A Twenty Year Old UFO!

I have some down time on this road trip so I planned ahead and brought some projects to work on. I dug out a UFO that has to be around twenty years old!  The blocks are 6″ and a variation on the traditional Northwind block.


These are some arrangements I’m considering; grouping them into sets of four that would then finish 12″.


So far I have 52 of the blocks done. I’m not sure what my original plan was for these blocks but I think it may have been for a twin size quilt.

52 blocks

I have some nice stacks of parts all coordinated for blocks and then I have some parts that don’t go with anything!


This box is about is about a third full of the pre cut parts and I have no clue how many there are.  I could take the time to count them, which would appeal to the accountant in me, I could just wing it and make blocks until I run out of parts and design the quilt from what I have, and that would appeal to the artist in me.

Box of parts

Whatever I decide to do I will keep you posted with the progress.  Anyone else out there inspired to dig out an old UFO and work on it?


Pat Speth author of:  Nickel QuiltsMore Nickel Quilts, Amazing Nickel QuiltsNickel Quilts & Borders, and The Big Book of Nickel Quilts

To schedule a Nickel Quilt lecture or workshop contact Pat at the email below.

Email: pat@patspeth.com

Four Square Setting Audition

I’m still on the road teaching and in the hotel rooms I have some time to catch up on writing about the quilts I am making. When I’m at home and the choice is: do I work on the computer or do I quilt, guess which one usually wins?

This is my setting audition of Four Square.

Whenever I audition blocks in a setting for a quilt I always start with the blocks just block-to-block and row-to-row.  This would be a good setting for these blocks if you wanted to do some custom quilting in the large plain spaces where four blocks come together.

block to block

However, I am longarm challenged and don’t like my quilting to be the focus on any quilt I make so I’m going to try adding sashing.  I do like the way this looks with the scrappy sashing between the blocks. And the great thing about scrappy sashing is you don’t have to worry about running out of the fabric you’re using!

Scrappy Sashing

But I just have to try these with one sashing fabric.  I really enjoyed the speed of the quilt assembly on the Turnabout quilt with one sashing fabric.  I glanced around my studio and my eyes landed on a piece of vintage gold/mustard yellow. Looked like enough yardage in this piece for what I needed so I gave it a try.

Gold Sashing

I love it! It is so bright and cheerful and makes me happy just looking at it.  I’ll save the scrappy sashing for another quilt someday.

Now it’s time to assemble this quilt!


Turnabout Quilt Sashing Audition

All the blocks are done for my Turnabout quilt!  Now it’s time to go to the design wall and play with the layout of the quilt.  First, I’m setting the blocks just block-to-block and row-to-row.  Before I even do that with these blocks I have a pretty good idea that this is not going to be the best option, but you never know so I always give it a try.

Block to block

Now, I could love this quilt but I think sashing might make it even better; so let’s give a light sashing a chance.

Light Sashing

This sashing was maybe a little too busy with the dots of color in the fabric but I think the light value itself does not add anything to these blocks. So, next I audition black sashing.

Black sashing

I like the way the black sets off the blocks and this might be my choice but I just have to see what a plaid sashing might do.


Interesting, not for these blocks right now but I will have to try the plaid sashing again on another quilt.

So the winner this time around is the black sashing.  Next I’m going to play around with some pieced border ideas for this quilt.


Carson City Block Play

While making the Carson City Block for Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks Vol. 6 I took the time to play with the units before sewing them all together.

This is the Carson City block that appears in the magazine.

This is variation #1. I took the corner units and gave them a turn so the pink squares are now on the outer corners of the block.

For variation #2 I turned the side units to point away from the center of the block.

For variation #3 I gave each of the side and corner units a 180 degree turn.

Whenever I take the time to do this before sewing a block together I am always amazed at the wonderful variations that appear.  I also want to make a quilt out of each of them and then I start to think about how to set those blocks into quilts and what about the secondary designs . . . . . the ideas go on forever!

Many times people ask me where I come up with the names for my quilts or blocks.  If it’s a traditional block that has been around forever I tend to use that name.  When it is a block I have designed, then it’s usually harder for me to come up with a new name than it was to design the block to begin with!

So why did I call this block Carson City?  Well I decided to name some of my blocks after state capitals- that way I’ll learn the capitals again, something that I have not memorized since 4th or 5th grade! And then I can also spend more time quilting and less time fussing over a name!

Have fun with these blocks!


Design Wall

I developed this design wall back in 1995 and have been sharing it in my workshops ever since. It’s lightweight, inexpensive, and very portable. Here are the supplies you will need:

• 1 dressmaker’s cardboard cutting board (the kind that folds up for storage), when folded measures 14″ x 40″
• 2 curtain rods that extend to at least 72″ (the white metal ones that curve on each end)
• a piece of flannel 44″ x 80″ or a flannel-backed vinyl tablecloth
• 10 – 12 large binder clips 2″ size (from the office supply store)
• double sided carpet tape

I washed my flannel first this time – it was purchased at goodwill 5 yards for $2.99 total!  You only need a little over 2 yards.  You want to cover the backside of the design wall with the flannel – the design wall will fold up with the grid side on the outside so the flannel will stay cleaner longer.

Backside facing up, apply the double-stick carpet tape along one long edge at a time.

If you have not washed your flannel it might be wider than the design wall – if so, apply the tape to the grid-side and attach a couple of inches of flannel to the front(or whatever you need to make it fit).

Press flannel onto the tape, allowing the flannel to extend past the cutting board at the top and bottom by a couple of inches.

Tape both sides, then turn the board over. Apply tape to the top, press flannel into place, and repeat on the bottom edge.

When all the edges are taped down you are ready to attach the curtain rods.  Extend curtain rods to 6′ and lay them under the long sides, one side at a time.

Attach binder clips to hold the cutting board to the curtain rod.

Use 5 – 6 binder clips along each side.  Finish attaching the clips to one side, then do the other.

Ta Da!  Finished design wall!

I use these all the time.  My quilting studio is in my attic with all those interesting sloped ceilings, so I have very little wall space.  With these I can create my wall space by leaning them up against almost anything, blocking windows, doors, whatever it takes to layout my quilt blocks.  For larger quilts, simply set two or three of these design walls next to each other.