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Quilt Design Process

Interested in designing your own quilt, or just curious about how quilt designers come up with their ideas and create quilts?  I’m sure that different designers have different processes, but I’m also pretty sure that they’re not much different from my own.  Follow along with me as I walk you through my process in my next several posts.  The steps aren’t always in the same order.  Sometimes color or fabric is my inspiration, but however it works, it works for me!  If you switch out the quilting-specific steps for painting, sewing, and so on, it’s really the same process.  I hope my experiences will help you with all of your creative projects!

For me, the quilt design and creation process is:

  • Inspiration
  • Design
  • Layout
  • Color
  • Fabric Selection
  • Quilt top construction
  • Quilting
  • Finishing


Inspiration can come from anywhere – you just have to be open to everyone and everything around you.  Here’s a definition from Merriam-Webster:

  • something that makes someone want to do something or that gives someone an idea about what to do or create : a force or influence that inspires someone
  • a person, place, experience,etc., that makes someone want to do or create something
  • a good idea

Some great ways to spark inspiration are:

  • Music – rock, country or the blues, listening to music is a great way to generate a flash of genius.  If you’re going through a creative block, crank it up and dance!  Give Pachelbel a try while you’re doing creative work for a change of pace.
  • Flexible brainstorming – this is totally my made up term for just letting go and playing around with ideas and techniques.  It’s sometimes tough to let yourself go and just let the creative ideas come out with no plan in mind.  I find that random sketching, painting and throwing ideas on paper can really get you going!
  • Exercise – as mentioned above, dancing  (in the living room, office, anywhere!) can help you loosen up.  A long walk is another great way to clear your mind and spur creativity.
  • Art – wandering through a museum or art festival is a super way to generate your own ideas.  The colors and textures, even the creative atmosphere are truly motivational!
  • Nature – the beach, mountains, even your own back yard can crank up your creativity.  Look around and see the big picture, as well as the details.  Take some pics and post them in your studio to keep the inspiration coming!

Sometimes inspiration strikes and I act on it right away, and sometimes I ‘file it away’ for future use.  Be sure to write ideas down when they hit so that you don’t forget them!

There are times when an idea comes from a request, like this modern Alabama quilt (below left) for a Crimson Tide fan.  Nature, my favorite things and my favorite people yield some great creative ideas, as well.  Sun in the Morning (below middle) was inspired by the song of the same name, and Wildflower Garden (below right) from a combination of spring gardens and a love of all things Anthropologie.

inspiration-group2I know that every inspiration and idea that pops in my head comes from the good Lord above.  I am so blessed to experience fun, creative ideas that just show up at the perfect time, and I hope that I do them justice.  I find that the spark for inspiration can come from just about anywhere, and the more open I am to possibilities, the more inspired I am to create – whether I’m sewing, quilting, painting, paper crafting, or some other form of creative expression!

What inspires you? 

Visit my pattern stores on Craftsy and Etsy for more of my designs, ready to buy or DIY!

Next installment – Design



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A Modern Valentine Classic & Easy Wall Hanging Tutorial

I love handmade gifts, especially at Valentine’s Day!  There’s nothing more touching than receiving a heartfelt gift that someone put time and effort into finding (and maybe making), just for you.  And, in my mind, nothing more fulfilling than seeing the smile on a special someone’s face when they open the gift YOU made or selected, just for them!

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, but there’s still plenty of time to make a lovely gift for your valentines.  My Love You the Most pillow pattern is a perfect (and perfectly easy) Valentine for girls of all ages.  Available on, the pattern includes step-by-step instructions to create several versions – switch up the fabrics and add embellishments, and the possibilities are pretty much endless!

The pattern provides detailed instructions for finishing your pillow with a one piece back or an envelope back, and clearly shows how to apply lace, fringe, purchased decorative cord and bias covered cord as decorative finishes.

