Willow QAL: Week 2

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Hey friends!  How are you?  
I hope you are doing well and enjoying this Quilt-Along so far!
I'm enjoying having some purpose during this quarantine 
and time at my sewing machine 
(which is my happy place - as I'm sure it is for most of you!)

The get-to-know-you question for this week is:
"How did you get into quilting?  Who taught you and what was the first quilt you made?"

I was newly married, my husband traveled a lot and I didn't have a lot of family close by.
I needed a hobby so I asked my grandma to teach me how to quilt.  
She was thrilled since she was an avid quilter and no one else in our family quilted.  
I chose to design a pattern based on a quilt I saw in a home decor store.  
I'm still baffled why I decided to design my own pattern when I could've just went 
and bought one!  It would've been so much easier! 
But we went shopping together, had several lessons and then I was left to make most 
of the blocks on my own.  Well, that quilt took me 3 years to finish LOL!  
But after that I was hooked!

[My first quilt]

Check out Jessica's response HERE and be sure to tell us how 
you got into quilting while you're there!

Now onto this week's assignment...
This is the Grace Block and you'll need to make 4 of them this week.

You can find the tutorial for the Grace Block over on Jessica's blog.

It's a fun little block to make!
Make sure you are using an accurate 1/4" seam allowance so your points don't get cut off!

All of my Grace blocks are going to be the same except for one
because I ran out of fabric on the last one, haha.
I knew I might run into this problem since I'm using my stash but I really don't mind.
It's very similar to the others and I really don't think you'll notice 
when the quilt is all finished.

So that's it for this week!
We'd love to see progress, so if you are on Instagram, use the hashtag 
#willowqal and tag us both - @jessicadayon and @gigisthimble.

Let us know if you have any questions!
Happy quilting!

Willow QAL: Week 1

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Hello hello!
Welcome to week 1 of the Willow Quilt-Along!  
Jessica Dayon and I are hosting this Quilt-Along and we are super excited you're here!

One of the best things about a Quilt-Along is connecting with you guys and hopefully
having some new friends at the end of it!  So Jessica and I thought it would be fun to
answer a get-to-know-you question each week. We thought we'd start by doing a brief
introduction about ourselves.  We'd love it if you want to play along too!

So I'm Amber Johnson.  I've been married to my husband for 21 years.  
We have 2 children (a boy, 17 and a girl, 14).  We also have a dog that we adore 
(she's half Black Lab and half Brittany Spaniel).  We met on the first day I moved to 
Utah to go to college.  A few weeks later he asked me out.  A couple weeks 
later I told him I just wanted to be friends.  A few months later I realized I was crazy 
and that he was everything I always said I ever wanted so I asked him if he wanted to "hang out" 
again (at that point I knew he was the one).  About 6 months later we were married and now...
here we are!  I was born in California, grew up in Washington State and have been quilting 
for about 20 years.  That's me in a nutshell!

So the assignment for this week is to make 6 Harmony Blocks (above).
I found that they went together relatively quickly by using the chain-piecing method.  

Chain-piecing is a time-saving quilting technique similar to an assembly line.  
You repeat a single sewing step for all the blocks of a quilt without cutting threads 
between each section until after you are done with that step.  It creates a "chain" 
of pieces and saves time and thread.

Note: the blocks finish at 6" so you will be working with small(ish) pieces.  
Try to be as accurate as you can in your cutting and sewing so everything goes 
together nicely.  Check your seam allowance prior to making your first block 
to make sure it's exactly 1/4".

Click HERE for the pattern.
Click HERE for the Willow coloring page so you can fill in your own colors!

Be sure to stop by Jessica's blog next to see her beautiful blocks and get to know her more.
And please introduce yourself in the comment section below.  
We'd love to know where you're from and whatever else you'd like to tell us! :)

Happy sewing!

Willow Quilt Along

Friday, March 13, 2020

I have some fun news for you guys today!
My IG friend Jessica Dayon asked me a couple of months ago if I would like to host a Quilt Along with her and I thought, "What better way to make some new quilty friends?!" so I said, "Yes!"  We've been in close contact ever since - collaborating, planning, and testing blocks to create this really pretty design we're calling Willow.  We hope you love it as much as we do and we hope you'll join us for this free Quilt Along.

Here are the details...

