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My Best of 2017

I’m in the thick of that time warp of a week between Christmas and the New Year, and I admittedly don’t even know what day it is. We are traveling, visiting my family in New Jersey, spending days relaxing, visiting, and watching the kids play with toys, aunts, and uncles. I *do* know that it’s not yet 2018, though, so I’m reveling in that end of year coast into the new year.

Best of 2017 meadow mist designMy dear friend Cheryl at Meadow Mist Design is once again hosting a “Best of” linky party, inviting bloggers to share the best five posts from 2017, so it’s a perfect time to look at the analytics and statistics from my blog, as well as reflect on my personal highlights from the year. I invite you to reminisce along with me.

Most Viewed Blog Post(s)

I’m considering this one a tie, since the views for these posts have a less than 20 views difference:staggered quilt theory quilt pattern flowersMy Staggered Quilt pattern release for Quilt Theory’s spring collection had the most views from 2017. I did not have many big quilt finishes this year, and this is definitely one of my favorite quick and easy patterns, so I’m excited to see this one at the top.

Finn's Milestone quilt finishA very close runner up was my post about Finn’s Milestone Quilt finish. This project is very near and dear to my heart for obvious reasons, and I’m happy that its completion was as exciting for you as it was for me.  What an epic project, and I’m happy to report that Finn sleeps with the quilt every night and still drags it around with him from time to time.

Most Viewed Tutorial Blog Post

easter egg pincushion tutorial by hillary and kittyI was happy to see that my Easter collaboration with Hillary of Entropy Always Wins ranked the highest on tutorial posts this year! A combination of using repurposed materials (leather, wool, felt, etc) and hand stitched detail, this project is uber versatile and so much fun. It also can be made in any imagined shape, so it’s pretty timeless.

My Favorite New Projectsummer adventure quilt progress

While my Summer Adventure Quilt didn’t rank among highest views, it’s definitely my favorite new project.  I’m guessing that the fact that I’ve not yet been able to complete all of the blocks and get the quilt top together is part of what’s to blame with its lack of public enthusiasm, since it’s kind of hard to be enthusiastic about a project you haven’t yet seen in its entirety, but it’s one of my favorites. I’m hoping to have the blocks finished and the quilt top complete by early 2018, so it just might actually rank a bit higher next year. Time will tell!

2017 Best Nine on Instagram

nightquilter best nine 2017 IGSince I love Instagram so, I would be remiss if I did not share my top viewed posts there as well. This collection is a fun one, including my big 10K follower milestone, two of my favorite Greenery quilt blocks, my Bee’s Knees quilt, Plenty of EPP, from Flowermania, to Moonstone, to the EPP and pieced skinny bins I made for an Art Gallery Fabrics stitchy party with Mathew at Mister Domestic, and a cameo by the gorgeous mini quilt Yvonne from Quilting Jetgirl made for me (bottom center). Neither Finn’s quilt nor my Summer Adventure quilt made the cut this year, but they still rank high in my list of favorites for the year.

Most Viewed Blog Post EVER

one hour basketWhile the blog posts listed above rank highest of those written in 2017, the post about the one hour basket (that took me six hours to make!) written back in 2015 was the most viewed ever with over 7,000 views since it was written. This was such a fun make, featuring my favorite Alison Glass fabrics paired with Robert Kaufman’s Essex linen, but also is a favorite since I made this basket while attending a class with quilty friend Sarah from Berry Barn Designs at one of my fabulous quasi-local quilt store, Alewives Fabrics. It’s fun to see how timeless this post is, and I’m thinking perhaps it’s time I make a few more one hour baskets. They are a super handy and quick project!

Thank you, as always, for following along with me here, sharing in my inspiration and project progress, and creating the community I hold so dear. I’m hoping to blog a bit more regularly in 2018 and look forward to sharing more tips, tutorials, project progress, and inspiration with you! I hope you have a wonderful, peaceful holiday season and look forward to a colorful, productive, and FUN 2018!

Fabric Skinny Bin Tutorial & Auribuzz Guest Post

Have you been eagerly awaiting the tutorial for the fabric Skinny Bins I showcased during Mister Domestic’s Sewing Party with Art Gallery Fabrics? Today, you’re in luck! The full photo tutorial went live over on the Quilt Theory blog today, offered in celebration of our Collection 2 Pattern release week! Check it out here!

Fabric bin finished 1 tutorial aurifilAs I mentioned in my post a few week ago, the list of use ideas for this tall and skinny fabric bin just keeps growing. From sorting tiny fabric scraps to housing your favorite adult beverage bottle, the sky’s the limit.

Fabric bin display aurifil thread cardToday I’m also sharing one such use over on Auribuzz, the Aurifil thread blog. It turns out that my Skinny Bins are the perfect size for holding cut up Aurifil thread card strips, too! Yvonne from Quilting Jetgirl and I co-wrote a post for Auribuzz all about how to cut apart your Aurifil thread color card and the many ways to display and store the strips, since cutting the cards really is super helpful when it comes to finding that perfect color match.

Aurifil thread strips in use skinny binHead on over to the Auribuzz blog and be inspired!

When you make your own fabric Skinny Bins, please use #fabricskinnybin and tag me @nightquilter and @quilt.theory so that I can see them (and see how you decided to use them!). Patterns for customizing the exterior panel will be available in the coming weeks.

I thought this also might be a great time to share that I’ve been selected to be an Aurifil Artisan for 2017, so I’m honored and excited to be a part of the talented team of makers that love to work with Aurifil thread. Visit this post on the Aurifil blog to see the whole Aurifil Artisan team!

Happy stitching!


Easter Egg Pincushion Tutorial by Hillary Goodwin & Kitty Wilkin

Recently Hillary from Entropy Always Wins and I had the opportunity to meet in person after following each other’s work online for years. Both loving embroidery, repurposing textiles, creativity and the sewing community in general we plotted a tutorial that would allow us to play off each other’s creative personality and engage the greater sewing community as a whole.

