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Saturday, May 2, 2020

Baskets and Blooms

Spring has sprung! 

This last winter was the dreariest winter ever! I don't think the sun shone most of it. When my trees started blooming (Red Bud, Lilac, Fire Bush) I was so excited I just had to take photos. During my walk with the dogs I also found some little wildflowers and my Flags are just starting to bloom. My poor Daffodils didn't make it with the cold snap.

It was so nice to finally see some color! I live in a rural area with woods all around me so all I have seen all winter is bare trees and brown grass and plants.

National Quilter's Circle Baskets and Blooms

Speaking of flowers, I apologize for not writing a blog for the first week. Despite being stuck in the house, I would think I had a lot of time to quilt but life just gets in the way. So, for those new to this I will post some of my tips. For those who have already seen these tips, please have patience.

I can't stress how important a consistent 1/4" seam is when you are sewing a lot of seams in a block. I use an "exact" 1/4" because I don't know what a "scant" means. It means a lot of different things to different quilters. If I set my seam right, everything goes together so well. I have a YouTube video on how I do this with my 1/4" seam guide.

I also want to mention the importance of good quilting tools. The right pins are important. I used to sew clothing (ancient history) and I still have some of those pins I used back then. I call them nails! Today's fabrics are so much better than they were years ago. Good fine pins are essential! You can't always tell about the pin on the cover of the package. Be sure it says how wide the pin is (not the length). A .5mm or .4mm is the best. The smaller is better for batiks because they have such a tight weave. I carry them on my website.

Pressing is also important. Now Ashley and I differ when it comes to pressing. She likes to use a lot of steam on her seams. We both finger press before pressing with an iron, but I don't use water until I finish my block and I use a spray bottle so the steam in my iron doesn't leave any residue on my fabrics, just in case it decides to spit brown! Either way works. You do what works for you. Just be sure not to "iron" your seams (back and forth motion). If you do, especially with steam you will distort them. Pressing is an up and down motion.

There is always that controversy with whether to press your seams open or to the side. I do both depending on what kind of block it is and how many seams intersect. For most of these blocks you will press to the side in the direction the instructions give you. Again that is a personal preference. If you do a lot of in-the-ditch quilting, you will want to press to the side.

So far you have been given 6 blocks.



I love the variety of fabrics you all have chosen for this project! Many have just pulled from their stash and made them all very scrappy. Remember, this is your quilt. Make it unique to you. Don't be afraid to experiment with colors. There is no right or wrong way to do it. Just your way!

Most of the blocks in this quilt have half-square triangles (HST). I wrote in my general instructions that there are many ways to make them. Most quilters like to cut the squares, draw a line down the center and sew 1/4" on each side of the line. Then trim to the size listed. That method is fine. I don't like taking the time to draw the line so I just cut them in half diagonally with the pair of fabrics right sides together so they are ready to sew. Sewing along a bias edge is not hard. You just have to make sure you don't stretch your seams as you sew. Just let the machine do the work. Since the squares are overcoat (cut a little large than needed) you can still trim them down to the size required.

I'm looking forward to seeing everyone's blocks and the fabrics you pick. Quilter's are so creative. Also don't feel obligated to sew the quilt exactly like I did. Of course the on-point setting has to be unless you want tilted blocks!

If you haven't gotten a chance to sign up yet, go to: National Quilter's Circle Baskets and Blooms Challenge.


Just to add a little extra to this post, I will be giving away my 1/4" seam guide to the first 10 that respond to this blog. If you already have one please allow other quilters get a chance to get one. Then after 10 responses you can post a comment. I will also draw a name for a chance to win my cutting corners template set. Be sure to leave an email address for me to contact you. This is for the U.S. quilters only since shipping overseas is so expensive, even for a small item (sorry).

Thank you for reading and remember: Always do what you love and love what you do. Toby Lischko

Monday, December 23, 2019

Eight Days of Chanukah specials



I can't believe the last blog I wrote was in March! Every year I make a resolution to write in my blog at least once a month if not more and every year I start off great but by March or April I start to wain. Usually because I start getting really busy. I would love to write about the projects I am currently working on but many times I am unable to share them with you because they are projects for a company that I can't share until they come out which might be 6 months down the road!

I know I will make this resolution again and really try to keep it but again, I will probably get busy and lose track of time.

