Category Archives: Holiday & Gifts

All the best season-themed projects.

Building Blocks: The Perfect Gift for All Ages

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It’s December third and we have our tree up!

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But, since I believe it total transparency here on the blog, here’s a picture of what my kitchen looks like.  The ornaments that go on the tree?  They are somewhere in one of these boxes, along with my snowman collection, my kids’ nutcrackers and other assorted holiday decorations.  The rest of my house?  A complete disaster.  (Sorry, no photo…maybe I don’t believe in total transparency.)

I’m blessed to not only have the holidays coming up, but also a seventeenth birthday for my son on the 26th and a thirteenth birthday for my daughter on the 28th.  Right about now is when I start to stress out…how will I ever get everything finished in time?!  If you like to give handcrafted gifts, you understand what I’m talking about!

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This year, I plan on giving four quilts as gifts.  They’ve been pieced, quilted, and now I’m working on the bindings.  (That third quilt in the stack is a gift for someone who might see this post, so it’s folded inside that gorgeous, soft cuddle backing.)

The only reason I was able to finish all four of these quilts in time is because three of them are made with the same pattern.  When I make a quilt, I rarely make the same pattern again.  But this one?  I love the size, simplicity, and final look of this pattern.  I’ve made it so often that Karen tells me that she can always tell when one of my quilts is valeted on the long arm…because it’s almost always made with the Quilt Expressions’ original Building Blocks pattern.

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Some of these fabrics are older and no longer available.  Check our website for fabric that is currently available.

Foxes and fairy tales for the smaller kiddos, geometric designs and horses for teenagers, power lines for a friend who is a lineman for the local power company…you can’t go wrong with this pattern!

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Why do I like this pattern so much?

  • It’s fast!  When I made my first Building Blocks quilt, it took me about 3.5 hours.  Since then, I’ve learned how to chain stitch most of it, and I’m down to just over 2  hours.
  • It’s the perfect size for toddlers, older kids and adults!
  • It’s also the perfect size to use 60″ cuddle on the back.
  • It’s versatile.  Make it as originally written with just the focus fabric and the single row of blocks;  or use the new optional instructions and add a sashing to each side of the column of blocks.  When I made the power line quilt, it was for a 6’4″ lineman, so I added one extra block and a few horizontal sashings to add some length.
  • It’s the perfect pattern to let a favorite print shine!  I did a quick search on the Quilt Expressions’ website and quickly found several prints that would make beautiful Building Blocks quilts.  Kaffe, aboriginal, Me & My Sister, trains, any of the kids’ prints…so much to choose from!PM collage 1PM collage 2

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If you don’t have time to pick your own fabric, the pattern is so popular that we almost always have a Building Blocks quilt as a kit.  Currently, we have the Lambkin’s quilt kit ready for you to pick up in store or online.

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If you have someone who’s favorite holiday is Halloween or if you want to start early on next year’s October decorations, we also have the Unhappy Hour kit available.

So, even if you’re knee deep in holiday decorations, work, house cleaning, holiday parties…with the Building Blocks pattern, you still have time to start and complete a quilt before Christmas!

Happy sewing!

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Let’s Take a Walk

You know how, sometimes when you enter a store, you have to walk through it three or four times to make sure you’ve seen everything?  No, not like at the grocery store when you’ve forgotten your list…or is that just me?  I haven’t been to Quilt Expressions for about a month. An extreme case of withdrawal was taking hold, so I knew it was time for a fabric fix.  When I walked in, I discovered that Karen had moved the store around!  And new products?  Everywhere!  I pulled out my camera and started snapping away.   Three trips around the store later, here are a few of my favorite new items and projects.

(Click on any photo to enlarge.)

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Quilt Expressions’ Row By Row: a celebration of our gorgeous Boise River.

If you’ve been spending time on social media, you’re aware of the Row By Row Experience 2015.  Imagine a nationwide shop hop that lasts several months.  Yeah, it’s kinda awesome.  Participating stores have each designed a 9-1/2″ by 36-1/2″ row using this year’s water theme.  Patterns are available for free at participating store for walk-in customers only until September 8, 2015.  Many shops are also offering kits for in-store purchase.  On November 1st, the stores have the option of selling the patterns and kits online.  Once you’ve collected eight patterns from eight different stores, you can make a quilt and possibly win a prize!  Click here for more information, rules and a list of all participating stores.

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Quilts, quilts everywhere!  The talented ladies at the store have been busy designing new patterns and making new quilt samples.  Every sample is quilted on our Statler long arm machine and bound by one of our experienced employees.

Each time I visit, I always spend some time admiring the wool display.  We have a large selection of patterns, along with everything needed to complete the projects.  I have yet to work with wool, which is probably why I admire the hand work so much.  Wool is on my someday “to-do” list, though.

New customers, and sometimes even returning customers, often take one step inside the door, stop and just look around.  The front display (which is changed often), new fabric collections, quilts hanging around the perimeter of the entire store and on many other surfaces, our original patterns and samples….it’s a feast for the eyes!

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If you’re a fan of Kaffe Fassett, Brandon Mably, and Phillip Jacobs, this part of the store is like a candy store for a three-year-old!  The gorgeous fabrics are enough to grab your attention, but add to that the beautiful samples and books available, and you’ll soon be saying, “Oh, I need that…and that…and that!”

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With the hot summer we’ve had here in Boise, it’s hard to start thinking about the holidays.   However, if you like to give handcrafted gifts, you know it’s best to start early!  Stop in or look online at our Halloween and winter holiday collections.

Did you know that Quilt Expressions’ creates and sells original patterns?  Click here for our online selection.  Stop by the store to see an even larger selection.

We’ve been carrying the Reisenthel Market Baskets for quite a while now.  They are the perfect carrier for all of your crafting needs.  We’ve tried to carry Doctor Bags (shown in photo above), but they sell out as soon as they go on display.  Karen placed a large order recently, and, if you hurry, you’ll find the Doctor Bags in stock and at great prices.  These bags aren’t available through our online store….just in-store.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this short photo tour through the store.  Stop in and see us soon!

“Whatcha Doing?”

It’s November 30th….can you believe it?! 

For those of us who enjoy making handcrafted items for holiday gifts, it’s crunch time!  November 30th is our signal that we might need to sleep a little less, let the housework go just a bit, and put someone else in charge of meals because there are just 25 more days until Christmas!

Just in case you’re still looking for some ideas that are fast and easy but will be well appreciated, I thought I’d catch you up on what I’ve been working on.

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Do you remember way back here in August, I last posted on the progress of my Super Six?   I started this quilt just after I was hired at Quilt Expressions, in the summer of 2013.  It quickly became a project that I’d work on here and there, in between other projects. I am happy to report that it is finally finished and in use!Doesn’t seem like a fast project, right?  If you’re able to commit a day or two to just this project, you’ll have it finished in plenty of time for the holidays.    The finished size is 76″ x 88,” with a maker it bigger option that will result in a finished size of 90″ x 102.”

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The center is made up of three different blocks, followed by two borders.  My {very} bright Super Six is for my daughter’s daybed.  Because the bed has just one mattress, I left off the second pieced border.   That left me with a nice-sized pile of squares to play with…they will likely become pillow covers for her bed.

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Table runners made a fantastic gift.  They can either be holiday-themed or made to match the recipients color scheme.  This table runner goes together quickly and is perfect for highlighting a favorite focus fabric.  You might recognize the pattern from this post.  The table runner looks great in so many styles of fabric.  The pattern is “Waffletime” by Atkinson Designs.  We have both the pattern and the Batik kit at Quilt Expressions.

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I’m a firm believer that one can never have too many aprons…especially aprons with plenty of pockets!  Our Utility apron goes together quickly and is handy for anyone on your list who enjoys crafts.  There are three pockets, along with a pen slot.  To view the tutorial, click here.

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If there’s a little one on your gift-giving list, consider our Quick Baby Stripe pattern.  This pattern goes together quickly and is small enough to quilt on your home machine, if needed.  Add soft cuddle to the back, and it’s the perfect baby gift.  The pattern is available at Quilt Expressions, along with the dinosaur kit and the pastel floral kit.

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On my design wall right now is quite possibly the fastest quilt you’ll ever make.  This one is for a gift, so I can’t show all of It.  The photo on the left shows my finished blocks.  With just two more seams, this quilt top is complete!  It’s the perfect size for children.  However, I’ve discovered that it’s also the perfect lap-size for an adult.  This pattern is called Building Blocks.

So that’s a little of what I’ve been working on over the past several months.  Please feel free to leave a comment with your favorite finished project or work in progress.

If you’re looking for a few more fast ideas, please click here to view last year’s blog series “30 Days of Gift Giving Ideas.”  Click on the photo to go to the post for that item.

Happy crafting!  -Katie

Sunflower Fields Wool Patterns

We’ve been featuring LOTS of samples in our wool area from Sunflower Fields Pattern Company. Sunflower Fields’ designer, Liz, was generous enough to provide these samples to display. We have dozens of her really cute patterns available in the shop and they just fly off the shelves. Her book, Cozy Wool Applique, has also been one of our best sellers for the last few months. Here’s some of our favorites we are dying to share with you:

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Liz is an Idaho girl and we’re so happy for her success. You can check out her blog to see what new things she’s been working on.

Cute Flannel Pajamas

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Psst! Kris just finished these ADORABLE pajamas for her grandson out of the Reptile Rumpus Flannel collection. But don’t tell anyone! It’s a secret until Christmas. What cute things are you wrapping up for Christmas this year?

— Posted by Stacy

Quick & Easy Gift Ideas

Who’s done with their Christmas projects? This year we were thinking of all you procrastinators (or overachievers?) when we planned our Quick & Easy Gift Ideas seminar in the shop. Della spent every minute of November planning and creating samples for our free first-Saturday-of-the-month class (sorry if you missed it), but we’ve got the full list for you here. Take a look at what she came up with — there’s still time to make everything on the list for all your friends and family! If you’re in the Boise area, stop by the shop to see all the samples on display in the front of the store.

Little Kid Pajamas – Pick out some adorable flannel, and whip these pantalones together fast. Kwik Sew Patterns has PJ pants/tops patterns for kids, ‘tweens and adults. Favorite Things Patterns is also a good option — try their “Sleep Well” and “Little Sleep Well” patterns. Use a fun print to fuse a tie appliqué on  to an inexpensive t-shirt—super cute!

Placemats – Make a batch for your Christmas table, or whip up a set to give away. For something special, we used the Served with a Twist pattern by Kariepatch Designs. Each mat has a built in tie for your napkin.

Wine Bag – There are many free patterns for a wine bag on the net, or you can get fancy and try out Terry Atkinson’s pattern, Wine & Dine.

Christmas Stockings – We found the cutest appliqué patterns at market from Under the Garden Moon. We used flannel for the main body of the stocking, and wool for the appliqué. They should come with a warning: Caution! Wool appliqué is addictive!

Framed Picture – This idea is right out of the Urban Country Quilts book by Jeannie Large & Shelley Wicks. We got our frame from a dollar store and adjusted the size to fit for a pretty gift on the cheap. No time to appliqué a block? Frame an orphan block (we’re betting you have at least one) and you’ll be pleasantly surprised how a frame gives it character and style.

Note Cards – You can make your own with some imagination, cardstock, a gluestick, and fabric scraps. But in case you are truly pressed for time, we have multiple packs of these for sale in the shop (each one handmade).  Charm your friends and family with a handwritten note, or wrap up a pack with a ribbon and give them as a gift.

Laminate Makeup Bag & Brush Roll – We made up the Perfect Pouches pattern by Lazy Girl Designs using laminate fabric. The Brush Roll pattern is a freebie here. Add a few make-up brushes or lipsticks and you’ve got a great gift for the glamour girl.

Yoga Mat Case – This is an easy free pattern from Amy Butler. I like the extra-wide strap and the pockets to dump my stuff in while I’m stretching my way to inner tranquility.

Bucket of Stuff – The ultimate way to display a jar of goodies. Whip up one of these bags, grab a pasta sauce jar, and stuff with candies, makeup gear, tea, or your layer up hot cocoa mix. We loved the suggestions we got on this one, for example , use gardening fabric and fill it with garden tools, seed packs and gloves. You get the idea.

Apron – It’s not hard to love this simple, reversible pattern. We made our sample with retro fabric from the Decadence collection by Samantha Walker for Riley Blake.

Ruffled Towel – Spruce up your kitchen decor this season with some trendy ruffles. Here’s a free pattern online by Sweetwater.

Chenille Potholders –What a great idea—use some scraps and make something that everyone needs. We added Insul-Bright in the middle for a heat barrier. Click here for a free pattern.

Fruit & Veggies Potholder & Kitchen Towel – Stick a spoon in it, and you’re done! This is another fun way to give a useful gift. These are easy to make — stick some batting and Insul-Bright between two 9” squares (or 9” circles) and topstitch them together to make the potholders. For the towel — stitch down a 4 ½” strip of fabric to the edge of a store-bought towel.

Hand Towels – Cute, and so easy! Topstitch a 2 ½” strip of fabric to a store-bought towel. We made three towels and rolled them up in a basket filled with soaps and other fragrant bathroom goodies for the perfect gift.

Gift Card Holder – Another easy one! Sew around the edges of two 6 ½” squares of fabric (right sides together), leaving an opening for turning. Turn inside out and topstitch around edge. Fold three corners to the center and press. Topstitch in place. Tack in the center, fold top down to bottom edge and sew on a snap.

Journal Cover – Della and Karen came up with this one after a stint at market and we do have a pattern available for purchase. They needed a place for receipts, notes, ID and credit cards and didn’t want to lug a purse. It has a zippered-pouch on the outside cover, an elastic strap to keep the journal closed, and a spot that fits credit cards, etc, on the inside.

Well, there you have it. These mini-projects should keep you busy until Christmas! Leave a comment with a new quick and easy gift idea to share!

— Posted by Stacy

Gone Fishin’

It’s been a year. Can you believe it? I’ve been working at the quilt shop and learning this quilting stuff for a full year. It’s gone by too fast. I would have expected to consider myself beyond a beginner level after a year, but somehow I’d say I’m still pretty new to the actual nuts and bolts of sewing. I haven’t even gone beyond making squares. But, hey, let’s give me a break. With work, a dog, planning a wedding and buying a house this summer, I’ve been pretty busy. But I’m back in the game as I finally unpacked my sewing room last weekend. Granted, it’s still painted two-toned magenta shades courtesy of the six-year-old girl that occupied the room before me, but at least I’ve got all the required stations in place. Give me another three months (that’s about the speed I’m workin’ at these days) and I’ll get around to making it feel like my own space.


In the past year, I’ve worked on a few quilts: my first quilt from a layer cake (that now migrates between my couch and bed at home), two shop samples that are hung very, very high on the wall to hide the shameful sewing I did, and a few unfinished projects that bounce back and forth between active on my sewing machine and being “on deck.” I can thank my poor attention span for all the back-and-forth!

Here's all my "on deck" projects....will they ever get finished?!

Look familiar? Yup...those are some blocks from City Quilts "City Lot." After sewing my sashing with WAY, WAY TOO BIG seams, every block has been an angry battle to complete. I'm just aiming for "finished" sooner or later. It will be goofy. It will be donated. And that's just fine by me.

If you can remember, I made quite a fuss about one of the store samples I made needing to be perfect, but in retrospect, the pressure of making a store sample does not compare to my current projects — quilts as gifts. I know that one of the joys of quiltmaking is planning a project with a very special person in mind. However, TALK ABOUT PRESSURE!

The first gift quilt I planned was for one of my nieces. She is turning three this Halloween. So, really, she doesn’t care what the quilt looks like, but I DO. It had to be perfect. After a few days of restlessly cruising our patterns, I decided to give up. It was useless. No matter what I chose, I would never feel it was perfect. So I just went home, chopped up a few fat quarters and sewed them together. It’s basic, but it’s done! One of our mottoes around here is “better done than perfect” and I think I learned my lesson. I am just finishing up that quilt for her birthday present this year. Look familiar? I used it for our Binding Blog photos.

It was a good thing I learned my lesson on stress-free gift giving, because there’s no way I could have said no when my very own dad asked me to make him a quilt. Being my dad (and a guy), I can’t say I expect him to be disappointed when my corners don’t match. Heck, he probably won’t even be able to tell (as long as he doesn’t show it to my mom, who is a quilter!)

Wonder where I get my love for animals from? My dad raised these chickens from when they were chicks. They loved him!

Even with the pressure off on the actual sewing, I still felt the fabric and pattern needed to be tops. My dad is retired and is lucky to live in a beautiful lakeside cabin in Northern Wisconsin. He spends his afternoons in his rusty old rowboat, fishing on the lake. My mom has the house fully decorated with all kinds of Northwoods details — bear figurines, “gone fishin’” signs, and even a wooden raccoon hanging off the side of the house. They’re cabin people. I knew my dad’s quilt would need to fit my mom’s decorating as well as my dad’s interests. BINGO! We have trout fabric.


I’m mid-project and am excited about how it’s turning out. I’m using one of our free patterns meant for a layer cake. It goes together pretty quick and really features the fish fabric. When I get around to finishing the top, I’ve got plans for some fish-quilting and cozy minky on the back. Northern Wisconsin gets wicked cold in the winter and I’m sure there’ll be nothing better than warming up by a fire under this quilt with my dad.

Phase 1. I cut all my fabric and matched my "centers" with my "borders." It's kind of hard to believe this small stack of fabric will eventually spread out to make a whole quilt top!

Phase 2. Half of my "borders" sewn to my "centers." My fiance was at a hockey game, so there was NOTHING to distract me from making serious progress on this project. Onwards!

Phase 3. PEOPLE! I am not a fast sewer, but I think I had Della's wind beneath my wings as I was sewing these blocks. I cut all my fabric and sewed ALL my blocks in the same night. It's kind of a record for me. I think I'll go ahead and give myself a little pat on my back. The hardest part, as always, was strategically arranging all my blocks while deterring my curious dog from laying right on top of everything.

Fin!

P.S. I was foolish to think this would be my last gift-quilt for a while. I recently got the news that BOTH of my older brothers’ wives are pregnant. And here’s the kicker — one of them is having TWINS. Looks like I’ve got three sets of baby quilts and baby gear to whip up before next summer. Any suggestions to get me started?

What are some perfect quilts you’ve made for your special people?

— Posted by Stacy