Posts Tagged ‘handsewing’

Two New FREE Border Options Quilt Patterns Release

Wednesday, May 16th, 2018

Two new quilt patterns made entirely with Border Options designs are now available for FREE in my webstore.  They are numbers #007 & #008.

Border Options Quilt Pattern #007

I just love playing with the designs in the Border Options series and creating these pattern ideas for you.  Make them as you see them in the “recipe” or use it as a jumping off point for your own idea.  The coloring is also just a suggestion…I can’t wait to see what you dream up!

Quilt Pattern #7 is a more advanced pattern if you decide to tackle it via hand piecing (did you know that all the Border Options designs are also available in hand piecing templates?) while pattern #8 looks complicated but truly is a made simply by using three designs in a row quilt layout. 

And #8 can be made in 3 different sizes, baby to full!   



Border Options Quilt Pattern #008

Head over to the store and download your FREE PDF recipe for these quilts today!  I will have bundle options for English Paper Piecing up soon in the Bundles category…or you can order just a few packs of papers and remove/reuse the papers as you build the quilt.   Just remember your order needs to be over $25 prior to any discounts….oh look further in this post for that….to receive FREE SHIPPING on Border Options products.  This free shipping applies to English Paper Piecing  papers, templates and Hand Piecing templates!

Oh and about the special coupon code…how about MAY15  for 15% off all Border Options orders from today until May 22nd. 

I am off to work some more on my version of Border Options pattern #005 today.  It’s perfect weather to sit out on the deck and listen to a book from Audible and do some English paper piecing. 

Enjoy your day, 

The Castle Wall Block BURSTS!

Tuesday, July 5th, 2016

CWBurstgreycenter2copyrightI have had this crazy idea of BURSTing the Castle Wall block for over a year now.  Think “biggie” size.  I wanted to keep most of the original Castle Wall Block ,just drop off the half square triangles, and expanded to a much larger block.

I played and played with the design while traveling and then would put the files back in my folder in my computer and think maybe in a few months.

And on a trip to Texas in April I opened up the folder again, tweaked my design thought it is time.

So off went my idea to Paper Pieces and they provided me with a sample set of templates lickety-split, they were excited as was I.

AutumnCWBurstBlockBut my schedule was a bit crazy and so I didn’t get to fabric pulling and sample block making until late May.  And then I sewed.  Here is the first sample block of what is being called Castle Wall Burst.   It finishes at 18″ square.  That’s a lot of block with a lot of bang!  At that size just 16 blocks with sashing and border and you have a queen size quilt.

I am loving this idea!

Castle Wall Burst TemplatesThe initial run of templates where produced and landed on my doorstep on Friday.  Just in time to kick off the holiday weekend!



The Castle Wall Burst Expansion Pack has three templates.  You will use the C template from the original 9″ Castle Wall set with the new templates F, G, & H to create this  border ring around a Castle Wall center (minus template C in the center).CWBurstlettered2copyright

The Castle Wall Expansion Templates

are available in my web store under the New! and Acrylic Templates Section

at an introductory price of $15 until July 15th.

Now to the tips and tricks of sewing this expansion ring of the block.


I took pictures as I pieced the sample above and was ready to use them for the “how-to” blogs.  But then I spotted my stash of patriotic fabrics while straightening up my studio and like every other quilter I know I figured…well let’s start a new project!     I am going to make 16 Castle Wall Burst blocks in a scrappy patriotic fashion.   I don’t have the full quilt setting figured out yet.  I will design this hopefully this autumn sometime when my travel schedule is full force again.   A lot of computer designing happens when in a hotel room on the road.

Over the next week or so I will post detailed how-to blogs for this expansion.  But for now I will refer you to the original Castle Wall blogs (you can find links to all blogs on this page) to refresh yourself in piecing this center and the Roundabout Technique for making sharp points!  Eventually links to these Castle Wall Burst blogs will also be found there.




I have my center done sans the half square corners and all my pieces cut and ready for the Burst Expansion.

Watch for a blog in 2-3 days breaking down the next round of sewing into units, a review of pinning, and sewing guide illustrations.

Over half the original order of Castle Wall Burst Expansion Templates have been spoken for and shipped out this morning, hoping to have a few of you sewing along with me on this fun block by this weekend or next week.

Enjoy your day,





P.S. All the graphics you will see in the blog(s) are included in a guide sheet packaged with the templates!

Jim Dandy Block – How to Part 2

Monday, March 2nd, 2015



Today we are going to tackle a corner unit of a Jim Dandy Block.  It is made up of  two A’s ,  one B, and two C’s – with one of them being a reverse of the C unit.


Here are my pieces ready to go.


Sew an A to each side of B as indicated by the green lines.