A year ago Hillary made an Easter Egg shaped pincushion out of velvet and repurposed leather. We expanded on this idea and invite anyone who wants to participate to make a similar pincushion and, if interested, incorporate repurposed leather (Earth Day is coming up after all, and repurposed leather is typically thin enough to easily sew on a domestic sewing machine.) Be bold. Be brave. Let’s sew leather!

easter egg pincushion tutorial by hillary and kittyeaster egg pincushion tutorial by hillary and kittyIn this tutorial we give everyone some guidelines but the emphasis is on PLAY and MAKING THIS PROJECT YOUR OWN. Don’t celebrate Easter? No biggie, make a similar pincushion in another shape. We will be following on Instagram so please tag your makes #eastereggpincushion (as well as tagging @nightquilter and @entropyalwayswins) so we can all enjoy. To celebrate this group project we will both randomly be giving participants some of our own pincushions as well as supplies to make them. All you need to do to be eligible is to play along, tag us, and tag #eastereggpincushion so that we can find you!

Suggested Supplies

easter egg pincushion tutorial by hillary and kitty

  • Thin leather (~6×12 inches)
  • Wool felt, velvet, jeans or any other material for the inner portion of the pincushion (~6×6 inches)
  • Embroidery hoop (a 4” hoop will *just* fit the inner egg)
  • Embroidery Egg Template (click to download-Note updated 3/20)
  • Embroidery thread (embroidery floss, perle cotton, or 12wt thread works. Use what you have!)
  • Embroidery or other needle (I use Tulip size 3 milliners)
  • Double sided fabric tape or fabric glue (optional)
  • Sewing machine with a walking foot
  • Leather sewing machine needle
  • Thread (We both used Aurifil 40wt )
  • Chalk or other removable marker (or a willingness to live on the wild side and stitch without marking)
  • Muslin or other scrap fabric (6×12 inches)
  • Craft clips (both Clover wonder clips or Evergreen Art Supply magic clips work great)
  • Small Funnel
  • Crushed Walnut shell or other favored pincushion fill

Step 1: Templates and Leather

easter egg pincushion tutorial by hillary and kittyPrint the Embroidery Egg Template and cut along both inner and outer egg outlines.
easter egg pincushion tutorial by hillary and kittyTrace the template onto the wrong side of the leather, marking out two eggs–one with only the outline and one with both the inner and outer lines drawn.

easter egg pincushion tutorial by hillary and kittyCarefully cut along the marked lines, remembering to cut one piece along only the outer egg outline and cut the other piece along both the inner and outer egg outlines.

easter egg pincushion tutorial by hillary and kittySet your leather pieces aside.

Step 2: Embroidery

easter egg pincushion tutorial by hillary and kittyUsing chalk or water soluble marker, trace the inner egg outline onto your embroidery surface (felt, velvet, jeans, etc) so you will know the limitations of your embroidery design.

easter egg pincushion tutorial by hillary and kittyAdorn at your heart’s desire with embroidery, applique, etc. You are welcome to copy our experiments but please feel free to try your own ideas.

Step 3: Attach the Embroidery to the Leather Upper

easter egg pincushion tutorial by hillary and kittyAlign your embroidered material so that the embellishments fit within the window of your leather upper (the egg with the hole cut out of the middle).

easter egg pincushion tutorial by hillary and kittySecure the right side of your embroidery to the wrong side of your leather upper with double sided tape, glue, clips, or other method.

easter egg pincushion tutorial by hillary and kittyeaster egg pincushion tutorial by hillary and kittyThen, using a ¼ or ⅛ inch seam allowance, top stitch the two together along the inner egg as shown.

easter egg pincushion tutorial by hillary and kitty
Self-threading needles work wonders for threading the loose ends to the back of the piece!

Thread the top threads to the back of the piece, tie all loose ends together and trim.

easter egg pincushion tutorial by hillary and kittyeaster egg pincushion tutorial by hillary and kittyFinally, if possible, trim the seam allowance of your embroidered material carefully about ½” away from the stitched line so that it remains easily inside the outer margins of the egg.


Step 4: Make an inner pincushion

easter egg pincushion tutorial by hillary and kittyUsing only the outer margin of your Egg Template, trace and cut two pieces of muslin. Sew the two pieces together using a ¼ inch seam allowance, leaving a small opening to use for filling.

easter egg pincushion tutorial by hillary and kitty

easter egg pincushion tutorial by hillary and kitty
Any guesses how many tries with the 10sec timer on my camera it took for me to get this photo? LOL

Fill with crushed walnut shell (a funnel can be helpful for this). One half cup of crushed walnut shell for this project seems to be the right amount. Use a little more if you want a more rounded pincushion. Sew the opening of the inner pincushion completely closed.

Step 5: Finishing your pincushion

easter egg pincushion tutorial by hillary and kittyeaster egg pincushion tutorial by hillary and kittyeaster egg pincushion tutorial by hillary and kittyPlace the two leather egg pieces wrong sides together and secure with clips. (Note that pinning will create visible holes in the leather–use clips!) Sew around the outer margin of the egg using a ¼ seam allowance, leaving an opening at least 3 inches long unsewn.

easter egg pincushion tutorial by hillary and kittyeaster egg pincushion tutorial by hillary and kittyStuff your filled and fully closed inner pincushion through this opening. Ensuring the inner pincushion remains entirely inside, top stitch the remaining way around the outer edge of the egg.

easter egg pincushion tutorial by hillary and kittyeaster egg pincushion tutorial by hillary and kittyThread the top threads to the back of the piece, tie all loose ends together and trim or bury.

Step 6: Share your creation with us!

Tag your pincushion on Instagram #eastereggpincushion as well as tagging @nightquilter and @entropyalwayswins, or link to a blog post about your finished pincushions in the comments below.

hillary finished pincushionhillary finished pincushionhillary finished pincushion

hillary finished pincushion
Ideas in progress…

We can’t wait to see what you create! Enjoy!!

I’m linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts Finish it up Friday and TGIFF! Everyone loves a quick finish!

