King of Scrap – a fairytale quilt journey

I love to enter quilt challenges.  It’s never about winning. It’s about expanding my creativity for a specific challenge and being accepted.

Winning is just a bonus – and spoilers, there is a giant bonus for this quilt.

A few years ago I found a quilt challenge for Judy Gauthier’s Quilts for Scrap Lovers book. Finding information on her website about the challenge was perfectly timed.  In a place where I imagine most quilter’s reach – having more stash fabric than I know what to do with- this challenge was right up my alley.  Her book is formatted very well with quilt projects that are based on blocks.  Blocks of similar sizes made it quite easy to pick and choose a few favorites to work with.  For her challenge she had a size guide of designing a 72″ quilt which is a very make-able quilt. Not too big, not too small, and will use up a fair amount of scraps.

Working in EQ8 I created a couple of her block designs and started playing with the layout to create a design I liked. Beginning with her Sunshine and Shadows block and Chevron block, I was able to create an on-point quilt layout. My blue bin of fabrics was overflowing so I decided to create a monochromatic quilt with these two blocks. I used EQ8 to create the layout and have an idea for how much fabric I would need.  However I ignored the cutting directions, I already had them written for me in her book. Why bother with EQ8 directions that were asking for 15/16 inches and other odd numbers.  I was making 8″ blocks, I didn’t need any of those odd numbers! Right? Here became a fortuitous accident for the quilt’s story.

I knew I had a mountain of squares to cut. MOUNTAIN. To make this quilt I borrowed an AccuQuilt to help cut the squares but really, it didn’t help at all.  I could only do two layers of fabric at a time and still had waste cuts. After bothering with it for a few hours, I went back to the good ole ruler and rotary cutter.  I tried a Stripology ruler as well, but with having to keep turning it, it wasn’t very useful either. In the end, I believe I counted 2083 squares which many of them had to be turned into half square triangles. Working in these 4″ squares I didn’t really have a size understanding of the quilt. It looked like a lot, but that’s what EQ8 said I needed! So I just kept cutting and quickly realized even though my blue scrap bin was over flowing I wouldn’t have enough fabric.  Spreading into purple and just a bit of aqua, helped fill in the gaps.  Plus ‘shopping’ from my mom’s fabric stash I was able to secure enough fabric.

It was time to assemble!  Going off me design I knew I would be working from majority of light and dark fabrics to create the designs.  Pairing deep blues with light blues I created a million HST units which became the chevron sashes.  I was very excited in how the sash design was forming. It was an 8″ sash to go with 8″ blocks. No worries – right?

It wasn’t until I was a good few weeks in on this project and starting putting units up on my design wall that I realized I had a problem.  My design wall is 72″, the size the quilt needed to be.  Once I was putting up my block units of the quilt I quickly realized my sizes were all off. My units were overlapping and I didn’t have the sash on yet. But how? I made 8″ blocks and 8″ sashes just like I was supposed to! I went back to EQ8 and saw that odd 15/16″ markings again. I figured I just drew a block slightly off but slowly I began to realize something.  I was using Judy’s 8″ block designs but my quilt design was on point. An 8″ block on point is not in fact 8″. It’s actually 11″ across. So those odd numbers that EQ8 was telling me which I ignored – were the right measurements. Doing some more quilt math I quickly realized that my 72″ designed quilt was turning out to be 100″ square. Yep. 72″ to 100″. Time was of the essence.

I believe this was sometime in early December when I realized my sizing error. Still going with the quilt, I emailed Judy to make sure if I submitted a larger quilt it would be ok? She replied yes, that the 72″ was the minimum actually. Oh good, my giant 100″ would still be acceptable! Second question – the challenge was really about creating a design with her blocks. Did it have to be quilted by the deadline as well? I had less than a month to finish making the top, quilt it, and bind it. Add in that it’s December. Family obligations include holiday decorating, planning my daughter’s birthday party, it’s my husband’s birthday as well, Christmas, and leaving on a family trip on December 26th.  Getting the entire quilt done before Christmas even though the deadline was December 31st was just not going to happen.  Luckily for me, a top was all that was needed to submit.

