Picnic Quilt Finish

Yippee!  My portion of the picnic quilt is all done!  This quilt is for my daughter Roxie and her husband Tom.  I worked on this quilt with Tom’s mother, Mary. Yes both of us Mother-in-Laws are quilters and we also made their wedding quilt together. We got together to piece the blocks and set this quilt together. Then since I have a long arm quilting machine I quilted it and sewed on the binding. The quilt then was handed off to Mary to hand stitch the binding down.

Quilt Section

I’m pretty excited about the upcycling we were able to do with this quilt. All the plaids and denims used in the blocks were from thrift store shirts or dresses (100% cotton).  The binding is from a denim curtain I found at a thrift store, 100% cotton and no signs of wear or sun damage.

Binding for Picnic Quilt

The backing comes from a duvet cover, also a thrift store find.  It had an Eddie Bauer label and has a beautiful feel to it, lots of life left in this piece, and of course it was plaid!

Back of Picnic Quilt

Here are Tom and Roxie holding the quilt, and Mary will have the binding finished in plenty of time for many picnics this year! It’s really fun to give someone a picnic quilt, one that is meant to be laid on the grass or sand, have a little wine or food spilled on it, and a good size to really stretch out on and read a good book.

Roxie and Tom with Quilt

And of course this was made with 5″ squares!


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

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You are not allowed to mass produce this information.

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

Email: pat@patspeth.com

Update on Test Quilt From Sheets

The test quilt made from sheets has been tumbled and pummeled in fourteen dryer loads so far and is looking great! The sheets used are 100% cotton.

large view

I’ve included a few close ups below where you can see that there is no sign of fraying due to thread breakage on the high thread count sheets.  I’ll continue to add the test quilt to dryer loads to see what the results are after 25 or 50 loads but I’m happy enough with these results that I’ll continue to experiment with adding the solids from sheets to future quilting projects.

close up A


Close up B


Close up C

Besides quilts for your own use this might be a nice option for material used in charity quilts. I know when I’m at guild meetings across the country I often hear requests from the Charity Quilt Committees for donations of fabrics, especially for backs.

Have fun with this idea!

Pat Speth author of:  Nickel Quilts,   More Nickel Quilts,    Amazing Nickel Quilts,  Nickel 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

Experimenting With Sheets

On a couple of previous blogs I shared some blocks that I am making using solid fabrics.  What I didn’t mention was that the solid fabrics came from 100% cotton sheets I purchased at thrift shops!

Why did I decide to experiment with cotton sheets? This is how it came about; I was at a thrift shop in the bed linens area looking for flannel for a design wall. It was a special 50% day, I love upcycling, bargins, and I thought purchasing a flannel sheet for about $2 or $3 was much more fun than paying full price at a fabric shop. So while I was in the bedding area I started noticing all the other sheets, all the great colors. I began looking at the tags for fiber content and saw that many of them were 100% cotton.  I have a blast working with upcycled 100% cotton plaid shirts so why not give sheets a try!

I have read a little on the Internet about using sheets in quilting, not all of the articles have been favorable. Some of the issues address the thread count and that the machine needles might break the threads of high thread count sheets.  I considered this and I also inspected the hems on many of the sheets where they have been machine stitched, no signs of fraying or thread breaking.  I’m giving it a try!

Of course I love variety and have purchased many sheets.  Let’s talk $ per yard, I only purchase them on sale days so it works out to about 50¢ per yard!


I did put the proverbial cart before the horse in this case and have completed almost two quilt tops before I decided maybe I should make a smaller sample quilt top and put it to the test.  So I cut up a great assortment into 5″ squares.
five inch squares

I made the test quilt top out of my favorite unit, half-square-triangles!  The darkest fabric is not black but a very dark blue fabric from a sheet.

Test Top

The back is also from a sheet so this entire test quilt is from upcycled sheets.

top and backing

Once this quilt is quilted this is what I am going to do to test it for durability, I’m going to toss it in the dryer with every load of drying that I do. I’m not going to wash it in my top loading washer, I never wash quilts that way, there is too much stress on a quilt in a top loading washer. I will report back on the results. I really do feel confident that these fabrics will hold up, and I will let you know either way.


Pat Speth author of:  Nickel Quilts,   More Nickel Quilts,  Amazing Nickel Quilts,  Nickel 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

Baby Quilt / Lap Quilt Finish

Before I sent the last of the Baby quilts off I remembered to take a few photos.  This is the quilt just off of the longarm machine and ready for binding.

Ready for trimming

A close up of my basic all-over quilting which disappears on the quilt and you sometimes really have to look for it to notice it.  This time I used just an easy star and loop design and you really can’t see it very well, which believe it or not is what I am after; I want my piecing and the fabrics to be the focus of my quilts and not the quilting.

Close up

The quilt completely done and pinned up onto the design wall!

Finished quilt

There will be a few more of these for me to make as lap quilts.  My daughter Roxie fell in love with these and I have many of the table runner sections to still put to use, and of course lots of plaids from thrift store shirts since it seems I am unable to stop buying them!


