These Autumn Days


“How beautifully leaves grow old.
How full of light and color are their last days.”
-John Burroughs

Autumn is that time of year here in Idaho when the long, hot days of summer have ended and nature starts to prepare for winter.  The sound of children playing in the neighborhood ends at seven, rather than ten.  Windows left open during the day are closed as the sun lowers in the western sky. The highs no longer hover near the century mark; we go from 60 to 80 and everywhere in between.   The nights are cool, the mornings brisk.  With afternoon comes the scent of sun-warmed leaves, and the colors…oh, the colors.

The City of Trees in autumn is a sight to behold.  It starts gradually, just a slight hint of color around the edge of the leaves.  Then, suddenly, it’s reds, yellows, oranges, and fading green everywhere.

Those that live here try to enjoy each and every moment; we know that winter will soon start to bite at autumn’s heals. But for awhile, we enjoy the most glorious color display nature has to offer.


“Stash Stars” brings together all of the gorgeous colors of autumn.  We’ve combined an assortment of Kona solid fabrics and Atkinson Designs’ original pattern.  The kit includes the pattern, plus fabric for the top and binding.  Click here for more information on “Stash Stars.”

Dottie by Moda


One of the perks of working at Quilt Expressions is being able to chat with the customers as you work on their order.  We love to hear about the projects they are working on, the techniques they are using and their favorite fabric collections.  To hear our customers tell it, Moda has introduced a long-lasting favorite.  Moda’s Dottie collection is full of soft, bright, and bold colors in three sizes of dots.  They are a great addition to other collections, add a fun touch as a quilt back, and look great together as a group in a Dottie quilt.


We combined Dottie’s bright dots with Bits ‘n Pieces’ Big & Little pattern to create this fun 39″ x 47″ quilt.  The variation in the size of the dots, along with the bright colors, is quite eye-catching.  Give it as a newborn gift; babies love the dark and light contract.   The quilt also makes a fun gift to a toddler or young child…it’s perfect for cuddling on the couch on a chilly Fall evening.


Delta Windows, one of our newest Quilt Expressions’ original patterns, is a fantastic way to showcase Dottie.  Columns of color cascade down from large to small, surrounded by crisp white.  This pattern also works well for showcasing one of your favorite fabrics.  Finished size:  84-1/4″ x 96-1/4.”

I love to use fabric in my decorating.  Adding fabric to embroidery hoops is a fast and simple way to add a fun pop of color to a child’s bedroom, a classroom or while decorating for a party.

If you’re hanging the hoops on the wall, trace around the smaller hoop (the one without the metal screw), adding about 1/3 of an inch.  Cut out and lay the fabric circle on top of the smaller hoop.  Place the large hoop on top of the fabric and push it down.   Check to make sure that none of the raw edge is showing.  If it is, remove the large hoop, trim the circle and try again.  Tighten the screw, and you’re finished!  If the hoops will be seen from both the front and the back, layer two pieces of fabric, wrong sides together, when tracing the circle.  Continue as above, and you’ll end up a double-sided Dottie hoop.



Big & Little Dottie Kit  (while supplies last)

Big & Little pattern

Delta Windows pattern

Utility Apron Tutorial


My Handy Quilt Expressions’ Utility Apron

When I started working at Quilt Expressions, I soon discovered that I didn’t have enough pockets to hold everything I needed to keep close at hand.  Note pad, pen, pins, cell phone, measuring tape…I just couldn’t get it all to fit.  After seeing multiple styles of utility aprons on Pinterest, I made one that combined all of the details I wanted and my problem was solved!  These are very versatile and make great gifts for those with any hobby.

Utility Apron Tutorial

(Please read entire pattern before beginning.)

1/2″ seam, unless otherwise noted


Fabric A – Apron Body and Back Lining – 3/8 yard

Cut (2) 12.5″ (height)  x 21″ (width)

Fabric B – Pocket and Pocket Lining – 1/4 yard

Cut (2) 7″ x 21″

Fabric C – Tie,  Pocket Trim, and Hanging Tab – 1/3 yard

Trim:  cut (1) 2.5″ x 21″   Tie:  Cut (2) 4″ x Width of Fabric  Hanging Tab:  Cut (1) 2″ x 5″

*Notes:  This pattern is written using fabric that is at least 42″ wide.  If your fabric is less than 42″ wide after removing the selvage, simple adjust the width of your apron body, apron body lining, pocket, pocket lining and trim to 20″ or 19″.

