Square Dance Quilt

This next quilt is one of my favorite quilts I have ever done!  It is the Square Dance quilt that I made using my own blocks and those of my group in Stash Bee, Hive 12.

Quilt ready to longarm

I love loading a fresh quilt onto the machine because each quilt is so full of potential.

Quilting feathers

Then, as I quilt, the design begins to show itself.  I used grey thread to make the feathers in the grey section.

geometric quilting

Then I switched to aqua thread for the star centers.  I liked the contrast between the feathers and the angular, geometric design in the stars.

quilt back

One afternoon, as I was under the machine to double-check the tension, the sunlight was reflecting off my machine onto the back of the quilt making a lovely design.

APQS longarm

On a custom quilt like this that took 25-30 hours to quilt, seeing the end of the quilt is a welcome sight!

custom quilting

This photo was immediately after I pulled the quilt off my machine.  I love how this quilting turned out!

Square Dance Quilt

I entered the large Square Dance Quilt (8″ blocks) into the North Carolina State fair, and earned 2nd place in the Group category.  My mini square dance quilt is the same block design, but with 3″ blocks and a small border.  It earned 2nd place in the Miniature Category at the Quilting in the Pines Quilt Show, and the Floral Fantasy Quilt Show.  It’s amazing how different the same design can look with different quilting, colors, sizes, and borders!

Quilt back

One last shot of the back of the quilt.  I’m so happy I used a solid grey for the majority of the backing because it really shows off all the custom quilting I did.  I also like how the extra blocks on the back turned out.  I was a little afraid to add them at first because of how thick the seams would be in that area, but I think it was worth the risk.  That row adds a lot of fun to the back of this quilt.  This is one quilt that I am going to enjoy!

If you are planning on making or giving a quilt in time for Christmas, and need it quilted, I still have time to do a few more quilts before Christmas.  Contact me so that we can get started!

North Carolina State Fair 2014

Quilt Show season is over for me this year.  I finished off entering a few things at the North Carolina State Fair, and was fortunate to earn a few more ribbons!

The first quilt is my Square Dance quilt.  The paper piecing template is available on Craftsy currently.  I’m working on a pattern, but it’s slow going!  I completed this quilt with the help of the Stash Bee, and decided to custom quilt it and go all out.  I really love how this quilt turned out!  It earned 2nd place in the Group category.

Stash Bee Square Dance

The next quilt is the “Spinnaker Quilt“.  It was actually my dad’s Christmas present last year, and I borrowed it to enter it in the fair.  It took 2nd place in the New Entrant category.  I really love this quilt, but this is probably the only show I will enter it in because it is such a simple design that I think it would get overlooked.

Spinnaker Quilt

Lastly, my Cargo Duffle earned 3rd place in the Other category.  I’m happy to have this bag home so that I can start to use it!

Cargo Duffle

Every show is a new and good experience,  but the North Carolina State Fair is kind of a letdown as far as the quilt display goes.  They have a lot of beautiful quilts that are entered every year, but they are shoved in a corner that is probably 50×10 feet and have to share that space with the crochet, knitting, and weaving entries.  Only the 1st place quilts gets to be displayed, and the full quilt wasn’t showing for most – because there just isn’t space.  The rest of the quilts get hung and a volunteer scrolls through the quilts throughout the day if there are people standing there watching.  I wish there was a better way to display all the beautiful work that the quilters (and crocheters, knitters, and weavers) of the state do and enter in the fair.  The photo below shows how the majority of the quilts are hung.

Quilt display at NC State Fair

Tarheel Quilters Guild Floral Fantasy Show 2014

The Cape Fear Botanical Gardens hosted their annual fall Heritage Festival the first weekend in October.  In conjunction with the Heritage Festival, the Tarheel Quilters Guild of Fayetteville, NC held their “Floral Fantasy” Quilt Show at the gardens.

I entered a few of the pieces that I have long arm quilted, and was fortunate to earn a few ribbons!

My Blue and Brown Pandora’s Box earned 3rd place in the crib/lap quilt category.