My Best of 2016

Ahhh, the time of year when busy is an understatement, yet still the desire to stop and reflect over the past year–perhaps in the twinkle of some Christmas lights with a hot mug of something sweet–is strong. The phase of feeling more stressed than blessed has passed, the excitement of Christmas Eve and morning has calmed, and now I’m enjoying the holidays in a relaxed, family-filled, grateful way. What better time to do some reflection?

best of 2016 meadow mist designsOnce again, Cheryl from Meadow Mist Designs is hosting her “Best of” linky party, inviting bloggers to share their five best posts from 2016, so I thought it was a perfect time to take a look at the statistics and reflect on the highlights of the past year here on Night Quilter. I’ve put together five of Night Quilter’s “bests” for the past year (plus one personal added bonus), and I invite you to reminisce along with me.

Most Viewed Blog Post

5 steps to sewing perfect curves tutorial nightquilterWithout a new baby announcement like last year, this year’s most viewed post was the tutorial on how to sew perfect curves. I’m especially excited about this one, since one of my goals for 2016 was to tackle curves, and I feel like I made great progress in that category. I love this method as much as you do, and I’m so glad I could share this with so many of you!

Most Viewed Non-Tutorial Blog Post

alison glass quilters planner coverSince my most viewed post from 2016 was a tutorial, I decided to also share my most viewed non-tutorial post. In Planning a Colorful Year, I shared the Riot of Color planner cover design I made for the Quilter’s Planner (which is still available for free, here–and fit’s the 2017 Quilter’s Planner! if you haven’t gotten yours yet, I highly recommend getting one here–this planner is life changing!), as well as a giveaway for a planner. It’s hard to say whether the gorgeous melding of Alison Glass fabrics with Essex linen is what drew the most attention, or if it was the chance to win a most coveted planner, but I am proud of this post all the same and I’m glad you liked it, too.

Most Viewed Blog Post
(not including Tutorials or Giveaways)

one hour basketIf you take all tutorials and giveaways out of the running, the one hour basket (that took me six hours to make!) was the most viewed. This was such a fun make, once again featuring my favorite Alison Glass fabrics paired with Robert Kaufman’s Essex linen, but also is a favorite since I made this basket while attending a class with quilty friend Sarah from Berry Barn Designs at one of my fabulous quasi-local quilt store, Alewives Fabrics.

Most Exciting New Endeavor

2016 was a big year of new endeavors for me, so this category requires a tie:

Yvonne Fuchs quilt in Quilters Planner 2017
Quilt by Yvonne Fuchs, included in the Quilter’s Planner 2017

I kicked off my quilt photography business venture by doing all of the photography for the 2017 Quilter’s Planner, photographing 14 quilts and quilted projects in gorgeous natural locations along the coast of Maine. The photo above features Yvonne from Quilting Jetgirl’s lovely Starlight Crystals quilt, photographed along the coast in Acadia. Quilt photography combines three of my loves: quilting, photography, and the beauty of nature, so I’m so excited to be offering it to anyone seeking to get epic quilt photos for publication or just for fun.

quilt theoryocean path quilt white brick quilt theoryI was also one of seven quilt designers to launch Quilt Theory, kicking off with my premier pattern Ocean Path. With the enthusiasm and drive of fearless leader Michelle Bartholomew, we are working on our second round of patterns and are constantly expanding the reach of the Quilt Theory pattern cards. You can find much more information and the full line of available patterns here.

2016 Best Nine on Instagram

Instagram best 9 2016 minus repostsSince I love Instagram so, I would be remiss if I did not share my top viewed posts there as well. This collection is a fun one, including lots of posts about my stress-free stitch-wherever-the-wind-blows embroidery hoop, a fun Alison Glass table runner I don’t think I’ve shared here yet, a progress shot of my Eye Spy Picnic Plaid quilt, a progress shot of all of my thrifted City Sampler blocks, the free Safe with Me pattern I made in an attempt to spread positivity and support for those who need it, and a glimpse of one of my favorite quilt photos for the Quilter’s Planner, the epic sailboat shot of Cheryl Brickey’s Canvas Lines Quilt.

Favorite Project

finn milestone quilt 18 monthsTechnically this is my sixth category, but I can’t let my highlights pass without remembering the completion of the Milestone Quilt Blocks for my son Finnian. While the project didn’t make my top viewed posts for 2016, it is still the project that filled my heart the most. My little babe is now 18 months old, walking, talking, signing, dancing, jumping, exploring, and smiling his days away. His quilt top is together, and I hope to get the quilt layered, basted, quilted and bound early next year. There’s something about making a quilt for your child, marking his progress and growth with a bit of stitching, that really takes quilting to a new level. I’m so grateful that my silly husband made the crazy suggestion (fully in jest) on the day our third child turned 1 month old that I should make a quilt block each month for a photo shoot, since without that little laugh-filled exchange, this project would have never come to be.

2016 was a big year, with many new endeavors and a seemingly endless list of fun projects and adventures. I’m still working on the fine art of saying no and understanding my own limitations, since I really truly want to do it all. I’m a maker through and through. I’m hoping to keep 2017 fairly low key, focusing on finishing projects I’ve already begun, and participating in a few sew alongs with a relaxed mentality. Then again, I have some big goals I’d like to pursue, so we’ll see when and if those kick it all up a notch. I’ll write more about that in a future post, since after reflection comes planning and goal setting. I’m so glad I have my Quilter’s Planner for that!

Thank you, as always, for following along with me here, sharing in my inspiration and project progress, and creating the community I hold so dear. I hope you have a wonderful, peaceful holiday season and look forward to a colorful, productive, and FUN 2017.

Farmer’s Wife Sew Along – Block 95 Sylvia Tutorial

Ahh, remember the Farmer’s Wife Sew Along!? Today is my day to share the Block 95 Sylvia tutorial for the 1930 Farmer’s Wife Sew Along, hosted by Angie at Gnome Angel and sponsored by Fat Quarter Shop and Marti Michell. Sure, I’m wildly behind on this sew along, but that’s totally ok! With my final deadlines being met within the next couple of weeks, I will have time to catch up a bit, chipping away at the missing blocks here and there. It’s all good! That’s part of what I love about Angie’s Sew Along–there’s no pressure. I’m making this quilt for me and I can take as long as I want to finish it!

farmers wife 95 sylvia tutorialEach of these Farmer’s Wife blocks manage to pack quite a punch in the little 6 1/2″ space. My method of attack when deciding how to piece each block has been consistent: how can I piece this with as little muss and fuss as possible? With Sylvia, at first I was thinking chain piecing would be the way to go, since it would help minimize the teeny tiny pieces in the inner borders I’d need to cut and sew. Looking at it more closely, I decided that with this block, even chain piecing would require piecing TINY bits, cutting, and then piecing again. Plus, sixteenths of an inch!? No thank you! Finally, I decided that foundation paper piecing was the way to go, since:

  • there aren’t any tricky joins,
  • the pieces are teeny enough that the foundation paper will be helpful in reducing wonkiness,
  • the block breaks into pretty manageable pieces, AND
  • all of the border pieces can be cut using a rotary cutter and ruler to decrease the paper removal at the end.