I am writing this message not only to wish all of my friends a wonderful holiday season and happy new year but also to tell you about my 8 days of Chanukah sale. Many businesses do a 12 days of Christmas sale but because Chanukah falls on top of Christmas this year I decided to do something a little different.

When I was a child my parents would give me a present each night of Chanukah. For the first 7 nights it was usually a small gift such as a box of crayons, socks, coloring books and other small things that I would use. The last night we would get a big gift (well not necessarily a BIG gift) of something that we really wanted. I continued that tradition with my own children.

So, each day of Chanukah I will be offering a special on some of my products on my website. It might be patterns, templates or certain fabric. I will be mailing out my newsletter to announce what is on sale for that day so be sure to go to my website to sign up for my newsletter.

The first special starts tonight at midnight and goes until tomorrow night at midnight. I will be offering all of my in stock templates at 40% off! All you have to do is write "templates" in the coupon box for the discount when checking out.

This would be a great time to get those templates that go with either of my classes; Clever Curves in Bluprint or Kaleidostars at iQuilt. Also if you order any of my Kaleidostars templates you will get my book Kaleidostars for free!


I also want to mention that I will be starting a new Block of the Month at the end of January. This won't be a fussy cut block. It is based on my Soldier's Quilt pattern. The original was made especially for a fabric collection from Washington Street Studio called Soldier's Quilt and the size was for a Civil War cot so it was long and skinny. This quilt is bigger but has the same blocks in it (just more of each). This quilt features a Washington Street Studio fabric collection called Wildflower Woods designed by Evonne Cook. The blocks are 9" and the finished size of the quilt is 65" x 87".

The program is 8 months. The first 7 months you will be making 5 of each of the blocks (there are 7 same blocks and 35 total blocks) each month. The cost is $25 per month (plus shipping) for the first 7 months and $40 (plus shipping) for the last month for the finishing kit which includes the sashing, border and binding. Your kit will start with a notebook to put all of the instructions in. The instructions and fabrics will come in a notebook sleeve to keep everything organized. 

The instructions will also have a cutting chart, to make the best use of your fabrics, and detailed written instructions. I will also be doing a blog on the instructions for tips on different ways to make your blocks.

Here is the first block: The photo of the fabrics doesn't do it justice. They are so much prettier in person.

There are a limited number of kits available so if you are interested don't wait too long to sign up for the first month's installment. Soldier Quilt Block of the Month.

Well I better get sewing. I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season. Watch for my newsletter for specials all this week and feel free to share that and this blog with all your quilting friends.

As always; do what you love and love what you do. Thanks for reading. Toby Lischko

Monday, March 11, 2019


It seems that since the first of the year, I am one step behind! For the February Island Batik Ambassador challenge we were to make a mini. I did start it in February with the purpose of finishing it in February! Well, I came close.

I have made many minis. I went through a period in late 1996-97 making minis because I never could seem to finish larger quilts. I would make quilt tops but quilting them seemed daunting on my domestic machine. I hadn't gotten my longarm yet. Making minis was great because I could finish the top in a short time and quilt and bind it in record time!

Here are some of the minis that I made:

Pennsylvania Star
Pattern and templates available on my website. (Click on link above.)
The first quilt I entered in the Miniatures from the Heart contest in the Miniature Quilt magazine (which is no longer in print). It won a Innovative quilting prize and the Glorified Nine Patch won a first place ribbon in a local quilt show. (The later is one that I teach a lot to quilt guilds.)


For this challenge I had lots of small fabric strips left over from the Spring Breeze quilt that I made. (Pattern is available on my website, click on link under image.)
Here are the scrap strips leftover from that quilt.

I was thinking since the strips were all about the same size (1") I would do a log cabin block. I have a favorite curved log cabin block that I have used in quite a few patterns and I miniaturized it down to a 2-1/2" finished block in my EQ8 program. Then I printed the paper pieced blocks on freezer paper. Since the block was so small I could print multiple blocks on one page. On a log cabin if you make the strips smaller on one side it creates a curve illusion.

Here are some full size quilt I made (patterns available, click on links under image) with the same curved log cabin block.

Here is what the block looked like after I finished it.

Here is what the back looks like. I trimmed the seams to 1/8" since it was so small.

After finishing 16 blocks (I wanted to get it done so I didn't want to make too many blocks) I played with different settings.

