Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Season's greetings

Amid all of the hustle and bustle of the season, I just wanted to take a moment to send you my warmest wishes and many thanks for your support and encouragement throughout the year. As this year winds to a close, I look back on all that has happened, places I've been and folks I have met, projects I have finished, and new ones just begun. It's also bittersweet. I miss loved ones we have had to say goodbye to as well and cherish my memories of them even more.

I have so much to be thankful for this year: projects in print, Stash Lab having its publishing date, good friends, support and love of my family, and new things to come in 2016 to share with you. So my wish for you all is that you have peace, health and happiness in abundance - and if not those, then people around you that you love and care for to help you through.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,


Friday, November 13, 2015

Star Shuffle giveaway winners!

O.k....random number generator spit out #2 and #6...

so Bunny and Dena.... congrats! You are the winners of a copy of the Winter 2015 Quilts and More and mini-bundle of flannels from my stash! Please email me at tonyaalexanderdesigns@gmail.com with your mailing address for your goodies.

And thanks to all of you who played along and shared your recent recipients of your quilt gifts. It's great to see where you are all sharing your love and talent.

Happy stash quilting,


Saturday, November 7, 2015

Star Shuffle and a Giveaway!

My quilting cup runneth over at the moment! So many good things to share with you and be thankful for and one of those this month is my quilt "Star Shuffle" that is currently featured on the cover of Quilts and More, Winter 2015. My ever-supportive and patient hubby was due for a quilt just for him. This was my attempt at a "guy quilt", if there is such a thing. No flowers, no fru-fru. Just some very manly grey/black/red combos in flannel, just in time for the fall/winter season.

Images used with permission from Quilts and More
 magazine and Meredith Corporation. Copyright 2015
 If you click on the images, they should expand and you can see the detail on the quilting.

Images used with permission from Quilts and More
 magazine and Meredith Corporation. Copyright 2015
Here's the flat shot of the whole quilt. I often like to vary the scale of a single block within the design. It just adds a little somethin' somethin' that I tend to like. The big star in the lower right is pieced in five segments and then appliqued on as a one piece. Very easy to do. Same shape, just bigger.
Images used with permission from Quilts and More
 magazine and Meredith Corporation. Copyright 2015

The fabric shopping for this one was fun. I love a fabric hunt! Once I decided the direction I wanted to go and had a handful of fabrics from my stash,  it was time to hit the shops to find some more to make the project complete. Many of them were Woolies Flannels by Maywood Studio, but not all. The background squares are all flannel, not something I usually work with but this quilt was going to be made to cuddle up on the couch in the winter with my honey so it was the go-to option. The applique stars are done with regular cotton fabrics.

Some of the flannels for the background squares.
Some of the cottons for the stars.

So a couple of things about working with flannels if you haven't before. First of all, I definitely recommend that you pre-wash your fabrics and dry on high heat. Flannels shrink like crazy at very different rates and you don't want that to happen after you have your project all sewn together. Also, flannel is super-linty (not sure that's really a word :) so prewashing helps cut down on the lint a bit. Even so, after you sew a flannel project together your machine is going to beg for a lint cleaning in the bobbin casing and a new needle!

I would also suggest using a generous 1/4" seam allowance. Some people even choose to use a 1/2". Whichever you choose, just be consistent throughout your project so all of your seams will match. And remember, if you use a wider seam allowance, your finished project will finish a bit smaller, too. I almost always press seams to one side and still did with the flannel, but some people find it preferable to press the seams open. Again, take your pick.

As for the applique, I used cotton fabric for the applique star shapes themselves. I chose to do needle-turn applique because I was toting these blocks around with me at the time and posted about that method previously here. You could also use fusible web and the directions in Quilts and More include directions for both methods. So do what you enjoy!

