Author Archives: Denise

About Denise

I am a baby boomer who is trying hard to stay positive, creative, curious, and maintain my sense of humor as time marches on, whether I like it or not.

2017 – A Tough Year

Those that follow my blog know that I’ve not added new postings this year.  That is due to the amount of time, effort and energy it takes to be a caregiver to my husband who was diagnosed with ALS.

For those that are not that familiar with ALS, there is no sugar-coating it, it is a horrible, incurable, fatal disease.  It is not known why or how people get it, and there is no treatment.  Although there has recently been a new drug made available that is supposed to slow the progression somewhat, it is not a cure.  But it may be helpful to those diagnosed early enough, to allow them a better quality of life a little bit longer.  So that’s hopeful.

This past year has been a whirlwind of activity as we found we needed to move to a smaller, single floor home, close to work, so that I can easily get back and forth to meet his current care needs.  That meant packing up my sewing room and storing away my quilting supplies and fabric, for now.

Luckily I have two creative passions, quilting and photography.  When I do get a couple of hours to myself I’ve found getting out of the house with my camera has been very fulfilling; but quilting has taken a back seat.   I plan to leave my blog up but wanted to let people know that I’m not sure when I will be quilting again and I may not have time to respond to posts.  Please don’t take it personal if you write and do not get a quick, if any, response.  Know that I still hope you enjoy what’s been posted and I plan to get back to quilting some time in the future.


Calla Lilly 1


Last Quilt Top of 2016 – Squares & Diamonds

For a number of reasons, 2016 was a challenging year for me. However I still have many things to be grateful for so I’m not throwing myself any pity parties!

So I did not have a lot of quilting time available, but I did take advantage of a cold wintry weekend to make a top for which I had an idea brewing for quite a while.  This is the result:


This was made with what I call a “double-snowball” technique.  When you “snowball” the corners of a square, you take a small square, line it up in the corner of a larger square right sides together, and attach it by sewing a diagonal line down the middle then trim off the excess and press out.  You end up getting a somewhat round block that is commonly called a “snowball”.  Like the photo below:snoball-example


However I did a variation of this by first sewing a border around my center square, then I attached a smaller square on each corner, trimmed and pressed out, then attached a smaller square to the corners again to make a block that looks like this:


After I made several of these blocks I sewed them together, sewed on borders, and ended up with the quilt top pictured, which had a squares and diamond pattern.

If you would like to make a similar quilt, click on the following link to see a tutorial for my Squares and Diamonds quilt.  You can also click on the Tutorials tab and get to it there as well.

Quick, Easy Gift for Book Lovers

Do you have friends or family members that are avid readers?  Well here is a quick and easy holiday gift you can make them!


This bookmark was made with cloth ribbon, a decorative button, and a cloth-covered pony-tail elastic.  Here’s how I made it. I used ribbon that was 7/8 inches wide and a button that was 1 1/2 inches round:

Take your ribbon and wrap it around the cover of a standard size book.  Lay your button on top of one end of the ribbon so that the bottom of the button is about at the end of the ribbon.


Lay the pony-tail elastic so that the top is about where the button holes are. Trim the other end of the ribbon approximately 1/4 inch from the bottom of the elastic.  I cut the ribbon with pinking shears just to make sure there would be no unraveling.  The goal is to be able to “button” the bottom of the ribbon to the top using the elastic, so you want it to be a little snug at this point. Remember, it’s just wrapped around the book cover to get some basic measurements, not the whole book or a bunch of pages yet.


Then with your ribbon right side up sew your button to the end. On the other end fold the ribbon about 1/2 inch around the elastic and stitch it closed.

There you have it!  A bookmark that won’t fall out or get lost.


You can also make this with a spare 2 1/2 inch fabric strip from a Jelly Roll, however that’s a little more time-consuming.  You measure and cut the same way, but to have clean edges you need to fold and press them under (on the sides and ends) then sew them down before you add the button and elastic.  However it does give you an opportunity to sew some decorative stitches on it if your machine has them.  Here’s one I made.  I rushed this as I was just trying it out, but would probably be a bit more careful if I was really going to give it as a gift!


So using a left-over Jelly Roll strip is an option as well!

I hope you have fun experimenting with colors and buttons to make some custom bookmarks for your loved ones!

