Derby Day Medallion Quilt

Derby Medallion Quilt-5

I'm excited to be today's stop on Melissa Mortenson's Derby Day fabrics blog tour. Not only is Melissa an amazing fabric designer for Riley Blake, but she is an avid and productive blogger over at the Polka Dot Chair. You definitely need to check out her blog as it is chock-full of great tutorials and cute ideas. And, just so you know, she took these amazing photos of my quilt with the horses! I mean, really. How cool! (The other quilts shown can be found on her blog.)

Derby Medallion Quilt-13

But, back to the fabrics.... Melissa and I share a hometown and, as such, it is no surprise that these fabrics hold a soft spot in my heart. They are all about the feeling, excitement and pageantry that is the Kentucky Derby and they are in the happiest shades of blue, pink and green! I am particularly smitten with the large scale florals and those hexagons that remind me of vintage bathroom tile. I can see so many uses for all these great prints.

Derby Medallion Quilt-14

When Melissa asked me if I would make a quilt using her Derby Day fabrics, I immediately said yes. This was the perfect opportunity to demonstrate how to design a medallion quilt using one of the center medallions and a variety of blocks that are included in Make Your Own Medallion. When I decided to write this book, it was important to me that the book was more than a collection of quilt patterns. I wanted it to be a resource that you could use to create a medallion design of your very own. It's the book that I was looking for when I set out to make my first medallion quilt and didn't know where to start. Make Your Own Medallion gives you all the tools you need to mix and match blocks to come up with a unique quilt of your own. That's exactly what I did to make the Derby Day Medallion Quilt and today I am sharing the pattern so you can make one, too!

Derby Medallion Quilt-9

To make the Derby Day Medallion Quilt, you will need:

Make Your Own Medallion

Fabric A:  1 1/2 yards Riley Blake Designs White with Navy Pindot (for background and binding)
Fabric B:  1/2 yard Floral Garland Pink (hexagon)
Fabric C:  1/4 yard or Fat Quarter Horses Navy
Fabric D:  1/2 yard Derby Main Green (floral)
Fabric E:  3/4 yard Haberdashery Blue
Fabric F:  1/4 yard or Fat Quarter Accessories Green
Fabric G:  3/8 yard Ribbon Blue (periwinkle color)
Fabric H:  1 1/8 yard Cross My Heart Pink- from Shine Bright Fabric Line by Simple Simon for Riley Blake Designs

Finished Size: 52 1/2'' x 52 1/2''


Center Medallion: Cut and sew the Spinning Star medallion on page 82 of Make Your Own Medallion using Fabrics A, B, C and D.

Border 1:

1. Cut (2) strips 2'' x WOF from Fabric H. Sub-cut these into (2) strips 2'' x 12 1/2'' and (2) strips 2'' x 15 1/2''.

2. Sew (1) 2'' x 12 1/2'' strip to each the left and right sides of the center medallion. Press the seams towards Border 1. Sew (1) 2'' x 15 1/2'' strip to each the top and bottom edge of the quilt top. Press the seams towards Border 1.

Border 2:

3. Cut and sew (16) 3'' finished Equal-Triangles from Fabrics A and E following the instructions on page 34.

4. Cut and sew (4) 3'' finished Rails from Fabrics A and F following the instructions on page 30.

5. Cut and sew (4) 3'' finished Plus blocks from Fabrics A and F following the instructions on page 31.

6. Construct the left and right borders as indicated and sew to the side edges of the quilt top. Press the seams towards Border 1.


7. Construct the top and bottom borders as indicated and sew to the top and bottom edges of the quilt top. Press the seams towards Border 1.


Border 3:

8. Cut (4) strips 2'' x WOF from Fabric H. Sub-cut these into (2) strips 2'' x 21 1/2'' and (2) strips 2'' x 24 1/2''.

9. Sew (1) 2'' x 21 1/2'' strip to each the left and right sides of the quilt top. Press the seams towards Border 3. Sew (1) 2'' x 24 1/2'' strip to each the top and bottom edge of the quilt top. Press seams towards Border 3.

Border 4:

10. Cut and sew (16) 4'' finished Pinwheel blocks from Fabrics A and G following the instructions on page 57.

11. Cut (4) 4 1/2'' x 8 1/2'' rectangles from Fabric B.

12. Cut (4) 4 1/2'' x 4 1/2'' squares from Fabric C.

13. Construct the left and right borders as indicated and sew to the side edges of the quilt top. Press the seams towards Border 3.


14. Construct the top and bottom borders as indicated and sew to the top and bottom edges of the quilt top. Press the seams towards Border 3.


Border 5:

15. Cut (4) strips 2 1/2'' x WOF from Fabric H. Sub-cut these into (2) strips 2 1/2'' x 32 1/2'' and (2) strips 2 1/2'' x 36 1/2''.

16. Sew (1) 2 1/2'' x 32 1/2'' strip to each the left and right sides of the quilt top. Press the seams towards Border 5. Sew (1) 2 1/2'' x 36 1/2'' strip to each the top and bottom edge of the quilt top. Press seams towards Border 5.

Border 6:

17. Cut and sew (16) 6'' finished House blocks from Fabrics A and E following the instructions on page 55.

18. Cut (4) 6 1/2'' x 12 1/2'' rectangles from Fabric D.

19. Cut (4) 6 1/2'' x 6 1/2'' squares from Fabric B.

20. Construct the left and right borders as indicated and sew to the side edges of the quilt top. Press the seams towards Border 5.