Many kudos go to Tracey who did a lovely job of quilting this one and made the stars really shine with the straight line echo quilting around each one. She carried those lines out into the borders as well and I think it fits the design perfectly! Thank you Tracey :)

So let's share some goodies, shall we? I have a couple of copies of the magazine to give away and I'll even throw in a mini-bundle of flannels from my stash to share with you for your project, how's that? If you'd like to win, just enter a comment below and share with us who the lucky recipient of your last quilt gift was. Easy enough? I'll draw two names next Friday, lucky November 13th! It will be lucky for a couple of people :)

And with that, happy quilting!


Thursday, October 29, 2015

Quilt Market decompression in 3, 2, 1,....

Ohhhhh my! It's so good to be home. I just returned from my first trip to International Quilt Market (held the week before Quilt Festival) in Houston after 6 days of fun, fabric, and everything Stash Lab! Wow, what an experience.

My weekend started with a bang with a Schoolhouse presentation on Friday- Schoolhouse is for shop owners and retailers to see and hear about new products, fabric, books, etc. that are coming on the market for their shops. It was the fastest 20 minutes ever! Basically, my book in a nutshell, share the quilts and why shops should be interested in offering it to their customers. No small amount of stress for yours truly, but it went well, the feedback I got afterwards was very positive and it was a great start to a very busy 4 days.

I also did some demo time in the Martingale booth, chatting with shop owners and talking all things quilty. Also, very fun. Much of the rest of the time was spent just getting to walk around and meet and talk to some of the quilting world's most creative and awesome people. I'm such a fan! I tried to not be too much of a crazy quilt groupie - but it was hard! I can honestly say every person I met was friendly beyond belief and a thrill to meet and chat with. I would do it all again just for the chance to meet these wonderfully creative people.

Clockwise from top left: Tula Pink and Tracey, Jo Packham (Where Women Create), Lisa and Bethany from APQ, the Master himself - Kaffe!, Valerie Wells, Katja Marek, Sandy Klop (American Jane), Jackie Kunkel, Laurie Simpson and Polly Minick  (Minick & Simpson), and Kathy Doughty.
Another highlight was the Moda 40th Anniversary dinner on Saturday night. I was a lucky guest of Two Thimbles Quilt Shop (thank you Lee!). I am sorry to report my phone battery was completely dead by that time of night so I have not a single picture of the event, but believe me, it was a treat. More about this in a future post I think. Met some wonderful people there.

I tried to post a bit on Instagram @tonyaalexanderquilts while I was there but it was a challenge. Or, I should say, I was technically challenged! Wi-Fi was not my friend but that's o.k. Inspiration is everywhere you look and it's impossible not to be completely overwhelmed. Here are just a few peeks at things that I loved...

So, a few things I learned while at my first market...
1. Drink water.
2. Inspiration is everywhere and creativity is endless.
3. You can never pay too much for comfortable shoes.
4. Quilters are awesome people (I already knew this but it was happily confirmed!)
5. Drink more water!

In a nutshell, QuiltMarket 2015 was an awesome experience, Texas was lovely (even with the humidity, heat, and passing hurricane :) My special thanks to the crew at my publisher Martingale, Lee at Two Thimbles, my awesome travel partner-in-crime Tracey and to my friends and family who sent me packing with more love and support than my luggage could hold. I really, really hope I get the chance to go again. I would do it in a heartbeat.

Happy quilting,


Saturday, October 17, 2015

A Perfect Setting

We interrupt the Stash Lab frenzy for a moment to bring you...A Perfect Setting...

