Fun with Paper Piecing

Have you ever seen a quilt pattern and just known you had to make it? That’s how I felt when I saw the Spooky Spider by Flying Parrot Quilts. I couldn’t wait to get sewing!

Lucky for me, my boss wanted one for the shop’s booth at Quiltcon in Pasadena. Of course, it meant cutting, sewing and quilting it in record time, but I was up for the challenge.

We wanted to make a fat quarter fabric bundle to accompany it, so I was determined to make it work — even though the pattern calls for a half yard of fabric for the background.

I used a Debby Kratovil technique, suggested by the boss, which involved tracing all the background pieces onto freezer paper. Then I added the seam allowances and cut out to arrange on the fabric. This made it possible for me to make sure I could get everything I needed out of a fat quarter. It took some time but it was worth it when I made that fat quarter work!

Once everything was cut out, the sewing came together pretty quickly. The finished quilt is only about 18″ square (the pattern includes a link to download a smaller and a larger version).

I used the new Slim ruler by Angela Walters to quilt radiating lines, then connected the lines with some free-motion swags to make a quilted spiderweb. It’s subtle but I love the results.

On the Road, QuiltCon Edition

What a week! I was fortunate enough to travel to beautiful Savannah, GA, last week to attend my first-ever QuiltCon. The shop had a booth and I was happy to get a chance to go and share the IQ love with quilters from all over the world.


It was such a great experience and I had a blast seeing friends and meeting new people. The first day was bananas: I think none of us left the booth before 2 and even then it was just to race to the bathroom or cram a sandwich down our throats. My friend Lennye and I spent a little while checking out the booths Friday morning before starting work and I may have picked up a thing or two. Working at a quilt shop, I’m pretty fortunate to be surrounded by gorgeous inspiration on a daily basis but I did manage to find one or two things to bring home.  

A post shared by Mary Abreu (@thatcraftaddict) on

I was fortunate to do some book signings at the Intown Quilters booth (thanks, Sarah!) and the Stash Books booth during the trip. There may have been a little babbling about bag making but I can’t help myself. I’m pretty passionate about this latest book of mine and really love being able to introduce people to the book and the concept behind it.

On the last day of the show, I dragged Sarah over to look at the quilts because I didn’t want to leave without getting a chance to see them. Some I’d seen online but many of the quilts were new to me and I’m so glad I had the chance to check them out.


Machine Quilting is Mega Fun with Pat Sloan

I have a stack of quilt tops languishing in my studio. My intention has always been to quilt them myself because they’re small or made with inexpensive fabric or not tops I think are worth the expense of longarm quilting.

So they sit on shelves and in bins, waiting for me to get around to quilting them myself — except I still consider myself something of a machine quilting novice and the thought of tackling the pile intimidates me.

pat-sloan-mega-fun-book-toursqWhen my buddy Pat Sloan asked me to be part of her Mega-Fun Book Tour for her new book, Teach Me to Machine Quilt, I couldn’t say “yes” fast enough. Reading it was like having a conversation with Pat — I could actually hear her voice in my head. Her tips and detailed explanation of techniques really makes machine quilting on my home sewing machine more doable.


The weakest part of my quilting game is the quilt basting, hands down. I can manage smaller quilts but anything larger than a throw inevitably ends up with wrinkles and puckers in the backing. Pat’s tips for basting made so much sense! I actually feel like I can tackle the quilt I made for my queen-sized bed now! (A Sassy Sixteen made with Luke Hayne’s Dapper fabrics, backed with Tula Pink Freefall.)

My Sassy Sixteen quilt top made with Luke Hayne's Dapper fabric line.
My Sassy Sixteen quilt top made with Luke Hayne’s Dapper fabric line.

I love that Pat also included projects in her book, broken down by quilting style (walking foot vs. free motion quilting). I’ve already decided I need to make this quilt:


Pat’s Mega-Fun Book Tour includes an amazing line-up of participants (seriously — I can’t believe my name is on the same list as these folks). Be sure to head over and check out all the posts, tips, interviews and  more:

Nov 18

Nov 19

Nov 20

Nov 21

Nov 22

Nov 23

Nov 25

Nov 26

Nov 28

Nov 29

Nov 30

And … YOU can win your very own copy of Pat Sloan’s Teach Me to Machine Quilt from the super talented author herself! Head here to enter to win (be sure to read the details to make sure you’re entered). Physical Copies for US residents, digital copies for all other winners. Be sure to enter by midnight on Dec. 1!

