The Monkey Wrench Quilt block is fun, bold, and distinctive, but you need to make it straight. In this tutorial, Alex shows you how to get it right. Learn to make the Monkey Wrench Quilt block or add this quilt block to the pattern and have a wonderful wall hanging when the class ends. This block is part of the Sequoia Sampler Remix pattern that Alex has been demonstrating. You can purchase the pattern below.

She has tips and tricks in this LIVE quilt tutorial. BUT you don't have to be there LIVE, it's all recorded (it's just more fun LIVE so you can chat).

Alex is LIVE on Friday, May 15, 2020 at 10am PST, 1pm EST, & 6pm London time.     






Alex talks with Amanda Murphy about her new book, The Ultimate Guide to Rulerwork Quilting.

In their talk, Amanda shares some machine quilting tips, including: 

  1. How to hold a ruler. (It's different for domestic vs. longarm)
  2. Should you keep going or stop a lot?
  3. Why you want to turn off hover mode.
  4. There are 3 different ruler heights. What are they?

Alex enjoyed her talk with Amanda Murphy and so will you.

Watch Amanda here at TQS in Show 1312: Just in Time! Perfect Projects for the Holidays.




The Art of Sashiko

by Lilo Bowman

"Use it up, wear it out, make do, or do without." This phrase is very familiar to those who grew up during the 1930s and 40s, when every useful item was saved, re-used or refashioned until it literally wore out. A child visiting a grandparent's home might discover a variety of unusual "treasures"--drawers filled with assorted sized paper sacks, jars of rubber bands, string in every size and length one could ever want or need. Then of course, there were the boxes and tins filled with the odd assortment of items from clothing long worn out; buttons, snaps, zippers, and bits of laces and trims. As a child, this activity far surpassed anything that today's TV could provide. But why would anyone want to save such an odd assortment of items?

Jacket "Nogari" ca. early to mid twentieth century. (Srithreads.com)

People have been conserving tools, clothing, and other useful items for hundreds of years. Sometimes, but not always, conservation was necessitated by wartime shortages. Social ranking, economics or geographical location often played a central role. From the challenges of frugality and conservation, however, true beauty and craftsmanship would often emerge.

Recently, while looking for a portable sewing project idea, we discovered the Japanese needlework called Sashiko (sashi = stitch, ko = small).  A true art form, Sashiko evolved from the recycling and mending techniques developed by the rural population of northern Japan, but very quickly spread in popularity throughout the rest of the country. 

Silk was a status fabric, worn by the upper class and royalty. Cotton had been imported to Japan since the fourteenth century, but --as with silk--was worn only by those who could afford its high cost. Fabrics available for the general and rural population-- such as wisteria, hemp, paper mulberry, and bast fibers-- required many hours of hand spinning and weaving. To save time and effort, every scrap was therefore carefully mended and re-used. An initial length of fabric for a kimono (14" x 12 yards) would have many lives before it was eventually discarded. Even lengths of thread were saved in boxes, to be used for a future date. 

"Once the kimono of yore showed signs of wear, it began a long series of transformations. When it could no longer serve as one's Sunday best, the kimono was worn as everyday dress. The garment was later used as a sleeping gown or shortened to serve as an outdoor jacket. When further worn...was made into say, an apron and a bag for use in the gathering of bamboo shoots. Finally, layers of fabric scraps were sashiko-quilted together into dust cloths, which were stored in the hollow of a wooden footstool for future use." (Japanese Country Quilting by Karen Kim Matsunaga)

It wasn't until the 1700s that the price of cotton came down and cultivation began in Japan's southern provinces. (Due to the climate, cotton could not be grown in the northern parts of the country.) Cotton was recognized as a much better insulator against nature's elements than hemp and bast fibers, and it was discovered that quilting together multiple layers of cotton provided much more warmth and protection to the wearer. Adding to its popularity was the fact that cotton was much easier to stitch through than other traditional fabrics.

Dust rag "Zokin" featuring hemp stitching 1920-1940 (Srithreads.com)

During the working months, clothing was mended as needed. However, in the winter, when life centered on indoor activities, a great deal of time was spent around the central hearth constructing useable items such as work clothes, hand bags, aprons, and cleaning cloths. It was during these times that young women had the time to improve their needlework skills. Many young girls and women attended village schools where Sashiko was passed from hand to hand. Learning Sashiko taught patience and perseverance, both of which were highly desired qualities for a farmer or fisherman's wife. But Sashiko was done by both men and women alike.


Detail of farmer's shin guard featuring blue cotton persimmon flowers.
ca. late nineteenth century, early twentieth century. (Srithreads.com)

Typically Sashiko stitching was worked on indigo-dyed fabric using a white cotton thread similar to Pearl cotton #5 or candlewicking thread. It was extremely durable, repelled moths and other insects (due to the ammonia in the dye bath), and protected the wearer against salt water and sea air. Often the location of the Sashiko stitiching was determined by the occupation of the wearer. A farmer for example, would need reinforced areas along the shoulders, back, and neck, while a fisherman would prefer to have more protections in the underarms and knees. Firefighters would soak their reinforced coats in water before battling blazes. Coats were worn inside out for work and right side out for special occasions.

