December Bite Size Block


“It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year… La la la la la” wish I knew all the words to the song. But isn’t it wonderful? I love love love Christmas time. We’ve even had thick frost the past few days that made it look like a winter wonderland here in sunny Livermore. And you MUST stop by In Between Stitches. The new window displays by Leslie Emery are a frosty sight to see. Just beautiful! The window on the left features the small version of our new pattern, the Double Arrow by Material Girlfriends.

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This is my last free block download for the I Love Us Year Round pattern! Wow, the year just flew by. The December block is shown at the top of this blog and you can download the instructions here ILoveUsYearRound.all pages36-38. You can now download all the blocks, from the January blog to now, to make the outside portion of the I Love Us Year Round quilt. If you should want the interior pattern as well as a hard copy of the January through December blocks, you can pick up this beautiful 40+ color pages pattern from In Between Stitches by clicking here.

ILoveUsYearRound.Cover.8.5x11.flatThe December block is fun! We get to enjoy a little piecing in making the Half Square Triangles, a little paper piecing in making the pleated Christmas tree and a little appliqué for the colorful light bulbs. I will be teaching this block at my next Bite Size class, Sunday, December 13, at 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm. Join me for some quilting merriment and we can all sing, hum and la-la-la to “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” as we sew up the December block.

Now that song is going to stick in your head all day. LOL!



Christmas Elf Mug Rug

Merry Christmas!


Here is a fun gift for you. This cute little mug rug also makes a great hostess gift and would be perfect for a mug rug swap with your quilting friends.

The Material Girlfriend Christmas Elf Mug Rug paper piecing pattern was given by In Between Stitches in Livermore, CA, during the recent Jingle Bell Shop Hop. This is where you can learn to paper piece it! If you missed the Shop Hop and didn’t get your copy, you can download it FREE for a limited time. ChristmasElfMugRugPattern

Here is a tutorial. Yep, that’s me. Keep in mind TV adds 50 lbs and 20 years to your looks. My sweet husband, Michael, was my camera man. We’re taping in my dining room (oh, so professional) because my new office/sewing studio was just vacated by our eldest son and we’re in the process of painting it a light buttery yellow. (I’ll write a post with some pictures when I have it all done!)

Now, if you didn’t catch all that and don’t want to sit through the chipmunks music again, here are a few easy steps.

  1. Copy your pattern onto some foundation paper. You can use printer paper but Carol Doak’s foundation paper is so much easier to remove. You can also use Alex Anderson’s foundation paper and leave it in. It will dissolve after it is washed. Trim away the bottom portion of the pattern. You only need to paper-piece the hat.
  2. Trace the lines and numbers on the back of the paper. This is to assist you in positioning your fabric.
  3. Pre-cut your fabrics. I estimate an inch or more bigger than the space it will cover.
  4. Start with number one. On the back side of the paper where you drew the lines, pin right side up the fabric piece so it covers the entire area by at least a quarter inch on all sides.
  5. Position the fabric for number 2 right sides facing together on top of the fabric for position 1. Check the position. Imagine if you sewed on the line between 1 and 2 to make the seam, then as fabric 2 is opened, it should cover the entire area of spot 2 plus a quarter inch beyond. Pin to hold it in place, flip it over and stitch the line between 1 and 2 with a small stitch. I use 1.8 on my machine’s settings.
  6. Finger press the seam open. Does the fabric generously cover position 2? No, seam rip and try again. Yes? Trim the seam to 1/4″ using a postcard to fold the paper over and an Add-A-Quarter ruler.
  7. Before adding fabric for position 3, it is easier to pre-trim the seam allowance on the line between two and three before adding the next fabric. From the front, align the post card on the line between 2 and 3. Fold the paper back over the postcard. Butt the Add-A-Quarter ruler along the card edge and trim the quarter inch. Now you can easily align the fabric for position 3.
  8. Continue in the same manner until you’ve covered all the pieces. Trim on the outside solid line and tear away the foundation paper.
  9. Cut a background rectangle 2 1/2″ x 6 1/2″. Trace the face onto the paper side of double-sided light fusible web. Follow your products directions. Stick to the wrong side of your fabric and trim out on the line. Trace the nose and mouth and then stick to the right side of the 2 1/2″ x 6 1/2″ rectangle aligning the face at the top edge of the rectangle. Heat set in place. I did a blanket stitch around the curve of the face.
  10. Sew to the bottom of the hat and give it a good pressing.
  11. Quilt and bind. You can add some rosy cheeks with fabric paint or crayon if you want.
  12. What about the hat’s pom-pom? On one mug rug I traced a quarter on some fusible web and created a pom-pom from some chenille. On another, I sewed a jingle bell. A button, yo-yo or yarn pom-pom would be just as cute! Have fun finishing him up.