Those who know me know that I LOVE foundation paper piecing (FPP), and it’s true–I do! The precision one can get using FPP is unrivaled, and once the technique is mastered, it makes sewing teeny tiny pieces MUCH more manageable. I am not going to take you step by step through how to foundation paper piece, since I have  written two very clear tutorials already (why reinvent the wheel, right!?), but I will share some block-specific tips and tricks to help you piece Sylvia smoothly.

For those of you who do not know how to foundation paper piece, visit my Basic Foundation Paper Piecing tutorial here, as well as the Foundation Paper Piecing tutorial guest post I wrote for the Andover Fabrics blog here. Trust me, it is a technique worth practicing and mastering, since it opens a whole new world of sewing possibility!

Reflection on the Letter – In Spite of the Mortgage

Nearly every one of the letters in this book seems to talk to me in a very specific, seemingly personal way. After the first dozen times of reading a letter I shockingly thought was *meant for me*, I realized that all of the letters have a very widely applicable message and I was simply interpreting it in a way that worked for me at that moment. That said, I can completely relate to this letter!!

Sometimes it’s necessary to just head off on an adventure despite whatever chores, obligations, or need for frugality you have waiting for you at home. We did a lot of adventuring this summer, but like Mrs. A. M. from the letter, we were able to do it on a very tight budget, not paying for much more than gas money.  Day trips to beaches, mountains, playgrounds, and forested hikes abounded, and I was always sure to pack a picnic lunch, extra snacks from home, and full changes of clothes for all three kids (and myself)… just in case. It was a much needed change from the stay home and do chores days we could have had!


farmers wife 95 sylvia tutorialReady to get sewing? Make sure you have a grasp on how to foundation paper piece, and let’s make Sylvia!

Choosing Fabrics

farmers wife 95 sylvia tutorialAs soon as I saw this block, I knew that I wanted to meticulously cut the center square. I’m arranging my blocks on point, so be mindful of your own plans before meticulously cutting your fabric! (I call “fussy cutting” meticulous cutting, and you can read why here). In looking for a fabric with a perfect color scheme and feature design, I stumbled across my precious Heather Ross Far Far Away unicorns (Windham Fabrics). I added some solid blue from an old project, and some Lizzy House Twinkle Twinkle from her Whisper Palette (Andover Fabrics). While the colors are a bit more muted than my other blocks, I think they will all work together. Plus, this fabric combination was a match made in heaven… once it was together, there was no separating it!

Here are some general tips for foundation paper piecing:

  • Shorten your stitch length to 1.2 (if you are an absolute newbie at FPP, try 1.5 until you get the hang of it);
  • Hand crank your needle down at the beginning of each line to make sure you start off exactly where you want to;
  • Backstitch at the beginning and end of each line to secure your stitches (they will be much sturdier during paper removal this way); and,
  • Foundation paper piecing results in many trimmed thread ends. What better time to make yourself a thread catcher? Here’s a free tutorial on how to make the one I use.

To help you while you stitch up Sylvia, here are some block-specific tips for you with photos from my process.

Tip #1: How to make a fussy cutting template for FPP

Fussy cutting while foundation paper piecing can seem daunting, but with one extra step, it can be super easy! Simply create a fussy cutting planning template for the piece(s) you want to focus on. I go through making such template in detail in my FPP post for Andover here, but here are the basics: Print an extra sheet of paper containing the FPP template with the piece you want to fussy cut (printing on card stock will make the planning template sturdier).

farmers wife 95 sylvia tutorialMark the specific piece you want to meticulously cut. I went a little overboard on marking mine for the sake of clarity here. I circled the number but also traced just outside the line of the particular piece, both with bright pink sharpie. Simply circling the number would probably suffice!

farmers wife 95 sylvia tutorialCut out the center of the piece, creating a window that is exactly the size of the piece you want.

farmers wife 95 sylvia tutorialDraw a 3/8″ seam allowance around the window. I used a green micron pen for this example to ensure the line didn’t get confused with the printed lines on the paper.

farmers wife 95 sylvia tutorialCut along the line you drew.

farmers wife 95 sylvia tutorialYou should how have a planning template to help you cut your fabric for fussy cutting. Notice that I placed my planning template onto the fabric upside down. This is because in foundation paper piecing, we are sewing the block on the reverse side of the template. It did not matter too much for this particular piece, since it’s a square, but always be mindful of directionality of the fabric as well as wrong side-right side. If need be, mark your planning template with “right side up” or “wrong side up” so that your fabric is cut properly!

Tip # 2: Color code your foundation paper

farmers wife 95 sylvia tutorialBetween sewing the fabric on the reverse side of the paper, having the block broken into sometimes odd sections before sewing, and the many pieces involved in most foundation paper piecing patterns, it is in your best interest to color code your paper template before beginning to sew. This way, you can be sure you sew each fabric in the proper place.

Tip #3: Be generous with your fabric pieces

farmers wife 95 sylvia tutorialEspecially when first getting started with foundation paper piecing, one of the biggest tips I can offer is to be generous with your fabric pieces. It’s better to have to trim a bit more off than to be short and have to rip stitches! For my bright blue squares on Sylvia, I cut the fabric into 1 1/2″ squares, which as you can see includes ample overhang.