Heater cover "Kotasushiki" ca. early to mid twentieth century. (Srithreads.com)

Early Sashiko designs began with very simple running stitches intended to simply hold bits of cloth together, but the stitching soon developed into more complex rmotifs, frequently reflecting elements in nature and the changing seasons. Before long, design and function became intertwined, and Sashiko was recognized as an art form. It is now considered mingei ("folk art" or "art of the common people").

Hand guards ca. late nineteenth, early twentieth century. (Srithreads.com)

To learn more about Sashiko, you might want to check out The Ultimate Sashiko Sourcebook by Susan Briscoe or Sashiko: Japanese Traditional Hand Stitchery by A. Takeda. Both include numerous patterns and projects for all skill levels that are sure to inspire you.


Japanese Country Quilting by Karen Kim Matsunaga
Sashiko: Easy & Elegant Japanese Designs for Decorative Machine Embroidery by Mary S. Parker
Sashiko and Beyond by Saikoh Takano
Threads Magazine, August/September 1988


Becky calls this her Baby Bullseye even though it still measures 40" x 40".

It can be found in Bullseye Quilts from Vintage to Modern: Paper Piece Stunning Projects. Though the results look complicated, expert teacher Becky walks you through how to tackle the construction, so you won’t believe how simply and easily they go together.

Learn more about Bullseye quilts with Becky Goldsmith in Show 2401: BOM 2019 - Sizzle.

BabyBullseyebyBeckyGoldsmith - 36 Pieces Non-Rotating

BabyBullseyebyBeckyGoldsmith - 100 Pieces Non-Rotating

BabyBullseyebyBeckyGoldsmith - 289 Pieces Non-Rotating

BabyBullseyebyBeckyGoldsmith - 36 Pieces Rotating

BabyBullseyebyBeckyGoldsmith - 100 Pieces Rotating

BabyBullseyebyBeckyGoldsmith - 289 Pieces Rotating

Original Photo: Mary Kay Davis


Simply Color: Orange by Vanessa Christenson

Three Easy Steps To Save This Lesson As A Pdf:
-Make sure you are logged in.
-Click on the small triangle next to the tool wheel in the upper right hand corner of the page (you'll find it above the Like button).
-Select the pdf. option. Wait a few minutes. It's a large file due to the number of images.
-Your file should appear with the title of the lesson.

As we continue our study of color, we begin with Monochromatic: the first of Five Color Plans found in nature. Monochromatic literally means "containing or using only one color." The Monochromatic color plan creates a sense of simplicity, calm, harmony and relaxation. It can also read as very sophisticated.

                                                                                                                               Simply Color: Orange by Vanessa Christenson.
                                                                                                                               Image courtesy of V and Co.com.

As the most difficult of the five plans, understanding and working in a Monochromatic color family takes discipline and real focus. Let's say that you love the color orange and want to make a quilt in this color plan. Staying within the orange range means that no other color or neighboring color such as yellow-orange or orange-red may be used in your quilt.

On the surface this might sound simple, because you have a huge fabric stash, and orange is one of the largest collections within your stash. But, when you look at the Essential Color Wheel (below) it quickly becomes evident why most quilters avoid this plan. Do you notice how few options there are for using just orange in the wedge? Not so easy now, is it?

The trick to keeping a quilt from becoming visually flat is to use as WIDE a range of Tints, Tones, Shades and pure Orange as possible. Hand-dyed fabrics, with their subtle nuances, offer the quilter the widest range when it comes to working in a monochromatic plan. The old addage, "If five fabrics are good, then ten are even better", is a good thing to remember when building a fabric grouping.






To keep your quilts from looking flat or boring, let the Ultimate 3-in-1 Color Tool do the work for you when culling fabric from your stash or at a quilt shop. Each of the twenty-four pages features not only the pure color, but also the tints, shades and tones of that pure family. So all you need to do is hold the card up to the fabric you are considering to determine if it fits within your monochromatic plan. Think in terms of quantity.

Blue Blade by Grace Errea (Show 1303: Discover the Rewards of "Value-Based" Quilting)

 Easy Monochromatic color plan tips:
  • Use a wide range of tones, tints and shades included with the focus color to keep the overall impression from appearing boring.
  • Hand dyed fabrics give you the most range within a color family.
  • Add visual interest with a variety of textured prints (dots, stripes, swirls, organic shapes, etc.).


Let's look at a number of excellent monochromatic color plan examples:

  Wish Upon A Star by Cindy Needham  Quilted Elegance Jacket by Rami Kim
Wish Upon A Star by Cindy Needham. (Show 202 & Show 1606). Quilted Elegance by Rami Kim (Show 607).

