“Christmas on Emerald Court”

by Sandra Bruce

I’ve had the great pleasure in 2014 of teaching my “Christmas on Emerald Court” quilt as a monthly class, from February until December. We just had the wrap-up last class, which was a Christmas lunch pot-luck. Since it is close to Christmas I thought it’d be a nice time to tell you about this quilt. Mostly hand-appliqued, some piecing…embroidery, yo-yos, buttons, and other fun embellishments. Here it is:



A little bit about my thought process….in my long-arm business I have quilted a few customers’ extraordinary hand-appliqued quilts. One in particular I marveled at the underside of the top, where I could see the tiny hand-done stitches that composed the appliqué work. It made me want to design and make a hand-appliquéd quilt, most intensely!

So, I drew out my initial idea on graph paper, with a fine-point pen. You can see that some elements stayed the same and some changed quite a bit, or were replaced altogether.



I had the blocks enlarged 1000% at a copy center, and proceeded to begin at the top left-hand corner, and went left to right, top to bottom (I’m a little OCD this way, I guess). Somewhere along the way I decided it would be a fun class to teach, and also would make a great pattern to sell. I’ve done the class through to its completion, and now I’m figuring out the pattern part, and how to produce it.

We met at Sugar Pine Quilt Shop every 3rd Friday afternoon and I gave out the blocks month by month, including doing a demo on any special techniques I used, such as Perfect Circles templates and how to make yo-yos. It was so fun to see each person’s fabric choices and colors, and watch the blocks come to life.IMG_6613IMG_6602IMG_7296


The pattern drafting was a good learning experience for me. Using math and being precise is not typically my forte so I had to rise to that challenge, and I had good feedback from the ladies in class about my directions and explanations. Always appreciated! I learned so much from them.IMG_7779


Here’s a few more shots from our December party, where we enjoyed looking at each quilt, picking out polymer buttons for them, and working on blocks not finished.IMG_8296



Thanks to: Rachel, Joan, Wanda, Barbara, Trish, Donna, and Ruth.

I’ve also had the pleasure of quilting 2 of these on my long-arm, with my own as a guide and inspiration.IMG_8265


I’m teaching this class again, in 2015, coming up soon! If you are local, and interested, contact me or Sugar Pine for details. I hope to have the pattern available soon as well. I plan to make the individual block patterns available singly, as they would make cute wall-hangings (and much less to do than making the whole quilt.) But I will have the whole quilt pattern too.


Two weeks until Christmas…..a tree to get, a house to decorate, menus to plan and gifts to finish. I’d better get moving! I’ll leave you with a close up photo of a one-block wonder Christmas wall hanging I made a couple of months ago, from a class I took from Cathy Stone. Wishing you all a safe, peaceful and magical holiday season. See you in 2015 with news of our Zephyr Retreat. Buon Natale, SBIMG_8313




Playtime is Underrated

Happy New Year everyone! Where did 2013 go? I am looking forward to 2014. There are so many exciting things happening in 2014, and one of them is our September retreat at Zephyr Cove. The only New Years resolution that I made was to allow myself more time for quilting and beading. Monday I took a class on Polymer techniques for beads and buttons from Sandra Bruce. Now, I will also need more time for polymer.  I love the unexpected colors and shapes that emerge during the process.

This is why I love designing quilt patterns. I experiment for a while on my computer and eventually an unexpected design will emerge.  It’s almost always something I didn’t expect.  From here, I develop the design.  One of the interesting processes that I do with my pattern design is use gray scale before I start to pull colors. This allows me to see the effects of light and dark and how they transform the design.

This is how I started my Mardi Gras Pattern.  This is the outline of the block.

Mardis Gras BlockI finished the block and played with arrangements.  Once I had the blocks arranged, I started experimenting with the gray scale.  It really shows the difference value will make. Do you see the different shapes and how the design changes as the gray scale changes?