If you’d like a sturdier apron, apply light fusible interfacing to the apron body, apron body lining, both tie pieces, and the hanging tab.  Apply interfacing before you begin sewing.  Use the same cutting measurements as noted above. 


Pocket Assembly: Steps One-Three

Pocket Assembly

Step One:  Lay pocket piece, pocket trim, and pocket lining on your work surface as shown above.  If your fabric is directional, make sure the fabric design on the pocket piece is top side up as you look down at it.

Step Two:  Lay pocket trim along the top edge of the pocket piece with right sides together.  Sew together.

Step Three:  Press seam open.


Pocket Assembly: Steps Four-Six

Step Four:  Lay pocket lining along the raw long edge of the pocket trim, right sides together.  Pin and sew.

Step Five:  Press seam open again.

Step Six:  Fold your finished pocket and pocket lining in half lengthwise with wrong sides together, matching the long unfinished edges of the pocket and lining.  Press.


Finishing the Pocket:  Edge stitch 1/8″ from the top of the pocket trim and along the top of the pocket piece.


Attaching the Pocket: Steps One-Three

Attaching the Pocket

Step One:  Lay the finished pocket piece on top of the right side of the apron body piece.  Match the bottom raw edge of the pocket piece with the bottom raw edge of the body piece.  Pin in place.

Step Two:  It’s time to divide the large pocket into smaller pockets.  Determine your pocket sizes based on your needs.  I like to have a small pen pocket, plus three additional pockets.  Starting from the edge of the apron, I measured in 1.5″, 6.75″, and 5″.  This creates four pockets, perfect for my needs at the store.  Mark your sewing lines with masking tape; a removable fabric pen or pencil also works well.   Sew along the lines you’ve created, backstitching at the beginning and the end each seam to set the seam.

Step Three:  Using a basting stitch and a 1/4″ seam allowance, sew around the three raw edges of the pocket.


Finishing the Apron Body: Steps One, Two and Three

Finishing the Apron Body

Step One:  Lay the apron body piece with attached pocket right side up on your working surface.  Next, lay the apron lining piece with right side down on top of the apron body, matching all raw edges.  Using a 1/2″ seam, sew around both sides and the bottom, leaving the top open.

Step Two:  Clip the corners on the diagonal.

Step Three: Trim down each side at an angle as shown above.  This helps create a nice finished corner.   Turn apron body right side out, press.


Hanging Tab: Steps One-Four

Hanging Tab

(The hanging tab is optional. It is a handy addition to half aprons.)

Step One:  Apply interfacing, if desired, to the back of the 2″ x 5″ hanging tab piece.

Step Two:  Fold tab piece in half with right sides together, creating a fold along the long edge.  Press.

Step Three:  Open fold, fold one long raw edge in to meet the fold line you just created.  Press.

Step Four:  Fold second long raw edge in to meet the fold.  Press.


Apron Utility Tab: Steps Five-Nine

Step Five:  Refold the apron tab piece on the original fold made in step two.  It will resemble double fold bias tape.  Press.

Step Six:  Edge stitch along the long open edge.

Step Seven:  Fold as shown in the third photo above.  Pin.

Step Eight:  Press the triangle-shaped end.

Step Nine:  Edge stitch along the bottom of the triangle and along the bottom of the “legs.”  Set aside.


Apron Tie: Creating the Rounded Ends

Apron Ties

Step One (Not Shown Above):  Remove the selvages from the (2) 4″ x width of fabric apron tie pieces.  Place them right sides together and stitch along one short end.  You should now have a piece 4″ by approximately 80″-82.”  Press seam open.

Step Two (Not Shown Above):  Fold apron tie piece in half lengthwise, right sides together, matching the two long raw edges.  Press.  (Be sure to use a pressing cloth if you’ve applied interfacing).  Pin.

Step Three (Shown Above):  If you’d like to round the ends of the apron ties, create a curve along the ends.  I find a handy round objects (a container lid, in this example) and draw along the edge.  Cut along your line.


Step Four:  You should have a seam in the middle of your apron tie where you sewed the two pieces together.  This is the center of your tie.  Measure the width of the apron body…it should be approximately 20″ wide.  Divide the apron piece width by two (10″).  Measuring from the center seam on the apron tie, place a pin 10″ to the left of the seam and another 10″ to the right of the seam.  (To be safe, I put the pin an extra 1/4″ from the center, at about 10 1/4″).  This will be the opening where we’ll eventually place the apron body.  Sew along the raw edges of the apron tie from one curved end to the first pin, and then sew from the other curved end to the second pin.  You should now have an opening approximately 20″ wide in the middle of your apron tie.  Turn both ends so the apron tie is now right side out and press.


Attaching the Apron Tie to the Apron Body: Steps One-Three

Attaching the Apron Tie and Tab to the Apron Body

Step One:  Press one raw edge of the approximately 20″ opening in the apron tie under 1/2″.

Step Two:  Repeat with the second raw edge.  Set aside.

Step Three:  Find the center of the top of your apron piece and mark with a pin.


Attaching the Apron Ties and Hanging Tab to the Apron Body: Steps Four-Six

Step Four:  Lay the apron tie on your work surface.  Slip the apron body up inside the approximately 20″ opening in the apron tie.  Push it up until the unfinished edge of the apron body is against the fold of the tie.  Position the hanging tab in the middle of the back of your apron as shown in the first photo above.  Be sure that’s it about an inch inside the apron tie.  Pin.

Step Five:  Carefully top stitch about 1/8″ around the entire apron tie, securing the apron body and hanging tab within the tie.

Step Six:  Enjoy!

“Strips and Squares”


I’ve been sewing away each evening this week, making table toppers, baby blankets for gifts, trying out one of last month’s Stashbuster patterns and finishing curtains for my daughter’s classroom.  What each of these projects have in common is that they all resulted in a collection of scraps.  Some are width of fabric and some are odd-shaped.  I keep just about everything, so I add all of the left overs to my scrap tubs.

Before I started working at Quilt Expressions, I often wondered what happened to the odds and ends, the bits and pieces of fabric that weren’t sold as yardage or a fat quarter.  Oftentimes, what’s left on the end of a bolt is less than half a yard, or we’ll find a flaw in the fabric and need to cut some off, leaving an odd shape.  Can you imagine just throwing these pieces away?  Nope…me either!

If you’ve been in the store lately, you may have noticed the small plastic bags of coordinated rolled fabric on each of the cutting counters.  These are our “Strips and Squares” bags.  The fabric left over at the end of the bolt is either cut into width of fabric strips that are between 2.5″ and 5″ wide, or they are cut into 10″ squares.  Each “Strips and Squares” bag contains a combination of twenty strips and squares, sorted by either color or theme.

The strips and squares could be added to your stash, mixing the squares in with a layer cake or adding the strips to a log cabin.  Another option is to combine one “Strips and Squares” bag with one yard of solid fabric and see what you can make…sounds like a challenge to me!


I picked a colorful floral bag and added one yard of solid white.  After opening up the rolled fabric and pressing each piece, I was amazed by how much fabric I had to work with.


I was able to make (from top left, clockwise):  a ribbon loop toy, an adult half-apron, a baby quilt top, a child’s half-apron, and a pincushion.  The photo on the bottom left corner shows that I still have scraps left over after completing five projects.

If  you’re up for a fun challenge, visit us at Quilt Expressions, grab a “Strips and Squares” bag and one yard of solid fabric, add a little imagination and see what you can create!

Mary Jane’s “Bee My Honey”


There’s a 50-acre piece of country paradise in northern Idaho…it’s where you go to get away from technology; see how a working farm, well, works; spend time in a 100+ year old one-room school house; visit the only remaining flour mill on the Palouse, and sleep in a cozy, furnished wall tent in the middle of an orchard {nearby outhouse included!}.  It’s a place to truly go back in time, and it’s all ran by one person….Mary Jane Butters.

Mary Jane has been an organic farmer near Moscow, Idaho for the past 28 years.  She’s been featured in “National Geographic,” on the CBS Evening Show  and in many other publications.  In addition to running the farm, she also publishes a magazine and writes cookbooks.   If all of that isn’t enough, she’s managed to design a collection of fabric for Moda in her spare time.