My Love You the Most design also makes cute wall hangings or really sweet ring bearer pillows, with a few adjustments.  Today I’m going to show you how to use the pattern to create a wall hanging – one more option to have in your pattern arsenal!  This quick tutorial is an excerpt from my Love Those Shoes! patterns: Fashionista, Meeow!, Oh, So Coco! and Over the Rainbow, also available on Craftsy.  Here are a few pics of similar sized wall hangings using this method:


Wall Hanging

You will need:

  • 14 1/2″ x 14 1/2″ piece of backing fabric
  • 7/8″ Wide Single Fold Bias Tape
  • 1 piece thin cardboard or foam core 1/2″ smaller (on all sides) than wall hanging after stitching front and back together (optional).
  • 1/4″ dowel, 16″ long
  • 2 Wood finials or beads to cap dowel ends
  • 1 yd (approximately) 1/2″wide ribbon

Follow the steps provided in the Applique and Construction sections of the pattern to create front panel, then continue with the steps below:

1.  Cut a piece of backing fabric 14 1/2″ x 14 1/2″.

2.  Attach a hanging sleeve to backing prior to stitching it to the front.  Here’s an easy way to do it:

  • Purchase Wide Single Fold Bias Tape in a matching or coordinating color.  7/8″ wide works well with a 1/4″ dowel.
  • Cut bias tape 2 1/2″ shorter than the width of backing fabric.
  • Fold under 1/4″ on each end, and another 1/4″.  Press and stitch down.
  • Pin bias tape across backing, about 1″ down from the top.
  • Stitch long ends at top and bottom, close to folds.


3.  Follow instructions for decorative trim (optional) beginning on page 15 of instructions.

4.  Pin front panel and backing together at outside edges, right sides together, leaving bottom open.

5.  Stitch side and top seams using 1/4″ seam.

6.  Turn right side out.

7.  Insert cardboard or foam core in bottom opening.  This step is optional, but helps the piece hang evenly.

8.  Stitch opening closed.

9.  Slip dowel through the hanging sleeve.  Attach wooden finials/beads to dowel ends.

10.  Tie ribbon to each end of dowel, trimming as needed to hang correctly.

11. Hang and enjoy!


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Team Spirit Quilt Pattern and Applique Design Tutorial

Would you love to own or gift a quilt that really shows off a favorite team, school or sport?  Have you looked in vain for logo designs or really cool ready made quilts, only to discover that they are licensed and (if available) are outta this world expensive?

I can help!

Several years ago, I designed a quilt for a young Oregon Ducks fan, as a gift from his grandparents.

I shared it on social media sites, and soon received several requests for a pattern using my design for Ducks fans as well as other schools and teams.  If you ARE a Ducks fan, you can find my FREE Ducks appliqué pattern HERE.

It’s modern and bright, works for guys and girls, and it’s a lot of fun to make!  I don’t have the time to design appliqué patterns for every school and team out there, and I couldn’t sell them if I wanted to – licensing is expensive for me, too!  SOOOOOO I designed a basic quilt pattern using my (slightly revised) layout and an appliqué design tutorial so that everyone can create their own unique quilt – done and done!

Here are a few quilts that have been made using my Team Spirit Quilt Pattern.

The appliqué design tutorial helps you create your own pattern using a picture or graphic you find online following a very basic process.  If you are familiar with Adobe Illustrator or PhotoShop, you can save yourself several steps!

If you have a hard copy of your chosen design available, it may be easier to take it to a printer and have them blow it up to the correct dimensions and print it out for you there than to go through this process.

A few suggestions/guidelines before we get started:

  • Find the simplest version of the picture of graphic you want to use, with the fewest colors and design details.
  • Be prepared to further simplify as you go through the process to make it easier on yourself!
  • I decided to follow a visual route when walking you through the process.  Screen shots and photos are accompanied by brief descriptions.
  • I used Windows Live Photo Gallery and Paint when developing my process.

It’s a detailed, step-by-step tutorial.  Click HERE to view the complete Appliqué Design Tutorial post.

Simply follow the steps in the tutorial, and you can create an applique pattern of any size and shape!


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Easy Applique Pattern Design Tutorial

I originally offered this easy pattern tutorial as part of my Team Spirit quilt pattern, but it had to be printed, and it took a lot of paper!

Now I share it as a separate FREE tutorial for those who are creating their own quilt designs.  Follow this detailed, step-by-step process to create your own appliqué patterns of any size from just about ANY picture or graphic. (As far as I know, it’s perfectly fine to create a pattern/project from any image you like, as long as you don’t try to sell it).

This tutorial will help you create an appliqué pattern using a picture or graphic you find online, using a very basic process and lots of visuals.  If you are familiar with Adobe Illustrator or PhotoShop, you can save yourself several steps and quite a bit of time.  This tutorial is designed for those who don’t have any experience with those software programs.