These will be short lines of sewing.

knot off at the end of each line.


now on to the C & Cr


The C & Cr pieces can be added to the A-B-A unit with one longer line of sewing.

There will be three Roundabout Moves as indicated by the red circles.


Start and sew just as you have done before.


Here is the start of the second Roundabout adding the Cr piece.


Finishing up the center Roundabout.

Sew to the end of the Cr piece and knot off.

Repeat for the remaining three corner units.  Press each corner unit in the direction that seams fall naturally.


Now let’s join the corners to the center.


Sew two opposite corners to the center.

NOTE treat the center point(s) intersection as a Roundabout to obtain a sharp point on both the center square and piece B.

Press seams outward.


Then finish by sewing the remaining corners to the center following the same course when it comes to intersections/Roundabout Moves.

Ta-Da!  A Jim Dandy Block!

Tomorrow I am planning to share where I am going to use this block in my quilt….and some other ideas.

’til then,


Jim Dandy Block – How To Part #1

Sunday, March 1st, 2015


So let’s start to hand sew this fun block shall we?  

I am not going to go over marking your fabrics using the acrylic templates as that has been covered already under the general info blogs at the beginning of the year and a very detailed blog here (yes it is for the Castle Wall block but the same info applies to all blocks).


Here are the templates.  There are four shapes in the Jim Dandy Block.


The back of my cut out pieces for my first block.


And the front.  Take a moment to cut striped or directional fabric so that it appears pleasing to the eye.  These little things go a long way in creating a beautiful quilt.


Here is an orientation guideline for the templates.  NOTE: Piece C is used flipped over (in reverse) for half the pieces in the block.

You can find a PDF of this orientation guide on the 2015. O.T.R page under the Jim Dandy Block.

Be sure to keep checking this page periodically for useful/information PDFs.


We are going to start with the center block and four surrounding triangles.

These can be sewn together with one continuous strand of thread so make sure you needle is loaded.


Place the triangle on top of the square, right sides together, lining up the long edges.

I pin on the drawn line using an ultra fine pin.  Check the back to make sure the pin falls on the drawn line on the square also.

If not unpin and shift the pieces until this happens.  Remember there is always a bit of fudge factor when lining up pieces due to them being hand cut.

Never rely on your edges…always pin and match up your drawn lines.


IMPORTANT!   Sew two or three threads above your drawn line!

This compensates for the fact that getting into the exact edge of the template with your marking pen/pencil is

nearly impossible.   TRUST ME this is how you end up with a 10.5″ block (unfinished) and not a 10.25″ or smaller block at the end.

Make a backstitch to start off.

And backstitch every inch as you are sewing and always finish a line with a backstitch even if you are going on to another piece without knotting off.


Running stitch.    Remove pin when you reach it with your needle and thread.


Finish with a backstitch.


Now in this center unit there are four intersections that we will preform the Roundabout Move.  This is when you pass your threaded needle thru two pieces at time in a circular fashion at the intersection of joining a new piece.  By performing the Roundabout Move you will have a tighter intersection with no gaps/pin holes and nice crisp points.   Ok…here we go!


Use a pin to line up the corner of next triangle (#2) to the last corner of the triangle (#1) you just sewed to the square.  Line up your long edges and place your pin on the drawn line.  (don’t forget to check the backside to make sure the pin lines up on the square’s line also).


Pull your needle thru from Triangle #1 to Triangle #2.    Pull all the was thru with thread.

Then pull needle thru Triangle #2 to Square at the same point of the drawn line (remember just a few threads above it)


Pull needle and thread all the  way thru.    Then bring needle thru the Square to Triangle #1.


Side view of the move of the needle from Square to Triangle #1


And finally repeat the move from Triangle #1 to Triangle #2.   You will ALWAYS end a Roundabout with the same move you started.


Make a back stitch and sew Triangle #2 to the Square.


Repeat these steps for Triangle #3  & #4.

End this unit by making a Roundabout Move between Triangle #4 and Triangle #1 and knot off.

Tomorrow we tackle a corner unit.

’til then,



Castle Wall Arcylic Templates are in the house! (Part Three)

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014

It all started innocently enough this morning at 4:30am when my eyeballs opened on their own.  I was going home on a 10am flight out of Dulles, landing in Chicago at 11:05am, and was going to get home and immediately tackle the third installment of the blog.  My alarm was set for 5:30am but my eyes weren’t waiting.  So up I got and worked on the current Castle Wall block in my backpack.



Shannon, my lovely host with the Cabin Branch Quilters was picking me up to 6:30am (morning traffic is rough in the DC area…I was shocked at back ups at this time)  so there would be no running thru the airport to my gate.

I got there in plenty of time and found a cozy spot and finished off this block.

Yes that is my Barney Purple luggage (carry on) and if might make you smile and even giggle but that luggage proved it’s worth again today.   Read on.