Bee My Honey” is a bright collection of red, blue, turquoise, yellow and green bees, florals, honey combs, watering cans, and letter “B’s.”  We’ve had a lot of fun using the collection in a few fast and easy projects.


 This little hexie mat is a great way to draw attention to my favorite print in the collection…the multi-colored bees on the turquoise background.

I chose a subtle grey-on-grey dot print for the background.  I used the same fabric on the front and the back, measuring 16.75″ W x 17.5″ H.  You’ll also need a piece of batting with the same measurements.  (If you prefer your backing and batting to be larger than your top, adjust accordingly.)

Using a variety of prints from the collection, I made 24 hexies with 1″ hexie paper piecing forms.  (Hexies are measured along the straight edge, from point to point).  If you haven’t used the paper piecing method for hexies, there are many helpful step-by-step videos on You-Tube.  I made sure to fussy cut the turquoise bee fabric so I’d end up with several whole bees.  Once you’ve made the hexies and removed the papers, press lightly with your iron around the outer edge of the hexie.  Lay them out on your background fabric…I chose to position them just off center and in three rows of 8.  I left about a 1.25″ space at both the top and the bottom of the group of hexies…I didn’t want my binding to overlap the hexies.   I placed the hexies approximately 1/8″ apart.  I applied a small circle of Heat N Bond Lite to the back of each hexie to keep them in place as I worked.  Create a sandwich with your top, batting and backing.  Pin well.


Using my walking foot, I sewed around each hexie, 1/8″ from the edge.


Once the hexies are sewn on, it’s time to quilt it.  I wanted to emphasize the hexagon pattern, so I moved my needle until it was 3/8″ away from the left edge of my walking foot.  I placed the left edge of the walking foot on the outer edge of one of the hexies and quilted around the entire group.   If you have the option on your machine to stop with your needle down when you reach the point of the hexies, this process is much simpler.  Once you’ve gone around the hexies once, start again with the left edge of your foot on the quilting line you just finished and outline it again.  Continue until your background fabric is completely quilted.  I bound my completed mat with 2.5″ binding.


When I travel, I always try to visit the local quilt stores in the area.  Since I have access to so much fabric at Quilt Expressions, most of my out-of-town purchases are charm packs.  Our second project is a fast and easy way to put those charm packs to use.  You need one charm pack, one yard of background fabric, 1/2 yard binding, and a Triangle Square-up ruler  (Click here for ruler tutorial).  For our sample, we squared each half square triangle up to 4.5″.   If you have any questions on how to use the ruler, either view the tutorial link above or stop in and ask us to demonstrate it for you.  This is a great project because you can use your design wall to arrange them in so many different layouts.  Backing requirements will vary based on the layout you choose.

Our finished project measures 32″ x 40.”


Our final project is a lovely table runner using the “Waffletime” pattern by Atkinson Designs.  This pattern is perfect if you have a fabric that you’d like to showcase.  The finished size is 18″ x 42.”  “Waffletime” kits are available in-store and will be available online at soonNote:  The “Waffletime” tablerunner kit is selling so quickly, we haven’t had a chance to add it to our on-line store.  If you’d like to purchase one, call or stop in today before they are gone!  (local:  208.338.8933; toll-free: 1.800.544.5839)

Some day, I hope to take a trip to Mary Jane’s Farm and spend a few days there enjoying nature and learning a bit more about the history of the area.  However, I’m so happy that, for now, I can at least spend some of my free time with the “Bee My Honey” collection.  It makes me think of Spring and the beauty that is just around the corner.

***Source of information gathered about Mary Jane and her farm: ***

Not Just Another Ugly Duckling

Do you remember the story of “The Ugly Duckling?”  It started with a nest of duck eggs.  Somehow, another egg ended up in the nest…a much bigger egg.  Once they hatched, the lucky new mom had some cute yellow ducklings and a not so cute big brown…duck?  As they grew, those yellow ducklings were quite mean to the brown duck because he looked so different.  Time passed and that ugly little duckling turned into a gorgeous, white swan.  Imagine their surprise when something not too attractive turned into something beautiful.


When I bought my sewing machine a few years ago, it came with a bag of attachments.  Most of them resembled the 1/4″ foot I was familiar with.    I couldn’t imagine why I’d need so many attachments or what most of them were for.  I certainly couldn’t fathom why I’d need the big clumsy looking one.  I took out the 1/4″ foot and put the bag in the drawer with the owners manual.  And there it stayed.