“Used with permission from American Patchwork & Quilting® magazine. ©2015 Meredith Corporation. All rights reserved.”
 While I've been caught up in the excitement of Stash Lab finally hitting the store shelves this past week, another beautiful project got it's moment in the sun. This is my project "A Perfect Setting" and it's featured in the current Dec. 2015 issue of American Patchwork & Quilting. I'm also super excited to share that it will be hanging in the APQ booth next week at Houston International Quilt Market! The beautiful long-arm quilting on this one was done by Tracey Fisher. Cannot wait to see it again - it's been awhile since I shipped it off into the quilting universe.
“Used with permission from American Patchwork & Quilting® magazine. ©2015 Meredith Corporation. All rights reserved.”
APQ, December 2015 issue
One of the things I love about quilting and the creative process is how a single geometric shape can lead you to new places. This quilt is made completely with 60-degree equilateral triangles - traditionally known as a "Thousand Pyramids" quilt. Of course, before it looked like the finished project, it looked more like this on my design wall...
Definitely one of those projects that a design wall or surface is a must to help you keep organized in your piecing. This could have absolutely been a great addition to be included in Stash Lab, but this one wasn't under the presser foot until long into the book process. But it certainly follows the Stash Lab equations! Here's a sample of my collection of background fabrics that I used in this quilt...
Selection of background neutrals - a fun focus for a shop hop trip!
Most were collected on a single shop hop trip through Washington and Oregon a couple of summers ago. This is one of my go-to fabric shopping tips: pick a focus and let the hunt begin! I focused specifically on low-volume, light background neutrals. White, cream, beige backgrounds were all fair game. I mix them all the time. The brights in the floating diamonds were all scraps from my stash. A great example of old and new coming together to create something special. Hope you are inspired to dive into your own stash and see what you come up with!

Happy stash quilting,


Monday, September 28, 2015

Stash Lab - take 2

So, on our countdown to the big book birthday - October 6th! - I'm sharing some of the projects from my upcoming book with Martingale, Stash Lab: Simple Solutions for Scrap Quilts. Moving right along, let's get to some more quilts.

This time, let's look at some of the projects under the Stash Lab equation of "Neutrals + Scraps = Balance". It really is as simple as it sounds. When working with lots of different competing fabrics or scraps in a quilt, it helps a lot to give the eye a place to rest in between. Neutrals can act as a great frame for a variety of fabrics and neutral doesn't just mean white-on-white either. Textured prints, solids, even low-volume patterns are all considered neutrals in my opinion. Here's one that uses a gray/white sheet music print as the neutral. This is "Loose Change"...

"Loose Change", Stash Lab: Simple Solutions for Scrap Quilts
Can you guess it's namesake and the inspiration for this project? If you guessed a traditional Chinese Coin pattern, you were right! This is my version with a bit of a twist, turning the quadrants to add interest and little bit of a modern edge to a very traditional pattern. For this project, I dug into my bin of 1-1/2" strip scraps and put together a variety of strips sets, using sea glass as my color inspiration.

The next quilt is a little (o.k., a lot) bolder, and one of my favorites - not only because of the fabrics! This is "Kaffe's Garden at Night"...
"Kaffe's Garden at Night", Stash Lab: Simple Solutions for Scrap Quilts
This one may look a little familiar :) I just can't let it go! I love this quilt. Black is definitely the ultimate neutral and really brings out the intensity of colors in fabrics that you use with it. Sometimes people shy away from using black in quilt tops, but I don't think black has to be sad or dark. Not when you use it this way!

Now, please forgive the not-so-great photo on this next one, it's the only one I could access at the moment. But, my bad living-room photography doesn't do this one justice in the least. This is "Sunny Side Up"...

"Sunny Side Up", Stash Lab: Simple Solutions for Scrap Quilts
So maybe this is my ploy, you have to see the professional photography of this one in the book! The quilting is beautiful simplicity itself, from the efforts of the very talented, Tracey Fisher. Tracey is not only one of my go-to professional long-arm quilters, she is my friend and one of my biggest cheerleaders (thanks Tracey!) This one does actually use solid white as the neutral, but in a non-traditional way, to bring together a shop-hop collection of different yellow fabrics, all made from 2-1/2" strips. This would be a great project in anyone's favorite color.

Well, we're getting closer! I can't tell you how great it feels to finally be able to share all of this with you. I have said that waiting and working on the book for almost two years has felt like sitting on a chicken egg, waiting for it to hatch - and it's true! This is one big baby chick, I must say. But, I couldn't be more thrilled. I hope you enjoy it, too.

Happy Stash quilting,


Sunday, September 20, 2015

Stash Lab Countdown!

