Monthly Archives: January 2014

The Company I Keep…

It would have killed me to do this when I was a teenager, but now that I’m middle-aged, with the first rays of “my golden years” beginning to peak over the horizon, I can admit it – My mother was right. A person is known by the company she keeps. Over the years, I have fallen in with a bunch of quilters, and fortunately, they are mostly wholesome, upright, God-fearing women who would never lead me astray. But there are a few…

Kathy, for instance. My BQB (Best Quilting Buddy) I blame my fabric stash that has grown so large my sewing room can’t hold it on Kathy. She drags me to the local quilt shop on Fat Quarter Fridays. Yes she does…she MAKES me go in there! If there’s a bolt of fabric I just absolutely love, she will not let me get just the quarter-yard that would make me perfectly happy. “Three yards” is her rule, “because you might want to use it for borders.” It’s her fault.

When I stand at the Pearly Gates and St. Peter quizzes me about the year I gave up buying fabric for Lent, I will point at Charlotte. I only went into that shop for one spool of white thread. I had it in my hand and was headed for the checkout, and there she was with a basketful of bolts “all at 40% off!” I will admit I yielded to temptation, but the truth is, I went on an absolute bender.

Then there’s Annette. If I mention a class anywhere within a 2-days drive, she buys the gas, I drive and we’re there. She usually finishes the projects, but I can’t hold that against her.

I blame my quilty friends for my closet full of unfinished projects. Yes, Mom, if all of my friends begin a new block-of-the-month or mystery quilt or guild challenge, I must jump off of that “cliff”, too.

So here I stand, surrounded by UFO’s and hoping two of my new online quilting buddies (OQB’s) will help me get my quilting life under control.

2014 Button

“Aunt Marti” is Marti Dyer-Allison. We “met” as members of Quiltmaker Magazine’s 2013 Scrap Squad. Marti produces 52 quilts a year. That’s right, one a week. Not quilt tops, either…finished quilts. I don’t know how anyone who keeps that pace could possibly have unfinished projects laying around, but it appears she does, so she’s hosting a year-long project to complete a dozen UFO’s in 2014. One each month. I wasn’t going to sign on, but honestly, I have at least a half-dozen quilts that just need binding. I think I can do this!

Click HERE if you’d to read Marti’s blog and learn more.

DaGMT 2014

Then there’s Beth Helfter of EvaPaige Quilt Designs, one of my fellow designers. It’s probably a good thing that she and I live at almost opposite ends of the country, because if we hung out in person, we might well end up in custody somewhere. She’s that much fun. She’s also a member of the 2014 Quiltmaker Scrap Squad.

During the month of February, Beth hosts “Drop and Give Me Twenty”. By joining, you commit to spending 20 minutes of quality time with your sewing machine each and every day for the month. Again, I wasn’t going to jump off of this particular cliff, but then I looked at the stack of projects on my “to do” list, which is more like a must-be-done-we’re-on-a-deadline list. If I start them this week, they will technically be UFO’s on February 1st.

20 minutes a day? Piece of cake! Here’s my official pledge:

“I, Anne Wiens, am joining Quilting Hottie Haven’s third annual DaGMT event, and pledge to quilt for at least 20 minutes every day of the month of February, 2014. My stated reason for joining this challenge is to finish all of the projects on my you-must-finish-this-you’re-on-a-deadline list. In truth, I’m doing this because I can’t stand the idea of hundreds of quilters around the world having fun without me. Oh…and I think Beth Helfter is brilliant for coming up with this concept and inspiring me to join.”

Another good reason to join DAGMT – She’s awarding prizes, including a copy of The Thrifty Quilter, written by me.

Click HERE for Beth’s blog. (Fair warning: Drinking a beverage while reading it may lead to spit-takes.)

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

It’s Only Math…

Raise your hand if you’re reading this blog post because of Diane’s nice review of The Thrifty Quilter on Quiltmaker magazine’s “Quilty Pleasures” blog.  Thank you for tuning in” as we say in radio… a.k.a. “my day job” ( Diane’s review gives me an opportunity to explain how truly versatile this simple little scrap system can be.

The origin of the Thrifty Quilter (TQ) system is explained in the first post I wrote for this blog. Click HERE to read it.

In the book, I worked with two “sets” of scraps to build my blocks and quilts. The small set is a 2.5″ square, 4.5″ square and a 2.5″ x 4.5″ rectangle. The large set is a 3.5″ square, a 6.5″ square and a 3.5″ x 6.5″ rectangle. The block instructions call for “small squares”, “large squares” and “rectangles”.  If I’m using the small set for a particular block, the small square is always 2.5″, the large square is always 4.5″ and the rectangle is always 2.5″ x 4.5″.  If I want to make the same block with the large set, the small square is always 3.5″, the large square is 6.5″ and the rectangle is always 3.5″ x 6.5″.

TQ- Misc Set Illustration

These three pieces can be combined to make half-square triangles, flying geese and other parts and pieces that in turn can be combined to make quilt blocks.

There are a total of 80 blocks in the book, divided into three groups, which I labeled “Base 3”, “Base 4” and “Base 6”.  If you drew them on a grid, a Base 3 block is three squares by 3 squares. Base 4 blocks are 4 squares by 4 squares, and Base 6 blocks are 6 by 6. There are no Base 5 blocks in the book, but I am publishing those from time to time here on “Seams Like a Plan.”

Misc- Base IllustrationIf you use small set pieces, Base 3 blocks finish 6″ square, Base 4 blocks are 8″ and Base 6 blocks will be 12″. If you use the large set pieces, Base 3 blocks will be 9″ finished, Base 4 blocks will be 12″ and Base 6 blocks will be 18″.

Now, you could use just those six pieces, mix and match them using the settings in the book, or your own, and happily make TQ quilts for the rest of your life without ever repeating  yourself. Trust me. For every TQ quilt I complete, I add two or three to my sketchbook!

And it needn’t stop there. You can adapt the TQ system to your own needs. If you like miniature quilts, you can make tiny blocks just by changing the size of the squares and rectangles. If you’d rather make really big blocks, just save and use larger squares and rectangles. As long as you maintain the 2:1 ratio, you can use pieces of any size. The chart below will take what little math there is out of it for you.


TQ- Misc Size ChartThank you again for checking out the Thrifty Quilter System. If you check the blue “follow” button at the top of the left column on this page, you will be notified whenever I post a new block or quilt. In the meanwhile, start cutting up those leftover fabrics and you’ll be ready to sew!

Categories: Quiltmaker Magazine, The Thrifty Quilter System | 16 Comments

“What If?”

Curiosity is a valuable trait for designers.

To paraphrase the old Hewlitt-Packard advertising tagline, I never quit asking “What If?”

I came across this YouTube video from Missouri Star Quilt Company yesterday. Jenny Doan demonstrates her “Disappearing Pinwheel” block.  I love a good trick, so I had to try it…and then I had to start playing with it. First, watch the video and then we’ll play.

I noticed that Jenny said you could use different sizes of squares to start with, so I had to try it with 6.5″ TQ squares. I wound up with an 8″ pinwheel to start, which does not divide by 3 easily. I simply added an extra step and trimmed the big pinwheel to 7.5″ x 7.5″. This made my cuts from the center line 1.25″ and my units 2.5″, and I end up with a 6″ finished block. (Of course, this only makes sense if you actually watched the video.)

GE DIGITAL CAMERAHere is the “official” Disappearing Pinwheel block laid out for sewing.

GE DIGITAL CAMERALook what happens if I flip the corner units.

GE DIGITAL CAMERAAnd then rotate the side units…

GE DIGITAL CAMERAAnd rotate the corners again.

This gave me another idea…

GE DIGITAL CAMERA I made two blocks.


Then swapped the center pinwheels. (above) and did the same rotations (below).



My point? Don’t be shy about playing with your blocks.

Categories: Videos | Tags: , | 15 Comments

The Alberta Clipper

We’re bracing for another winter storm on Montana’s Hi-Line today. Looks like an Alberta Clipper, a fast-moving cold front, is headed our direction. The wind is shifting from the southwest to the northwest and the temperature has dropped from 46 degrees (f) to 29 already. By tomorrow night, we should be below zero.

I keep reminding myself it’s going to be much colder and snowier farther east.

A member of my Facebook group, Thrifty Quilters, has pointed out that one of the blocks pictured in my Base 4 Sampler quilt on Page 16 of my book, The Thrifty Quilter: Make (Nearly) Free Quilts from Leftover Fabricdidn’t actually make it into the book. Oops. So for her, and for you, here is the Alberta Clipper block:

To make an 8″ finished block, all of your squares will be 2.5″, and your rectangles are cut 2.5″ x 4.5″. For a 12″ finished block, use 3.5″ squares and 3.5″ x 6.5″ rectangles.

GE DIGITAL CAMERATo make one Alberta Clipper block, you will need:

4 background squares (white)

4 light squares (blue)

4 medium-light squares (green)

8 medium squares (orange)

4 dark rectangles (purple)

GE DIGITAL CAMERAStep 1: use the four background (white) squares and four of the medium (orange) squares to make four half-square triangles (HSTs). Draw a diagonal line on the back of the lighter squares and sew on that line, then trim 1/4″ to one side of that seam.

GE DIGITAL CAMERAStep 2: Sew the HSTs to the medium-light (green) squares. Be sure that they look just like the photo, with the darker triangle on the lower left and the background triangle on the upper right. Set these four units aside.

GE DIGITAL CAMERAStep 3, use the same technique to put a medium (orange) corner on the lower right of your dark (purple) rectangles.

GE DIGITAL CAMERAStep 4: Now add the light (blue) corners to the upper left of your rectangles.

GE DIGITAL CAMERAStep 5: Now you can sew the two units into a quarter-section. Make four of these.

GE DIGITAL CAMERAStep 6: Sew the four quarter-sections together with the light (blue) corners in the center to complete your Alberta Clipper block.

TQ-_Square_Sampler.148163441_largeI don’t happen to have a copy of the Base 4 Sampler photo from the book, but I also used the Alberta Clipper (center top) in this workshop sampler that mixes Base 3, Base 4 and  Base 6 blocks.

Categories: 12" TQ Blocks, 8" TQ Blocks, HST's, Scrap Quilts, Thrifty Quilter Blocks & Patterns, TQ Patterns | 2 Comments

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