Tip #4: Use rotary cutter and ruler for rectangular shapes

farmers wife 95 sylvia tutorialThis tip goes for bag-making as well: just because there is a template created for a perfectly rectangular piece, it doesn’t mean you can’t use your rotary cutter and ruler! The outer pieces of Sylvia can be easily cut using a rotary cutter and ruler, which will save time with paper removal at the end. Since these pieces are not easily measured (let’s avoid using sixteenths of an inch if we can help it!) simply cut out the foundation paper piece templates and use them as a guide when rotary cutting. Use the foundation paper piecing method to piece the center portion, then add the D, E, H, and I rectangles using traditional piecing methods. Easy peasy!

farmers wife 95 sylvia tutorialAnd there you have it. Sylvia, in all her glory.

Thank you so much for joining me today and I hope you found this tutorial helpful!

Important Links

http://www.interweavestore.com/the-farmers-wife-1930s-sampler-quiltThe 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.


5 Steps to Sewing Perfect Curves

I am so excited to finally share this technique with you, since it makes sewing curves SO simple. I especially love that it can be used on both improv and exact curves, even circles. Mastering curves was on the top of my list this year in terms of quilting goals, and I’ve been working hard at it! While my traditional curve sewing still needs about 900 hours to hit the 10,000 hours that will result in mastery, I’ve found that this method results in perfect curves in five (that’s right–5!) easy steps.

5 steps to sewing perfect curves tutorial nightquilterI first saw this method being used by Hillary from Entropy Always Wins, Stephanie from Spontaneous Threads, and the other #beesewcial-ites, and was intrigued by the way they created such flat-laying, wildly curving improv pieces again and again and again. With some extra guidance from Stephanie, I was able to figure out the technique and have been using it on most of my sewn curves since. You can see where I’ve used it here, here, and here. This technique is derived from the six-minute circle method, but can be applied to any curve.  I love using the technique, and so I thought I would share it with you.

five easy steps to perfect sewn curves nightquilterSo let’s get started! First, gather your supplies. You will need:

  • your fabric pieces (I used three approx 5″ square pieces of fabric to help demonstrate the stacking of the layers, but you can use any scrap that fits the shape you’re trying to sew!)
  • fabric scissors
  • washable school glue – Elmer’s works great
  • fine glue tip (optional but helpful! I use the Fineline regular tip from Pile O’ Fabric)
  • zipper foot for your sewing machine (optional but makes sewing the curve much easier)
  • iron and pressing surface
  • pencil or other fabric marking tool for drawing your line
  • paper on which to draw your desired curves (only needed if you are sewing an exact curve–you can free draw or cut improv curves, too)

five easy steps to perfect sewn curves nightquilterBefore you begin, decide generally how you want your curves to look. I like to sketch mine out on paper more for a visual than for an exact plan. Think of your fabrics in terms of layers: the bottom is the inside of the curve, moving upward and outward. Keep in mind that if you want to have a convex curve next to a concave curve, simply switch the way you view your “top” and “bottom” layers. The inside of the curve is always the bottom, and work from the bottom up.

Once you have an idea of generally (or exactly) how you want your curves to look, it’s time to get started. Five easy steps, I promise! Ready?!

Step 1:
Draw desired curve on the wrong side of top fabric piece.

five easy steps to perfect sewn curves nightquilterDraw your curve on the wrong side of your top (or in this case, middle) fabric with a pencil or other light fabric marking pen. If you want your curve to be exact, you can trace the line from your paper sketch by holding the fabric and paper up to a window or other light source. Be sure that the right sides of both the paper and fabric are facing away from you, since you want the line drawn on the wrong side of your fabric, but also want the curve to go in the proper direction.

Step 2:
Cut 1/4″ away from the inside edge of your drawn line.

five easy steps to perfect sewn curves nightquilterNext, cut between 1/4″ and 3/8″ away from the inside edge of your drawn line. This is your seam allowance.

five easy steps to perfect sewn curves nightquilterClip your curves to help make your curve smooth. Be sure to cut only halfway to the drawn line, not all the way to the drawn line.

Step 3:
Press seam allowance.

five easy steps to perfect sewn curves nightquilterNext, carefully press the seam allowance along your drawn line. Take your time here to make sure your curve is pressed smoothly and exactly along your drawn curve.

Step 4:
Glue baste to bottom layer.

five easy steps to perfect sewn curves nightquilterNow it’s time to glue baste this curve onto your bottom layer. Using a fine glue tip and washable school glue, create a small beaded line of glue along the seam allowance. Carefully lining up the outer corners of your squares, layer the middle fabric (with right side facing up and your cut, pressed, and glued seam allowance tucked under) on top of the bottom piece of fabric. This step is why I like to begin with three squares that are the same size. It makes positioning my curves as easy as pie!

five easy steps to perfect sewn curves nightquilterPress with your fingers, making sure the seam allowance is in the right spot and fully folded under. Press with a hot iron to set the glue. Admire your perfect curve… but it’s not sewn yet! Just one more step.

Step 5:
Sew along drawn line.

five easy steps to perfect sewn curves nightquilterOnce the glue has been set and fabric cooled off, carefully lift up the top layer of fabric to expose the seam allowance. I use my zipper foot with my needle moved all the way to the left, since the narrow foot helps ease around tight turns. Carefully and slowly sew along your drawn line.

five easy steps to perfect sewn curves nightquilterAs you sew around the curves, carefully move the top fabric out of the way, being sure not to allow folds or puckers to form under the needle. Backstitch a bit at the beginning and end of your sewn line to secure the stitches.

five easy steps to perfect sewn curves nightquilterViola! Press again and you have a perfectly sewn curve!

five easy steps to perfect sewn curves nightquilterTrim away the bottom fabric that extends beyond the seam allowance, and save for your next scrappy project.

five easy steps to perfect sewn curves nightquilterRepeat those five easy steps for your other layers: Draw, Cut, Press, Glue Baste, Sew.

five easy steps to perfect sewn curves nightquilterThere you have it. Smooth curves, either traced and perfect, or free cut and improv.

I hope you find this tutorial helpful! I know I can’t stop sewing crazy curves now that I know I can sew them like this. Next week I’ll be sharing a block tutorial for the Cloud9 New Block Hop, and *hint hint* part of it will use this method! Get your practice in now!