Blue and Brown Pandora's Box at Floral Fantasy Show

My miniature quilt, Square Dance Mini, once again took 2nd place in the Miniature quilt category.  I need a quilt with smaller pieces next year!  Although, I still love this quilt and will happily hang it on my wall soon.

Square Dance Mini at Floral Fantasy Quilt Show

I also entered my Cargo Duffle, a free pattern from Noodlehead. I did long arm the fabric, then cut out the fabric to make the quilt. Longarming is not limited to quilts!!  This is another piece that I will be very happy to have back at home 🙂

Cargo Duffle at Floral Fantasy Quilt Show

I am still available to quilt for you if you want it complete by Christmas!  Contact me if you have a quilt (or more) so we can get the process started.  You can email me or call me.  The easiest way for us to begin is if you have the size of the quilt in inches (length and height), and if you send a picture of the top so that we can both look at it while we talk.

– Heather



Quilting in the Pines Show 2014

This weekend was the biannual Quilting in the Pines Quilt Show put on by the Sandhills Quilt Guild.  They hold the show every other year in the historic 1917 Fair Barn in Pinehurst, North Carolina.

I entered a few of my quilts, and had the good fortune of winning a couple prizes!

I earned second place in the Miniature Category for my “Mini Square Dance Quilt“.

Square Dance Mini

There was a good assortment of miniature quilts this year, probably because they have been very popular in the last year or so and more and more designers are releasing mini patterns for sale.

Mini Quilts

I also won third place in the “First Judged Quilt” category for my Blue and Brown Pandora’s Quilt.  This was one of my earlier quilts when I got my long arm, so I was very pleased to win an award for it 🙂

Blue and Brown Pandora's Box

The guild also made a quilt cozy for a golf cart.  It was very appropriate because the Southern Pines and Pinehurst area are known for golfing.

Golf Cart Quilt Cozy

Overall it was a lovely show, in a great location, and I was honored to be recognized for my quilting.

– Heather

Square Dance Mini Quilt

This is the miniature quilt version of my Square Dance quilt pattern (8 inch finished version currently available on Craftsy).  I’m working on expanding the sizes available, and these blocks are 2.5 inches finished.

Paper pieced mini quilt

Below is a closeup of the Square Dance mini quilt top prior to quilting.

Paper Pieced Square Dance

This quilt measures 17″ by 20″, so it actually fit on my machine between the rollers.  It required no advancing to finish.  You may think that long arm machine quilting is only for your biggest quilts, but I can do any size.  If you send several small projects at the same time and use the same backing, machine quilting can be worth it even for small projects.

Machine Quilting

Here is a closeup of the design – I used the Bread Basket panto for the center of the mini quilt and did piano keys in the outside border.

longarm quilting

You can really see the texture on the back.  I used one leftover block and centered it with tan linen.  I really love how the linen as the backing turned out, and it was no issue to quilt.

Breadbasket Quilting

Here is another angle showing the quilting a little more.

Square Dance Mini Quilt

Please let me know if I can assist you to finish your quilt top of any size – even if it is only 17″x 20″ like this one!

Also, this is the tutorial to make the blocks used in this quilt.

– Heather


Longarm Machine Quilting Fayetteville, NC

Do you have a quilt ready for long arm machine quilting that you want completed before Christmas?  If you are in the Fayetteville, Southern Pines or Sanford, NC area, I can help you!

The local quilt shop in Fayetteville, NC just sent out their August email specials, and in it they announced that they cannot accept anymore quilts to be quilted in time for Christmas.  That means their turn-around time is about 4 months!

I am local, and live and work the sandhills of North Carolina.  My current turn-around time for edge to edge quilts is two weeks.  Do you have a quilt that you are still working on that will be a Christmas gift?  You can reserve a quilting spot with me, and deliver the quilt top later once it is finished.

It is still possible to have your quilt machine quilted prior to Christmas in Fayetteville, NC.  Contact me to find out how to get started!