Review: Quilts for Scrap Lovers

When Judy Gauthier asked me to be part of the online tour for her new book, Quilts for Scrap Lovers, I couldn’t say “yes” fast enough. I have a love-hate relationship with my fabric scraps. I love to find uses for them but they’re weird sizes and — because I make a lot of garments — often they are oddly shaped.


Yet I can’t seem to stop saving them, to the point that my color-coded scrap bins are stuffed to the brim. And don’t even ask about the tubs full of scraps from my three books that I keep thinking I’ll turn into the most epic scrap quilt ever.

I finally had a chance to dig into the ebook for Judy’s book while traveling to and from Quilt Market and I knew this was the book for me. All the challenges I’ve encountered with my own scraps? She gets it and she tells you how to deal with them. She’s not afraid to tell you what she’s done wrong, too, which I love, like admitting that cutting her scraps into certain size pieces without a plan made things way too hard.

I found myself nodding my head and occasionally commenting out loud in agreement (sorry, nice lady in the seat next to me on the plane!) to things like, “You can’t go wrong if it makes you happy when you look at it.”

She breaks up the pieces into three sizes of templates (the acrylic templates are sold separately; you can also use acrylic rulers, template plastic or even cardboard to make the templates). Position the templates and cut, then reposition and cut again until all the usable fabric has been turned into pieces that are ready to turn into amazing scrap quilts.

Judy talks about mixing old and new fabrics, color, value, bias edges, balancing quilt layouts and more before showcasing 16 quilt designs that use actual scraps. Some of the quilts require background fabric but even those backgrounds could be made with something like a variety of white-on-white fabric scraps to really go scrap crazy.

While I read through the projects, I was mentally flipping through my inventory of scraps, plotting which quilt I would make first. I’m pretty sure the cover quilt, Sunshine and Shadows, is near the top of the list. But it’ll have to wait until I’ve made Hugs and Kisses:


I just love this quilt! And I can totally see making it in a mix of pinks and aquas, which are two colors I have more scraps than I can manage!

Be sure to check out the other folks taking part in the book tour:

Mary Abreu Nov. 3 <– that’s me!
Diane Knott Nov. 4
Kim Lapacek Nov. 5
And now for the fun part: You can win your very own copy of Quilts for Scrap Lovers! Comment below with your favorite tips for organizing scraps and you’re entered to win. Winner will be chosen via on Monday, Nov. 7.

Sassy Sixteen … Plus Fourteen

My beautiful Pacific Crest quilt made me realize I’ve never made a quilt for my own bed. Honey and I have a beautiful queen-sized half canopy iron bed and buying bedding for it has always been a challenge.

I picked up a fat quarter bundle of Dapper, the new line by Luke Haynes for Moda, at sample spree during Quilt Market in the fall. I’d met Luke at Quilt Market in Portland a couple of years ago and love his work, so I knew I’d probably love his fabric. I was right. Gorgeous wovens in colors that make me happy.

But 30 fat quarters is a lot and I really had no idea what to do with them. One of my coworkers is a big fan of the Sassy Sixteen quilt pattern by Divine Inspirations. We’ve used it at the shop to make a couple of samples, including one with Robert Kaufman’s Shetland Flannels. Sandy assured me that it was really easy to enlarge the pattern to a queen size, especially because I had so many fat quarters to work with.



She was right! Actually the biggest challenge for me was not overthinking the fabric. Sandy suggested I just grab and sew. This might be an easy thing for some folks but I’m a little (OK, a lot) Type A. I’ve been known to mock up quilts in Illustrator with imported fabric swatches to make sure I’d be happy with the finished product. “Grab and sew” required a little deep breathing on occasion!

I did allow myself a little more Type A time when it came to arranging the blocks. I didn’t worry about colors touching but I did try to avoid having the same fabrics touching. I grouped the borders by color and arranged them in a little more orderly fashion, too. It was still pretty low-key for my style of planning and I think it made for a finished product that I’m quite happy with.

IMG_9081It was tough to get a full picture of the quilt, because it is massive. It’s also incredibly heavy. You can see but both my husband and my son are holding it over the ledge.

I’d love to quilt it myself but I’m not sure how I want it quilted. And since I have no idea what I’m putting on the back, I’m not in a huge hurry — although it sure would be nice to snuggle under it with the wintry blast of weather we’re having right now!


C+S Pacific Crest

I was bound and determined to finish one more quilt top before 2015 ended, which is how I ended up in front of my sewing machine for the better part of two days. It was totally worth it, though, to finally stitch up the quilt top I’d planned about 18 months before.

Beyond Netural by John Adams is one of those books that just clicked with me. I could see myself making every quilt in the book. They’re just so striking and beautiful and, well, I just loved them.

I especially love the cover quilt, Pacific Crest. When we received our first shipment of Cotton+Steel at work, I knew it was a great pairing. I painstakingly picked out the fabrics and the perfect background fabric, expecting to dive in and start sewing right away. Yeah, that didn’t happen. I’d occasionally pet the pile of fabric and sigh, then put it back in the bin until the next petting session.

But, oh, it was worth the wait!


It’s a big quilt, much bigger than I realized when I got started. I think I realized the size when I picked out the fabric but 18 months between picking the fabric and actually cutting and sewing the top made some of the details a little fuzzy.

It’s a lot of half-square triangles but they went together pretty quickly. Laying out the top took about as much time as making all those HSTs! I didn’t pick a really varied palette so that did make for some challenges with layout since it was hard to keep like colors from being too close to each other.

I also used different cuts of fabrics than those listed in the pattern. I touched on this a bit when I was on Pat Sloan’s podcast recently: If you deviate from a pattern, write down what you changed right away and keep it with the pattern or book. Otherwise, when you actually start making that quilt 18 months later, you’ll have to remember exactly why you have 1/3 yard and 1/4 yard cuts of fabric instead of fat quarters. And an extra yard of background fabric.

I’ve got the backing fabric already and have a pretty good idea how I want to quilt it but the size is giving me a little pause. I’ve never quilted anything this size before and I’m not sure I want this to be my practice quilt. Fortunately, I’ve got a stack of tops in need of quilting so plenty of chances to work myself up to this one.


Hello, Dahlia!

Have you ever seen something and just instantly fell in love, knew “this is the one”? That’s kind of what I felt the first time I saw a dahlia quilt. Curvy, colorful, big and beautiful.

Of course, it’s also the kind of project that makes me think, “Can I do this?”

When I came across the Dahlia quilt pattern from Prairie Grass Patterns, I knew I’d found my entre to the quilt of my dreams. It took me a little while to get to it, but when I did, I couldn’t stop until it was done.



I used largely Tula Pink fabrics with a bit of Timeless Treasure’s Studio Basics blender and a wee touch of Cotton + Steel. It’s all machine pieced, then hand appliqued to the background fabric. I machine quilted each blade of the dahlia, echoing the lines of the piecing. Then I echo stitched around the dahlia on the background fabric.

The finished mini quilt is about 25″ square and I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. It was a good learning process without the level of intimidation that is the Giant Dahlia pattern. And now that I’ve done it, I know I want to follow through and make the dahlia of my dreams.

Owl Always Love Sewing

Now that I’ve gotten past some big deadlines, I’ve suddenly found myself able to sew things just for fun. Just because I want to. It’s liberating and intimidating, all at the same time. Some days, I can’t figure out where to start so I end up doing fun things like laundry. Others, I head to the sewing machine and don’t move until it’s time to get my daughter from the bus.

My session with Allie the Owl fell under the second scenario.

I’ve been in love with owls since forever and I knew I’d take a crack at Elizabeth Hartman’s pattern at some point. We had some beautiful bolts of Shimmer 2 at the shop, so I started there and pulled in a gorgeous blue linen/cotton blend (Mochi by Moda) for the background.


I was in such a hurry to make this thing, that apparently I could not be bothered to either cut or sew a straight line. As a result, some of my matching is … off. Some days, you just accept the imperfections and this is one of those days.

I’d originally planned to do a loose, all over quilting pattern, using a light gray thread over the owl and a matching thread to the background. But then I got in the groove and went a little crazy with the background. OK, a lot crazy.

I found a quilt on Pinterest that used a similar free-motion quilting design and just ran with it. I didn’t do much marking: I used the width of my palm to help with spacing the first line of quilting (the long, wavy line) and I did use chalk to mark about halfway between those lines to give myself a stopping point for the scallops. Other than that, I just winged it.


It’s a pretty dense amount of quilting and I probably should have taken more breaks than I did because my shoulders and upper back were killing me the next day. But I’m happy with how it turned out and maybe the quilting helps keep people from noticing all those mismatched seams!