Here is the setting I decided to go with.

I thought how do I quilt it? I decided to focus on the curves so I quilted circles. That is not easy on a quilt as small as this! I started with a small circle from the bottom of a pill bottle and then used the edge of my machine foot to follow it for the concentric circles. Sometimes I had to sew two stitches at a time and move the quilt! I quilted it with a light blue Aurifil thread.

I wanted to make the binding scrappy but luckily one of the fabrics I used in the quilt had multiple colors and worked perfectly! For miniature quilts I cut the binding at 1-1/8" and use a single fold. Before I sew it on I press it in half (wrong sides together) and then press the edges to the center for my 1/4" seams. This makes a perfect 1/4" binding.

I hope you enjoyed the process of making my mini. I had fun. My husband helped me name it Bullseye! If you think you would like a pattern of it, please let me know. I will add it to the list of patterns that I have to write.


Congrats to Sharon Aurora who won a fat 1/8th bundle of Island Batik fabrics. Leave a comment and you will be entered into a drawing for a  fat 1/8th bundle of Island Batik fabrics. Be sure to leave your contact information so I can reach you if you won.

As always: Do what you love and love what you do. Thanks for reading and feel free to forward and send to your quilting friends.

Restrictions: One (1) redemption per email address 3/02/2019 12:01AM Mountain Time through 3/13/2018 11:59PM Mountain Time. Subscribers who select a monthly plan will get their first three months at 50% off - USD $3.99/ month. After first three months they will renew at USD $7.99. Subscribers who select an annual plan will be charged USD $79.99 for one year. Monthly subscribers will receive one own forever class coupon immediately upon subscription. Annual subscribers will receive three own forever class coupons immediately upon subscription. Coupons will be sent at the start of each quarter amounting to 12 coupons in total. own forever class coupons expire at the end of each quarter. Each class coupon can be redeemed for any one class on with the exception of classes produced by The Great Courses. Offer cannot be combined with other offers, and is not redeemable for cash. Class coupons are only available for subscribers of a Bluprint paid membership. Current or cancelled Bluprint customers are not eligible for this offer. This offer does not include a free trial. Discount cannot be combined with other offers or promotional codes and is not redeemable for cash. Free shipping is only available for orders shipped within the US. Subject to additional terms. Bluprint may end or alter this offer at their discretion. 

  Ultimate Quilt Package - Free Quilt Kit + 12 FREE Own-Forever Classes With Annual Bluprint Subscription through 3/13/19 at One (1) redemption per email address 3/02/2019 12:01AM Mountain Time through 3/13/2018 11:59PM Mountain Time. Instructions for redeeming your kit will be sent via email upon purchase of the Ultimate Quilt Package. Free kit must be redeemed on or before 4/16/2019 at 11:59PM Mountain Time and unredeemed kits cannot be redeemed for any other product or value. While supplies last. Credit/debit card required. Offer cannot be combined with other offers, and is not redeemable for cash. Offer is only available for new annual subscribers of a Bluprint paid membership, which begins immediately upon sign-up. Offer is only available in the U.S. Free shipping is only available in the U.S. No free trial is available with this special offer. You can cancel at any time, but your annual subscription will remain active for the full year and prorated refunds will not be offered. Offer cannot be combined with other offers, and is not redeemable for cash. Current Craftsy Unlimited and current Bluprint customers are not eligible for this offer. Subject to additional terms. Bluprint and Craftsy may end or alter this offer at their discretion.

Sunday, February 17, 2019



Don't sew when you are tired!

I was recently diagnosed with Fibromyagia. Those who are not familiar with the disease, some of the symptoms are fatigue and Fibro-Fog. You know what the first one means, the second symptom means what it sounds like. I am constantly in a fog. I forget things easily (walk into a room and forget what I went there for, well some of that can be due to age!), I get easily distracted, I forget what someone tells me seconds after they tell me, and it is difficult to concentrate. I know some of you will tell me that you have those too if you are over 65! 

The other symptom (fatigue) causes me to be tired all the time. I can fall asleep anywhere; in front of my computer, my sewing machine, and the tv. I could sleep 12 hours and still be tired. There are other symptoms but they are being somewhat controlled with medication.