At the appropriate time out gate agent had us line up.  I was a happy camper with my A20 spot.  As a frequent flyer with Southwest I have been finding myself in the first 30 positions as of late.  This perk I will take.

and then…uh oh.   Our gate agent is instructing us to take a seat.  Looks like we have a flat tire. Sept23pic1

I do not grumble.  I am most happy to wait for the plane to be fixed.  I like my planes to be feeling good and all systems working.  So much better to have a flat tire here then when landing in Chicago.

Others were not so happy.

I pulled out another block and started in.

About 1.5hours later the tire was changed and it was time to line up again.  But now with so many passengers being switched to other flights due to missed connections…well this was the roomiest flight I have seen in awhile.

This was my view at approx. 1:20pm today. Sept23pic01

I love Chicago.  I will always be a city girl.

Ok..just a two hours off schedule.  Not bad.  Off to get my luggage.

Only just one purple piece of luggage comes off the conveyor belt…not two.

uh oh.    We wait around for about 15-20 more minutess and then begin to seek help.   Just as I got to the counter at the baggage area when I heard a radio call to the agents that a lone purple bag was discovered at gate 15 that didn’t make it to the cart for the carousel from my flight number.    “That’s mine!” I say.  and the agent chuckles and says…well that was a quick fix.  Yes I agree.

Only problem it took them almost an hour to get my bag from the gate to the baggage claim area and someone “special” had to walk it over.

Seems that someone special got their wheels rollin’ after I tweeted to Southwest 45 mins into the wait that this was crazy.   Even the baggage agent agreed and she cut me a voucher for a future trip (hello Emily!)

Finally on my way home.   After answering  email, processing orders (those not with Castle Wall templates…those will go out on the 29th) and general stuff I finally got to head to the studio and take the pics for this blog.


(Disclaimer…I did not realize my lens was smudged until I loaded the pics in to the computer to write this blog.  But I figure it’s kind of par for the course today and hope you will give me a pass)

This is what a block looks like after sewing it together.  Since it is hand work they can get pretty wrinkled.  Of course I am usually stuffing them into my backpack so mine are always wrinkled.  Thus I give them a few sprays of  Best Press when it’s time to press.


Here is the back.  Not pretty.


But I start in one corner and press the corner triangle out and then move over to the nearest diamond and press it’s seams away from it.

The top and bottom seams of the squares naturally fall in the out position when pressing this way.

I continue around the block pressing the diamonds in this manner and the corners when they are encountered.

Finally I give the center a press and it all starts to look very nice.


Flip it over, give a final press from the front and VIOLA!  The block is done!

I am into the single digits of blocks needed for my quilt now so watch in a week or so for blog posts when I start to put all 56 blocks together.

You can order your Castle Wall Acrylic Templates Set (9″ finished block) in the store on my website.  The next shipment of templates are on their way and only half are spoken for again.  They will ship out on Monday September 29th.

Be sure to check out my professional MDQuilts Facebook page (see the link on the side bar) for daily posts of my blocks and now some of others….the color/fabric combinations are wonderful…sew much fun!

Take Care,



Castle Wall – Acrylic Templates are in the house! (Part Two)

Saturday, September 20th, 2014

WARNING: This is a very long and picture intensive blog.  

It’s time to begin to sew.

First thing is to get your supplies together.  I like to use Hemmings Milliners needles for my hand sewing.  I like the longer needle so that a few more running stitches can be made with each pass.  I am a big fan of Aurifil or Precensia thread for hand sewing.  I think when it comes to thread the saying “you get what you pay for” applies and I would rather work with a quality thread that will work with me than a thread that will work against me.


I think of the Castle Wall Block as a bullseye and I am going put it together working in rings.


Ring #1 = Squares

Ring #2 = Diamonds

Ring #3 = Trapezoids

Ring #4= Half Square Triangles


Begin by lining up the corner intersection on your first square with a corner intersection of the center octagon.  This is done by stabbing a pin thru both.


Then using a very fine pin (these are Karen Kay Buckley’s new pins) I pin right on the seam guideline.  I sew just a smidge above the guideline.  This takes in consideration of the fact that getting directly into the angle edge of the template when drawing this line is nearly impossible.


I always make three backstitches on every length of sewing done.  One as I begin, one in the center and the final at the end of the line.

My running stitches are about 10 to an inch in length.

Sew the first square to the octagon along one side.


And now you are at your first intersection.  An intersection is where three or more pieces meet.  The trick in hand sewing to accomplishing nice neat intersections resulting in sharp points and no pin holes is making a circle around each and every on when you reach it.

If you have roundabout traffic stops, or have ever encountered on, it’s like that.  You literally go around in a circle.


