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Monday, December 13, 2010

Free web patterns

I thought I would just do a quick update of some of my free web patterns as free Christmas/Holiday gifts to all of my wonderful blog followers (but feel free to share with friends). There is nothing better than free gifts!
Just click on the quilt name and it will take you to the free pattern. They are all pdf downloads.

There is
which uses 10" squares (also called Layer Cakes or Treats)
by Timeless Treasures. It is made with their wonderful
Tonga batiks. It is a fast easy quilt that you can use my Cutting Corners template set to make it even easier.

Next is
A beautiful black/white/tan collection with Benartex. The fabric
was designed by Michele D'Amore, who does wonderful
fabric designs for quilts and home decor. It is another easy fast
quilt made with different size Snowball blocks. A perfect quilt for
using my Cutting Corners templates again.
(Do you think I'm
pushing my templates???)

 I love working with Hoffman oriental prints so
was designed with this wonderful Hanami collection.
Another fast quilt that can use my Cutting Corners
templates for making those triangle corners fast and easy.
(I keep finding lots of ways to use those dang templates!)

I also have some new designs coming out in some of the magazines.
Civil War Ladies sampler is just hitting the newstands. It is featured in Fons & Porters Love of Quilting and will be in three issues. A great "Block of the Month" quilt for groups that like to do that.

I will be carrying the kits for the quilt.
Stay tuned for more new publications, quilt kits, and free web patterns coming out in 2011.
I am having a huge blowout sale on my website, Gateway Quilts & Stuff. I'm trying to clear out some of my inventory to make room for new (and make taking inventory easier for tax time!) I will have quilt kits available for the AraBella and Pointing the Way quilts after the first of the year when the fabrics come in. I am also donating 10% of all of my December sales to the Semper Fi Fund. An organization that helps Marine families (my husband is a Marine). Semper Fi Fund  My way of thanking the troops.
As always, do what you love and love what you do.  Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone. Toby

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Winners! (and other settings)

You guys are really keeping me on my toes! I have had lots of wonderful comments about my block and I hope you got a chance to read yesterday's blog about my pinning technique and sewing curves. I'd love to hear from any of you when you try my technique and what you think of curves afterwards.

Now to the winners. I have had such a good response I decided to pick four winners. Two will win a copy of the magazine and two will win my templates (one the 6" set and the other the 8" set). They will get to choose in the order that they contact me at So the first one to contact me will get to pick which they want and so forth. The templates do come with a free pattern. So.... here are the winners:

Congratulations to:

Becky, the Quilting Booklady
Donna Joy
Kathy Schwartz

You need to send me your email and mailing address and whether you want the magazine or templates and which size. If someone contacts me and chooses the same thing I will let you know so you can choose something else (or get what remains).

I promised other settings so here they are.

Table runner with 6" templates

Many color possibilities

Alternate block setting

Use your imagination! So many design possibilities! I would love to see what some of you come up with so send lots of photos. I can post them to my blog and website.

Join me starting November 15 at my website for the Holiday Fabshop Hop. I will be having a huge fabric sale. All fabrics including new collections will be $7 or less a yard. I will also have a new quilt kit with a wonderful black/white collection called Habitat. The pattern is free on their website Very easy pattern called Arabella. You might want to even try out my Cutting Corners template set for making those Snowball blocks! Also check out my previous blogs for information and the constructions of my quilt retreat center St. Louis Star Inn. Hope to see some of you there!

That's all for today. Remember, always do what you love and love what you do. Toby

Monday, November 8, 2010

Sewing curves

I think I sewed my first curved block in 1995. It was a New York Beauty block. (Still one of my most favorite blocks.) I had sewn clothes most of my life and remember sewing in sleeves. Lots of pins! I felt that these curves were much easier and I worked on using as few pins as I could. Some things frustrated me while working on them. The edges wouldn't stay together at the beginning and end so the finished edges were not straight. I would somehow end up with more fabric on top at the end of the piece and it would overlap the end. Pleats were the most frustrating things!