I’m linking up with Let’s Bee Social, and will link up with Tips & Tutorials Tuesday when Stephanie & Yvonne get it started again in a couple weeks!

Cloud9 New Block Blog Hop–Mark Your Calendars!

Cloud9 New Block Blog HopI’m excited to be a part of the Cloud9 New Block Blog Hop that kicks off two weeks from today. This is the third year this New Block Blog Hop is happening, hosted by Yvonne at Quilting Jetgirl, Cheryl at Meadowmist Designs, and Stephanie at Late Night Quilter, and the second year I’m participating. During the first new block blog hop, I shared a tutorial for my block called Transparent Play. When the hosts announced this year’s blog hop and made a call for participants, I signed up as soon as I saw the colors they had chosen, and learned that the fabric would be the gorgeous Organic Cirrus Solids made by Cloud9 Fabrics.

2016 cloud9 organic cirrus solids new block blog hopThere are almost 70 participants in this hop and each one will be presenting a free tutorial for a new 12″ (finished) block using 5 fat quarters of Organic Cirrus Solids generously donated by Cloud9. All blocks will be collected by the hosts and made into quilts for charity.

I love this project for many reasons: the community building effort of helping new designers work a bit out of their comfort zone in creating a step-by-step photo tutorial, the fact that the fabric is organic and therefore an environmentally friendly choice, the fact that all created blocks will go into quilts donated to charity, AND because the hosts serendipitously (or intentionally???) selected my all time favorite colors for the color palette. How could I say no?

cloud9 new block blog hop bundleAfter petting this gorgeous bundle of organic fabric and sketching out a few block ideas, I think I’ve decided on a winner, and I can’t wait to share it with you. I will be posting my tutorial with the Wednesday crowd on September 14th, so mark your calendars!

Foundation Paper Piecing Tutorial on Andover Fabrics’ Blog

Today’s the day! A few months back Giuseppe (aka @giucy_giuce on social media) from Andover Fabrics asked if I would like to do a guest post on their blog. For those of you who haven’t put it together, Andover Fabrics is the manufacturer who houses fabric lines by Alison Glass, Lizzy House, Libs Elliot… and more! You know how much Alison Glass fabric alone is include in my makes, so of course I said YES! I decided to share a tutorial for my favorite quilting technique that sadly often has a bad rep–foundation paper piecing. Today a revamped foundation paper piecing tutorial featuring my newest pattern, Constant Flux, which features Handcrafted Patchwork by Alison Glass, went live on the Andover blog.

foundation paper pieced block from constant flux andover tutorialThis tutorial takes you through the basics of foundation paper piecing, but also includes some special hints, tips, and helpful cutting measurements for sewing together the Constant Flux pattern. You can read more about Constant Flux HERE, and be sure to visit the foundation paper piecing tutorial on the Andover blog HERE.

constant flux pattern coverIf you haven’t yet added Constant Flux to your pattern library, it’s still on sale for a few more days in my Craftsy shop (and Payhip for those of you in the EU). Get it now for only $5, since at the end of the week it will head back up to its usual $8.

Many thanks to Andover Fabrics for hosting me, and I hope all of you find my foundation paper piecing tutorial helpful! Happy stitching!

Geese Crossing Mini Quilt {Sizzix Tutorial} & Color Inspiration Thursday {72}

I recently had some fun playing with a new Sizzix die and a color/value gradient from dark purple to light pink. Today I’m sharing a tutorial over on the Sizzix blog so that you can make your own Geese Crossing mini quilt. Since the colors and the peonies from my garden are serendipitously paired, I created a color inspiration palette to share, too!

sizzix geese crossing tutorial value gradientThis mini quilt finishes at 24″ square, and its creation coincided with the fabulous bloom of peonies in our garden. It features a new die called Geese Crossing, designed by Victoria Findlay Wolfe and released at Quilt Market last month. It’s a very versatile die and allows for lots of design, color, and value play.

-How to get perfect points when sewing geese
Tips for getting perfect points!

In my tutorial, I share information that will be helpful for all quilting projects, including:
– Tips for creating a successful value gradient in a fabric pull;
– How to get perfect points when sewing geese or other triangles; and,
– Tips to prevent bunching when sewing on an angle.

You can read the full tutorial and see more photos of my project process on the Sizzix blog, here.

sizzix geese crossing tutorial value gradient peoniesThe colors of the peonies and the colors in the quilt meld so beautifully together! I really could not help but take a million photos of this quilt with the gorgeous color gradient of peonies from my garden, but since it’s Thursday, I figured a combination of Color Inspiration Thursday and a heads-up about my Sizzix tutorial would be perfectly acceptable.

sizzix geese crossing tutorial value gradient peoniesAhhh peonies! Such an inspiration!

peony geese crossing color paletteCorresponding solids from left to right:
Kona Dusty Blue, Bella Pewter, Bella Petal Pink, Kona Plum, Kona Cerise, Kona Eggplant

Corresponding Aurifil thread from left to right:
2560 – Iris
2564  – Pale Lilac
2425 – Bright Pink
2479 – Med Orchid
4030 – Plum
2582 – Dk Violet

This color palette was created using Play Crafts’ Palette Builder 2.1 as per usual, and the matching Aurifil threads and Kona & Moda Bella solids are particularly useful! I will certainly be getting a few of those threads for quilting! We actually had dark magenta peonies that would have matched the darkest purple fabric, but they are the early variety that met their end during a thunderstorm a few weeks ago. Still, our garden provided a lovely fade from the palest pink to a bright magenta with the peonies blooming now.

sizzix geese crossing tutorial peonies value playI love the natural ombres and vibrant colors found in nature and thoroughly enjoy combining natural inspiration with quilty projects. It is so fun to try to stitch the beauty around me into the quilts in my hands!

Where in nature do you find the most inspiration? Flowers? Colors in general? Textures? or simply through the endless variety of growth and new life that appears before our eyes daily?

Psst… stop and smell the flowers today!

I’m linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts Finish it up Friday with this finished flimsy!


Oakshott Lipari Blog Hop: Vesuvius Quilt

Today I’m excited to be a part of the Oakshott Lipari blog hop, your final stop for those of you who have been following along. So many fabulous projects have been made with the fat eighths bundle of the new Lipari line, so I encourage you to also check out the others along the hop, linked at the bottom of this post. Many thanks to Lynne and Michael at Oakshott for including me in the hop!