If that still didn’t help, come see me. I usually work Thursdays at In Between Stitches (call ahead to be sure I’m there) or join me at one of my Lisa’s Finishing Schools for Wayward Quilters classes. We meet every other Saturday evening. Check the In Between Stitches class calendar for dates. The classes fill up quickly so be sure to reserve your spot as soon as possible.

If you’re new to my blog, be sure to follow. Every month I put up a new free block pattern.



November Bite Size Block

November2015BiteSizeBlockLog Cabin block. I used to dislike this block. Twelve years ago I was going to make a log cabin quilt for my cousin Heather’s new baby boy. It took me 3 hours to make one little log cabin which turn out half an inch smaller than it was suppose to be. There was lots of seam ripping because I’d sewn the wrong color on the wrong side. “No way. The baby will be in college by the time I finish this.” Plan B. I made an Irish chain quilt instead.

Fast forward 10 years from then. Melissa Emery Grech, at In Between Stitches was giving me the opportunity to teach the Start Quilting class. One of the blocks was a log cabin. I cringed from QPTSD (Quilter’s Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). That first class, I assisted Melissa as she taught the class. When we got to the log cabin block, she taught a method she said she learned from Eleanor Burns. OMG!!! This was so much easier than the tediously torturous way I had made that first block so many years ago. I loved it. No pre-cutting the many small strips and you made multiple blocks at a time “chain piecing”. I love it! I was cured!

We American quilters have long considered this block to be the quintessential American design, though the pattern really dates back to ancient Egypt. But to us, the block represents log cabins on the prairie with red center squares for the hearth, light values on one side for the sunny side of the house and dark values on the opposite side for the shady side of the house. The hey-day of the Log Cabin quilt in this country was in the third and fourth quarters of the 19th Century.

Try out this very American tradition. You can download the instructions for the November Block for the I Love Us Year Long pattern instructions here ILoveUsYearRound.all pages34-35. If you’re local, you can join me next Sunday, November 8 from 1-5pm at In Between Stitches in Livermore. We’ll also start the background blocks for the center House Block as well.

As the weather chills, start a red square fire in the hearth/heart and cozy up in your own little cabin/home and stitch some tradition of your own.





October Bite Size Block

Pumpkin Time!


What’s not to love about Pumpkins? Okay, maybe the guts. But pumpkin is used in all kinds of cooking in the fall, from Pumpkin Spice Lattes to Pumpkin Seed Cranberry Chips (the bomb from Trader Joe’s). Pumpkin is even a favorite term of endearment and who didn’t learn this favorite poem in their childhood?

Peter Peter pumpkin eater,
Had a wife and couldn’t keep her!
He put her in a pumpkin shell,
And there he kept her very well!

This month’s block is one of my favorites from the I Love Us Year Round pattern. I confess, I designed the block but my sister, Lora put it together. The leaves are just the icing on the pumpkin spice cake. The three leaves are layered appliqué creating dimensions and beauty. She carefully (and slowly) did a blanket stitch around each machine appliquéed layer in a matching thread. When she quilted it, she quilted in the vines giving the leaves even more dimension. Delicious!

If you’d like to make this pretty block, just down load the pattern here. ILoveUsYearRound.31-33pages. When you add blanket stitches to your machine appliqué projects, remember before starting to test your blanket stitch settings and change your machine’s foot to an open toe. You want plenty of space to view what you’re doing! See, easy as pumpkin pie.

I’m teaching this block tomorrow, Oct. 4, at In Between Stitches from 1pm – 5pm. If you’re local, join us for some fun. You can contact In Between Stitches or register for class online.

PumpkinSpiceRumLatteI’ll sign off with my favorite pumpkin recipe. Brew some nice hot coffee. Fill 3/4 in a mug, add a little William Sonoma’s Pumpkin Coffee syrup, a little half and half, a splash of rum (or two splashes), top with whip cream and sprinkle with pumpkin spice… hmmm… perfect. However, too much of a good thing and you’ll end up doing some seam ripping. 😉



September Bite Size Block

What am I forgetting?

September2015BiteSizeBlockI’ve got three lists. Got the camp gear, food, directions, tickets, batteries, check. I gave instructions to the boys and Grammy, check. Left money for their groceries and adventures, check. I sent in my invoice for work, watered the plants, filled the pool, check.

What am I forgetting?

Balanced the checkbook, paid the bills due while we’re gone, check. Filled the car with gas, checked the brakes, tires and other automotive stuff, check.