The more I worked on curves the better I got at it and the more ways I found to make them look good every time.The first thing I worked on was getting the beginning and ending edges to stay together while I was sewing. I played with pinning techniques and came up with this one. The trick is to  use super fine pins (0.4mm) and "weave" them at each end. That is after you match the centers of the sections. This keeps the ends secured until you have sewn through them. I use only 3 pins, one in the middle and one on each end and then add one more pin.

This one I place perpendicular to the pin on the end. This is the pin that is used to stabilize the edges even more as I am sewing towards the end. When sewing curves I always have the concave piece on top. Different teachers will tell you they prefer the convex piece on top but I find that the concave piece (inny curve) is the one that is the most flexible and the one that usually gets pleats in it, so if I continually manipulate that one then I can avoid those pesky pleats!

The other trick to sewing curves is a consistent 1/4" seam. I use a small piece of Dr. Scholl's Molefoam Foot Pads to set my 1/4" seam and make sure that the raw edges always touch the molefoam. I also set my needle to the furthest right position my machine will allow so I can always see the edges of the fabric.

Stitching slowly is the key. I always take my time when sewing curves. Start by taking a couple of stitches at the beginning of the seam. Leave the needle in the down position and grab the center pin holding the pieces together. Give the fabric a slight tug, just enough to manipulate the fabric edges to be together. You are not stretching the fabrics, but easing the top concave curve to meet the bottom convex curve. Stitch slowly, constantly checking the edges and keeping a slight tension on the fabric at the center. Once you get to the center, stop with your needle down and grab the pin at the end of the block. Give it a slight tug as you did in the center and again manipulate the top fabric to meet the bottom fabric.

Continue stitching until your sewing foot gets close to the pin that is pointing to the foot. Place your finger on the head of the pin, continue slowly sewing and with your finger holding down the pin, it will slowly come out of the fabric as you are sewing. I use my left hand to lightly hold on to the final pin making sure that the edge of the fabric continues to touch the molefoam. Voila! A perfect, no fuss curve. Now this will work with any type of curve. The trick is the more gentle the curve the easier it is to piece. If the curve is tighter, as in drunkard's paths, you do need to make small clips in the concave curve about 1/4" to 3/8" apart. 

Sorry I don't have photos of the sewing technique but it is hard to sew and take photos at the same time. I would have to get my husband to take pictures for me while I'm sewing and he is not that good with a camera (or taking instructions)! At some point I hope to get a friend to help with a YouTube video so I can do a better demonstration.

I hope this helps. The best way to learn it is to do it while you are reading the descriptions. I am a "learn by doing" person. I can read instructions until the sun comes down, but until I do it, I won't learn it. If you belong to a guild, consider having me come teach. I have a wide variety of curved piecing workshops.

You still have one more day to leave a comment to be in the drawing for a copy of the magazine or templates. I will draw names on Wednesday. I will pick 2 winners. The first one to respond will get to choose either the magazine or my templates and the second one will get the prize that was not chosen.

Come back tomorrow and I will give other setting options for this block, including a table runner.

Until next time, always do what you love and love what you do. Toby

Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks blog tour

Welcome to all who are joining the Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks blog tour! I'd like to give you a little background information about me and what went into designing the Nouveau Riche block in volume 2 of Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks.

Most people steer clear of curved blocks but I am drawn to them. I love the movement they create on a quilt and all of the design possibilities. I teach workshops on taking the fear out of curve piecing and I can honestly say that not one person has left the class without feeling confident about sewing curves!