Square Dance Quilt Block Tutorial

If you are interested in learning and practicing paper piecing, the Square Dance Quilt Block is a great place to begin.  This tutorial demonstrates basic paper piecing to create a block that by itself is not that special, but when combined to create a quilt, makes dynamic secondary designs.  This is very doable for a beginner, or relaxing for someone with a little more experience.  

Square Dance Block Tutorial

History:  When I was researching the history of this block, it was a little bit harder than I anticipated.  It is so similar to the Kaleidoscope block that is very common, or even the tippecanoe block that is less common so I assumed it was a derivative of one of those.  In fact, I considered calling it the Kaleidoscope remix for quite awhile.  Then, I checked in the Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns, and got schooled a little bit.

This block appears to have first appeared in print between 1825-1850 in a book of crib quilts.  It goes by various names, including Square Dance, Starry Night, All around the star, Hummingbird, Dramatic Patch, and Rock Garden.  Four of these blocks combined together is known as the Sacramento.  I chose to use the Square Dance name because I think as you look at the completed quilt, it is the name that makes the most sense.

Supplies:  Sewing Machine, Rotary Mat, Rotary Cutter, Quilting Ruler, Pins, Pattern, Washable Glue stick, Thread, Fabric

Pattern: The pattern is available for download from Craftsy for free during May 2014.

Cutting Instructions: These instructions are to make the paper piecing go faster, and make cutting the fabric from yardage easier. If you have a different method, or are using scraps, feel free to cut as desired.  I will refer to the fabric for the rest of this tutorial by the colors I used in the sample block. Grey: For 1 block, cut a grey piece 13.25 inches by 5 inches. This has no waste, so if you like extra fabric cut it longer than 13.25 inches. Align the corner of your ruler with the bottom corner of the grey fabric. The top edge of the ruler needs to be 2.25 inches in from the top right corner.

Square Dance quilt block tutorial  

The second cut will be as shown below. The top edge of the ruler needs to be 1/2 inch from the top right cut edge. The bottom of the ruler needs to be 5 inches from the bottom right cut edge.

Square Dance quilt block tutorial

Continue cutting using this method for as many grey triangles as you want to cut. The measurements remain the same, but alternate between the top and bottom edge as the long edge.

Square Dance quilt block tutorial

Aqua: For the aqua pieces, you can get two pieces from each 5 inch by 8 inch rectangle. Line the ruler up three inches from the top right edge and 5 inches from the bottom right edge.

Square Dance quilt block tutorial

Then cut…

Square Dance quilt block tutorial

When you finish cutting, for one block, you will have 4 grey triangles and 4 aqua trapezoids.

Square Dance quilt block tutorial

On to the paper piecing! Step one is to glue the first grey triangle into place. I use the washable school glue shown below, but use whatever you are familiar with.

Square Dance quilt block tutorial

Line up the aqua piece (right side down) with the grey piece.

Square Dance quilt block tutorial

Next, I fold the fabric over (using the printed sewing line as the guide) and hold it up to the light to make sure that it will cover the area.

Square Dance quilt block tutorial

This shows the opposite side of the above view.

Square Dance quilt block tutorial

After you check the positioning of the fabric, lay it back down and head to your sewing machine. First, reduce your stitch length. Or, if you are using a super old machine like me, you actually increase the number of stitches per inch. Just depends on the terminology your machine uses 🙂 Sew exactly on the black printed line.

Start sewing at the center intersection (where you can see thread sticking out), and sew until the outside light grey line. I personally like to chain piece these halves. It saves a lot of time to each step in a row, instead of individually. Then again, my sewing machine and iron are at opposite ends of the room so I get more exercise doing it separately.

Square Dance quilt block tutorial

This is what the two halves will look like after pressing.

Square Dance quilt block tutorial

Add another grey triangle. This is how the triangle should be aligned (shown as it looks when you hold it up to the light).

Square Dance quilt block tutorial

I folded the triangle over to double-check it fills up the area it needs to, and it does. I fold it back to the original position, and sew on the black line.

Square Dance quilt block tutorial

This is probably the first seam that needs to be trimmed. Fold the paper along the line you just sewed. You can use a scissors and approximate a 1/4 inch seam. I personally use the ruler and my rotary cutter to get the 1/4 seam.

Square Dance quilt block tutorial

This is what it looks like post-trim.

Square Dance quilt block tutorial

Press as before, and this is what your half will look like at this point.

Square Dance quilt block tutorial

Use the same methods demonstrated above to add the last aqua pieces. This is what the halves look like pre-trimming.

Square Dance quilt block tutorial

Trim along the grey lines printed on the pattern to get the below halves.

Square Dance quilt block tutorial

To get the center to match up, I place a pin through the exact center point of both halves.

Square Dance quilt block tutorial   Square Dance quilt block tutorial

Then, I proceed to pin the halves together. I don’t recommend using brand new pins for this part, as it can get thick and bend the pins.

Square Dance quilt block tutorial

As you sew the halves together, the center is thick and your machine may require a little assistance on the hand wheel. My Singer 201 can power through it, but my Janome 3160 has a tougher time with thick seams, so it depends on your machine. I like to remove the center paper before pressing the middle seam open.

Square Dance quilt block tutorial

Press the middle seam open.

Square Dance quilt block tutorial

Once the block is pressed open, remove the remainder of the paper. Remember two of the grey triangles were glued on, so take extra care to remove them without stretching the block. Once the paper is removed, I find starching paper pieced blocks really helps them keep their sharp shape.

Square Dance quilt block tutorial

Your completed block will look like this:

Square Dance quilt block tutorial

Once you combine these blocks, you can see the secondary patterns that begin to form.  A completed quilt will look like the mockup below:

Square Dance quilt block tutorial

If you have any questions about this tutorial, please let me know.  I would also love to see anything that you create using these blocks!


Linking to: Anything Goes MondayLet’s Bee Social Wednesday @ SewFreshQuiltsNeedle and Thread Thursday @ My Quilt InfatuationWhoop Whoop Fridays @ Confessions of a Quilt AddictFabric Frenzy Friday @ Ft. Worth Fabric,  and Sewjo Saturday at My Go-Goo Life.

On the Cutting Board – April

The last month was a busy one!  On the cutting board here in North Carolina, personal life was busy at the end of March and beginning of April, which leads to very little quilting but great times with family! My mom visited and I was able to teach her a little bit about quilting.  The top two quilt blocks are her first two quilt blocks!  She is an advanced beginner because she used to sew a lot of clothing, so she did amazingly well.  We had three generations worth of quilting going on!  Then, I continued with my contribution to Stash Bee and my 2013 Lucky Stars BoM.  As usual, links with more information are below. On the cutting board April 2014 Top row: 9 Patch from We Can Do It! Skill Builder (my mom’s 1st block), Pinwheel Parade Block (my mom’s 2nd block)

Middle row: 3 generations of quilters

Bottom row: Stash Bee Hive #12, March 2013 Lucky Stars BoM


    On the Cutting Board – March

    March was a busy month here on the cutting board!  I finished up the winter round of the 4×5 modern bee, with wonderful results!  I think everyone liked the blocks I made them, and I got some really cool blocks in return.  I’m also continuing to work on my Lucky Stars BOM from 2013, and picking up some other 12.5 inch blocks from different sources as I find them.  The purple block is for the Stash Bee.

    Quilt Blocks

    Top Row: 1. February 2013 Lucky Stars BOM, 2. Aurifil 2014 BOM

    Middle Row: 1. Blocks received from 4×5 Modern Bee (Links: 1. Philippa.G (Philippa), 2. JodiB63 (Jodi), 3. Mine, 4. Sew2879 (Kendra), 5. photo 2 (3), 6. mtclifford2012 (Maureen)), 2. Dutch Rose Remix for Stash Bee

    Bottom Row: January 2013 Lucky Stars BOM pattern from Don’t Call Me Betsy

    About Me

    My name is Heather Seminelli and I love to piece and quilt both for myself and others. I have one very young daughter, a wheaten terrier and a wonderful husband. Thanks for stopping by!

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