SEW KATIE DID | Improv Curves Workshops | Nine-Patch Flowers Full

Upon finishing a quilt my next step is always tidying up the studio.  It’s closure.  A chance to clean the slate and recategorize the design wall with what I need to focus on next.  Just enough to be excited about something new, but not so much that I get distracted.  I don’t need any help with that.

Part of this habit is organizing the ‘seeds’ or ideas that got me to that finish.  I use a box system.  Into the box goes all the ideas that got me (or not) to the finished quilt, along with photos and any other inspiration.

I save most of these ‘seeds’ to show students how nonlinear my process can be, even when sticking within the same technique.  That merging something we already know with new juice helps in developing our own ‘what,’ artistic voice/look, aesthetic or whatever you want to call it. Some ideas go in good directions, some just don’t work and more than a few are waiting for their time to come.

Artistically it’s all beneficial;)

SEW KATIE DID|Nine Patch Improvisational Flowers

I’m mentioning this because I started with Plan A and ended with Z, so much so that I had to dig through the archives to remember its origin, which was in another box altogether.

sewkatiedid/Stitch and Flip Triangle workshop

My original inspiration started with improvisational Stitch and Flip Triangles and these Supernova blocks in the photo above.  I had a curved flower build out idea that didn’t work as I’d envisioned.

I played with centers, outlines and other shapes after abandoning my original design idea.  I even made something that looked like the Easter Bunny threw up.

The nesting idea came after I  got a hang of sizing the curves.

SEW KATIE DID | Improv Patchwork Curves Workshop | Nine-Patch Ghost Flower

I worked fully from stash and no surprise liked my usual mixed background of texture.  Some shot cotton here, Kona, something else, plus some tone-on-tone prints brought it together.  I ran out right at the end and digging from the wastebasket placed the ‘ghost’ flower.  It’s those surprises that usually are my favorite part of the quilt.

sewkatiedid:9-patch flowers:impro curves

I also have an odd lot of Metler colored thread I bought for nothing years ago, so working from that I picked the colors of the flowers and added a grid of quilting.  I thought of going diagonal, but decided I liked the centers of the flowers plain.  Someday I’ll teach myself to hand quilt, I think the flower centers call for it.

SEW KATIE DID | Improv Patchwork Curves Backs

The color way was fully inspired by this flower print on the back.  Switching out the white for the green made it into a pretty bold looking quilt.

SEW KATIE DID | Improv Patchwork Curves Workshops | Nine-Patch Flowers back

I auditioned and cut the binding in blue.  It was sweet, but a little too baby, so I ended up switching it to the same print in green.  You might see the blue binding in the next finished quilt:)


It has Spring written all over it for sure.  I thought in celebration I’d make a new ironing board cover to match.

I had to throw in the towel when it came to posting this workshop before Spring Break, just too much going on, but have one two spaces left.  If I see there’s more interest I’ll add another date.  Since I have our annual Camp Runamuck retreat and a teaching engagement in Georgia, May will be dotted with Open Studios and a couple workshops.  I think the last time I was in Georgia I was 23?!

Happy week Peeps!

:: Small Bits ::

Well Hello there, it’s been awhile;)

I keep meaning to get here, but it’s been a busy few weeks.  My website is ready for launch once my logo gets its facelift and I’m in full motion researching a replacement for my broken camera.

I spent time in the studio last week with students AND solo.  A good week all and all.  I figured a broken camera shouldn’t stop me from sharing a few works in process and a finish, so here’s some of my recent IG photos.

SEW KATIE DID|Tossed Hearts|Split Personality Quilt Block

I taught my Split Personality Quilt Block in January and since the workshop requires a load of step outs to show the process, why not make a quilt?  My Tossed Hearts turned out amazing!  I can’t wait to get some full shots posted.

Students continually come in and tempt me with all the newest fabrics coming out, but I’m still trying hard to sew as much as possible from stash.  This challenge has proven itself beneficial to my process and finished work.  The background gained a load of texture and shapes with all that piecing that I never would have had with one fabric.  Going bold with the color really highlighted the large hearts.  Chambray and a few other solids, likely Kona and Micheal Miller were eaten up.

Straight line quilting a half inch apart worked in some additional directional texture and helped with the hearts cascading effect.  I messed up on some quilting lines where a few of the hearts are actually aligned and decided to just run with it and added more irregular quilting lines instead of taking them out.