This was my first time working with Oakshott fabrics, and they are so luxurious! They are a woven fabric and feel almost silky to the touch. They feel more substantial than other shot cottons I’ve used, and the Lipari line looks iridescent since the warp is black and the weft is a bright jewel tone. These fabrics come to life when you see them in person–photos truly don’t do them justice. The Lipari line was inspired by volcanoes and the description from Oakshott says it best: “Lipari perfectly captures the primordial beauty of the Aeolian islands. Its luminous colours mirror cobalt seas, lush greenery, pink bougainvillea and shimmering sun; a beauty shot through with dark, fine-grained volcanic rock and black sand.” As soon as I read this description, I knew my quilt had to be a reflection of this volcanic inspiration. Thus, my Vesuvius quilt was born.

oakshott lipari vesuvius quilt sizzix I made my Vesuvius quilt with 60 degree triangles, to elicit the sharp peaks of the mountainous volcanoes. I pulled in some Ruby Red – Toledo for the molten focal triangle, and let the Lipari steal the show. I used my Sizzix die cutting machine to speed up the cutting process. I really wanted to photograph this quilt next to a volcano, but I had to settle for some blueberry barrens and a Maine coast beach.

oakshott lipari blog tour vesuvius quilt sizzixI quilted Vesuvius with 50 wt Aurifil thread 1246-Grey, which blended wonderfully with the Lipari Pollara (grey) I used as a background color. I used the walking foot on my domestic Bernina 560 to quilt straight lines 1″ apart, switching up directions in various sections of the quilt to provide movement and added interest. I LOVE how it turned out!

oakshott lipari blog tour vesuvius quilt sizzixThe Lipari Porticello (dark green) backing shows the quilting wonderfully, although it’s tough to get the full effect through photos!

oakshott lipari blog tour vesuvius quilt sizzixoakshott lipari blog tour vesuvius quilt sizzixI was torn on what color to use as the binding, but decided that Lipari Gallina (purple) frames it nicely.

oakshott lipari blog tour vesuvius quilt sizzixThis quilt finishes at 36″x43″ so would make a wonderful wall hanging or sophisticated baby quilt. You could also add borders to make it larger.


Here’s how to make your very own Vesuvius quilt! (Note that Oakshott Lipari fabric is 54″ wide. Typical quilting cotton is approximately 42″ wide, so plan accordingly)


A fat eighths bundle of Oakshott Lipari
1/8 yard of Oakshott Ruby Red Toledo
3/4 yard additional Lipari Pollara (grey)-negative space
1 1/4 yards Lipari Porticello (dark green)-backing
1/3 yard Lipari Gallina (purple)-binding
42″ x 50″ piece of batting
Sizzix die cutting machine
Sizzix XL Triangle, Equilateral 4 3/4″ x 5 1/2″ unfinished die
Rotary cutter, cutting mat with 60 degree lines, and ruler
Thread (I used Aurifil 50wt 1246-Grey for both piecing and quilting)
Sewing machine with a walking foot (I use a Bernina 560)
Rotary cutter
Hera marker
Small thread snip scissors


Using your method of choice (see below for instructions for each method), cut the following number of triangles from each fabric:

88 grey (Lipari Pollaro)
9 red (Ruby Red Toledo)
From fat eighth Lipari bundle:
20 purples
27 greens/yellows
12 browns
19 blues
4 black-red
8 black

Using a Sizzix die cutting machine

I used my Sizzix Fabi and BigZ Triangle, Equilateral 4 3/4″ x 5 1/2″ unfinished die to speed up the cutting process.

sizzix fabi equilateral triangle oakshott vesuvius quilt tutorialWhen using your sizzix, cut 5″ x width of fat eighth strips of fabric of each color, fold them over the die blade in the Sizzix cutting sandwich (bottom cutting pad, die with the blade face up, fabric, top cutting pad), and cut 9 triangles at a time. Note that the Oakshott fat eighths are 10″ x 27″, which are larger than a typical quilting cotton 9″ x 21″ fat eighth.

sizzix fabi equilateral triangle oakshott vesuvius quilt tutorialAfter passing each strip of fabric through the Fabi die cutting machine, you can reposition the remaining fabric and cut triangles from the “scraps”.

If you don’t have a Sizzix, read on to find out how to cut 60 degree triangles with your rotary cutter, using the lines on your cutting mat.

Using a rotary cutter and the lines on your cutting mat

First, cut strips 4 3/4″ by width of fabric. *Note: You can leave the fabric strip folded in half or doubled up if you’re using the width of fat eighth strips, allowing you to cut two triangles at a time!

sizzix fabi equilateral triangle oakshott vesuvius quilt tutorialFind the 30 degree line on your cutting mat. Yes, we are making 60 degree triangles by cutting along the 30 degree line (You have a 90 degree square to begin, trim off 30 degrees, then you’re left with 60 degrees!)

equilateral triangle cutting with mat vesuvius quilt tutorialAlign the bottom of your fabric strip along the 1-inch line. I use the 1-inch line so that you can see where the 30 degree line extends above and below the fabric. Place the edge of your ruler along the 30 degree line.

equilateral triangle cutting with mat vesuvius quilt tutorialUsing your rotary cutter, cut your fabric on the ruler angle.

equilateral triangle cutting with mat vesuvius quilt tutorialFlip your fabric strip over, then align the bottom edge with the 1-inch line on your mat, so that the bottom point of your cut is on the 30 degree line.

equilateral triangle cutting with mat vesuvius quilt tutorialAgain, place the edge of your ruler along the 30 degree line. Using your rotary cutter, cut your fabric on the ruler angle. You now have your 60 degree triangle, or two (2) if you kept your fabric strip folded in half. Cut as many as you need.

Piecing the Quilt Top

oakshott lipari blog tour vesuvius quilt sizzixOnce your pieces are cut, lay them out as shown. A piece of batting wrapped around a large wall board works well, but I have been often known to use my design floor to help with layout, too! (Sizing Note: if you want a larger quilt, you could add a row of grey (Lipari Pollara) triangles to the right and left sides before sewing the rows together to maintain the outer triangle points when adding borders. Then, trim square and add rectangular borders to the desired size.)