So when you have a 100″ quilt, how on earth do you take a photo of it? Ok, I live in Florida – taking a photo outside is ok – but still the size of it! I moved all my living room furniture out, vacuumed up a million dust bunnies, and laid the quilt on the floor. Taking the picture from my second floor loft was the only way to do it! Dedication for quilting: we do what we need to do, even vacuuming.

I emailed off my picture and went on my family trip. After getting back I knew I wanted to finish the quilt even if it wasn’t accepted.  All that work deserved to be quilted and if all else failed would become a new quilt for our bed.

My quilt was on my Handi Quilter longarm for a good week.  I wanted to add lots of quilting details in the center blocks, sashing, and such.  I’m very happy with this quilting but looking back, I could have kept going! After I had finished the quilt I learned my design was accepted!  I needed to take a new photograph of the quilt and send the image for their publishing purposes.  Whose you ask? Why the International Quilt Festival in Chicago needed the photo! This is such a wonderful accomplishment, to display a quilt at IQF.

Of course my mom and I made plans to go see my quilt, why wouldn’t we? She had been to IQF Chicago many years ago before I was a quilter and we both had been to International Quilt Festival Houston.  It was a great little weekend trip up to Chicago even though it was freezing! Luckily our hotel was connected to the convention center so we barely went outside. Those Chicago winds you hear about are true! We viewed all the quilts in the exhibits on Friday, which were awe inspiring, coming back Saturday to do shopping and then flying back out on Sunday.

While we were walking out to an early dinner on Friday we were stopped before we had a chance. A woman came up to me and stopped me – knowing exactly who I was. In return I had no idea and stepped back.  Seeing her badge I realized it was Judy! How fun to meet her! She was very happy to see me and she asked if we could stay for a few minutes to help hang the awards. Ok – being completely honest I had no idea of winners for her exhibit. I had a quilt hanging in the International Quilt Festival and that was all I wanted. Then Judy has this giant box and hands me this GIANT ribbon, for MY quilt. Hello! She loved how I took her blocks and created this design.  Such a surprise! This quilt was such a fun quilt to make, learning along the way to pay attention to measurements, and a memorable trip with my mom. Judy’s exhibit was well received and traveled to the International Quilt Festival Houston as well.  Guess a trip to Houston that fall was also in order.

Getting Published! Guess how many magazines I was almost in?

This is the cover of the July/August 2019 Quiltmaker issue. First off, no – I am not the cover girl.  Let’s not get up too high on that horse. Getting my quilt design in this magazine amazes even myself. I thought it would never happen. Read on . . .

First we need to travel back to 2016 on Instagram.  Maker Mama Adventures put out a call on Instagram about quilt fabric selvages.  (Search #selvagechallenge2016 to see amazing projects.) I knew I wasn’t the only fabric lover saving these! I love quilt challenges and here was one to use fabric, scraps, and selvages I already had.  I wanted to design something that really showed off the selvages and keep the color families together. Poof! My “Pop of Color” was created!  I love working in curves and had recently learned how to do inset circles.  Here was my match made in heaven.  Even though I didn’t win, I did fairly well in the competition and held on to this quilt and this design.

In late 2017 I came back to this quilt.  I knew there was something special about it.  I designed the quilt in EQ8 and did a lot of quilt math to figure out how to actually make it.  Since I did all that work why not enter it in a magazine! Well, if you have ever entered a design to a magazine it takes a while to hear back. But low and behold I did.

I am getting published in Modern Quilts Unlimited!

I had to rewrite my instructions to match their style, do a few step outs for photography, create a few other uses for the blocks, and had it all ready to go.  I literally had the entire thing created, emailed off my files and had the quilt in a box to mail to the editor.  I receive notice the very next day that Modern Quilts Unlimited is being cancelled. Nuts- I love their magazine. Double nuts – not being published.