Hard to believe my original plan was to go with an off-white background.   The evolutionary process of this quilt’s improv design going from A to Z was pleasurable.


Before I bound it I added a narrow folded-edge binding.  It needed a frame.  The actual binding is very similar to the background solids color but with a wink of print.

SEW KATIE DID|Nine Patch Improvisational Flowers

Nine-Patch Flowers/Improvisational Curves will be April/May’s featured workshop.  I’ve had this block idea in my head for awhile to teach improvisational curves.

 I was basting it in the living room when Jefe walked by.  His only comment was, “That’s one green quilt.”  True and that green is eliminated from my stash as well.  I had to do some creative piecing to get some last background blocks constructed and that green on green ‘ghost flower’ down there was one of the effects.

sewkatiedid:9-patch flowers:impro curves

Some blue, crimson and green thread going on here for quilting.  Just enough to keep it soft.  The binding is a fabric that isn’t in the quilt, but worked.

psychedelic baby variation 3

Totally switching color gears here, my friends are expecting their first baby and have decided to play the not know gender game.  This was certainly a good challenge for me.  Suggested was gray and white and try as I might that wasn’t going to happen, but this did.

SEW KATIE DID|Psychedelic Baby Variation

I basted it on Saturday.  Unlike every other quilt (except the straight line part) I actually know how I’ll quilt it.

SEW KATIE DID:Medallioned Magic Numbers

I’ve always got something that I’m itching to get up on the wall. These Scrappy Stellars that I started as part of my Medallioned Magic Numbers series were calling. Two additional techniques to make some rounds have been ‘decided’ on.

Split Personality Solids

And since the hearts just make me happy I put those up too, but I’ll likely have to pocket them until retreat in May.

Hope all is well in your quilty world Peeps:)

Happy Week.

Theses squares just reminded me of garden plots.  This quilt’s four blocks were constructed using a method I call Magic Numbers.  There’s really nothing magic about them, Magic Numbers is a system of using block sizes that automatically fit together for flexibility in design without alteration. That’s right, all tidy;)

SEW KATIE DID:Garden Plot Magic Number quilt quarter

It’s a great method if you want to hone your skills at designing your own quilts, pattern free, but aren’t quite ready to free piece it or figure out the math. It’s great for bringing improvisational pieced blocks together or for adding texture into a background with added seams instead of just one big block of fabric.

SEW KATIE DID:Garden Plot magic number quilt corner

The quilting is my standard run-off straight lines, a quarter inch from each side of the seams.  I used painters tape as my guide for quilting the lines into the wide purple sashing.  I could have used Magic Number blocks instead of sashing if I needed more texture, but I think the blocks held their own.

SEW KATIE DID:Garden Plot Magic Number Quilt Close

I’m stilling piecing backs from stash.  This improvisational back falls in line with my creative quilt backs post on building out on the design wall.  Most of these fabrics are flannel, with a little hit of some quilting fabric and linen blend.

SEW KATIE DID:Garden Plot magic number quilt back

I branched out and played with an uplifting and happy thread color.  As I was filling the bobbin with the orange, I became suspect about whether I would like the effect it would have on the fairly neutral back.  In the finish the vibrant color added another level of texture to the back that a blended color wouldn’t have.  What a happy surprise:)

SEW KATIE DID:Garden Plot Quilt side

The color way is crazy good and bold.

SEW KATIE DID:Garden Plot Magic Number Quilt Binding

SEW KATIE DID:Garden Quilt Magic Number Quilt Binding edge

I generally don’t pick binding out until the quilting is done, but as I was putting this fabric back into the stash it came to mind it might work and that’s how it came to be.  There’s not a lick of it in the quilt itself.

SEW KATIE DID:Garden Plot Magic Number Quilt detail

This is a real simple quilt.  Anyone can quilt using this formula;)  Seriously the hardest thing would be picking the fabrics or you could forget about that and just go scrappy.  I’ve now made several quilts using the Magic Numbers method and each has a unique look.

SEW KATIE DID:Garden Plot Magic Number Quilt Full

Here’s some other examples of Magic Number quilts I’ve created.   You can see more about this scrappy one here.

SEW KATIE DID:Scrappy Sunshine Magic Number quilt block tutorial

  This one below is a great example of bringing the background fabric into the piecing to give the quilt’s blocks a floating deconstructed look.  More about this quilt here.