This block was inspired by a collection of fabrics from Hoffman called Nouveau Riche (image on right). I love designing with their fabrics as they always seem to get my creative juices flowing. I have done a lot of designs using Rob Peter to Pay Paul blocks (image on left) and I wanted to do something new with curves. I have heard many people describe this quilt as beads, goblets, ornaments, and even Easter eggs so it can be made for many occasions. I have templates in both 6" (four blocks create the 12" block) or 8". There is a free webpattern on Hoffman's website and the templates are available at

Come back tomorrow and I will show you my unique pinning technique for sewing curves.
Don't forget to leave a comment to be eligible for a drawing of a free copy of the magazine or the template size of your choice! Thank you for visiting.

Remember, always do what you love and love what you do. Toby

Monday, November 1, 2010

Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks

Just a real quick note. The new collector's edition of Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks volume 2 will be on the newstands soon and I have a block in it! It is even on the cover! You can see more information at Quiltmaker's website.

My block is the curved one in black
and cream hoffman batiks. It is based on my quilt Nouveau Riche
for Hoffman's website. The original block was 8" and I combined four 6" blocks to create a 12" block. It is a soft gentle curve easy to piece.

I carry the templates for both the 8" and the 6" blocks on my website.  My blog tour date is Nov. 8. So come back on the 8th, leave a comment and be eligible for a free magazine or template of your choice. You can also be eligible for prizes from Quiltmaker if you start at their website and complete the week long blog tour.

Hope to see you back here on the 8th. Remember, always do what you love and love what you do. Toby

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Grand opening approaching

I don't know where the time goes! It's almost 3 months since my last post.

My traveling days are over for the year. I've been to some wonderful guilds in Oklahoma, Illinois, Tennessee, and Kansas. The guild in Witchita has over 700 members! They put on a huge show every two years with over 700 quilts. A show that is not to be missed if you live within driving distance. I stayed at a beautiful bed and breakfast in Antioch, Illinois; an old Victorian home. My other stays have been with the best quilters and their families. I have had such wonderful experiences meeting quilters from the midwest and beyond. No matter where I go, I have seen unbelieveable talent and generosity. It amazes me how generous even the smallest guild can be when it comes to donating their time and quilts to worthwhile causes.

I'm putting the finishing touches on my quilt retreat center in Beaufort, Missouri. We are still trying to sell our house so we can move in there. My husband and I are getting anxious about moving and would love to be in our new home. As it is now, I have to drive out there (about 25 miles) a few days a week to get fabric organized and pictures hung. On top of that I also had to design and make quilts for Timeless Treasures, RJR, and Benartex. I have 6 quilts that I have to get done before Houston market! I'm lucky to have Dolores Keaton, to help me make quilts. I can always count on her to get something done quickly and accurately!

Studio classroom with 8 foot tables

One of my two cutting/ironing stations

Bedroom on first floor.
I have two new free web patterns coming out. One for Timeless Treasures with their wonderful collection of Tonga batiks, and the other for Benartex with a fun black and white collection called Habitat. Not sure when they will be on their websites but it should be soon.

Benartex Habitat

Timeless Treasures Tonga Batiks

Still working on patterns for my Cutting Corners templates. Hopefully in the next couple of weeks I will post photos of how to use it with my two free web patterns. I will also have two free patterns to make with the leftover half-square triangles from making the quilts.

Well, that's all for now. More later.

Remember, always do what you love and love what you do! Toby

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Cutting Corners

I  shouldn't go so long before postings. Time just gets away from me.

I went to spring quilt market in Minneapolis in May, to introduce my new template set "Cutting Corners". I think they were well received. Hopefully those shops that bought them will find out how versitile they are and want more. I plan to show you what a great template set they are and hope you tell your friends.

I developed them because I hate (well that is such a strong word) drawing lines on the backs of squares for making such blocks as Snowball, Flying Geese, and Square-in-a-Square. It just seems like such a waste of time to me. So I designed a tool for eliminating the need to draw the line. You simply line up the square on the corner, "cut the corners" and sew 1/4" seam allowance. To whet your whistle I am showing how they work for Snowball blocks.
Step 1. Line up small square on the corner of the larger square. Align the triangle ruler on the small square.

Step 2. Trim corner off with your rotary cutter.

