Vangogh’s Galaxy – My biggest finish of 2018

Ever have one of those quilts you are super proud of? That when it’s complete you know it will be magical? And for no real reason, it takes you four years to finish? This is the state of my Vangogh Galaxy quilt!

This is the Technicolor Galaxy pattern by PileOFabric.  I signed up to do this amazing skill builder block of the month in December of 2014 as it was slated to begin in January 2015. Three friends in my guild all signed up to complete this quilt.  By the way – I am the second to finish!  Don’t take that to mean it as a difficult quilt but it is definitely challenging and life got in the way.  Alyssa of PileO’Fabric has incredible resources for this quilt.  Downloadable pdfs, video tutorials, and a Facebook group.

You start off with a coloring sheet to design your quilt.  Her original design for the quilt is a color wheel.  Rarely do I follow other color choices and decided that the color wheel was too traditional.   I was inspired by Vangogh’s Starry Night and chose that iconic painting as my color palette. My daughter also decided to color with me.  I actually really like her purple and orange version! But I know I will never make this quilt again.  It is definitely an accomplishment, but not a repeat!


For this quilt, you start in the center and work outwards.  The center starts with bias strip applique.  The first time I had ever attempted bias tape and it is the first technique in the quilt! Starting with this center, you then build out on the rings and finally patchwork corners.  Each month has their own instructions, video tutorials and templates.  I purchased the templates from her, to make it easier on me and  I am very glad I did, some of the templates are huge!

I would say I was pretty current with the months until month 3.  Ok, I know that’s not too far – but you know, this is such a big quilt technique wise! The sun points radiating out from the center were my favorite to do.  As very simple paper piecing, they were fast to make.  Once we moved into the rings, the small patchwork kept taking longer and longer to do.  I like to sew and quilt fast which was one reason it was put away for so long.  In her design, you do this quilt as a Quilt-As-You-Go project.  I did that once with my guild for a project and will never do it again.  Definitely not my type of quilting! I knew this beauty needed to be on the longarm.

In 2017 I added the project to my American Patchwork & Quilting UFO list.  I did get it out that year, but only worked on one set of curve blocks.  Again I realized how time consuming it was, so back in its box it went.  For 2018 I felt like the time was ready.  The quilt rolled over on my UFO list, and then preempted about six months of UFO choices.  I finished the Gravity BOM in 2017 which was a big finish so I was determined to complete this one in 2018.  Other UFO’s would be pulled from the group list, but I kept working on my #1 – my Technicolor Galaxy. Which oddly enough it’s number was called in December, the month I finished it.

I finished the quilt top in November 2018.  My goal was December 7th for the full quilt to be complete.  I knew it would turn out amazing and after four years it better!  I planned to enter it into a few quilt shows so needed that extra time to quilt before the deadline. My Thanksgiving tradition is to quilt one of my own quilts, and a big one!  I was able to finish many client quilts beforehand for this beauty to receive it’s own week of quilting.  This is the first quilt I truly feel I “Quilted to Death.”  I knew I wanted to fill every little inch of this baby. I double batted this quilt with Quilters Dream cotton and a layer of wool.

It’s not perfectly quilted, and before you say in your head it is – No, it isn’t.  My quilting bumped onto the bias strips a few times and  I remember quite clearly when it happened.  I stared at it for a good minute trying to decide if I was going to rip it out or not, thinking really hard what that little bump would mean.  I knew I was entering this quilt into quilt shows and that little bump took away the option of “Best in Show” but that didn’t mean it wouldn’t be accepted.  Really, all I want are for my quilts to hang and be seen.  Ribbons are amazing – I earned my first three in 2018, but they are not the point of quilting for me.  After staring at that little bump I just kept on quilting.  I bumped three times which from a glance, you can’t see but a quilt judge would notice on close inspection.  Time will tell what happens to this quilt. I for one, am incredibly proud of it’s final state.  A four year UFO, finished with determination and a new set of sewing techniques and quilting skills earned.


Quilt Stats:

Size: 62″ x 62″

Thread Changes: 4

Quilting Hours: 21~

Binding Hours: 2

Length of completion: 4 Years

Shown: World Quilt Florida January 2019, AQS Quilt Week Spring Paducah April 2019.

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.


Gravity Dreams

I have always been a fan of Jaybird Quilts patterns. I will admit I collect them, and have collected more than I make. I just love how her geometric designs fit together!  So when she created the Gravity Quilt block of the month, I knew it would be one I would have to make!  My mom bought me the kit for Christmas one year. And then the kit sat for about two years, in a nice bin, on a shelf.  But then I joined the American Patchwork and Quilting UFO Challenge!  I knew this would be my determination to finally start this quilt!


It’s number was picked in February of 2017 and I had the top finished in June 2017. Pretty happy with that.  And what’s funny, once I started I realized how easy this quilt was! I was accustomed to Julie Herman’s instructions and shapes and rulers, it came together in one month instead of nine! I remember I chose it specifically during an extremely stressful time at work and needed a way to relax when I came home.  Ever make a quilt so large you need your husband and daughter to hold it over the loft balcony to get a picture of it? Yeah, that was a first.  Until my King of Scrap of course, more on that quilt another time.


Sadly Gravity waited another 8 months before I had a chance to quilt it, folded away on another shelf.  It’s definitely on the top of the list for a longarmer’s dream quilt. This February I decided it could work in my guild’s quilt show, so on to the frame it had to go!  So many quilting options available!  I did the entire quilt in free motion and ruler work.  That’s right, ME! No computer involved!

Here are the Quilt Stats:

Size: 97″ x 96″

Thread changes: 19

Background Stitches: 177,906 at 11 stitches per inch

Color Center Stitches: 105,477 at 11 stitches per inch.

Quilting Hours: 17 hours

Binding Hours: 6 hours while waiting at jury duty <- seriously

Hanging: Sew Totally Solid, Tampa Modern Quilters Guild challenge exhibit at the Original Sewing & Quilt Expo in Lakeland, FL. March 2018.

AQS Quilt Week Virginia Beach, Virginia, October 2018. 

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?


Quilts for Pulse

Zoe’s First Quilt

Love Patchwork & Quilting issue#35

Ellen Ault Swag BannerI have been sitting on this for quite a while and am finally able to share! I have my first published pattern in issue #35 of Love Patchwork and Quilting!!

I originally came up with this idea about a year ago.  It was right after attending my first QuiltCon.  QuiltCon was amazing, so inspirational, came home with a tattoo. And lots of pins. But where to put them?  I have a little foam board thing I’ve had forever, but its really only for putting up pictures.  I needed something to hang up these awesome pins I came home with! So I created a little sketch of a pendant banner which I thought would work well.  Then I thought, why not make it a pattern?  I created the base idea of what I wanted and took many notes along the way.

Next thought, put it to Craftsy or to a magazine? Well I believe Craftsy has turned into Etsy in that there is so much goodness out there its near impossible to be found.  Let’s try a magazine first and see what happens. And the first magazine I thought of is my favorite, Love Patchwork and Quilting!  I emailed first to find the appropriate person to submit designs to, then emailed my design and little bits of inspiration to her. And luck on my side, she loved it! I was given a few resources and some time to work the pattern to their guidelines and ship off my design to them. The experience was amazing and do hope to come up with another contribution for the future!

And here’s my tip for anyone trying to get into a magazine: Take a chance.  I knew I wanted to make this no matter if it was accepted or not. So I took some time to develop it and took a chance. My chance here worked! I have had others with not so much luck.  But I will keep trying to get my work out there. It’s amazing to see yourself in print.getting magazine