SEW KATIE DID:Smitten Kitten Magic Number Quilt Tutorial

I think it’s fun to play with how different each design can be.

Instead of offering this as a workshop I’m providing instruction for this method in Open Studios where we can merge some projects like box pouches and invisible zipper pillows.  Really any project can be adapted.  Simply respond if you’d like to schedule.

Happy week Peeps!


Most of the time I can hardly get through a quilt top before I have a million other ideas lining up, so why should constructing a quilt back be any different?

In the past year I’ve been brainstorming ideas to get past this inspiration block.  I’d like this step of the creative process to be as enjoyable as the rest, so I created myself a little list of ideas to inspire creative quilt backs. I thought I’d share.

My Go-To Quilt Back Ideas and Inspiration-


SEW KATIE DID/Psychedelic Baby


*Buy What You Love-  Well duh.  The most obvious, but not always the most economical is buying fabric you currently fancy. I only stock up on sale fabric if I would have paid full price for it.  The longer it sits in stash the more my tastes change, especially in regards to color trends.

*On my bucket list is the technique of flawlessly matching seams so that two panels of the same print appear as one.  


Screen Shot 2016-02-11 at 3.31.55 PM

*Browse Flickr Quilt Backs Group or  Pinterest Quilt Backs Board.  This is usually powered with a few cups of tea and time to fall into the worm hole.


Sewkatiedid:Sleepy Owl Quilt Back Full

SEW KATIE DID:Night Owl Quilt Back


*Building a Quilt Back Out with Stash:  This is a fun visual approach.

-Build On the Design Wall- Before I even take a quilt off the design wall I do a fabric pull from stash.  Using the quilt as a template I start pinning the pieces on top of it until covered.  I stare and move them around a lot until I have a desirable layout.  Then I back into piecing to an extra 3″ per side larger than my quilt top.

Taping Out- On the design wall or floor I tape out the size I need the back to be, not forgetting a little extra.  I essentially do as above and build out with fabric pieces until it meets the tape and sew it all together.

Magic Numbers–  Magic Numbers are perfect for designing quilt backs, pattern free, especially if you’re not quite ready to improvisationally free piece or figure out the math. Magic Numbers is a system of using block sizes that automatically fit together for flexibility in design without alteration.  You could go BIG with your block sizes.  You can learn more about them here.


sewkatiedid/quilt back

sewkatiedid/smitten kitten quilt back

*BIG ASS Blocks:  This is probably my favorite to use with large prints.  I generally border or log the centers of the blocks with a contrasting solid so they show up nicely.


sewkatiedid/barn star quilt

SEW KATIE DID*Vortex Quilt Back Full




*Leftovers.  Using cast-off little bits from the front is a good way to start a back.  When I go this route I sometimes like the back better than the front.


SEW KATIE DID:Boxed-In Back full


*Slice and Insert-  This is a great technique if I just need some width or length to my quilt back.  I slice yardage vertically or horizontally (so I have two pieces) and insert a width/length of fabric needed.




*Words or Phrases:  I generally improv these, but you could easily make your own paper pieced patterns.



Flannel:  Flannel is my go-to, I can never go wrong with flannel.  It’s perfect for Seattle, all seasons for the most part.



*Improvisational:  “Play is the highest form of research.”  -Albert Einstein

Often I can get inspired by allowing myself the opportunity to play.  That new technique or block I’ve been thinking about?  I try it now.  Loads of seams mean an opportunity for them to come apart while quilting, so I stay-stitch the perimeter of the quilt back if I choose this option.

*My Solution if I Still Don’t Like It:  If I just think it’s boring I slice it either vertically or horizontally (which ever direction I think it needs) and then I switch up the large pieces.

Most of these quilt backs merge two or more of these ideas.  Then I’ve got my basting tool kit ready to go and a podcast lined up.  Just in time for me to overthink how I’m going to quilt it;)

It’s all a cycle of motion and action Peeps!

Happy Week;)


:: Build a Basting Tool Kit ::

:: Build a Basting Tool Kit ::

I’m not quite sure what happened to January, does anyone know where it went?  Apparently time flies faster than I sew.

I spent much of the month happily digging through my stash, cutting and piecing in an attempt to showcase my Warm & Cool Hearts Color Value Quilt LONG before Valentine’s Day and here it is a week and change away.