Step 3. Sew with a 1/4" seam allowance.

Step 4. Press to triangle. Perfect corner! No time wasted drawing the line on the back of the small square. (You have to trim anyway after you sew.)

That was only one use for the templates (there is also a square template). Stay tuned for further uses.

I am participating in a Jelly Roll sampler quilt on Konda Luckau's blog. You can still participate even though I am block number 9. Just go to her blog:  Moose on the Porch Quilts. You can use my Cutting Corners templates for the block if you want to.

Here are some test blocks I have started with Cutting Corners. The first one is done with 3 1/2" rectangles and the second one is done with 2 1/2" Jelly Roll light and dark strips cut into rectangles (it is not sewn yet). I will have my first pattern specifically designed for use with the template set based on this block hopefully by the end of July. So watch for it on my website. It can be used with Jelly Rolls.

Until the end of the month of June, if you purchase my Cutting Corners template set, you will get a free pattern. You get to pick from Mosaic Magic or Royal Gems. Both you can use the templates with instead of drawing the line on the backs of the squares.

Gotta go. I'll be in Kansas for the next week teaching.
Remember, always do what you love and love what you do.

Monday, May 3, 2010

It's getting closer to being done!

I was out of town for 10 days. The first 5 days I taught at a wonderful show in Providence, Rhode Island, Machine Quilter's Expo. It's getting to be one of the biggest machine quilter's show in the US. What wonderful talent there! I even got the honor of putting a ribbon on one of the quilter's quilts as a teacher's choice. Her name is Janet Stone. She made the most wonderful alphabet quilt. I thought I took a picture of it but I guess I didn't. I'll ask her if I can post it on the blog.

The next 5 days I spent in Texas. Two different guilds, one in Kerrville and the other in New Braunfels. Both guilds were  fantastic. Everyone was so nice. It's true what they say about southern hospitality!

I got to test two of my newest template sets; Geese on the Loose and Glorified nine-patch. Both of them worked great and everyone enjoyed using them. They are now posted on my website along with my new Chinese New Year templates. If you purchase them this month, you will get the pattern free.

My poor husband Mike says that he didn't mind me being gone that long, but I could tell he was getting crabby by the 6th or 7th day when I would talk to him. I was looking forward to going home and so was he. While I was gone our builders were working on the studio and I was anxious to see what they had done.

After I got back, my family had a special celebration for my mom and dad. My sister decided to give them a 175th birthday party. He turns 90 this year and she turned 85. Most of the family was able to join us along with their closest friends. It was very nice and they really enjoyed themselves. Don't they look good for their age? Happily married for 62 years!

I finally got to visit the new studio to see what was done. The floors were done, the walls mended and painted, new doors were in, and all the lights were up. It looked fantastic!

That was on Monday. I spoke to him on Friday and he said it was all cleaned up, no machinery and ready for stuff to be moved in. That will be the big job. I have no idea where to put things to make it look like a quilt shop/classroom. I'll have to get some of my friends out to there to help me. All that is left is to put in a bathroom (I'm putting in a environmental toilet), cabinets, and cutting surfaces. I'm going to have lots of fun shopping for tables, chairs, shelves, linens, and new furniture for the house. I haven't bought new furniture for myself in years! Now to find the time to do it all. I'm having my first guests July 9 and 10 so I still have a lot to do and even though it sounds like plenty of time, I will be out of town teaching for 11 days this month and 15 days in June.

Check out my newest quilts; Waving Old Glory in Fons & Porter's Easy Quilts and Meadow Brook in Fons & Porter's Love of Quilting. Both are from RJR collections with the same name. I do have kits for the Meadow Brook quilt, twin and queen sizes on my website. F&P carry the lap size kit.

I also have two new free holiday patterns on Hoffman's website. Yule Wrap and Wrap Stars. Yule wrap is a table topper or tree skirt and Wrap Stars a table runner and placemats.