If you have a hard copy of your chosen design printed up, you may find it easier to take it to a local printer that can blow it up to the correct dimensions and print it out for you, rather than go through the beginning steps of this process.  If you choose to do this, pick up the tutorial at Step 13, on page 29.

Here are a few suggestions/guidelines before we get started:

  • Find the simplest version of the picture or graphic you want to use, with the fewest colors and details.
  • Be prepared to further simplify as you go through the process to make the final steps easier on yourself!
  • I decided to follow a visual route when walking you the process.  Screen shots and photos are accompanied by brief descriptions.
  • I’m using Windows Live Photo Gallery and Paint to create this pattern.
  • Please send me an email at if you have any questions or need any help!

On we go!

Step 1:   Find a picture or graphic online that works for you.  Right click with mouse or mouse pad and select Save Image As…to save it.  Be sure to name it and save it in a file where you can easily find it!

Step 2:   Double-click on the image you’ve saved to open in Photo Gallery.  If you are using a JPG file, you can open it directly in Paint and skip to Step 5.  My image is a PNG file, so I have to use Photo Gallery first.

Step 3:   Click on Edit, organize or share to open your image for editing.  If this action opens a window with multiple images, simply double click on your image to complete the process.

Step 4:   Click on Make a copy to save your file in JPG format.  As far as I know, you cannot work with a PNG file in Paint.


screen-shot-step 4.1

Step 5:   Locate the JPG image file and double click on the image.  When you come to the Edit, organize or share screen, go to File and select Open with and Paint.

screen-shot-step 5

Step 6:   With your image open in Paint, click in the upper left corner and select Properties.


Step 7:   Change the Units selection to Inches and select OK


Step 8:   Now comes the fun!  If you use Illustrator or PhotoShop, you know that changing dimensions is quick and easy.  With Paint, we have to resize the image by percentages, and no more than 500% at a time.  The dimensions (at the bottom of the screen) start at 3.02″ x 2.64″.  For demonstration purposes, we will say that the quilt panel we are working with measures 35.75″w x 24″h, so we need to get closer to that!


Step 9:   Select Resize at the top of your screen…


…and enter 500 in the Horizontal and Vertical resize boxes.  Make sure you have Percentage selected.  Select OK

screen-shot-step-9.1You can see how much bigger the image is now!  Check the dimensions at the bottom of the screen…15.11″ x 13.19″.  Better, but we’re not there yet.  You may need to resize several times to get the size you need.  For this quilt’s center panel, I found that a first resize of 500% and second resize of 165% seemed to do the trick…


…24.92″ x 21.77″ – I think we are good to go!  At this point, you can save your file as a JPG and take it or send it to a print shop to have it printed up actual size, then skip to Step 13 for tracing and fine-tuning.  If you prefer to print it up yourself on your home printer, follow along…

screen-shot-step-9.3Now it’s time to print.  Don’t worry about perfection at this point!  We still have to print the image up actual size, put it together and retrace it.  It’s much easier to fine tune in later steps.

Step 10:   Go back to the upper left of the screen and select Print and Print Preview.


Step 11:   Review your Page Setup selections to be sure you get the best results…


…Set your margins at .25″ on all sides, and make sure Scaling is set at Adjust to:  100% normal size.  Select OK.


Follow along with the next several screen shots to ensure your printer is set up properly and print your image.






If you’ve used your home printer, you probably have several pages.  Now it’s time to put your puzzle together!

Step 12:   Lay your printed pages on a table and put them in the correct order.  Tape them together, trimming off edges as needed.


Step 13:   Trace your design onto plain white paper.  Create a black and white outline by eliminating any unnecessary details.  This will make your fabric appliqué process much easier!

  • Use a lightbox for smoother tracing.  If you don’t have a lightbox, you can tape your image to a large window.  Tape the pattern paper over it to trace.  Daylight works really well!!
  • Rolls of pattern paper (plain white paper) are available from most office and art supply stores.  You may still need to piece it a little, but you won’t have multiple pieces of printer paper to deal with.

Once you have finished tracing your image, you can retrace it using a fine tip black marker – but that’s optional.  You might also want to make a second tracing to have a back-up copy on hand.


Step 14:   Cut out your appliqué pieces.  Lay them out and measure to determine fabric requirements.

I hope you find this tutorial helpful.  Please feel free to contact me at if you have any questions or suggestions for improvement!