SEW KATIE DID:Warm and Cool Hearts Value Quilt Tutorial Full

Lately, I’ve become obsessed with heart shape blocks and appropriately, L-O-V-E best describes my feelings for my new quilt.  I haven’t bothered to asked Jefe how he feels about it yet.


Revisiting my Color Value Quilt Tutorial and workshop using the heart shape has been on my bucket list.  I’d been asked to place it on the teaching calendar, but adding a new sample to demonstrate how value works in this quilt’s design was necessary to keep teaching the workshop fresh for me.

SEW KATIE DID: Warm and Cool Hearts Value Quilt Tutorial:Close

Certainly the hearts can be a mix of colors (see early morning iPhone photo below), but consolidating them to a single color created a more cohesive and visually appealing shape to my eye.  The challenge of finding the perfect tints and tones for each heart slowed the process down, but made it more enjoyable.

SEW KATIE DID:Warm and Cool Hearts Color Value Tutorial mix

It was also a good exercise in ‘seeing’ what color values my stash lacks or is abundant in.

I reached out to quilty friends for an additional here and there square and some light values for the background.  I recommend a swap if you find some holes in your stash.

SEW KATIE DID:warm and cool value quilt hearts

Value is relative, but for the most part I stayed away from what I considered medium values with the exception of the turquoise and mustard blocks.

SEW KATIE DID:Warm and Cool Hearts Value Tutorial

I spent a great deal of time staring at my design wall and moving things around before piecing them.  Keeping the value focused on darks for the hearts and light for the backgrounds was a good exercise in what your mind’s eye thinks works and reality.


 This became especially apparent when I stepped away.   My view into the studio from the kitchen was an extremely helpful tool for determining whether the value of the background blocks was working for or against my heart blocks.  We’ll cover useful tools like this in the workshop.

SEW KATIE DID:Warm and Cool Value Quilt Tutorial Hearts:row

I didn’t piece the quilt together by rows or columns, but worked by completing each heart block into its background and moved them around for the final layout.  I’m not a preplanner or a drawer in general, so this process suited me.

I think the best part of a Color Value Quilt is gazing at all those fabrics I was drawn to for whatever reason in one quilt.  Especially those that don’t exist in my stash anymore.  I just love print.


Some flannel of course for the back.  I’m still trying to stick to my stash when it comes to shopping for backing.

I’ll run this workshop and my Free Motion Fundamentals/Nesting Baskets through March.   Reserve your space by simply emailing me at sewkatiedid@gmail.com or calling and I’ll reserve you a spot.  (the website is sooooo close to done).

 Open Studio dates have also been updated.

SEW KATIE DID:Charm Squares

The Value Workshop is a great opportunity for cutting into your growing stash and use all those fabrics you love that haven’t found a place in a quilt yet.  I’ve dug into my stash and have a load of pre-cut squares for sale to supplement your designs or we can dig through my stash and cut.  Keep up on my Instagram and/or Facebook for a major destash of these.

As usual, once finishing a quilt top of a traditional/classic design I’m itching for something improvisational, so look for something of that nature for workshops next month.

Happy week(end) Peeps;)

In our old digs my design wall was limited to ONE.  Now with the studio I have my own padded room;)

I had one wall space left that I was told needed a bumper to protect the wall from ambitious pressers yielding an iron;)  I also had two smaller pieces of cut insulation board that together fit the space perfectly.

SEW KATIE DID:Build a quilt design wall

Here’s a basic tutorial on how I construct my quilt design walls.  You can access how I created the quilter’s pressing station here.


  • (1 and/or 2) 1″ Insulation board (you can pin into this surface and cut to size).
  • (1) washed and dried flannel sheet (Sheets eliminate seams.  Measure your insulation board surface area and compare to sheet dimensions.  You’ll need about 3″ extra per side to wrap around the board.  I buy my sheets here).
  • (6) 3″ Screws per board
  • (6) Finishing Washers per board
  • (6) Anchors per board (optional)
  • Roll of Gorilla Tape
  • Staple Gun with 3/8″ or longer staples

Cut board to size if needed.

SEW KATIE DID:Quilting Design Wall Tutorial8

I don’t think it really matters which side of the board you cover, but I do tape the boards together on the side that will be against the wall.  I secure the boards with horizontal strips of tape and then run a vertical strip down the length.