Be sure to keep the grain of fabric running top to bottom (the woven texture of the Oakshott Lipari makes this easy to do since the grain is clearly visible when the fabric is held up to the light). Once your pieces are laid out as desired, it’s time to sew them together! Chain piecing helps the process go quickly and smoothly. Here’s how to set it up.

oakshott lipari vesuvius quilt tutorialLabel each horizontal row. I began with 1 on the top and ended with 11 on the bottom and used pins to label the first piece in each row (Note that I labeled each row after stacking, so the pins aren’t visible in these photos).

oakshott lipari vesuvius quilt tutorialCarefully stack the triangles from each row, with the far left piece on top, and keeping the triangles facing the proper direction (this will help you keep them straight while piecing). For example, for row one, you will have the labeled first triangle piece from the far left on top, and carefully pick up each triangle across the row, adding it to the bottom of the stack.

oakshott lipari vesuvius quilt tutorialOnce you have your row stacked, use a clover clip or similar device to hold the stack together.

oakshott lipari vesuvius quilt tutorialGather all of your rows in this manner.

oakshott lipari vesuvius quilt tutorialLay them out in order, making a clear mental note of what row is located where. You could label a sticker on the table next to each stack to help, although simply keeping them in chronological order works well for me. Let’s sew! (Note that a table next to you works better than having the stacks this close to the sewing machine. As you add pieces, your strips will drag your stacks around if you keep them here as shown!)

To speed up the process, we will be chain piecing (sewing without stopping) the first piece to the second piece from every row.
Note: Be sure to keep the pin labeling each row in the first block at all times!!

oakshott lipari vesuvius quilt tutorialOnce you have all of your first pieces sewn to your second pieces, trim the threads to separate, and press. All these bias edges means this is a great time to practice pressing, and NOT ironing. Press: up, down, up. Great!

Alternate which side you press your seam for each row. I pressed odd rows (1, 3, 5, etc.) to the left and even rows (2, 4, 6, etc.) to the right. Pressing open also works well!

oakshott lipari vesuvius quilt tutorialNext, add the next triangle to each row, chain sewing again. You’ll be sewing the third triangle (which is now on top of each stack) to each row. Double check the number pin on the sewn row before adding the next triangle, since you want to be sure to keep your gorgeous layout intact.

oakshott lipari vesuvius quilt tutorialContinue chain piecing, trimming, pressing, and chain piecing again until all of your rows are assembled. As you add each triangle, stack those corners and everything will be right in line!

oakshott lipari vesuvius quilt tutorialSew all of the rows together, pressing seams up toward the grey triangles. I like to pin about 1/8″ after each point where the triangle points will be matching up, and aim to sew *right* through the center of the seam-cross to make sure you don’t cut off any points when sewing the rows together.

Quilting & Finishing

Once your quilt top is pieced, baste as desired. I decided to quilt my quilt before squaring it up because of all of the bias edges. I used 505 basting spray and spray basted for the first time! I used Christa Watson’s design wall spray basting tutorial and can see why people love it.

oakshott lipari vesuvius quilt tutorialI decided to quilt my quilt with straight lines 1″ apart using the walking foot on my Bernina 560. I used a hera marker and a long quilting ruler to mark lines 1/2″ from some seams, and then 1″ apart from there. I sectioned the quilting in a few different sections, using straight lines 1″ apart but changing directions in each section. Lines intersect in the Ruby Red triangle, “exploding” out to the sides (like a volcanic eruption!?). The quilting lines don’t intersect anywhere else in the quilt. I really love the finished effect.

oakshott lipari vesuvius quilt tutorialAfter quilting, it’s time to square up the quilt. Using a long, straight edge, trim 1/4″ away from the outer points so that you don’t lose any points when you sew on the binding. Use at least two sets of points to make sure your ruler is straight before cutting.

oakshott lipari vesuvius quilt tutorialSquare up your quilt, trimming off the excess, then bind!

oakshott lipari vesuvius quilt tutorialoakshott lipari vesuvius quilt tutorialViola! Enjoy your Vesuvius Quilt, and please use #vesuviusquilt and tag me @nightquilter if you decide to make one.

Many thanks, again, to Oakshott for providing the fabrics for this project, and for including me in the hop. Make sure to check out the rest of the amazing Lipari projects:

5 May     Allison Dutton       allison-sews.blogspot.com
10 May   Nicholas Ball         quiltsfromtheattic.wordpress.com 
12 May   Helen Purvis          archiethewonderdog.blogspot.com
17 May   Lynn Harris            thelittleredhen.typepad.com
24 May   Jessica Skultety      www.quiltyhabit.com 
26 May   Karin Jordan           www.leighlaurelstudios.com
31 May   Elisabeth Vaughan  sharksdinner.com
2 June     Kitty Wilkin           nightquilter.com <— YOU ARE HERE

Thank you for following along the hop!

*BREAKING NEWS* Volcanic action alert
For those of you who follow me on Instagram, you may have seen the heart-wrenching fate of this quilt, that I so unknowingly aptly named “Vesuvius”: my nearly-four year old son cut into it in three places (along with a trail of destruction that included my Machinger quilting gloves cut into pieces and cuts into a big chunk of fusible fleece).  With the great outpouring of support, commiseration, and suggestions offered by the fantastic community on IG, I’ve decided to make the cuts an added design element, another chapter in the story of the quilt, and sew either black or red patches over the cuts, making them into “fault lines”.

quilt tragedy
One of three cuts, now called “fault lines”, made into the edge of this quilt by my nearly-four year old son.

For now, though, I will put the quilt aside until I can dive into the repair with chuckles and reminiscence instead of lingering tears and frustration. I know that my son did not cut into my quilt maliciously, but it still is a difficult experience. I have made it known that if he ever wants to cut fabric again, he can tell me and I will help him make a quilt. We’ll see where it goes. For now, my Vesuvius Quilt (aka Max’s Fault Lines) is smoking and being buried by ash for a bit. It will rise again some day in the future.