First you are going to line up Square #2 to Square #1 much in the same manner as you did in the beginning.  Note the first pin is between the corners of each square.  A second pin lines up the second corner of the new square to the octagon.  Once they are lined up I pin again on the sewing guideline.


Now I bring the needle & thread thru to the corner of the second square.


And now thru the square two and the octagon.


From the backside, the octagon to the first square. Sept21pic10

And back to from square one to square two.  Now take a backstitch at the start of square two.


Sew square two to the octagon.  Repeat this process until all squares are sewn to the center.

Don’t forget your backstitches and do circle the final intersection when the final square meets square #1 then knot off.


Ring #1 done.  On to the diamonds.


The diamonds are attached to the block by sewing two sides into the space between each square.  Basically a “V” shape.

Each of these “V”‘s are independently sewn, knotting off at the end of each diamond.

Apply the same methods for lining up the diamond to one side of a square .


Don’t forget to backstitch when you reach the end of the first length of the “V”.

Then you want to line up the second length of the diamond to the other square edge in the space.


This is an intersection as three or more units are meeting at that point.

2 Squares and a Diamond

So you circle the intersection.


At the end of the “V” you backstitch and knot off.


Seven more diamonds and you are done with round #2


I am going to end this blog here.   I am out the door tomorrow to Virginia and a quick less than 48 hour visit with the Cabin Branch Quilters.

So quick that I am not going to bring my laptop because honestly there will no time to do anything but teach, lecture, and sleep.

I will post the finishing up the block and pressing instructions either late Tuesday when I get home or early Wednesday morn.

Then I am out the door again.

I am sold out of the templates again.  (you like the Castle Wall block  you really like it!!)

I am ordering my next supply of templates (basically the waiting list and then some) on Tuesday.   So if you want to be guaranteed a set place your order off my website store (see the tab at the top) by Monday night .   The next shipping date out from my studio to you will be Monday, Sept. 29th.

Til Tuesday…or Wednesday,


P.S. I have received several inquiries asking if Paper Pieces makes a template such as these with the inside window for the Lucy Boston/honeycomb shape.

THEY DO!  You can order it by contacting Paper Pieces directly.  You will find phone number and/or email contact info here.

Castle Wall – Acrylic Templates are in the house! (part one)

Friday, September 19th, 2014


Sept19pic2Yes! according to the tracking number the next shipment of the Castle Wall Acrylic Templates should be on my doorstep this afternoon. CastleWallBlockSet That means if you are still waiting for your set they will go out ASAP!  About half the order is spoken for so if interested put your order in by tomorrow evening and I will get them out to you Monday morn.

If not due to my travel schedule the next shipping date out will be September 29th.

Sept19pic3To order head over to my store page here.

As you may or may not know I recently shifted gears a bit on the making of my Castle Wall Blocks.   Still handsewn, still my 2014 On The Road project.  Just preparing my fabric using acrylic templates to mark my cutting and sewing guidelines.

Have I mentioned how much I love handwork, whether it be sewing, English paper piecing, knitting, crochet…if my hands are busy I am happy girl.  And these templates make this project totally portable , even the block prep part.

So let’s cover that part.Sept19pic4


Marking:  I have a phletora of marking pens, all different colors of gel pens, a few Sakura gelly pens (white-grey- yellow) and of course a good old fashion sharp pencil .  Each tackles a different type/color of fabric when I choose to use it.  So gather up several marking utensils and keep them together so they are always readily available.


Keeping your fabric stable when marking.   I like to use a sheet of freezer paper tacked down to the front side of my fabric by the heat of my iron.  Since I do a lot of projects using freezer paper, ie needle turn applique…yes I love the “A word!”, I buy it in the 8×11 sheets.  But you can just tear off a strip from the roll you pick up at the grocers, that will work.Sept19pic6

Different fabrics/fabric backs all for different pens.

I could only find “sparkle grey” in the Sakura pen when I was purchasing so until a solid grey is found this is what I use.    Oh pretty!

Make sure you mark those corner intersections of your sewing guidelines.  Those will be important when lining up your pieces.

Sept19pic1I forgot to take pictures late last night as I was cutting out all my pieces.  It is important to be as accurate as possible when cutting but if you nip a bit off it’s ok as long as you have your sewing guideline accurately drawn.  This will be covered in Part Two of this blog.

I kitted up the final 9 blocks needed for my quilt.  Yes I am into the single digits!  My hope is to have all 56 blocks done by October 3rd.   I have a lot of travel on my docket between now and then so I think I can reach this goal and be sewing the center of my top together soon.

So this is where I am presently on this block.

I will sew as fast as I can today  and will have Part Two of this blog up before I head out to the airport on Sunday morn. Sept19pic8

 I am loving the wavy plaid of the blue print in the diamonds one of my all time favorites!

Enjoy your day,