What am I forgetting?

Cleaned the house, tidied the yard, fed and watered the dogs. Check, check and check. Okay, we leave at the first crack of dawn…for 10 days. What am I forgetting?

We’re home now but despite the three lists, I forgot a few things. Does that happen to you too? I forgot to fill out the school athletic paperwork for my son’s high school cross country team, plus there was a physical required (thanks Grammy for taking care of that!).

And I forgot to write my blog. I try to upload the new block on the first of every month. I even had it all ready a week prior to leaving on our vacation. All I had to do was write a quick paragraph and hit upload. Well, I remembered on September 1 but I was in the middle of a Nevada desert wilderness that had spotty cell and text coverage. No internet. None. Just blowing dust and a bunch of crazy campers.

It is very nice to be home where I can finally complete the things I forgot. This month’s Bite Size block is a breeze compared to last month’s teeny tiny Half Square Triangles! Download the instructions to make this pretty block ILoveUsYearRound.InsidePgs28-29. You can also join me this coming Sunday, September 13 from 1-5pm to make this block. I will be teaching the many different techniques in making Half Square Triangles so don’t pre-cut your fabrics if you’re coming to class. If you have Lynn Wilder’s Patchwork Math Using Quilting Design Components book, bring it with you. If you don’t, it isn’t required for class, but I will be showing you what a gold mine her book is. It is definitely one you’ll want as a resource in your personal Quilting Library.

Can you believe I also forgot that it was my dear husband’s 50th birthday the day after we returned from our trip? He turns 50 on the 8th! I don’t know why I didn’t realize there wasn’t more time between our return and Mike’s birthday!  Perhaps I needed a fourth list. Fortunately, his birthday wish was a family trip to Old Sacramento and the train museum. Quick calls to the boys and it is all arranged.

Now… what else am I forgetting?




August Bite Size Block

A Hot Summer Daze.


I love the relaxed pace of summer… what am I talking about? Relaxed? When has my summer been relaxed? This summer has blown by like a convertible on a hot road going 100mph! It is already August 1 and my niece and nephew are back in school with my boys hot on their heels, going back in just a couple weeks. Remember when we started school AFTER Labor Day? Sometimes I think we just cut our summer too short.

Today I saw an End of Summer Sale 30-50% off!No!,” I silently screamed in my head, “Not the end of summer!” They were already putting harvest and Halloween items out on their shelves. I held back the tears, bought my few summer clearance items and hurried out. Summer is not over. It isn’t. It won’t. So, to celebrate Not-the-end-of-summer, let’s make this beautiful Sun Burst Star. Just click ILoveUsYearRound.InsidePgs25-27 to download the instructions.

This block is full of little 1″ finished half square triangles. But don’t break out into a summer sweat! I like using Star Singles when a pattern calls for eight or more Half Square Triangles. You can make eight at a time, quick as a wink. However, if you don’t have Star Singles, no sweat, because the block pattern includes the traditional non-paper method of making the half square triangles. A12135bI will be teaching the Not-the-end-of-summer Sun Burst Star at In Between Stitches on Sunday, August 9, from 1-5pm. You can sign up for the class here. I will be sharing Star Singles so you can try a new method as well as demonstrating other quick Half Square Triangle methods, tips and tricks.

Hanging onto summer!




July Bite Size block

July2015BiteSizeBlockI love my country. I hope you enjoy today, celebrating all the benefits and blessings of being an American.

You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness.  You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism.”  ~Erma Bombeck

I hope you’re a doing your patriotic duty by participating in a bbq, parade and the firework show! Later this week, please enjoy this free block and have fun sewing it up. ILoveUsYearRound.InsidePgs23-24 I will be teaching this block next Sunday, July 12 from 1-5pm at In Between Stitches. You can sign up for this class here. Also, since we are now half way through the I Love Us All Year Long blocks, this class will also be a “catch-up” class. If you missed any of the previous classes, you can come to this one and learn any of the blocks from January to July. I will be bringing the instructions and examples for all of the previously taught 2015 Bite Size blocks.

Have a wonderful Independence Day!




June Bite Size Block

June2015BiteSizeBlockYesterday was a scorcher!! It reached 110 degrees here in Livermore, CA. It was a perfect day for a dip in the pool. This month’s block of beach towel and flip flops fits in perfectly with our weather. I designed this block last fall in Maui with beach adventures in mind. Kick off your shoes and down load this pattern. Of course…we can sew indoors and enjoy the air conditioning. It’s too hot out there!

I used machine appliqué for the flip flops. The background and pinwheels are pieced. If you’d like the instructions and pattern, just click to download. ILoveUsYearRound.InsidePgs20-22

I will be teaching this block this coming Sunday afternoon at In Between Stitches. You can register online. Join us and learn machine appliqué and my tricks to blanket stitching. I will also cover my Precise Piecing Pointers for Pointless Peoples so you can be sure your pinwheel blocks will spin freely.


Cooking Dinner…

Remember to stay cool out there!



May Bite Size Block

784254829_203149c89b_zApril showers bring May flowers

Did you know this little ryhme can be dated clear back to the 1500s? There is meaning behind the words, as well. “April showers bring May flowers” is a reminder that even unpleasant things, in this case April rains, can bring about very pleasing things, like an abundance of flowers in May. “April showers bring May flowers” is a lesson in patience, and one that remains valid to this day.  When you apply this to quilting, exercising patience in cutting, piecing and pressing, you’re rewarded with a pleasing block!


This month’s block is a beautiful May flower block. If you ever want a really cool reference book, pick up a copy of Jinny Beyer’s The Quilter’s Album of Patchwork Patterns. It has more than 4050 pieced blocks! The book shows this square was called The Weather Vane by Ruby McKim, and was in the Kansas City Star in January of 1929. Looks like a pretty flower to me. I recently saw this block used for an entire quilt. (Or a block like it.) When I went to find the magazine so I could list it for you, I couldn’t find it. When I find it, I’ll leave a comment. Or if YOU see it, you leave the comment so I can quit searching my sewing room.

I’ll be teaching this May Flower block this coming Sunday afternoon, May 3, in my Bite Size class. If  you’re local, join us for an afternoon of fun. You can download my instructions for the block, ILoveUsYearRound.InsidePgs18-19. You can sign up for the class through In Between Stitches website’s class page.

Coincidentally, Missouri Star Quilt Company’s Daily Deal is the same fabric line that the I Love Us Year Round quilt is made of – Marcus Fabric’s Primo Batiks: Aurora & Twilight. And they have instructions for the Jelly Roll races. I’m hostessing In Between Stitches Jelly Roll Race II in August. Buy your jelly roll and sign up!



April Bite Size Block

AprilBiteSizeBlockTime seems to fly by me all the time. I turned my head… and a week of April just flew by!

The weather has been beautiful here in Livermore. The sun has been shining bright, yet Easter weekend we got a little April Shower to water our May flowers.

This coming Sunday is our next Bite Size class and we will be putting together this cute “Birds on a Line” block. Download the pattern here ILoveUsYearRound.InsidePgs15-17. We will be making this block with light, double-sided fusible web and machine stitching the pieces in place. Add three pretty pinwheels and you’ll have a lovely spring block to add to your growing stack of “I Love Us All Year Round” blocks or to finish as a Bite Size, 12″ quilt and display in a small rack or on the wall!

I just love this “I Love Us All Year Long” quilt. I think it is my favorite quilt so far. I love the bright Marcus Fabric batiks [R07 Primo Batiks: Aurora & Twilight] and the whimsical designs of each block. I love how the calendar blocks gently encircle the house. The home is the center of my world. I think that is why I can get so stunned by how quickly the calendar can go by. I am quite content to sit in my pretty center block and watch the calendar blocks go by my window. And say, How did it get to be April already? I delight in all the vibrant colors but what makes the quilt so special to me is the incredible quilting that Lora did on it.

If you’ve not had a chance to study the quilting on this “I Love Us All Year Long” quilt, next time you stop by In Between Stitches in Livermore, take a moment to study the intricate quilting that was done.

In Between Stitches just presented the next quarter class schedule this past Tuesday. Lora and I both have classes offered over the next 4 months. Lora has two new class options on quilting. One is called “Quilt as Desired”. It is an open quilt class where students bring their quilt tops and are coached through the entire quilting process. Lora will demonstrate quilting products and their uses. She is offering that workshop four times this quarter, May 5, 10-1pm; June 7, 11-2pm; July 23, 10-1pm; August 23, 11-2pm. If you’re interested in quilting your own quilts, these are a must! At just $25 a session, it is a stitchin’ deal.

Lora’s second quilting class that she is offering is called “Quilting Makes the Quilt”. It is a one day workshop from 12:30-3:30 on Saturday, June 13. During this class Lora will discuss batting, thread, marking choices, backing and where to find quilting ideas. Then you get to do free-hand quilting, meandering fillers and free motion feathers with your machine.

I think her classes will fill up quick. Be sure to log onto and sign up for a class.

We’ll blog more on quilting. It is an very important part of a quilt! I hope to see you Sunday at the April Bite Size class!

Sew on and Sew on,