Back to the design wall! There are other magazines, right? I found other submission guidelines and sent off again, to wait for a response I wasn’t sure I would get.  I knew it was a good design, but an intermediate one for sure. It’s not like this would ever show up in Quick Quilts, right?? So happy email to me when I hear I am accepted again!

I am getting published in Quilty magazine!

I told the editor that I already had everything ready. I just had to change my formatting to match their style and create a couple new graphics to help display the techniques per their request. Box ready. Mailed – Phew. That was a close one. No really. A month after I sent out my package I hear Quilty is being discontinued, shut down, kaput. Really magazine gods?? They already had the entire thing! Not again! But this time fate was on my side when I received an email from my editor that my project was being saved, sent to a sister publication.

I am getting published in Quiltmaker magazine!

This time it stuck. I did get pushed back a few months – but it came with a push back bonus! I received an email from my editor which I opened with trepidation. Please don’t tell me your being discontinued! This news was much better. Quiltmaker now has a new feature in their magazine called “Meet the Designer” and they chose me as one of the three for the issue. Happy dancing!! Published and a design spread?? I am so thankful to Quiltmaker to be in this issue and receive this spread. Good things come to those who wait.  7 pages to be exact. Like this will ever happen again!

If you would like to read my “Meet the Designer”, make my quilt design and 10 other great quilts, you can purchase a copy HERE.

Arch – Creating the Curve

This quilt design all stemmed from a scrolling session on Facebook. I follow Quilt Fest – Mancuso and found in my feed they had a new quilt design competition for two of their upcoming quilt shows. Mid-Century Mod Modern competition at the Pennsylvania National Quilt Extravaganza and the Pacific International Quilt Festival in California. My first thought was that name seems a little repetitive. But hey, a modern quilt competition that is not put on by the national MQG is rare. So I took a look.

Mid-Century Mod emphasizes the look and feel of mid-20th century design. Artists are asked to draw inspiration from this period, reflecting their own exposures or from the work of artists such as Joan Miro, Piet Mondrian, Victor Vasarely, Frank Stella, etc. Where did you find the inspiration for your Mid-Century Mod quilt?

Their description sounded interesting so I used my favorite reseach tool Pinterest to look up some information on their selected artists. Instantly I was in love with the work by Frank Stella.  Curves galore!


Using his piece as a starting point, I turned to my good friend Pinterest again to help choose the color scheme.  I wanted a color scheme true to the time period that would show a good range of values.

First Up – Designing the Quilt

As a trained computer graphic artist, I decided to use Photoshop to design the quilt.  I was able to create a vector shape of the half circle and quickly change colors and duplicate.  Layering the shapes around is fun and added in a few quarter arches to break up the pieces.  I liked the double layering of arches to have multiple sizes as well.  Looking back at Frank Stella’s work, I wanted to create an overlap but not the exact same idea.  I liked his use of multiple different colors in the background but for me, orange is the way to go.  It’s my favorite color to use in a quilt and would work perfect as the backing here.  The color itself was a mid-range in the values so all the other curves would work off it.  When I first saw Frank Stella’s pieces, instantly I knew I wanted the bottom of the quilt to incorporate the arch.  Keeping it a square would not do with these pieces and made for an interesting design challenge.

Once I had the layout for the quilt, I created a black and white version with a color code system, so I wouldn’t waste a lot of ink in creating my layout.  I was going to print on regular size paper first, but ended up sending the images to Office Depot to be printed on architecture paper sheets. It was much easier to work actual size and tape them together.  Then I used a light box to draw the shapes onto fabric, to create the arches.

And then the very important questions, how do you actually sew it?

