBook copy of Create Your Own Improv Quilts, just subscribe to my blog – at the top of the side bar. I don’t post often – but in the next week or two I will be posting about a series of improv holiday blocks!

You can see what everyone else is saying about this book, here’s the blog tour schedule:

Friday, November 10
C&T Blog
Monday, November 13
Cindy Grisdela
Wednesday, November 15
Teri Lucas, Generation Q Magazine
Tuesday, November 21
Desiree Habicht
Wednesday, November 22
Angie Wilson
Tuesday, November 28
Victoria Findlay Wolfe
Thursday, November 30
Tuesday, December 5
Melissa Shields
Thursday, December 7
Patty Altier

Checking in

I haven’t posted in a while because I’ve been pretty busy behind the scenes with my pattern company, Everyday Stitches, that I started with Jenifer Dick and my growing teenagers – I’m trying to enjoy the last couple of years that I have a kid in the house. Jenifer just published some new patterns as well as some pretty cool cards!


I have a few patterns in the works, they just need some final polishing. Hopefully I’ll get to them soon.

Playing with Bloc Loc rulers

Tomorrow my guild is having a ‘Ruler Roundup’. I agreed to demonstrate the Bloc Loc rulers. I bought a half-square triangle (HST) and a half-rectangle triangle (HRT) ruler about a year ago. I rarely buy specialty rulers, but when I saw these at a quilt shop demo, I was sold. I also rarely make traditional blocks, so they were innovative and efficient enough that I thought I needed them for the rare occasion that I make a traditional block.

So, tomorrow is almost here and nothing motivates me like a deadline – it was time to break them out and put something together. My sister loaned me a couple of Bloc Loc block design books to show at the demo, so that’s where I started. Side note: the books are really nice – spiral bound so they lie flat and glossy pages that aren’t going to easily rip.20160502_163940I thumbed through both of the books looking for something that used both the HST and the HRT rulers. Originally I was planning to use up some old fabric and be done with it. Then I came across this ‘Ho-Ho-Ho’ block (their version is a little different in the value selection and has a little more depth, but that wasn’t going to work with my collection of fabric).
Next, I grabbed a stack of Christmas fabric that I have been collecting and started cutting.


The blocks in the book have cutting instructions for four sizes. The sizes vary depending on the grid of the block. This block had: 6″, 7 1/2″, 9″ and 12″. I went with 9″. Each piece is cut slightly large. I pieced the blocks in a traditional manner – the instructions for the HST have you draw a diagonal line, stitch on either side and then cut … that’s way to much work for me, I’d rather just cut and sew. Then press the seams to one-side – I prefer them that way anyway, but it’s a requirement with these rulers. Then you nestle the seam into the groove on the underside of the ruler and slightly push (more like a light tension than a push) to make sure the stitch line is up against the groove. Then slide the ruler down so you have some edges to trim. Spin the ruler around and slide it to the other side lining up the marks to the cut the finished size.20160502_163805

I really like the fine lines on the rulers, it makes everything so easy to see. If you’ve used Bloc Locs, you’ll know from this picture that I’m left-handed! If you’re right-handed, this ruler would be rotated 90 degrees! Luckily, I can cut with both hands, so I’ll be able to demonstrate for lefties and righties tomorrow.


The triangles come out absolutely perfect! The cutting is way faster than using a traditional ruler: it’s not rocking across the seam, you’re not trying to make sure everything is aligned, etc. I even found myself getting a little sloppy with the piecing knowing that the rulers would make everything perfect for me. 20160502_163848

I am so happy with the results – and I don’t use pins when I piece so that shows just how perfect these sub-units are. It was so fast and easy that I’m actually going to make an entire quilt – not just a demo block. There’s a bit of a list in front of this quilt, so I’m organizing the pieces to use as enders and leaders – so it’ll be a while!



Loading a Quilt Top

A few people have asked me about how I load a quilt top, so here goes. I’ve tried all kinds of things over the years; I thought of this a couple of years ago and I think this is it! Fast, easy, doesn’t stretch the top, and doesn’t leave a funky wave at the end.

First, I load the backing – I’ll try to remember to take pictures next time and post that. Then I unroll the quilt top leader and lay it out on the backing making sure it is smooth and straight.


Next, I lay the top over the back bar and onto the backing. I straighten it and lay the edge along the leader just where the leader lying on the backing meets the roller making sure that it is parallel to the roller.


Then I pull the top over the back bar to make sure there is some slack in the quilt top when I roll it.This is very important – otherwise the quilt top will stretch and pull. Make sure that you don’t distort what you’ve already laid out when you do this.


All that’s left is to roll it up! Gently roll the leader and the top onto the roller bar. The quilt top gets caught in the leader – no need to pin or anything else. Just straighten the top and make sure it’s lying straight and flat on the roller as you go. That’s it!




Quilting, is it always a quandary?

It’s always such a good feeling when I finish a quilt top … then I’m hit with: How am I going to quilt this? Sometimes I can envision the quilting as I’m making the top, but most often I’m left slowly loading my quilt while I try to figure out what I’m going to do. One of my latest tops is this improvisational piece made with Peppered Cottons and Kona Steel for the background.















I decided that I’m just going to do overall quilting and not worry about the piecing. I loaded it sideways so that I don’t have to think about the circles right now. I don’t know if I’ll just continue over them or do a different quilting design in each ring … things to ponder.

I started at my white board to play with different fill patterns and chose three that I want to combine – a primary pattern, a background relief and a fill to add in every now and then.


















This is what it looks like at this point.