Home again, home again, jiggity-jig! They're home....crazy for me to look at this little pile of folded loveliness and think that it represents a couple of years worth of fun and fabric, but there it is.  Anyway, the countdown is moving right along and my publication date for Stash Lab is quickly approaching - October 6th! So, I think it's about time I start sharing some of the projects with you.  

Sorry, this seat is taken.

The table of contents gives you a sneak peak at what's to come. I really love the design and concept of the book that the good folks at Martingale came up with. Yes, they're my projects, my writing, my ideas, but the graphic design group at Martingale came up with the overall look and feel of the book itself. I love it - but then again, I'm a little bit biased :) 
Stash Lab - Table of Contents

I thought it would be fitting to start with one of the quilts you see on the cover and in the table of contents, "The Big Spin". The projects follow three different scrap equations that I like to use when  looking at my stash or a bucket of scraps and starting a new project. "The Big Spin" actually falls under Stash Equation #2 that deals with the use of fabric value vs. color. This project fits the equation to a tee. This design really is all about value and placement, regardless of color palette.
"The Big Spin" from Stash Lab: Simple Solutions for Scrap Quilts
If you're in my local area, you can currently see this quilt on display at Two Thimbles quilt shop in Bellingham. All of the projects under this equation really work with any color palette or fabric style - it's all about value and placement to create the design. Another project in this category is "Jester".
"Jester" from Stash Lab: Simple Solutions for Scrap Quilts
I enjoyed making this quilt so much because it has so many of my favorite stash fabrics. It's also the only paper-pieced project in the book - and a really easy one if you've never tried paper piecing before. This quilt is currently on display locally at Fabric-Etc. in Bellingham.

I am really fortunate to live so close to great shops that provide beautiful products and inspiration for what I love to do. They have been so supportive of my efforts as a quilter. Most of all, I'm so thankful for their encouragement, friendship and willingness to help me on this crazy journey. Priceless.

More to come, but if you haven't already, run out to your favorite local quilt shop and ask them to order you up a copy of Stash Lab! Maybe you'll find a few other goodies there to add to your stash. In the meantime...

Happy stash quilting,


Friday, August 14, 2015

New addition to the family...

I have a lovely new addition to my family...of sewing machines, that is! A Featherweight 221 has been on my wish list for quite a while now. A friend of mine recently had a quilters' garage sale (the very best kind of garage sale!) and had several machines all lined up, ready to go to new homes. This little beauty had a halo of light behind it as I came up the driveway, I swear!
My very-new-to-me 1946 Featherweight 221
If it could have sung the Allelujah Chorus, it would have. It was just meant to come home with me. And the very fact that it came from a good friend's family (thank you V. and M.!) and has been much loved and much used over the years makes it even better. The details on it are beautiful.

I love the Egyptian Scrollwork design on the faceplate.
So I have been studiously pouring over Dave McCallum's must-have book The Featherweight 221 & I and learning all I am supposed to know about this perfect little gem. Now I'm torn between the beautiful, classic black or something a little racier like this...

Future makeover?
Well, I'll have to save up some more pennies for a custom paint job like that so I have more time to mull it over anyway! So for those of you that may be counting (my darling husband...), that puts the inventory total at 4 machines (down from 6!) I think I'm good for a while...in the meantime...

Happy summer stitching,


Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Guest blogging at McCall's

Hi all, I'm here, but not exactly! I'm a guest blogger over at McCall's Quilting Blog today. I'll be chatting more about my project "Pressed Leaves" that's in the Sept/Oct 2015 issue. More about the project inspiration and some tips for the actual quilting technique I used. Hop over and check it out!

"Pressed Leaves"
Happy quilting,


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Giveaway winner!

No, let's make that winners! So many great comments - thank you so much! I'm so glad to hear there are so many folks out there that love their fall colors as much as I do :) I decided one copy wasn't enough, so we'll make it two! I have a very high tech way of selecting the winner....it looks something like this...

Yes, I print out the comments, cut them up into cute little strips and then pick one with my eyes closed! Pretty clever, huh? So clever, I can't figure out how to get the silly picture below rotated correctly, jeesh! Whatever! Here are the lucky winners...

Congrats Linda B. and Emily C. - please email me your addresses and I'll get the issues mailed off you right away.

I hope some of you will put some of your own beautiful scraps to use and make this project yourselves. Please send pictures to share if you do - we'd love to see them!

Happy quilting,


Saturday, July 18, 2015

Pressed Leaves and a Giveaway

With summer in full swing, it's hard to believe fall will be here before we know it! I want this beautiful summer in my Pacific Northwest to last forever, but I'm ready for fall for a couple of really good reasons - one of them is the upcoming issue of McCall's Quilting, September/October 2015 that will be hitting your mailbox and store shelves soon. One of my favorite recent projects is being featured - "Pressed Leaves" - and it even has its glamour shot moment on the cover!
It was such a fun project that used some of my favorite scraps framed by a really great neutral newsprint fabric. The one I used is from Collage by Carrie Bloomston for Windham Fabrics. If you can't find this one around, not to worry. Any great print neutral would be perfect for this project. Your favorite quilt shop probably has some already on hand, so check them out.
Pressed Leaves table runner
With so little actual snail mail these days, I'm always excited when something like this lands in my mailbox...advanced copies! So it must be time for a giveaway! Leave a comment below and share your favorite fall leaf color for a chance to win a free copy of the McCalls Quilting September/October 2015 issue. I'll pick a name out of the hat and mail off a signed copy to you!
Time for a giveaway! Leave a comment with your favorite fall leaf color to enter.
The other reason I'm excited for fall, of course, is because of this little beauty that I'm anxiously waiting for....
Just found out the release date has been bumped up from October 15th to October 6th. Nine less sleepless nights of anticipation for this first-time author. I can't wait to share it with you :)

Happy summer quilting,


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

New pattern and a shop hop

So here's what I've been working on lately, a new pattern. Not for a magazine this time, just for retail sale in shops. Of course, I'm flying by the seat of my pants again so I'm never quite sure how these things are going to turn out. Producing a pattern is so much more work than I ever think it's going to be. Writing, editing, photography, graphic design, the list goes on and on. And that's without sewing a single stitch! But, I'm giving it another go. So this is Cavanaugh Crossroads...
Some of you in my neck of the woods may recognize the name. I started working on this during a retreat out at Lake Cavanaugh with friends not too long ago. The block itself is from a traditional block design from early last century called Crossroads. Nothing too clever - just putting the two together and I decided I liked the name, so there you have it!

Here are a couple of test blocks we did in alternate colorways. You know how much I love my Kaffes! I was playing with the photo editor app on my phone, inverted the colors, and decided I had to make it in Kaffe reds with a black background. The center is Moda Grunge Basics "Decadent". Not for the faint-hearted! Reminds me of flames! My lovely friend Verna made a test block in batiks, soft blue/greens with a melon center which turned out great (but I can't download the pic for - sorry!) Batiks are always a winner. She made one in 30's too - I love it. (That one I managed!)
Done in Kaffe Fassett's red "Lotus Leaf" fabric.
Super sweet in Verna's 30's too

The pattern, as shown on the cover, finishes at 54" x 54", a nice throw or baby quilt size. The blocks are BIG, 18"! The pattern also include size options for twin, queen and king size. I rate this as a beginner/easy pattern. A half square triangle is the about as tricky as this one gets, and you even make two at a time.

Availability is limited at the moment. I rushed this one into production so it could be available during the Western Washington Quilt Shop Hop, June 24-28. You can find the pattern at Fabric-Etc. in Bellingham. The original quilt top will be there on display, too. If you're not in the area, you can contact Carol and the crew to order. Shop owners and distributors - if you're out there! - feel free to email me directly and I'll hook you up!

Happy summer quilting,


Sunday, June 14, 2015

Look, look! A book, MY book!

Wow, I thought this day would never come! I am so excited to share this great news with everyone. If you were wondering what the heck I've been doing with all my free time, this is it!  I have my first book coming out with Martingale Publishing in October 2015. And here it is!