The Value of Violet by Margaret Solomon Gunn. (Image TheQuiltShow.com)       Prairie Silk by Agnes Stadler, Ann Stadler, Ann Solinski,    Debbie Wanzer, Elizabeth Richards, Katie Cox. (Image from QuiltCon.com)

Sunny Disposition (Image courtesy of Laurie Ceesay).  Honeycomb (Image courtesy of Kelly D. Young).

  In The Act by Elaine Quehl.                                   Crop Circles by Debbie Jeske (Image courtesy of Debbie Jeske).

Shape Study 26 by Erin Wilson. (Image courtesy of Erin Wilson)

Plus Mob by Valori Wells (Show 405 & Show 2605) [Image courtesy of Valori Wells].   

  Romancing Red by MIchele Jackson
Homage by Debbie Jeske with Bee Sewcial (Image courtesy of Debbie Jeske).        Romancing Red by Michelle Jackson (Show 1002).


Practice Exercises:

Blue Blade by Grace Errea

  1. Pull fabric from your stash to create one Monochromatic color plan, as in the example by Grace Errea above.
  2. Using your collected fabrics, build any one (or both) of the blocks provided. To keep the focus on the monochromatic plan, simply paste the fabric pieces onto your worksheet.



Click here to download Monochromatic Exercise Block One .pdf file.

Click here to download Monochromatic Exercise Block Two .pdf file.


Click here for more topics related to The Art of Quilt Design program.

If you have been a part of my world for a while, you will know all about the wonderful group of sisters who have been coming to the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show for years. They originally came with their mothers and then after her passing, continued the tradition. They were one of the special feature groups at the 2019 Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show. Getting together with them is one of the highlights of my quilt show week...but alas, this year we will be missing each other. I was so happy to receive a photo via text that Robin's (one of the sisters) son Aaron painted of the Three Sisters (mountains) with quilts on display...absolutely beautiful! I am looking forward to the 2021 Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show!!!! And to meeting up with the Twisted Sisters.
Quilts have throughout history represented comfort, resourcefulness, heritage, and safety. And, they have been know to carry secrets and stories between their layers. Depending on what is going on in our world, quilters have used this art form to make a statement or share thoughts. As with all art there can be an overt message or a hidden message. I have been known to include hidden words quilted into the design that maybe the receiver may discover or not. This history was presented again when I visited The Stitchin Post. They opened a couple of days ago under strict COVID guidelines and for limited hours. Putting on my mask and gloves I headed over to remember the smell and feel of fabric. I was going to look for a piece of backing fabric and certainly didn't intend to do any "unintentional" shopping...if you know what I mean, lol. But, as I walked in the door I got a message and a bit of love hanging front and center.
Hugs...I needed one so bad...I wanted to give a hug to complete strangers just to remember what it felt like! And so, although I didn't intend to, I bought the pattern because I know this pattern carries a message that we all need to pass on!
Stay tuned and travel along with us on Quilt Roadies.

Click here for Anna's blog.



Like a Girl is an improv quilt that was made to encourage a positive attitude in girls. The group that made this quilt wanted to make a statement, and we love the words of encouragement they chose to do just that.

Like a Girl by Lorna Costantini of the Niagara Modern Quilt Guild and others won Judge's Choice, Group & Bee Quilts, sponsored by Modern Quilt Guild, at QuiltCon 2020.

Pieced With: Stephanie Baisley, Jennifer Dyck, Effie Faubert, Dorothy Holdenmeyer, Heather Salter, and Tara McInerney

Quilted By: Machine quilted by Dorothy Holdenmeyer. Handed quilted by Lorna Costantini

Photos by Mary Kay Davis


The Traditional approach to the Square in a Square quilt block will be taught by Alex LIVE today. She has some tips and tricks for you. The lesson is for everyone, but if you want to learn and have a wonderful wall hanging when you are done, download the PDF from the store below.

Alex is LIVE on Wednesday May 13 at 10am PST, 1pm Est, & 6pm London time.

To chat, click here. 




Can you pick out Alex in this quilt?

Here is Grandmother's Legacy by Gail E. Thomas. It was hand painted front and back on batik fabric, stenciled, has threadwork and free-motion quilting, hand embroidery, and beadwork in crystals, glass, silver, and pearls. Gails says it was, "A joy to work on."

Gail's quilt won First Place in the Pictorial Quilt category at the NQA Quilt Show in Columbus, Ohio in 2009.

Click here to see the quilt and learn more about it.

Grandmother's Legacy - 35 Pieces Non-Rotating

Grandmother's Legacy - 99 Pieces Non-Rotating

Grandmother's Legacy - 300 Pieces Non-Rotating

Grandmother's Legacy - 99 Pieces Rotating

Grandmother's Legacy - 300 Pieces Rotating



We just love this unusual and very graphic block. Do you know what it is called? Play Jinny's game and find out.


Top 10 Reasons to Join the Quilt Show!

(Click on the box next to the YouTube logo to enlarge the screen.)

Learn about
Apliquick appliqué tools!

Watch Show 1912
with Rosa Rojas (free!)

Apliquick Rods


Apliquick - 3 Holes Microserrated Scissors


Apliquick Ergonomic Tweezers