It’s not a drunkards path. The angles are different and all of the overlapping would require tons of planning to do it. I thought of the Sharon Schamber Piece-lique method of sewing curves.  It could work, but again tons of planning and I didn’t necessarily have all that time before the first deadline.  I decided to make it with applique. It was the simplest method to get my effect, but I would soon realize not as simple as I thought.

This wasn’t hard to create, but I definitely had to pay attention in what I was doing.  I was dealing with bias edges so careful to not overstretch.  Like needle turned applique, I ironed each side of the arches to create a nice edge.  I was contemplating sewing the pieces down on the orange first, with my domestic machine.   I wanted the edges to puff when quilting so each arch was glue basted until the quilting stage. That was a mistake.  I had a double batting for my great texture, but it was very difficult to keep the lines clean as I quilted them. It puffed just like I wanted it to, but the stitching was uneven. Lesson learned for next time!

Sending it off to the contest I could see the flaws.  I know you are not supposed to point out what’s wrong in a quilt, but I knew it was a Blue Ribbon winner. The quilt overall looked exactly the way I had hoped, minus the stitching on the curves.  I still had high hopes for it be accepted, but probably not win anything.  Well, I was wrong! The quilt was accepted and won Best Use of Color for the Mid-Century Mod Modern competition at the Pennsylvania National Quilt Extravaganza! Even the judges mentioned the uneven stitching – lol.  Knowing all the issues I had with this quilt, the stitch technique errors I could see – I was completely surprised to win this!  It goes to show how research can benefit in quilt design.

And to my surprise when the quilt came home, the ribbon was blue.


Cherrywood Cafe


Have I mentioned how much I love fabric challenges? Cherrywood Fabrics is no different.  This is the third quilt I designed and entered with them, and the second to be chosen! And let’s just pat myself on the back and say my quilt was selected for the French Gallery.  This quilt will see more of the world than I ever will!

When most people think of Vangogh, the typical Starry Night or Sunflowers come to view.  These are amazing of course, I made a cross stitch of Starry Night.  I have a whole other quilt color scheme inspired from Starry Night.  But for this, I wanted to do something that was still great but not ‘the’ Vangogh piece.  I chose the cafe because I love how Vangogh made the night just come to life.  I also thought I could simplify the color scheme and block out the shapes.  I also wanted to do matchstick quilting another try, but on a nice small scale.



I first created a little 3″ sketch.  Then blew that up to a real scale drawing and color blocked it. Which then I started creating improv pieces based on these shapes. It actually came together really fast, and was really happy with it.

I entered and was luckily accepted.  These Cherrywood competitions get bigger and bigger each year! It’s great for them. But equally great, the French Gallery traveled to International Quilt Festival Houston last October. Which happened to be my very first quilt market.  So seeing it hang was awesome!


Not sure how I am going to handle the Prince theme for next year . . .

My First Ribbon

I won a ribbon. My first ribbon. I’m shocked. I’m thrilled. It’s going to be a good year.

I entered two quilts into Mancuso’s World Quilt Florida competition last fall, for showing this past January 2018. If you have ever been to a Mancuso Quilt Show, you will agree the quilts are exquisite.  And literally, from around the world! World Quilt Florida holds a special exhibit solely for Florida Quilters. So why not enter, right? My ‘competition’ is limited to the state. Gives me a good chance for being accepted, I thought! And well, I thought right. Both of my quilts were accepted. 

Octagon Shimmer on the left, Stepping Stones on the right. Both mine!

That’s all I want. For my quilts to be accepted and hang. The more people that get to see my work, I know something will happen. So I enter quilt shows and get lucky! This love of quilting I have can become something bigger. I longarm quilt for others, as a small side business. I would love for it to grow and have a continuing clientele.

For people to trust my work, it would be good for them to know my work has been in shows, right? So that’s why I enter quilt shows. To be seen, solely.  Win? Pfft, I’m just this little longarm quilter in Florida. I’m not Gina Perkes, I’m not Judi Madsen, nor am I Angela Walters. I’m just me.