Cut your flannel to about 3″ larger than board dimensions.  Get rid of the hems if you don’t need the extra inches of flannel to cover your board size.  Hems might cause you grief when it comes to stapling, especially in the mitered corners.  Another option is to go with longer staples.

SEW KATIE DID:Quilting Design Wall Tutorial6

I alternate sides when stretching and taping flannel.  It’s like pin basting a quilt.  You do want it very taunt.  I believe in lots of tape as you can see.

SEW KATIE DID:Quilting Design Wall corner

I just kind of go with what seems to be working when it comes to mitering the corners.

If you need some hand holding on the stapling and mitering steps, Martha and Anna Maria Horner show you how in a video here.  Once you’ve over-taped, start stapling into the tape AND flannel.

SEW KATIE DID:Quilting Design Wall Tutorial10

Tada!  Can’t see any of that ugly from the front;)

SEW KATIE DID:Quilting Design Wall Tutorial9

Take your snips and cut a hole in the location you want your screws to go through.

SEW KATIE DID/Design Wall Tutorial

At this point I go get Jefe because he knows where all the electric is.  Someone also suggested the use of heavy duty velcro for attachment.

Drill the holes where you see fit, place the anchors and screw in the screws using the washers for a nice finish.

I’m off to use mine!  Happy week Peeps;)

SEW KATIE DID/Layered Design Wall

No room for a permanent quilt design wall?  Then check out my tutorial on a dual layered roll-up one design wall that can easily be stored under a bed.


It’s been a busy year so far;)

  It’s one of the seasons that lectures placed on the calendar months ago come around., workshops and Open Quilting Studios are in full swing and a website almost done;)  All way more exciting than accounting and tax preparation.

I’ve updated my ‘TEACH‘ page with January’s Open Studio times and have one spot left in January’s featured workshop, Split Personality.  You’ll see February’s featured workshop and Open Studio dates up soon.

 Circa 15 Fabric Studio in Kirkland and I have selected our Winter Workshops that you’ll find below and on their site.

Happy Quilting Peeps!

SEW KATIE DID:Split Personality Christmas Quilt Section

::Split Personality Block Workshop::

In studio

Ready to learn a simple technique for producing a load of square crazy pieced blocks in no time? It’s just like making your own fabric. We’re going to do just that and spend some time exploring designs we can place our blocks into. I’ll have multiple examples of what we can do with this block to share.

$85 class fee.

Workshop Dates:

Wednesday, January 13th/10am-3pm/FULL
Saturday, January 23rd from 10am to 3pm/FULL
Sunday, January 24th from 10am-3pm/FULL

::Circa 15 Fabric Studio Workshops::


::Psychedelic Baby Block Workshop::

Saturday, February 13th from 11am-3pm at Circa 15 Fabric Studio.

This modern block workshop combines improvisational strip piecing and a traditional foundation paper piecing technique to create unique string blocks that are both chaotic and controlled. We’ll study color and value placement so that we can play with the block’s unlimited quilt/pillow design potential.

SEW KATIE DID/Improvisational Coin Quilt

::Beginning Improv Quilting/ Coin Quilt::

Sunday, February 28th 11am-3pm at Circa 15 Fabric Studio.

Interested in creating a modern quilt with improvisational techniques, but don’t know where to start? Then this is the class for your first modern quilt! Learn improvisational techniques like angle and strip piecing while creating a modern coin quilt loosely based on a tradition Chinese Coin Quilt Design. A great quilt to feature your favorite prints or solids. No two will be the same. All levels of sewists welcome.


::Embrace Your Curves: Improvisational Curves Workshop::

Saturday, March 12th from 11am-3pm at Circa 15 Fabric Studio.


Fear the curve no more with this no pinning, no templates and no stress approach to the improvisational curves technique from the Embrace Your Curves chapter in Quilting Modern: Techniques and Projects for Improvisational Quilts. I’ll will cover multiple ways of making curves and inspire you right into embracing them yourself. Free-handing improvisational curves are manageable even for beginners.


::Double-Trouble Quilt Block::

Sunday, March 20th from 11am-3pm at Circa 15 Fabric Studio.

Ready to create a simple modern quilt? Double-Trouble is a fun quilt block and design workshop that merges a traditional half-square triangle block with an improvisational stitch and flip triangle technique. The Double-Trouble block has unlimited design possibilities that we will explore to create unique quilt designs. I have multiple examples to show for inspiration.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 18,381 other followers

%d bloggers like this: