Category Archives: Quilt Expressions Originals

The latest in QE patterns, videos, classes, and quilts.

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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Welcome to the Neighborhood, Modern Batiks!

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Neighborhood Association, a Quilt Expressions’ Original Pattern

What comes to mind when you hear the word “neighborhood?”  For some, it’s a friendly wave as you head to the mailbox.  For others, it’s late summer evening BBQ’s, families trick-or-treating together, teens shoveling snow for those who need a little extra help, and the sound of laughter traveling along with the gentle evening breezes through an open window.  Quilt Expressions’ “Neighborhood Association” pattern, made with rich Batiks, shows the depth and closeness that results from sharing a neighborhood.  Make your own and bring some of that neighborhood feeling inside your home.  (Click here to see our original version using bright colors and grays.)

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Quilt Top Left:  Twinkle   Quilt Top Right:  Staggered Geese

When I was a (much) younger girl, I remember going to quilt stores with my mom.  I loved to see all of the bright colors and feel the different textures of fabric.  But those Batiks…they always seemed so dark and uninteresting to my uneducated eye.  Then, as I started quilting, I was drawn to the patterns stamped on the fabric and wondered how Batiks were made.  If you’re curious, watch this video from Hoffman Fabrics, filmed in Bali.  We’re so lucky to have access to these handmade, gorgeous fabrics.  And, if you haven’t traveled to the Batik section at Quilt Expressions recently, the variety of colors and patterns is incredible!  There are still many prints available that are the traditional earth-tone colors, but there are so many more options available.

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This rainbow of gorgeous color with dots, hearts, and all kinds of geometric fun?  Yep, those are Batiks!  Just about any pattern can be made with Batiks, or combine your favorite Batiks with other collections to create your own, one-of-a-kind masterpiece!

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A few of my favorite Batiks on our online shop.

If you’d like to see all of the fabulous Batiks at Quilt Expressions, stop in or visit us online.  Click here for the Batik section.

Shhhh!!! Don’t tell Karen!

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Shhhh!  Don’t tell Karen, but I snuck onto her blog because I just had to share pictures from my visit yesterday to Quilt Expressions!  Up until I started my full time job this past August as a school secretary, I had the pleasure of working at Quilt Expressions.  Imagine spending your day working with fabulous customers and coworkers, beautiful samples, and, of course, the best fabric collection anywhere!  Needless to say, I miss that daily dose of creativity and inspiration.

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As a customer, there’s nothing better than stepping into a store and immediately stopping because, well, you just have to!  Fabric, notions, samples, and beautiful displays from floor to ceiling catch your eye.  You wonder where you should start…and then decide to just dive in!  Ever since my first visit about five years ago, it’s been my experience that I have to travel around the store at least three times in order to see everything.  And Quilt Expressions never disappoints!

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Every quilt sample in the store has been pieced by talented Quilt Expressions’ employees and quilted on the long arm.  There’s a pattern, and often a kit, available for every sample in the store.  Take a peek here to view the patterns that are available online.  Many of them are Quilt Expressions’ originals.  Click here for kits that are available for online purchase.

Looking for a great way to boost your stash while saving money?  Dig through the Sweet Rolls basket for end-of-the-bolt pieces; the price on the tag reflects the 20% discount from the original yardage price.

Modern…traditional…Batik…cuddle…Kaffe…baby…themed…I could go on and on.  I love knowing that, when I have a particular project in mind, I’m only going to have to make one stop.  Karen and Kat have done a fantastic job ensuring that all types of fabric are well represented in the store.

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 See that gorgeous swirl quilting pattern on the quilt in the left photo?  (Click on photo for a larger view.) When not helping customers, Rodi and Tracy spend their time in the store quilting customer quilts and store samples.  Are you interested in learning how to use the long arm machines?  Ask one of the employees, and they’ll be happy to give you the details.  It’s quite satisfying to complete a quilt from start to finish all on your own.

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My favorite quilts to make are baby quilts.  They are fast, easy and always loved by the recipient.  Luckily, my friends keep having babies, which gives me plenty of opportunity to buy baby fabric.  Quilt Expressions has a huge selection of nursery prints, flannel and cuddle.  Cuddle makes fabulous backing for baby quilts…it’s soft, 60″ wide (no piecing!) and the quilt patterns show up beautifully.  If you’ve never used it for a back, ask one of the employees to show you a quilt with cuddle backing…I guarantee you’ll love it!

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Thanks for joining me on this little tour of Quilt Expressions.  These photos represent only a portion of the store…stop in soon for a full tour (don’t forget….three times around the store!).  If you’re not in the area, visit the website.  Most of the fabric, patterns, kits, notions, precuts, quilts for sale and gift certificates are available online.

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!

I Need Color!

Hey it’s me–Karen–signing in from Michigan where we have LOTS of snow and ffffreeezing cold weather. I decided I can’t take any more grey!! So I gathered up as many bright colors as I could find, and all of my black and white. Since my stash here is limited, I know I’ll need the shop to send me MORE (hint, hint)!

color_fabricI’ll try not to make this too tedious, but in case you want to join me making a liberated quilt, I’ll do a little step by step to help get you started.

You’ll need lots and lots of bright fabrics–even small scraps can be used–and some black and whites. Try to choose fabrics that are pure color. In other words, they don’t have any grey in them!

I like lots of pieces and lots of colors. Freddie Moran once said, “Ten colors don’t go together, but 100 do,” and I take that quote seriously. Since I know that I’m going to improvise as I go, and I won’t have a definite plan, it helps to cut lots of 1-1/2″ squares to use as starts and stops. I’ll use them later for checkerboard spacers.

squaresI like house blocks, so I decided to make my first block a little house.

First I chose a fabric for the house and the door. I purposely cut two “wonky” rectangles for the sides, and made a strip with the yellow door. Then I auditioned some fabrics for the roof and sky. I liked the bright orange so I decided to add that for a chimney. house_step1

Warning: I “waste” a lot of fabric in this process. It’s easier to cut big, and trim back to square things up. So I cut a large triangle for the roof, and generously cut a larger shape for the left sky. Then I cut the left sky apart so I could insert a strip of orange for the roof. Next, I needed a piece for the right sky.

roof_stepI used the same print for the sides of the house, and I sewed a strip to each side. If you don’t have enough of a white print, just use another fabric that has a white background. Next I had to trim the bottom of the house and the roof piece to give them both a straight edge. I adjusted where I wanted the roof to sit on the house, then sewed the pieces together. Lastly (at least for today), I trimmed the block sides–but not too tight. I may trim off more later, and I think I’ll add a “hill” later, so I didn’t trim the bottom. I’ll make more house blocks later.

house_blockWant to join me? Go gather your fabrics and come back soon! I’ll post my progress as I go.

Karen

“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

Dottie by Moda

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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.

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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.

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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.

Links:

Fabric

Big & Little Dottie Kit  (while supplies last)

Big & Little pattern

Delta Windows pattern