So imagine my surprise to learn that I won a ribbon for Best Longarm Machine Workmanship for the Florida Competition for World Quilt Florida!

My co-workers at Happy Apple Quilts will tell you how loud I screamed, and jumped, and ran out to all of them, and made them stop working and come look at my computer. I took only a few moments to freak out. Then I sat amazed for the whole day. ME?  Can I tell you a secret? I love my Octagon Shimmer quilt, truly. But my Stepping Stones quilt is an original design and I worked really hard on quilting it. I entered Octagon Shimmer as a second quilt, my fall back. For this reason is why I was really floored when I won. I love the quilting I did, but never thought it was ribbon worthy!


Nothing will happen, if you do nothing. Hence my motto: Leap and A Quilt Will Appear.  And maybe, just maybe, it will have a ribbon, too.
















Factual stuff:  Pattern is Octagon Shimmer by Jennifer Sampou, fabric collection is mainly Heather Givan’s Paper Obsessed, with other fabrics mixed in.



Bandannas for the Win!

For my second project as a Springs Creative Ambassador, I was thrown for a loop.  We were told to use Bandannas in a form of tail gating / decoration approach. For those that know me, my level of knowledge for sports is the same as Emmet from The Lego Movie.  “Go Sports Team!”  So at first I was a little dumbfounded.  Than I thought, if for some odd universe I was to go to a game, what would I do? I normally get cold at the movie theater and bring a sweater. If I go to an outdoor game, I could imagine getting cold! Yes I live in Florida, I’m one of those weirdos that get cold when it hits 60 degrees.

With Daddy I’m a Quilter = Let’s make a quilt for a game! Now in this case, we were challenged on how to use Bandannas in a non traditional format.  I took this as the idea the fabric is being featured in utility, not in the actual print.  So in terms of piecing I could do something with small pieces.  I didn’t need to show off a specific print like I did in the Mary Fons Small World fabric. I took this as an opportunity to do a quilt pattern I never have and always wanted to: an Irish Chain quilt.  I planned out my quilt in EQ7.  I even loaded in the same images from the Bandanna website into EQ7 to use in my design! Choosing colors of the Bandannas was difficult not knowing sports, so I decided to choose the colors of the local football team. Can’t go wrong with Red, Black, and White! And I knew I wanted to feature the center of the bandanna print in my spacing squares.

Being Shy

Cheering Zoe

















I am very happy with how this quilt turned out!  But as I began thinking of the quilt, I tried to rethink about the project as a whole.  Is a quilt on its own fit for ‘tailgating?’ Not really, how could I make it better to the project?  So thinking of game arena seating or bleachers, they gotta be uncomfortable. I know some people bring their own cushions to games. Let’s turn the quilt into a cushion! I adapted the ‘Quillow’ project from Allison Harris’s “Growing Up Modern“.  It turned out perfect and utilized a full Bandanna as the carrying pocket.  Little Miss Zoe was at first a little shy in going to the bleachers where there was an actual game, so we pretended to watch at the empty field first. Then we slipped over to the actual game in play.

I’m really happy with how I was able to utilize the fabric and still hold true to being a quilter! Bring it on Springs! What’s next?


Tampa Bay Comic Con Recap

IMG_0397I am so happy to say my faith in cons has been restored! After a few MegaDuds, our hometown Tampa Bay Comic Con was a smashing success.  Our printed plush line was received very well, and am very happy to say half of the sales were my original designs! My husband and I really enjoy drawing the designs and then my inking the designs.  Sewing construction is so much faster and the minky material holds really well. Up next are some more originals, some femme fatale and a new line of Doctors. And come on, you can’t beat meeting Elmo at comic con!  Here’s hoping that MegaCon Tampa in the fall is just as successful and perhaps hugging the Tenth Doctor??IMG_0403IMG_0408

Quilts for Pulse

Zoe’s First Quilt