Willow Quilt Along
Hosted by Jessica Dayon and Amber Johnson

- Pattern: weekly instructions for the Willow pattern will be given here on my blog and on Jessica's blog each Thursday.
- Finished Quilt Size: 60" x 60"
- Finished Block Size: 6" x 6"
- Duration: 7 weeks
- Schedule: 
Week 1 (March 26th): Make 6 Harmony Blocks
Week 2 (April 2nd): Make 4 Grace Blocks
Week 3 (April 9th): Make 4 Grace Blocks
Week 4 (April 16th): Make 6 Hope Blocks

Week 5 (April 23rd): Make 5 Hope Blocks
Week 6 (April 30th): Make the cornerstones and cut the layout pieces 
Week 7 (May 7th): Assemble the top 
- Fabric Requirements: 
For the blocks, you will need 2 light-colored fat quarters, 3 medium-colored fat quarters, 3 dark-colored fat quarters and 5 fat quarters for the background. For the setting, you will need 2-3/8 yards of background fabric, 1/4 of a yard for the stashing stars, 7/8 of a yard for the border, 5/8 of a yard for the binding and 3-3/4 yards for the backing.
- Cost: it's FREE!
- Notes: This is another low-key Quilt-Along with no sign-ups and no prizes!  Just check our blogs every Thursday to get the week's assignment and in 7 weeks you will have a beautiful quilt top!  You can also follow along with us @jessicadayon and @gigis_thimble on Instagram.  Use the hashtag #willowqal to post pictures of your progress and see what everyone else is doing.  

This blue and white version is what I'm planning on doing (or something very similar).
I'm going to try to use my stash that is heavy in different shades of blue.
I bought a background fabric and am hoping to use my stash for the rest.

Here are my test blocks.  
As you can see there are 3 different blocks for the main part of the quilt.  
We hope you like them.  They sure are fun to make!

 Because they finish at 6" you will become more comfortable working with small pieces.  Some of them have 1" finished Half-Square Triangles!  But I promise you they are not too hard to make. 

I wanted to see what this would look like in a more colorful palette so I also 
mocked up this version with bright, happy solids.

Or there is this version in Farmhouse Gingham from Riley Blake Designs.
I think this fabric line is gorgeous!

Or there is a classic red and white solid version if that's more your thing.

Those are just a few examples.  Really, the possibilities are endless with this pattern.
Color placement creates so many different looks!  I love that and can't wait to see 
the different versions you guys do!

One last thing that I wanted to share -
Jessica and I decided to name this pattern Willow because of what the Willow Tree represents.
The beautiful green symbolizes nature, fertility, and life. The tree also represents balance, learning, growth, harmony, strength, and stability.  The structure of the trunk represents standing firm and withstanding the greatest of challenges.  We both loved that and have named our blocks Grace, Hope and Harmony.  We hope this pattern will remind you of the beautiful qualities represented by the Willow Tree.  

Let me know below if you're going to join us (we really want you to!) and be sure to visit
Jessica's blog HERE to see her version.  It's beautiful so go on over and say "Hi!"!

Finished Irish Chain Quilt + Printable Instructions

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Well, it's done and I love it!
My green and white Irish Chain quilt turned out 
just how I envisioned it.

It adds just a little bit of color and vintage charm at the foot of my bed.
I also think it would've been cute had the fabric placement been reversed.

What do you think of my new "homebody" pillow?
I got it at the Corn Wagon Mercantile a few weeks ago.
The Corn Wagon is an awesome quilt shop in Springville, UT. 
and they recently opened a retreat center and mercantile behind the shop.  
The whole place is just a dream.  I definitely want to go back again soon! 

So I mentioned in my last post that I was debating whether or not to do crosshatching 
for the quilting on my quilt.  I decided to splurge and do it and I couldn't be happier!

 It was a bit pricey to do the crosshatching since my quilter basically had to quilt 
it twice but I think it was worth it.  I rarely do custom quilting (which is always more 
expensive) so I thought I would treat myself this time!  I feel like the crosshatching 
has a vintage vibe but is still kind of modern which is exactly the look I was going for!

The quilter I used on this was Denae Hansen of Plain Jane Quilting in American Fork, UT.
She always does a fantastic job and has a pretty quick turnaround time.
I always love her work!

I'm kind of obsessed with my backing fabric.  I went to 4 different fabric stores 
before I found it and the minute I saw it I knew it was the one.  It's called Wildwood
Peonies in Navy by Rifle Paper Co. for Cotton + Steel.  I actually ordered it through
AACottonCreations on Etsy though because the shop here in Utah only had it in canvas.
Are you one to put a lot of thought into your quilt backs or not?
Some people say, "Oh, it's on the back, you won't see it."  
But you do!  And I just want the back to make me as happy as the front.

Remember the labels I got a while back?  They're from Border City Quilts on Etsy.  
They were custom so if you want something similar just tell them you want the 2" x 2" 
cotton fold over labels.  You can pick the font and text.  I got a sheet of 20 for $16 
and I'm very happy with them! 

I'm so glad to have this quilt done so we can enjoy it now. 

I hope you don't mind me sharing a boatload of pictures with you today!
 Please let me know if you have any questions.  I'm also so happy to announce that I have 
the printable, condensed instructions for the two-color Irish Chain quilt HERE (2 size options). 