Mardi Gras - Sample 3 Mardi Gras - Sample 2Mardi Gras- Sample 1Then I started filling in with color.

mardi gras - on pointAnd I wound up with this.  (I wish that you could see the quilting.  Sandra Bruce quilted it.  It is Beautiful!)

mARDI GRAS - QUILTI had a great time doing this with my Anacortes pattern. This is the block that I started with. Anacortes-3 I played with both the block arrangement and the gray scale.

This arrangement was fun. (And I may still do another quilt with this layout.)

Anacortes-2However, I loved all the different designs that emerged when I created this block and     gray scale arrangement.

Anacortes-1Here is the final quilt. How many different shapes do you see in this quilt?  (The quilting on this quilt was done by John and Karla Rogers of Precision Quiltworks.  The quilting is beautiful!)

cdPlaytime and options are underrated. As we begin 2014, allow yourself the freedom to try new things.  You never know what will emerge.  Logic takes you from A…..B .  Imagination will take you anywhere.

Before I close I really must show you the fabrics that I purchased yesterday at my favorite quilt shop, Sugar Pine Quilt Shop in Grass Valley, CA.  I saw these fabrics and just knew that I needed to create a summer quilt for my bedroom.  Aren’t they just yummy?  A new pattern will be forthcoming.  So, stay tuned. I will show you the progress as it unfolds.

fabric photo_2Have a happy and creative week!


Complicated and Intimidating? Definitely Not!


Hello, I’m Sharon and this is my first blog post ever.  As you look at our group picture, you will see that I’m the one who isn’t wearing a sewn garment.  Actually, when we took this picture, Sandra said,  “Look, we’re all just about the same height.  Except Sharon.”


I love to organize retreats, so I am very excited to be part of the Artistic Alchemy group! The energy and talent in this group is unparalleled. Each one of us has a unique style and can share a different perspective. It has also become a great friendship, and I feel fortunate to have Christine, Heidi and Sandra as personal and professional friends. I am so looking forward to our 2014 retreat at Zephyr Point.

My career has been in fire protection engineering. This is a discipline that requires precision and working within close tolerances. Even though the process requires precision, I must be able to communicate how the process is to be completed, and I must communicate that information clearly. So, when I started designing quilt patterns, that is the approach that I took. I wanted to design a unique quilt, but make the process uncomplicated and definitely not intimidatingI’m short and blonde – how difficult could I make things? I enjoy precision and precision piecing, and my patterns are designed to give you an extraordinary look.  One of the principles that I discovered early in my career was that if the project appeared daunting, start in a corner and work out.  If you take it a step at a time, all of a sudden it is no longer intimidating.

I have decided to teach two projects at the retreat this year:

I will be teaching FyreWyrks I, which is a contemporary Lone Star design.

Alves-1We will first break down the color placement so you can get your star to sparkle.”  Then we will build the components until, all of a sudden, you have a beautiful star. We will strip piece the star points, and I will show you how to block your points so they will easily fit together. The outer points are paper pieced. The pattern is also designed so that there are very few Y seams. Once your components are built, it all goes together flawlessly .

The second project that I will be teaching is my Anacortes pattern.

cdOne of the great things about this pattern is that I provide template sheets.

template sheetAll you need to do is pin the sheets to your fabric and cut on the lines. There is no need to cut individual templates, which can be extremely time-consuming. Color placement is key with this pattern. If you look at the  quilt you will see different patterns and shapes emerge.  We will work with color placement first.  Once you decide where you want your fabrics, the rest is simple. The templates are all designed to fit together easily. Once again, it is a matter of building the components.  With the exception of the border, this is a one block quilt.

I love fabric and I love color!!  Give yourself options and enjoy playing with fabric and color. The most important thing is to have fun and enjoy the process.  You will walk away with a stunning quilt!

It has been a lot of fun writing this blog. I’ll catch up with you again in a few weeks. I’ve got a some new things in the works. You can sign up for my newsletter on my website. You can also go to my Engineered for Quilters Facebook page. I will be launching a new contest very soon.

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