Friendship Block Quilt – a Reminder of What I Love About Quilting

My daughter and her husband are a military family.  They have lived the last 3 years in Anchorage, Alaska, initially to my daughter’s dismay (she hates cold weather).  But once there she embraced the natural beauty and outdoor adventures available, skiing, ice fishing, hiking, and more (picture a moose walking up to her patio door) and made some really good friends.

They are now being reassigned to a new base and she asked if I would make a going away quilt for one of her best Alaskan friends.  She chose a Friendship Star block and picked a variety of fabrics with prints that reminded her of shared interests and the fun that they had together.  Since she wanted to pick out the fabrics herself and ship them to me, the only direction I gave her was to try to get contrasting colors for each block so the star shapes wouldn’t blend with the background. It was a fun challenge to get the fabric in the mail and put the quilt together.

The end result is pictured below.  I left one square plain white so that she could write a message for her friend in that corner.  Her friend cried and cried when she received it.  A reminder that something made with love will always be a masterpiece!

Photos are from my phone as I forgot to take pictures with my real camera, LOL.

If you would like to learn how to make a Friendship Star block, here is a link to a great tutorial: Friendship Star in 5 Sizes.




Happy National Quilting Day! Rising Star Variation Block.

To celebrate National Quilting Day I decided to put my spin on a block pattern I learned from the Missouri Star Quilt Company that they called the Rising Star.  After I made a test block based on their tutorial I decided I wanted to change some things to reduce some of the fabric bulk that occurred using their sewing and cutting techniques; plus make the center of the star different.

So here is my block which equals 6 1/2 inches by 6 1/2 inches square:

Rising Star

Which can be laid out like this to form a big star block that finishes at 12 1/2″ x 12 1/2″:

Rising Star Block

I’m working on designing a quilt with the star block which is still in progress, but here’s two examples of quilts you can make with the 6 1/2″ x 6 1/2″ block:

Using the Star layout:

Quilt Layout Example

Using a zig-zag type of layout:

Rising Star Block Variation

You can click HERE to learn how to make this block or go to my tutorials tab at the top of my site and look for Rising Star Variation.  Have fun!

Fast Scrappy Four Patch Baby Quilt

This little quilt top came together really quickly by using a short-cut for making four patches.  I learned the technique a few years ago and thought I’d share it for those of you who need/want a fairly quick project.

To make the top exactly as pictured you only need one charm pack (pre-cut 5 inch squares) and a little white fabric and solid color fabric.

I actually only used 20 squares of patterned fabric from one Charm Pack (normally there’s 42 squares in each pack) then cut 20 more 5″ squares from different colored solid fabric that I thought would go well with the charm squares.  But you could certainly just use all squares from the charm pack and it would work just as well.  My personal preference was to break up some of the pattern with some solids.

The finished size for the pictured top is 40″ x 35 1/2″.

Click on this LINK to go to a step-by-step tutorial for how I made this quilt top (or click on my Tutorials tab at the top of the page).

My Other Passion

As you may tell from how the frequency of my posts and tutorials have declined, my other long-time passion has taken over a bit.  I got the opportunity to visit Alaska in June of this year and in the process of being excited about taking pictures of that beautiful state, my somewhat dormant passion for photography resurfaced (click on the photo to see it larger).

Reflections on Otter Lake-1

So I joined a local photography club to help pull me out of the house and give me inspiration.  I also decided I would start putting a portfolio together and offer photos for sale.  Right now my interests are very diverse, but I think I will soon land on subject matter and/or techniques that will become my personal style.  I will definitely be seeking out opportunities to add photos of quilts I discover whether at a quilt show, antique malls, flea markets, wherever, to my blog.  I also plan on doing a series of photographs on “hand-made” items to add to my portfolio.

The photos below are of some antique quilts I recently came across while wandering through an antique mall.Antique Quilt-1

3 Quilts-1

So if you have an interest in looking at what I have on my photography website, just click on the link I’ve added to the sidebar of this blog.  If you would like to purchase something on that site I have made a special 20% off discount coupon code on the price of a print for my followers to use.  Just join the e-mail list on my photography website and I’ll send you a coupon.  This is not applied to any frames, etc. if chosen.  Just the print itself.

When you click on one of the images on the site it will show you the different options for printing and the prices.  Thanks in advance, even if you just visit to take a look!  I’ll be adding a lot of new photos in the coming weeks.

Right now I’m in the process of writing a tutorial on how to make a quick, fun, scrappy four patch baby quilt (which of course can be used for any size quilt by adding more four patches).  Look for that to be posted within the next two weeks.