Happy quilting!

Two-Color Irish Chain Quilt-Along: Week 8

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

I can't believe it's the last week of our Quilt-Along!
It's been so fun seeing everyone's Irish Chain Quilts.  I love the adaptability of 
this pattern.  Whether you did two-colors or scrappy, strip piecing or good ol' traditional piecing, 
this pattern is classic and I hope you will love your quilt for many years to come.

This week's assignment is to finally sew all the blocks together and piece the back.

7 X 9 block layout

9 X 9 block layout

Quilt Top Assembly:
For the twin quilt - sew together 5 rows made up of  4 Checkerboard Blocks and 3 Alternate Blocks each, starting and ending with the Checkerboard Blocks.  Then sew together 4 rows made up of  4 Alternate Blocks and 3 Checkerboard Blocks each, starting and ending with the Alternate Blocks.  Press all the seam allowances toward the Alternate Blocks.  Sew all the rows together (alternating) according to the twin quilt image above.  Press the seam allowances open.

For the queen quilt - sew together 5 rows made up of  5 Checkerboard Blocks and 4 Alternate Blocks each, starting and ending with the Checkerboard Blocks.  Then sew together 4 rows made up of  5 Alternate Blocks and 4 Checkerboard Blocks each, starting and ending with the Alternate Blocks.  Press all the seam allowances toward the Alternate Blocks.  Sew all the rows together (alternating) according to the queen quilt image above.  Press the seam allowances open. 

Note: Make sure the large rectangles in the Alternate Blocks are all going horizontal.

And voila!  Your Irish Chain quilt top is done!!!  
Pat yourself on the back and do a little happy dance!

These aren't great pictures, but here's mine! 

Now that your quilt top is done may I recommend pre-washing your backing fabric?  
We don't want any bleeding so consider washing and pressing it before piecing the back.
I am using this Cotton + Steel Rifle Paper Company Wildwood Peonies in Navy.  I hit up 3 fabric stores with no luck but the moment I walked into the fourth store and saw this, I knew it was the one.

Piece the Back:
For the Twin quilt - 
Cut 5 1/2 yards in half to create 2 pieces that measure approximately 40" x 99" each.
Trim the selvages.  With RST, sew the pieces together along the long edges.  
Press the seam allowances in one direction.  

For the Queen quilt - 
Cut 8 1/4 yards into 3 pieces that measure approximately 40" x 99" each.
Trim the selvages.  With RST, sew the pieces together along the long edges.  
Press the seam allowances in one direction.  

The back of the quilt needs to be 3-4" bigger than your quilt top on each side if you're 
going to have it professionally long-arm quilted.

Now it's time to start thinking about how you're going to quilt it!  Mine is being quilted 
right now.  I asked my quilter to do horizontal straight lines 1" apart and then I'm going to 
look at it (and see how much that cost) before deciding if I want her to do more straight 
lines the other direction to create a crosshatch.  I love crosshatching but my quilter 
was a little concerned about getting all the lines completely perpendicular and I'm concerned 
about the cost since that is basically like quilting it TWICE!  So we shall see!
How are you going to quilt yours?

Once your quilt is quilted, bind it.  For the twin quilt, you will need 9 strips, 2 1/2" x 40" each 
and for the queen quilt, you will need 10 strips, 2 1/2" x 40" each.  I have a tutorial saved in my "highlights" on Instagram with all the details on how I do my bindings.  I need to update my tutorial here on the blog so look for that soon!

Well, this is basically the end of our Quilt-Along.  
I will be back soon with pictures of my finished quilt soon though.  
Please let me know if you have any questions and please, please share your finished quilt with me on Instagram using the hashtag #irishchainqal and tag me @gigis_thimble.  I can't wait to see yours!
Thank you so much for all your kind messages throughout the QAL.  I'm so glad you were along for the ride!

Two-Color Irish Chain Quilt-Along: Week 7

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Hello hello!
It's week 7 of the Two-Color Irish Chain Quilt-Along!
Can you believe there's only one week left after this?  It's gone by so fast!
I hope you're staying on schedule because soon you will have a beautiful quilt top!

This week's assignment is quite simple.
Just sew two A sections that you made last week onto opposite sides 
of the 6 1/2" x 10 1/2" color 2 rectangles to create the Alternate Blocks.

Make 31

Make 40

1. Sew an A section to the top of the 6 1/2" x 10 1/2" rectangle.  Repeat with the 
rest of the 6 1/2" x  10 1/2" rectangles for your chosen quilt size.

2. Sew the remaining A sections to the opposite side of the 6 1/2" x 10 1/2" rectangles.

3. Press the seam allowances toward the A sections.

4. Now sit back and enjoy the fact that all your blocks are D-O-N-E!

That's it for this week!
Have a great day!