About a month ago, I was chatting with a customer as I rang up his purchase.  We were both in the process of attaching binding to a project, and he was raving about something called a “walking foot.”  Hmmm…sounds interesting…pretty sure I don’t have one.  A few days later, I happened to be talking to my mom about the small projects I quilt on my machine…and she mentioned a “walking foot.”  After two years, I decided it was probably time to pull out the sewing machine manual and find out exactly what a walking foot looked like, if I had one,  and what it did.


After a quick read of the manual and a desperate phone call to my mom (who has the same machine), I finally had the walking foot installed.  The walking foot doesn’t attach quite as easily as the others, but it sure is worth the extra work.  I noticed a difference in my quilting right away.


When I piece a small project, like a baby or lap quilt, I usually strip quilt it on my home machine.   Sometimes I quilt in nice, evenly spaced lines, and sometimes I prefer wavy, random-width quilting (see above).    Before I discovered the walking foot, I had to be very careful to alternate the side from which I started each line of quilting.  If I started each line of quilting on the same edge of the quilt, I’d end up with a skewed quilt.  To avoid this,  I’d quilt a line from the left to the right side of the quilt and the next line would start on the right and end on the left.   However, as you can see in the photo above, I always ended up with a bit of a wave between the quilted lines.  This was due to the fact that the top and back of my quilt were not moving through the machine at the same speed.  Oh, but now…


…now the top and the bottom move through the machine at the same pace, resulting in beautiful straight lines without any shifting or wavy fabric between the quilting lines.  With any other foot, only the feed dog underneath the fabric is being used.  The walking foot creates an upper feed dog, which moves the top of your quilt through the machine right along with the back of your quilt.


Since I already had the foot attached, I decided to try sewing binding on with the walking foot.  It worked perfectly!  On my machine, I move my needle to the right one notch and run the right edge of the foot along the edge of the binding…resulting in a perfect 3/8″ seam.  (I personally prefer using a 3/8″ seam allowance…but you can move your needle over another notch if you prefer using 1/4″ seam allowance.)

If you have a walking foot and haven’t used it, I highly recommend pulling it out and giving it a try.   It’ll be the big, bulky, odd-looking attachment in your collection.  Don’t judge it by it’s looks, though!  Sew a few straight lines on a practice piece, and you’ll discover why it is, indeed, a beauty.




Just in time for Spring…”Vintage Play”

PicMonkey Collage

I grew up on a farm in rural Idaho.  As soon as the snow melted and the days warmed, my three brothers and I spent every waking moment outside.  We invented games using whatever we could find on the farm.  We played marbles, climbed apple trees, dug in the sand box, explored the old farm machinery “graveyard,” played baseball in the empty field behind our house, pretended to play school, chased our dogs through apple orchards and corn fields, conquered mountains with those durable old yellow Tonka trucks and rode bikes for hours.  It was a great time and place to grow up.

This past October at Quilt Market, we came upon the Suz’n Quilts booth.  Fabric and pattern designer Susan Marth is the creative force behind Suz’n Quilts.  As I admired her “Vintage Play” fabric line, I was reminded of my childhood.  A panel showing a boy and girl enjoying the simple joys of childhood brought back memories of our time spent on the farm.  I’m not sure I’d consider myself “vintage,” but I sure do love her fabric collection and patterns.


Quilt Expressions has created two quilt kits using Suz’n Quilts’ fabric collection and patterns.  The first is “Vintage Play.”


Vintage Play” combines the Vintage Play panel, fabric collection and pattern book, resulting in a colorful collection of childhood moments.  The kit includes the pattern and fabric for the top and binding.  The finished size is 61″ x 77.”


My Pencil Box” combines Suz’n Quilts’ “My Pencil Box” pattern with American Jane fabrics.  It’s a great quilt-as-you-go project, or it can be quilted after you’ve finished piecing the top.  The kit includes the pattern and fabric for the top and binding.  The finished size is 42″ x 72.5.”


Suz’n Quilts’ book “Vintage Play” contains directions for six lap quilt projects, plus a bonus mini quilt.  The patterns make perfect use of the Vintage Play panel and fabric line.