Well, I've gone on long enough. 'Til next time. Always do what you love and love what you do. Toby

Saturday, April 3, 2010


I'm the type of person that doesn't get excited easily. Things don't really hit me until I am in the moment. When my husband and I were waiting to close on our new house; the one I will be running a quilt retreat from, I didn't want to get too excited incase something happened and we couldn't get it. Now that we have closed on the house, it still didn't seem real until Thursday, when we went out to look at what our builder has been doing to my new studio. It then hit me! It is really going to happen! He (the builder) has not done a lot of work yet, but he has patched the walls and ceiling and put about 10 coats of paint on both and it really made quite a difference.

The building that my studio/classroom/shop will be in, was at one time a shop room for a high school shop teacher. It has all of the outlets and is wired for big machinery. There is 1500 square feet of open space that is air conditioned and heated above a 5 car garage. I couldn't ask for a more ideal place. It is separate from the house, just across the driveway. Here is the view from the front of the house. The circle above the garage doors will have a St. Louis Star painted over it.

There are three sections to the room. On the left side the ceilings are high. This will be the classroom. I hope to be able to handle up to 24 quilters at a time for large workshops. The house will not be able to host that many, probably 4-8 quilters. Here the builders have finished painting the walls and ceiling and are getting ready to put in new lighting. There are lots of wonderful windows for natural lighting so during the day it will be bright and cheery and at night it will be well lit up.

There is lots of empty wall space I have yet to figure out what to do with. I'm sure I will figure something out. Peg boards on the walls perfect for hanging quilting tools and items for sale.

The middle section has a lower ceiling. The garage door will be replaced with French doors leading out to a loading area so people can bring in their machines and supplies. This is the section where I will be keeping my longarm machine and possibly add another in the future for teaching and renting out. There is a wood burning stove to keep the room warm in the winter time.

 There will be a kitchen area here and a bathroom somewhere on this end of the room. So, you can see there is a lot of work to be done.But it is very exciting for me and now it is all too real! Especially since I will be writing the checks to the builder! 

 This is the other side of the kitchen area. There will be a wall with a door covering the steps. Can't wait to se what the room will look like with the new flooring! Stay tuned for constant updates.
Now to my current projects. I have three new web patterns currently posted. Two of them are on Hoffman Fabrics website. One called Royal Mendhi and the other called Keiko's Garden cover and Window's pattern. The third one is on Timeless Treasures website called Florence. (Click on links to get to the patterns.) I will be carrying the fabric for all three kits in June so go ahead and download the patterns and come back later for the fabric if you can not find it in your LQS.

Well, gotta go. I will be leaving for Providence, RI on April 11 and be gone for 10 days (Texas is also in the trip) so I have lots of stuff to get ready to pack and ship.

Remember: Always do what you love and love what you do. Toby

Thursday, March 25, 2010

What's new

Okay, I know, I haven't posted anything in a long time. I've attempted twice to write something but something else always seems more important at the time.

        Well, a lot has happened since my last post. I've had numerous quilts published in McCalls Quilting, McCalls Quick Quilts, The Quilter, Quilt, Quick Quilts, and Quilt Almanac! Just a few photos. I do have the kits for all three quilts shown here, plus more.
I also have some new free web patterns. Florence on Timeless Treasures website and Royal Mendhi Crystals on Hoffman's website. I do not have the fabric yet for the kits but will be carrying them in a few months. More free patterns to come on Hoffman's website.

The biggest news of all is that my St. Louis Star Inn is finally becoming a reality. My builder will be working on my studio next month and promises to have everything done by the end of May. I have just posted information regarding fees, workshops and other information on my website Just check under Quilt Retreat Center.

I'll post more information as I get time and catch you up on what I'm doing. Also don't miss my HUGE birthday sale on my website, March 31. One day only everything will be 40% off with a $20 minimum purchase (before the 40% is applied). Your 40% off will be refunded after your purchase. Be sure to check it out.