Many of you know that I have been a quilter for quite some time and have had a lot of fun publishing my quilts in various magazines over the last couple of years. I started to look at my projects in a different light and thought, hey! I might have something here! So I took the plunge, wrote up a submission proposal, sent it in and that's it. No, not at all actually! It takes a lot of w-o-r-k! But what they say is true, if you really love what you are doing it shouldn't feel like work at all and I love to quilt. Write, proof, edit, and edit some more, maybe not so much, but I'm ready for the real fun to begin!
Truly, I can't believe it myself. It has been such a great learning experience so far. I have been working with a great group of professionals at Martingale and I won't lie, it is really cool! The first time I saw the cover concept they came up with, I could hardly breathe!
So, as this project is coming closer and closer to it's official birthday on October 15, 2015, I'm looking forward to giving you some more sneak peeks at all the goodies inside! But for now, join me in a big yippee and let's go sew something!
Happy Quilting,

Friday, June 5, 2015

Quilting with friends

"What the heck do you do on a quilt retreat?" That's just like asking a fisherman, "what do you do on a fishing trip?" but the question seems to come up every time I tell a non-quilter I'm heading off on a quilt retreat, which I try to do a couple of times a year, or even a sewing day with friends. I guess it's hard to imagine doing something all day long if you've never done it before, but if it's your passion and what you love to do, it's not hard at all.

Our view out of the "cabin" - it's rough but someone has to do it.

The 12-hour sashing project that I was working on. One of many...
So if you've yet to take off with some other crazy quilting friends on a quilt retreat, let me share with you some of the basic required components:

1. Friends - old friends, new friends, crazy friends, doesn't matter - as long as they are equally addicted to quilting as you are.
2. Food - good food, junk food, no shortage of food. Quilting takes lots of sustained energy!
3. Projects - more than any one person can possibly complete in 72 hours, but you definitely want options. Especially if your location is not located near a quilt shop!

With the possible addition of a few adult beverages, a beautiful location and no internet/phone connection, you have everything you need for a really good time. I have to admit besides quilting, everything I know about menopause, breast cancer, cheating husbands, and quilt divas, I've learned while on a quilting retreat! Scary and hilarious at the same time :)

Retreats are great for being able to focus time and energy on a project. Friends give great feedback, suggestions and much needed encouragement. Where would we all be without those very important things in our lives - quilting or otherwise?

So if a quilt retreat is in your future, plan your projects, pack everything but the kitchen sink, and get ready for a good time - it's waiting for you.

Happy quilting,


Saturday, March 21, 2015

Thank you Quilters Anonymous!

For those of you that may be in my neck of the woods, I hope you take the opportunity to check out the Quilters Anonymous Show in Monroe, WA every year in March. It's a nice, big regional show with a good sampling of just about everything from art quilts to hand quilting and everything in between. This year was no exception and I always enjoy walking through this really well-planned show. It's definitely a testament to the hard work and experience of QA's 500+ members that have been putting on this show for over 30 years.

A few of the lovely things that caught my eye...

Several of these stripe block quilts that were the product of a group block exchange...perfect border treatment of these fun stripe blocks
Beautiful Minnick & Simpson, "St. Germain" by Nanci Villareale

very fun! "Happy Birthday to Me" by Dianna Park
click to enlarge so you can see the beautiful hand quilting on this one! "Rosey of Sharon" by Donna Eines
 One reason I like this show is because I can always see some quilts in person from one of my favorite on-line quilters, LeeAnn at Nifty Quilts. I love her work and always enjoy seeing the quilts I have enjoyed on her blog in real life.
Nifty's "Pine Burr"

Scrappy courthouse steps by Nifty, "Hourglass"
I'll finish up with this one, a great use of holiday fabrics!

"Pineapple Christmas" by Patsy Hayes
Of course these are just the tip of the ice berg. There were over 500 quilts in the show, not to mention a great collection of vendors. So if you've never been, mark your calendars for next year - March 11-13, 2016!

Happy stitching,