Thrifting for Shirts

I’ve mentioned before how I love thrift shopping and finding deals on great cotton shirts that can be cut up and used for fabric in quilts. I’ve got tubs and tubs of shirts at home (I didn’t plan on doing this!), but on a recent trip I was suppose to have early check in at my hotel and when I got there they had no record of the request and so I had three hours to kill before I could check in.

Well, I took that as a sign and had my Garmin search out the nearest thrift shops.  One shop had a 49¢ tag sale and at another shop they had a 50% off sale on a certain color of tags.  Now I ask you who could pass up those deals? Not I. And look at what I got!

Piles of shirts

I even managed to pick up another cutting board for a design wall at one shop and then the second shop had a flannel backed tablecloth!

Cutting board

This is definitely a vintage cutting board, look at the price!  I think they now sell for around $19 and I got it for just $2.99. I love thrifting!

price on cutting board

Now I need to let these shirts inspire me for a few fun quilts!


Baby Quilts / Lap Quilts Part 4

Hooray! We dodged last night’s snow storm! Originally the forecast was a winter storm warning and an estimated 6 to 9 inches of snow, it went south of the Twin Cities.  So I was able to spend some time quilting instead of snow removal detail.

Time to catch you up on the Baby Quilts / Lap Quilts.  Yes, as soon as Roxie saw this quilt set together she said she wants one to use as a lap quilt and it will be the perfect size for a lap quilt.

This is how I cut the table runners into sections for the sashing columns, I just folded them a couple of times and cut 2 ½” strips.

Table Runners Cut

I cut the strips from several table runners and arranged them into sashing columns, staggering where the denim squares were ending up. This is the design wall audition for the sashing columns.

Table Runners pieced into sashing

Now to try everything out together on the design wall; block columns separated by the table runner sashing.  I love it!

Blocks and sashing on design wall

This quilt has been put together and is ready to load on the longarm.  I just have to clear off all the clutter that has accumulated on the machine and get going!


Table Runners From Plaid and Denim

I designed the baby quilts I’m working on by starting with the desire to use these table runners somewhere in them. To tell you about the table runners I need to take you back to last summer and the preparations for Roxie & Tom’s wedding.  My daughter Roxie and her husband Tom love plaid and love the concept of upcycling.  Well … I just happened to have on-hand tubs full of men’s plaid shirts many of which I only paid 25¢ a piece for.  All are 100% cotton and were intended to be cut into 5″ squares for quilts.  Roxie decided the shirts could be put to better use first as table runners in their plaid themed wedding, she does come up with some good ideas!

Mary, Tom’s mom (and also a quilter), volunteered to sew the table runners and I helped out by cutting the backs out of 60+ shirts and chunks of denim from women’s dresses to help speed the process along.  Knowing that we wanted to use the fabrics in the table runners again for quilts after the wedding, all the seams were serged so that they wouldn’t ravel when they were washed.  Here are the piles of men’s shirt backs and chunks of denim ready to be turned over to Mary.

Plaid and Denim

One of the completed table runners. They measure about 20″ x 68″.

Table Runner

The table runners were a perfect complement for the birch tree candle holders used on the tables.

Table Runner with candles

In addition to plaid table runners Mary also made plaid pennants from the same thrift store shirts to hang as decoration at the wedding and reception.


In true upcycling style the pennants are also used again to decorate Roxie’s Frostbeard Studio booth at craft shows.

This craft show was the No Coast Craft-o-Rama held in Minneapolis in December.  I helped Roxie set up for the craft show and it was fun for me to be just a helper this time.  In the past Roxie has helped me set up at Quilt Market so we do have experience setting up, taking down, and hauling stuff in and out of buildings.

craftorama booth

Now, how am I going to use those table runners in the baby quilts? Stay tuned!


Baby Quilts

It’s the first of the year and time to do one of my favorite things: start a new project!  I have many UFOs, but I love to start new quilts and my daughter Roxie gave me a great excuse to do just that.  Three of her close friends have had babies and she asked me if I would make them quilts.  All three babies are boys and both Roxie and I love the idea of upcyling plaid shirts into quilts.  Also added to these quilts will be pieces of the table runners used at Roxie and Tom’s wedding reception.  These are some of the half-square-triangles in the process of being trimmed.

Trimming in progress

I tell people that half-square-triangles are my favorite unit to make and I’m not lying, I can create a pile of them in no time!

Stack of HST

When I have about three-fourths the number of units made that I need I lay them out to look them over before selecting the remainder of the plaids.  I like to make sure I have a good mix of colors and values.

HST in rows

Now it’s back to the sewing machine to finish the rest of the units and then assemble them into blocks.


Wedding Quilt

While I had the new design wall up I decided to put it to use and put up a few sections of the wedding quilt. It was Roxie & Tom’s idea to have their wedding quilt made from upcycled plaids. Mary (Tom’s mom) and I are working on it together. It’s going to be queen size.

It’s made from pinwheel blocks that finish 8″.

And sashing units that measure 4″ x 8″.

Simple and fun I’m in the process of setting the rest of the blocks into rows.  Will keep everyone posted on it’s progress!