I started the day getting up early for an eye appointment. I had planned when I got home to work on a couple new versions of block 2. I had felt tired even when I got up so I knew it was going to be a bad day. Well, when I got home I sat on the couch catching up on emails and I fell asleep. I woke up in time to eat lunch and my husband had some things to do outside so I sat down in front of the tv and fell asleep again! Well this went on all afternoon. Finally I got a chance to sew after dinner.

I will proceed to show you what happened when I tried to sew this block together. I don't mind telling you that I make mistakes when I quilt but these were doozies! 


I don't have to stress how important it is to have an accurate 1/4" seam allowance when piecing with the templates. Use your best method for getting a consistent 1/4". I talked about how I do it in earlier blogs but just in case you haven't seen it, you can check out my Youtube video. You can purchase my Accurate 1/4" Seam guide here: Seam guide.

When you cut out the pieces, with the templates, make sure you place the correct fabric on top and make sure that the templates are face up. It helps to write the letter of the template and number of the block on the top of the templates.

Lay three of the pieces (right or left side) in the block looking at the image of the block in the instructions. Template B looks like the two opposite sides are the same size but they are actually slightly different. Also A and C are similar, but one is slightly bigger than the other, so be sure to keep them separate with the correct labeled template.
It is easy to get them mixed up, but when you put them next to A or C you will see that the edges do not line up. Here is what I did. 

I looked at it and didn't think it seemed right but the edges of B line up with the edges of A and C so I figured it had to be right. I wanted you to see what it looks like if B is in the wrong direction. Remember, this is suppose to make a right triangle (a triangle with a 90ยบ angle).

So I thought maybe if I sew them together it will look right. So I sewed the 3 pieces together and laid them on the edge of my table. I noticed that the seam dipped at the point but again I thought, maybe sewing the two halves together will fix that. It made a triangle!

So I sewed the two halves together. I knew it definitely didn't look right. It wasn't even square! So I tried to figure out what I did wrong. (I got really friendly with "Jack".)

As I said, my brain is constantly in a fog so, I really couldn't figure out what I was doing wrong. I was looking at the image of the block (was I seeing it correctly?) and my pieces and I was getting very frustrated! So my last resort was to get out the paper pieced section and place my pieces on top of it. The light bulb went on! I was placing the B template backwards! That's why the edges still matched.

To make sure that I was piecing it correctly from this point forward, I folded down A on top of B, pinned and sewed them together.

I laid it back onto the paper and then folded it down over C, pinned and sewed them together.

I repeated with the other half.

Then I could chain stitch the other sections to make it go faster. Make sure you piece from A to C pressing to C on the right side and from C to A pressing to A on the left side.

Here are some images for sewing the pieces together and where to match the tops, bottoms, and seams. The templates are made so that there is very little guessing when laying the pieces together. When matching seams I like to pull one side back to see if they match and then I pin on two sides.




Remember, the A piece is on the OUTSIDE of the block.



I know they look similar but the A piece is skinnier than the C piece in this block. Isn't it amazing how everything works together when you put the pieces in the right direction! Here is the finished block.

Of course I had to fussy cut it. Not sure how much I like it. It will look better on-point.

Block 3 is very similar to block 1. The C template is a little skinnier and longer than the A template. Be sure to keep them separate and labeled. Here are some tips when piecing to check to see if you are placing the patches together correctly and your 1/4" seam is accurate.

Check your edges after you sew. They should be straight.

And you should have a nice 1/4" seam allowance at the point.

Here is one quarter of the block. A is on the top and left side. C is in the center. You can see that the C on this block is very close in size to the A but it is longer and skinnier.

Here is my finished second version of block 3. I used some of my own dyed fabrics that I dyed over 20 years ago!

I haven't fussy cut it yet. But will post it when I do.


Congratulations to Robin Boehler! She won a batik bundle for leaving a comment. She said "Thank you Toby for sharing your design and your expertise." I will be giving away another bundle of batiks, so be sure to leave a comment and some way of contacting you (your email would be best). If you don't and I draw your name you will miss out on a prize. 

I hope you get a chance to check out my website. I always have great deals on fabrics and I have some new kits and patterns. I will be posting the batiks used in my original design if there are any left over after this last shipment. I appreciate that you all have been so patient in getting the kits. They should all go out this week. Also if you belong to a quilt guild, I love to travel and teach. Feel free to pass on my information to your program chairperson.

As always: Do what you love and love what you do.