21. Construct the top and bottom borders as indicated and sew to the top and bottom edges of the quilt top. Press the seams towards Border 5.


Border 7:

22. Cut (5) strips 2 1/2'' x WOF from Fabric H. Sub-cut (4) strips to measure 2 1/2'' x 42 1/2''. Sub-cut remaining (1) strip into (2) strips 2 1/2'' x 6 1/2'' and (2) strips 2 1/2'' x 10 1/2''.

23. To make the side borders (2 1/2'' x 48 1/2''): Sew (1) 2 1/2'' x 42 1/2'' strip to each of the (2) 2 1/2'' x 6 1/2'' strips. Press the seam towards one side. Sew (1) border to each the left and right edges of the quilt top. Press seams towards Border 7.

24. To make the top and bottom borders (2 1/2'' x 52 1/2''): Sew (1) 2 1/2'' x 42 1/2'' strip to each of the (2) 2 1/2'' x 10 1/2'' strips. Press the seam towards the side. Sew (1) border to each the top and bottom edge of the quilt top. Press seams towards Border 7.


25. Sandwich, baste and quilt as desired. (I used free-motion loops.)

26. Cut (6) strips 2 1/2'' x WOF from Fabric A for double-fold binding. Bind quilt in your preferred method.

Derby Medallion Quilt-2

If you make the Derby Day Medallion quilt, I'd love to see your version! Tag me (@houseonhillroad) and Melissa (@polkadotchair) on Instagram and use the hashtags #makeyourownmedallion #derbydayfabrics .

This post contains affiliate links.

Make Your Own Medallion: Centerpiece


Centerpiece quilt by house on hill road

photograph by Page and Pixel

Hey there! For those of you going to QuiltCon, I will have a book signing for Make Your Own Medallion at the Lucky Spool booth TOMORROW (Thursday, February 22nd) at 1:30 pm. Come by and say hello! I will be walking the floor on Thursday and Friday with Fatty (yes, he's coming, too!) so if you see me, please introduce yourself. I am excited to go - this will be my third QuiltCon. I am not taking any classes. The main reason I am going is to see my quilt, Centerpiece, hang in the show.


Centerpiece styled

photograph by Page and Pixel

Centerpiece was one of the first quilts I designed for Make Your Own Medallion. I wanted to show that while medallion quilts are mostly traditional, they can also be modern. To do that, I made sure to include a lot of negative space and solid fabrics. The flying geese and half square triangles nod to tradition, but make a strong graphic statement. Don't let all those pieces intimidate you! Most of the piecing is done in the center and one border and can be easily chain-pieced, making it come together faster than you'd think. That kind of sewing is meditative to me - I just put on a podcast or music and get in a groove. If that is not your thing, you can swap different blocks in and really make this your own.

I'm super excited to see Centerpiece hanging at QuiltCon. I'll be sure to post photos over on Instagram while we are there. But now, I need to finish packing for my flight that leaves in about 3 hours! If you will be at QuiltCon and are still waiting to get your own copy of Make Your Own Medallion, they will be for sale at the Lucky Spool booth. For those of you staying home, you can grab one in my shop or at Amazon (affiliate link).  If you make Centerpiece or any other project from the book, please use the hashtag #makeyourownmedallion and tag me so I can see YOUR medallions!


Make Your Own Medallion: Studio Window

Studio window quilt by erin burke harris

photograph by Page and Pixel

As I was thinking about what order to showcase the quilts from my new book, Make Your Own Medallion, it seemed fitting to start at the beginning. Studio Window started as a 12'' block that I drew with a pencil and ruler on a piece of copy paper. After I had finished it, I had the idea of making it into a center medallion and started searching for a book that would help me figure out the math needed to make a medallion. When I couldn't find a book that fit the bill, I decided to write that book.

My studio window2

It's hard to pick favorites when it comes to my own quilts, but this one will always be towards the top of the list. The color palette was inspired directly from the view I have out the window of my third floor sewing space. I don't think that it is a color combination that I would have chosen if I sat in front of my fabrics contemplating a new quilt. But one fall day when I looked up from what I was sewing, I saw our Japanese maple framed by the stained glass and aqua walls and immediately pulled every fabric in this quilt from my stash. That said, I can imagine this quilt sewn up with all different kinds of fabrics - solids, scraps, in rainbow order. It's a very versatile design!


photograph by Page and Pixel

Studio Window is a great quilt on its own or to use as a template of sorts to make your own medallion. I designed it on the fly, border by border, and you could do the same with blocks of your own choosing. The size of the medallion block is 12'' finished, which allows you to swap in any other 12'' block for it if you want. The borders are a combination of pieced blocks and single fabrics, all with cornerstones. There are myriad opportunities to switch out the blocks in each border, change up the cornerstones, replace the single fabric borders with pieced blocks and vice versa. And at 66" finished, it's large enough for a throw quilt, but not too large to be overwhelming to make. Want to make it bigger? Keep building it out, border by border! Smaller? Stop when it is the size you like.

I love seeing how you all are using the book to make your own medallions. Please tag your Instagram posts with the #makeyourownmedallion hastag. If you still need a copy, you can find autographed copies of Make Your Own Medallion in my shop or buy one without my signature from Amazon (affiliate link). They will also be for sale at QuiltCon at next weekend (February 22 - 25) in Pasadena. I'll be doing a signing at the Lucky Spool booth on Thursday, the 22nd at 1:30 pm - please come say hello!

Make Your Own Medallion: Available NOW

Make Your Own Medallion_frontcover_websmall

My newest book, Make Your Own Medallion: Mix and Match Borders to Build Your Quilt from the Center Out, is available now. This book has been a long time coming and I am beyond thrilled that it is finally out in the world for you all to hold, see and use.

The idea for this book came to me when I wanted to make a medallion quilt, but couldn't find any resources to do so. Never one to shy away from a sewing challenge, I jumped in and started fiddling around with fabric. As I made my quilt, I kept thinking about how there needed to be a book about customizing medallions - different centers, different blocks for borders, multiple sizes of blocks with the math all figured out. Really, all the tricks and tools that I wish I could have had at my fingertips when I started my medallion.

Spoiler Alert: I WROTE THE BOOK!

Actually, that is over-simplified. I pitched my idea to Susanne Woods of Lucky Spool Media and, with her guidance, developed the idea into Make Your Own Medallion.  The book contains all you need to design your own medallion quilt - 30 individual blocks in three to six sizes each and 6 stand-alone center medallions. Think of this book as the chose-your-own adventure version of quilting. Pick a center and add to it border by border! And no need to worry about the math - I did it all for you! If designing your own quilt isn't your thing, I've got you covered with 6 full quilt patterns, each with a unique medallion. There really is something for everyone in here!

I'm going to take some time over the next few weeks to highlight the different quilts and medallions here on the blog. I want to show you how to use the book and get those creative juices flowing. I've already seen a few glimpses of projects on Instagram and it makes me so happy to see people jumping in and starting their own project. If you make something and post it, please tag me and use the hashtag #makeyourownmedallion . I am so excited to see what you all make using the book! I have some quilt-along plans up my sleeve, too. Stayed tuned for that!

 Make Your Own Medallion is for sale in my shop (ships for FREE in the US) and I am happy to dedicate and or sign it for you.  Many of your local quilting stores also have it - I know because I've seen photos on Instagram (exciting!). If your local quilt store doesn't have it, ask about it. It can also be found at Amazon (affiliate link) or other book sellers.

Centerpiece quilt by house on hill road

And, for those of you going to QuiltCon, one of the book quilts, Centerpiece (seen above and quilted by Angela Walters), will be hanging in the show. Pinch me! I decided that I couldn't pass up the opportunity to see my quilt handing so I will be there to walk the floor and for a book signing (more details on that soon). Fatty is joining me for this adventure! If you see us, please say HELLO. I promise, we don't bite. ;)

Back here soon with more information on the quilts in the book. I'm so excited to share them with you all. Until then, happy quilting!

And it's January


I looked up this week and it is January. How did that happen? December whizzed on by like no one's business. Logically, I know that this is how it works. That time between Thanksgiving and the new year is jam-packed with holiday things, end-of-year things, school things and, in our house, some birthdays and, most years, some travel. But, still. That went fast.

The girls went back to school yesterday and it was time. I was also sad to have an empty house. Funny how that works, huh? Jane is skating into the second semester of her senior year of high school and Kate is nearing the halfway mark of her high school career. If I really start thinking about how fast time is moving, I want to scream, "STOP!" I don't though. These young women are delightful and mature and ready for their next steps. I am proud of the individuals they are - kind, creative, generous, smart, interesting. I know they are moving on to great things (college for Jane, driving for Kate) and I love being their mom. I would like it if they would keep their rooms clean, but I realize that is my fantasy, not theirs.

I spent the first few months of the year working on my new book, Make Your Own Medallion (shameless plug and Amazon affiliate link). It has been winging its way into shops and mailboxes in the last week or so and I cannot wait to see what you all do with it. I'm immensely proud of this accomplishment. It was a long time in the making and I am thrilled that it is finally out in the world. One of the quilts was accepted into QuiltCon and will be hanging in Pasadena in February. Talk about a bucket list item checked off! I won't be there (insert sad face emoji), but I hope to see photos of it on Instagram (please tag me if you take one!). Back to the Make Your Own Medallion, though. I promise much more information and details soon - it obviously deserves its own post. I also have some fun project ideas up my sleeve using the book and hope you will join me. It's going to be fun!

I sewed some other quilts this year, too. They were all gifts or charity donations or added to the Harris family collection. I was horrible about documenting most of them. I want to do better at writing about my process and taking photos of what I make this year. Sure, there are snippets of most, if not all, on Instagram, but I do miss the pre-IG blogging days for that reason. If I had to choose a craft-related resolution, I think that would be it: more documentation. But I don't really do resolutions so I am just going to make a bigger effort to document my projects in 2018. That, to me, seems doable.

Knitting has become my downtime craft of choice these days. I love how I can knit and talk or knit and watch TV wherever my family is instead of being squirreled away in the studio by myself. I have found that sewing is good for when the kids are at school and Fatty is at work or I have a day with little commitments. It reminds me of how I used to sew when the girls were sleeping. I still do that, of course, but it's me sewing on a Saturday morning while the two of them sleep in. Times have changed! Knitting works best when they are awake, when they need me, when I have to wait for them. I also love that I knitted 2 2/3 sweaters for myself last year, 2 wraps and a lot of socks. And the yarn. We won't talk about the yarn. Gotta work on knitting through it all before I start clicking "buy" again.

Fatty continues to be my best friend. We traveled many places in 2017 - some together, some as a family - with big plans for more travel in 2018. He still reads all the time, rides his bikes often and makes me laugh daily. We watched some good TV and saw some great films together this year. The ones I am not interested in, he watches on his own or with his buddy (thank you, Pope). Life is fun with Fatty by my side and I can't wait for more good times ahead.

The collage of photos above is my best nine from Instagram. I think it is a pretty good representation of my year - my book! quilts! knitting! the girls! Fatty! champagne and french fries! I am generally over there, posting one photo (if not more) each day. It's also the home of my gratitude practice, where I post a photo and a list of things I am grateful for each day. There aren't any hard and fast rules as to how much I post except that I try to find three things to be thankful for even on the crappiest of crappy days. In the process, I have become a happier person. It's truly been transformative and I don't plan on stopping soon or, really, ever. I don't always list my constant gratitudes (family, friends, shelter, food, freedom), but please know I include those of you who take the time to read what I write, support what I do and follow along with my creative pursuits in that group. Thank you for sticking with me all these years, especially when through the times when it is more silence than not. I appreciate it deeply.

And so we go, my friends. Onward! Here's to a beautiful 2018.

The Fussy Cut Sampler Week One


A few weeks ago, my copy of The Fussy Cut Sampler by Nichole Ramirez and Elisabeth Woo arrived on my doorstep. It is such a beautiful book with 48 great quilt blocks that made me want to cut up some fabric right away. Nichole and Elisabeth walk the reader through all the in's and out's of perfecting fussy cuts in quilts which is something I could use some help with. I have fussy cut before, but not to the extent these ladies do, and let me tell you, just reading through I was having all kinds of a-ha moments. They are so smart!

To top things off, there is a sew-along happening right now for the book. It started this past week and continues through the summer with the goal of four blocks each week. You can get all the details on Nichole and Elisabeth's blog. (There are some amazing prizes!!!) I really tried to resist, but it was useless. I had to jump in.


Here are my first four blocks. I am working only from my stash and only in blue and white. The constraints are making me really stretch myself and that is good. It's kind of crazy just how much fabric I have that fits those parameters! I am going to try and stay on track with the sew-along, but no promises. It's summer, my kids need me more, we are traveling some and I am still working behind the scenes on my book. All good stuff. Sewing, included.

This post contains an affiliate link.

Make Your Own Medallion


You guys! Today is a great day. It's my 46th birthday AND this is my new book!

I am so excited to announce that Make Your Own Medallion, published by Lucky Spool Media, will be available in November 2017. I am enamored with medallion quilts and have so much fun designing and making them. I wrote this book so you can have the tools to design your own quilt from the center out. It includes 6 stand-alone medallion quilt patterns that you can follow as written as well as 6 additional center medallion patterns and.....wait for it....30 (yes, THIRTY) different quilt blocks in at least 3 (but sometimes up to 6!) sizes so you can build your own medallion quilt border by border until it is just how you want it. The best part? I did the math for you (and I had fun while doing it!).

Of course, there is a lot more to tell you about the book and I promise I will spill more as the release date gets closer. In the meantime, it is available for pre-order on Amazon. If you do pre-order it, thank you! And, please save your receipt/proof of purchase because I will be offering a bonus to send to anyone who pre-orders - details on that coming later this summer. It'll be good - I promise!

I am sincerely grateful the support all of you have given me over the last ten plus years. It's crazy to think that starting a blog on a whim sent me on a journey to writing quilt patterns and books. It has been more than I had ever thought to dream or hope. I appreciate you sticking with me and thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Ok, time to celebrate!

This post contains affiliate links.

This time in Liberty

I knew it wouldn't be long before I made a second Ryan Top. Four days since I finished the final hem stitches on my first version, I was wearing my second.

Ryan top 2c

I followed the same process for making this one as I did the first. It's a size L and I omitted the neck facings and used a bias tape instead. I did cut my bias strips at 1 1/4" instead of 1 1/2" and I think this was a better choice. It's a much better and proportionate fit. The fabric I used was two separate pieces of Liberty Tana Lawn that I bought back in 2010 when we took a family trip to London. The pattern pieces *just* fit. One of my fabric pieces was slightly longer than the other so I used that for the bodice pieces, but it was still too short for the pattern as designed. To make it work, I shortened the torso by 3 1/2" at the bottom edge and folded the selvedges in towards the center of the fabric to give me 2 folded edges. For the front and back yokes, I folded the fabric in the same manner. It took some serious arranging and the fabric pattern on the back yoke may be upside down (who's looking?), but I made it work. Take that, Tim Gunn.

Ryan top 2b

It's still a little snug under the arms and if I had had a more generous cut of fabric, I would have tried adding a smidge of width - maybe a 1/2" or so? Alas, it was not to be and the resulting top is still totally wearable. I love the length on this shorter version just as much as I like the long length on the original one - it's just a different look. This one worked great with my boyfriend jeans and will be equally as cute with shorts. Yay!

This week is a busy one and I wasn't holding out high hope to get much sewing accomplished. This top is so damn quick to come together - I think my total time cutting and sewing was just at 2 hours - that I couldn't resist jumping in. I do love a fast sew! I also managed to work a tiny bit on one of the quilts I have under construction in a spare hour on Monday and am wishing for a small chunk of time to put the finishing touches on the last blocks. Sometimes I get so discouraged when my time is limited. To that end, I have spent hours and hours each week at physical therapy for two minor, yet painful and annoying injuries over the last two months. It has really eaten into my creative time and that is has started to wear on me. I miss the making. I realize that I just need to change my lens when it comes to how I approach making at the moment. There ARE more minutes available to me than I think. I just have to find them. Have you read Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert? (I LOVED it! And I would highly recommend it and, yes, that is an affiliate link.) There's this part when she suggests having an affair with your creative work. Get sneaky. Steal the time to create. Revel in the process. Do the work. Don't tell anyone what you are doing. Just keep it a secret. That is the notion fueling me right now.

Ryan top 2a

Scraps, Inc. Vol. 2 - Argyle Medallion (and a giveaway!)

Scraps, Inc. Vol. 2 is hitting the shelves soon and I am thrilled to have a quilt in it. Published by Lucky Spool Media, this follow-up book to the widely popular and beautifully done, Scraps, Inc. Vol. 1, is much like the first. It is chock full of great quilt projects, all of which are designed with using scraps in mind. There are patterns for 15 different quilts made by 15 different designers. It's also a visual feast with gorgeous photography by Nydia Kehnle.


I made my quilt, Argyle Medallion, last summer over the course of a few days. At the time, the hydrangeas in my yard and down my street were awash in pink, purple and blue blooms and that directly inspired the color palette. I think it would be striking in a monochromatic palette or using a true, anything goes scrappy vibe. The quilt uses a few different piecing techniques, a variety of shapes and is very fun to put together. I'm a fan of negative space and I think that this quilt has that in spades. Natalia Bonner quilted it and she did the most amazing job with zero direction from me. She made it sing!


There are so many wonderful quilts in this book that I am anxious to make. Each quilt specifies what kind of scraps it uses - squares or strips. I love this little bit - it makes digging through and sorting scraps for projects that much easier.


Scraps, Inc. Vol 2 is available to order in the Tauton Store. To make it even sweeter, save 30% through February 16th by entering the code Scraps30. I am also giving away a copy of the book here on the blog. To enter, leave me a comment and let me know what quilters inspire you with their use of scraps. I'll leave the giveaway open until Sunday, February 14 at 6:00 pm EST.

Want to see more? Be sure to check out the blog tour stops!

Monday, February 8

Amy Smart, Diary of a Quilter

Nydia Kehnle, Nydia Kehnle Design + Photography

Tuesday, February 9

Amy Friend, During Quiet Time

Alexandra Ledgerwood, Teaginny Designs

Wednesday, February 10

April Rosenthal, April Rosenthal - The {Studio} Blog

Dorie Schwarz, Tumbling Blocks

Thursday, February 11

Erin Harris, House on Hill Road

Janice Ryan, Better Off Thread

Friday, February 12

John Adams, Quilt Dad

Kari Vojtechovsky, Craft Happy

Saturday, February 13

Katie Blakesley, Swim Bike Quilt

Kati Spencer, From the Blue Chair

Sunday, February 14

Melissa Lunden, Lunden Designs

Allison Harris, Cluck Cluck Sew

Sherri McConnell, A Quilting Life  


July 31

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August 1

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Secret sewing by house on hill road

Summer. So lovely and bright, but so hard to get a hold of, if that makes any sense.

Fatty and I went to Switzerland! It was amazing - full of good food, good people, amazing scenery. It was a fast week, full to the brim with fun, but re-entry is always hard. Schools starts next week. Books are purchased, along with new uniforms, a fancy graphing calculator and 14 sewing machines for the arts elective that my friend, Jill, and I teach. Exciting stuff! There have been volleyball tryouts and auditions for the school play are next week. Summer reading is almost complete! It doesn't seem like time to go back, but I can tell that in some ways, we are all ready.

It's been quiet on the sewing front, or I should say, on the show-and-tell sewing front. I did a little secret sewing for my friend, Kim, and her new fabric line, Good Hair Day. More details on that in the next month or two.  The studio is getting cleaned out. Scrap bags and a fabric destash coming up soon! Otherwise, I've been lying low. I picked up a stomach bug somewhere along the way and am still battling it a bit, hopeful that it is almost gone.

I have found myself reaching for my big camera instead of my iphone more these days. There is something about the light that makes me want to capture it as best as I can. Turns out, I had missed using it. I am happy to be doing something about that.

Reading. Always. Loved The Vacationers and The Rocks (affiliate links). Both are set in Mallorca - I had no idea so that was a fun coincidence. Anything you care to recommend?

The Paper-Pieced Home

I am always amazed at the paper piecing designs that my friend, Penny Layman, makes. Seriously wowed. And when I heard that she was writing a book, I was anxious to get my hands on it. I imagined that it would be chock-full of cute patterns and also all the information needed to paper piece successfully. I was right!

The Paper-Pieced Home - jacket art

I admit that I am a huge fan of Penny and completely biased, but that aside, this is a great book. The Paper-Pieced Home by Penny Layman has 40 different paper piecing blocks and 14 projects all centering around house and home. The designs have a retro vibe and are all well thought out. The best part? The designs come on an included CD that makes printing the foundations a breeze. Just pop it into the computer and print what you need.

Oven mitt block

I have told Penny and I will tell you: paper piecing is not my favorite piecing method. There I said it. BUT when the block is as well designed as Penny's are, it does make for some enjoyable sewing. Take the oven mitt block that I chose for this blog tour. It includes many tiny bits and the thought of anything remotely fussy almost always makes me want to run. Not this! It was a JOY to put together and I was able to do it easily and confidently given all the information that Penny relays in her book. I think it took me about thirty minutes after printing the foundation. Not bad! And pretty cute, if I may say so myself! I did increase the overall size of the block by about two inches by adding a border. Of course, I plan on making this into a hot pad (perfect for an oven mitt, right?!?).

I encourage you to take a few minutes and check out the other stops on the blog tour. Be prepared to be overwhelmed by all the darling blocks people are making. Seriously, so cute.

The Paper-Pieced Home

Blog Tour Schedule

3/16       McCall’s Quilting / Sewing Machine Block
3/17       Love of Quilting / Review
3/17       Sandi Sawa Hazlewood  of Crafty Planner / Watering Can Block
3/18       Quilty Pleasure (Quiltmaker blog) / Review
3/18       Imagine Gnats / Rotary Phone Block
3/20       Verykerryberry / Lion Block
3/21       Artisania / Cast-Iron Skillet Block
3/23       Where the Orchids Grow / Lamp Block
3/24       Katie Blakesley of Swim Bike Quilt / Layer Cake Block
3/24       House on Hill Road / Oven Mitt Block
3/24       Lee Heinrich of Freshly Pieced / BBQ Grill Block
3/26       Pink Penguin / Allie-Gator Block
3/26       A Happy Stitch / Giraffe Block
3/27       Bijou Lovely / Jar Block
3/27       Two Little Banshees / Saucepan Block
3/27       Charise Creates / Espresso Mug Block
3/30      Karen Lewis Textiles / Couch Block
3/31       Poppyprint / Clawfoot Tub Block
3/31       One Shabby Chick / Stack of Books Block
3/31       During Quiet Time / Sleeveless Dress Block
4/06      Pat Sloan The Voice of Quilting / Author Podcast Interview


More information on the book can be found here on the Interweave site:

The Paper-Pieced Home: Quilting a Household One Block at a Time

By Penny Layman
Interweave/F+W; $26.99


Recent Reading List

Yarn and books

With the holiday weekend coming up in the U.S., I thought I would share my most recent reads just in case someone was looking for a good book to take while traveling or enjoy post-turkey. In no particular order, this is what I have read since my last book list. Other lists can be found here (keep scrolling down!)

Yes Please by Amy Poehler - I loved this! Of course, I admit that I am biased because Amy and I were friends in college. Fangirl since 1989!

Moscow Rules by Daniel Silva - Still making my way through these Gabriel Allon thrillers and still loving them. I also read The Messenger and The Secret Servant, two other titles in this series.

One Plus One by Jojo Moyes - I enjoy books by this author. They are generally lighthearted (most of them) and fast reads with likeable characters. I also read Silver Bay.

The Dance of the Seagull by Andrea Camilleri - Reading this book, Treasure Hunt and Angelica's Smile all by the same author, was like rediscovering my old friend Inspector Montalbano. I tore through all three of these books quickly. These mysteries are set in Sicily and are best read in chronological order. I read the other books in the series in the summer of 2012.

City of Dragons by Kelli Stanley - Set in 1940 San Francisco with femal private investigator as the protagonist, this was a little slow to start for me, but I enjoyed the story.

Frog Music by Emma Donoghue - I know that many people enjoyed this book, but it was not one of my favorites. Not sure why.

The Headmaster's Wife by Thomas Christopher Greene - I did not know where this book was going until the end and I loved that.

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin - Such a touching book. I really did not want it to end.

Now You See Me by Sharon Bolton - This is a mystery/thriller that is a little graphic and psychologically intense. I really liked the story, the characters are fantastic, but I had to read it during daylight hours instead of in bed at night. Once I finished that one, I moved on to Dead Scared which has the same main character and was equally as thrilling, but not as graphic as the first. I think these will be a series.

Bittersweet by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore - I adored this one. It's long and the story has many layers with an interesting cast of characters, most of which are multi-generational members of the same family.

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion - My book club read this earlier in the fall and I thought it was a very enjoyable, fun read.

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty - The main character in this book had temporary amnesia and thinks that she is living 10 years earlier than she really is. It's a fun read, but had me thinking. My book group is reading this now and I am anxious to discuss this with them. I also read Big Little Lies and Three Wishes by the same author and they are fun and funny reads.

We Only Know So Much by Elizabeth Crane - This story about a multi-generational family with its fair share of problems is told from all their points of view. I liked it.

The Secret Place by Tana French - I adore this author's novels. This one is no exception. It's a mystery, surrounding a private girls' school in Dublin.

The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell - This is one I can't tell you much about or I might give something away. Just read it.

Cartwheel by Jennifer DuBois - This is the story of an American student living abroad who is charged with the murder of her roommate. The idea is based on a true story that was newsworthy a few years ago, but this book is not about that. Instead the author takes inspiration from real life and makes a story of her own.

And finally, I re-read Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt. I liked it just as much, if not more, than the first time.


Have you read anything lately that you would recommend? Let me know!

. . . . .

This post contains affiliate links, but I purchased all these books on my own. Of course, the opinions are all mine.

Present Perfect Blog Tour

Present Perfect - jacket art

I'm excited to be participating in the blog tour for Betz White's newest book, Present Perfect! It's a great sewing book filled with a variety of projects perfect for gift giving. As we enter autumn and get closer to the holidays, this book will come in handy for all of your gift giving needs. It contains a wide variety of projects for everyone on your list - men, women, the home, babies and children!

Present perfect 1

When it came time to choose which project I wanted to make, there really wasn't a choice for me. I mean, how could I not choose the Hot Mitt House & Tea Towel set?!? I love how cute it is and how practical, too. Making and giving potholders as gifts is something I do often.  They are great scrap projects and are fast to put together.

Present perfect 3

Present perfect 2

The hot mitt was a quick sew. It took me about an hour from start to finish - awesome! The tea towel took about the same amount of time. I probably could have been faster had I made quicker decisions as to what fabrics to use! Regardless of my indecision, both projects don't take a lot of fabric so there isn't a big commitment material-wise which is great when you want to make a small gift. I also loved that I was able to use some scraps and treasured bits from my stash. You could get super creative with small variations to cover almost any conceivable holiday. How about a gingerbread house for Christmas or a spooky haunted house with a fussy cut ghost or witch in the window and door for Halloween. So fun!



To learn more about Present Perfect, check out Betz's fun trailer. You can also purchase your own copy through the Interweave store or on Amazon (affiliate link). For a look at other wonderful projects from the book, follow along on the blog tour.

Happy Home
1.  Sew Mama Sew – Make & Bake Apron excerpt – Mon, 10/6
2.  Stacy Sews – Falling Leaves Appliquéd Placemats – Tue, 10/7
3.  House on Hill Road – Hot Mitt House & Tea Towel Set – Wed, 10/8
4.  A Happy Stitch – Sweet Life Pillow – Thu, 10/9
Memorable Moments
5.  Sew Sweetness – Wool Courier Bag – Fri, 10/10
6.  Raspberry Sunshine – Gentlemen’s Travel Case – Mon, 10/13
7.  Pink Chalk Fabrics – Pasha Pleated Clutch – Tue, 10/14
8.  The Long Thread – Eye Candy Glasses Case – Wed, 10/15
9.  Made with Moxie – Cargo Tablet Sleeve – Send finished book – Thu, 10/16
10.  Bijou Lovely – Coffee Cash Coin Pouch – Fri, 10/17
New and Little
11.  Flax and Twine – Forest Friends Finger Puppets – Mon, 10/20
12.  Imagine Gnats – Bib, Rattle & Burp Baby Set – Tue, 10/21


Fall, Winter and the First Half of Summer Reading

How to


Here's a comprehensive list of what I've read since my last update. I read a wide range of books - everything from memoirs to total beach reads to JA novels to serious literature. I've listed them in the order they were on my Kindle so there's no ranking or anything like that. In fact, my favorite book so far this year, I only recently read.


W is for Wasted by Sue Grafton (I've read the entire series from A is for Alibi onward and I love these books. I think they keep getting better and better).

Paris by Edward Rutherfurd (This is a dense, historical novel. I enjoyed it.)

Night Film by Marisha Pessl (I thought about this one for a long time when I finished. It's strange, but good.)

The Death of Bees by Lisa O'Donnell (A story of two young sisters with an unconventional living situation and what happens to them - charming and a bit sad, but it has its bright moments, too.)

Just One Evil Act by Elizabeth George (Again, I have read everything Ms. George has written and I will continue to devour her mysteries. So, so good.)

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (Beautiful, sad, uplifting with compelling and likeable characters - a great JA novel that I read so I could discuss it with the girls. It was hard to put down.)

The Confessor by Daniel Silva. And also by him A Death in Vienna and Prince of Fire. (I really enjoy these spy/assasin thrillers.)

The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert (I liked this one quite a bit. The story of the main character kept me guessing throughout.)

The End of the Point by Elizabeth Graver (The story of a multi-generational family centered around their summer home.)

The Bloodletter's Daughter by Linda Lafferty (This one is a little strange, but I was compelled to finish it. I'd love to hear what you thought if you have read it.)

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (It won the Pulitzer Prize. Fatty loved it. I liked it. Read it yourself and form your own opinion.)

Still Life With Breadcrumbs by Anna Quindlen (I love the way Anna Quindlen writes about women. This was very enjoyable. I also read One True Thing by the same author, which is a look at a mother/daughter relationship - a nice read.)

The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan (Not my favorite by Amy Tan, but still a great story with many layers.)

The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty (A quick read - I saw the plot unfold before it did, but I still enjoyed it.)

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (I won't give it away, but I'm sure you may know what this is about. Again, I read it to keep up with my kids. I tore through it and enjoyed every last word.)

The Unlikely Pilmgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce (I'm not sure how I picked it, but I liked the story of Harold and his journey.)

The Little Giant of Aberdeen County by Tiffany Baker (I wasn't sure what this was going to be about, but I was surprised at the turns in the plot and the development of the main character.)

A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki (This one had me thinking, in a good way. It's a very compelling story.)

Magnolia City by Duncan W. Alderson (Total page turner, beach read, long in length.)

Ladies Night by Mary Kay Andrews. (This is another tear-through book with a pretty predictable plot, but still highly enjoyable. Perfect for poolside or the beach. Since I read this one, I have also read Summer Rental, Spring Fever, Savannah Blues, Savannah Breeze and Save the Date, all by the same author, all in the same vein.)

Delicious by Ruth Reichl (This is fiction, unlike her other books. A quick, fun read).

Delancey by Molly Wizenberg (If you follow Molly's blog, Orangette, and/or have read her first book, A Homemade Life, you will find this very enjoyable. If you haven't read the blog or the other book, you will still like this memoir quite a bit.)

How to Catch a Frog by Heather Ross (Just read it. You will love the way Heather recounts her unconventional childhood and how it has formed her into the person and artist she is today. Plus, it's funny.)

Bellweather Rhapsody by Kate Racculia (This is about high school students at a large arts conference - there's a mystery involved, too. The characters are well thought-out and it was among my favorites of this year.)

Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead (Centered around a family wedding on an East coast island, this one feels like summer.)

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (This book! The story is wonderful, the characters charming and is right now my favorite book of the year.)

The Promise by Ann Weisgarber (I felt like this one ended too soon. I'd be curious to hear thoughts from anyone else who has read it.)

Point of Direction by Rachel Weaver (Short, but packs a wallop. I really liked this story of two people who choose to live in a light house in Alaska.)


That is A LOT of books, you all. Go and Read. Enjoy the holiday weekend


Just a note - these are affiliate links, but I purchased all the books on my own. Of course, the opinions expressed are also all mine.



Balancing work and play

Improv top

While in Nashville a couple of weekends ago, I finished this quilt top. These are the improv blocks I made last month, sashed with various widths of Kona Snow and sewn together with a few empty blocks. It's about 6o" square - a nice throw size.

This is one of my favorite kinds of quilting. I keep saying that, don't I? The freedom of improv lends itself to fun, and when I am having fun, I am definitely my most creative. I need to remember this for those moments when I'm doubting myself or feel stuck. If I put aside what is giving me trouble and just sew fabric together without too much thought, the other work tends to sort itself out. Light bulb moment, friends.

I have another improv project in the works at the moment that I am trying to spend a little time on every day. I'm using it as a warm up for another, very large, work project going on. That project is one of those long-term ones, that is printed on paper and put between two covers. (Wink, wink.) The best kind of work! I am super excited to be doing this again and, while I can't share what exactly it is, I can say that it involves lots of sewing. As such, my personal sewing time has been happily cut down to almost nothing during the week. I am relying on these little bursts of improv for fun and to keep me inspired and creating my best work. While I can't share the work sewing, I can share the fun sewing and will do so as I go along.

Quilting with different fabrics and QuiltEssential giveaway


Have you ever wanted to move beyond quilting cotton to other fabrics in your quilts? I wrote a blog post for Sew, Mama, Sew about just that. It's full of good information to get you quilting with everything from denim to linen to velveteen and more. As part of the post, they are also hosting a giveaway of my book, QuiltEssential. Pop on over to throw your name in the hat!

Back here towards the end of the week with more on the triangles up there.


Hey! I'm over at Shari's blog today sharing my favorite read from 2013. Go! Read! Come back!

Nice to see you again.

Popping in here for a short moment this morning. School was canceled for the second day in a row due to zero/subzero temperatures and I am soaking in every single moment I have with these girls. Of course, I might be regretting all the late nights and sleeping in starting at 6:30 tomorrow morning. But seriously, this break, even extended, has been a huge blessing. I have more to say about that, but I'll leave that topic for another day. Instead, I thought I would share the other two gifts I made this Christmas. Both were fast, just like this post is going to be.


First up, Myrtle the Turtle.

I made this for my nephew, Rory. I had pinned it back in the summer when I first saw the tutorial on the Purl Bee. I just thought it was so cute! The Purl's version uses Liberty of London Tana Lawn for the shell, but I went with a regular quilting cotton (one of the DS Quilts prints found at Jo Ann's a couple of years back). I used quilting cotton for the head, legs, arms, tails, too. The bottom is wool felt and the button eyes are vintage. It was a fast sew and I had just enough poly-fill on hand to stuff him up. Word is that he's well loved.


Next up, the tutu from Oliver + S Little Things to Sew.

I've been wanting to make one of these since I saw it in the book. Now that my niece is two and a half, I thought it would be a good addition to the dress-up box. Like the turtle, this was pretty quick to come together. I used five different colors of tulle, all of which were 54" wide. The pattern says that most tulles are 108" wide, but I could not find any myself. I consulted with Kristin, who has made a few herself, and she assured me that it wouldn't matter. She was right! Also, on her advice, I cut the tulle to 28" so that the final length would be 14" - not too long for a little lady, but with some room for growth. I ended up making this entirely on Christmas Eve morning - it took about 1 hour, start to finish, with the hardest/most tedious part being pulling the gathering stitches on the tulle. That said, I'd make it again in a flash. It was fun!

Looking forward, I have been thinking about last year and what is to come this year. I know that you all may be sick of year-in-review/resolution type posts, but I think I've got one (or two?) in me still. Stick with me. There's a quilt top that is almost finished and another one started so good, crafty things are on their way as well.


Links to Amazon are affiliate links.

Interview and Giveaway on Wise Craft (and More)...

Paperpiecing 1

Paperpiecing 2

Hi! Happy Weeeknd! Gratuitous photos of my paper piecing from earlier this week because I cannot post without some photos....

A couple of things:

- Blair of wise craft fame interviewed me about QuiltEssential over on her blog. I was so happy to share more about my book and to talk a little bit about the writing process. Pop over there to read the interview and for a chance to win a copy of your own.

- Quilt market is in less than a week and I will be there! I'll be signing books at the Stash Books booth on Sunday at 11:00. If you are at market, please stop by and say hello. I'd love to meet you.

- There are just a few bags of smalls scraps left in the shop, so if you want one, grab them before they are gone.

Ok. I think that's it. I've got big sewing plans for the weekend. You?

Summer Reading, Part Two

Reading 2

Although the calendar says September and there are traces of fallen leaves, it feels decidedly like summer here. Highs in the mid-90's, killer humidity and a non-stop AC unit  - you get the picture. It's too hot to be outside most of the day. After dinner, when most of the busy-ness of the day is done, the only thing I have been wanting to do is lie on my bed and read. And as such, I thought I'd share the list of books I've finished since my last list.

The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout

And the Mountains Echoes by Khaled Hosseini

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

When I Found You by Catherine Ryan Hyde

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

The English Girl by Daniel Silva (I loved this thriller so much that I started back at the beginning of the series and read The Kill Artist and am half finished with The English Assassin.)

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt

That puts my total summer reading count at 17 books. Not too shabby!