Paper Pieced Quilt Along #4 – Sewing the Rest of the Blocks

As you work on your paper pieced quilt along, here a few tips and inspirational photos for encouragement! I am making a total of 48 Deco Dresden blocks for my quilt, but you can make as few or as many as you like!

paperpieced_wipSo far I’ve sewn 29 out of 48 blocks. It’s fun to see them coming together! Notice that I used many different red, orange and yellow solids, with slight variations per block to keep it interesting.


  • As you sew your blocks, lay out your strips in color order as you sew.
  • If you would like to create a shaded, ombre effect in some of the blocks, use the black and white filter on your camera to take a picture of your fabrics in grey scale.
  • If using a variety of fabrics, sew 4-8 blocks at a time and slightly vary the placement of some of your fabrics for interest.
  • Backstitch your seams to secure them from popping when you rip out your foundation papers

InspiRational Pics

These are just a few of the blocks that many of you have shared in my facebook group (Quilt With Christa) and on instagram (#paperpiecedqal). Please continue to share your blocks and be inspired by what you see. Seriously, the best part of any quilt along is seeing all the fabric choices and design possibilities!



Next Lesson:

The next lesson will focus on layout including cutting instructions for the background squares if you are using my layout shown above. The following week I will sew the blocks together into the top. So the bottom line is, you have plenty of time to sew your blocks and there’s no need to rush!

Click here for the Paper Pieced Quilt Along home page.

Copyright and Permission Granted

I am very happy to share my knowledge with you free of charge during this quilt along. However, this information is for your personal use as a loyal reader of my blog. Please do not make copies of any part of this quilt along to distribute it to your friends. If you’d like to tell them about it, simply share my QAL site link with them and encourage them to come on over and join us:

If you’d like to share links to my site on Facebook or on your own blog, that is great, too!

At the conclusion of the quilt along, I will be happy to edit down all of the content and turn it into a pattern for sale, so that others can use my pattern as a teaching aid in the future. :-)

Christa’s Soap Box – How to Succeed in Business (With Lots and Lots of Trying)

Have you ever heard of the Broadway musical “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying”?

howtosucceedAlthough I’ve never seen the play, the title always gives me a chuckle as I pause for reflection. I know there are many entrepreneurs out there who want to get rich quick or pave a quick path to success. In fact, I have a running joke at home that my idea for a get rich quick scheme is to write a book on how to get rich quick! :-)

But in reality, most successful business people aka solo-preneurs or mom-preneurs or what-have-you only succeed because of tons of  hard work, tenacity, and perseverance. Today’s soap box is a reflection and also a reminder that it takes time, patience and grit to get where you want to be. It’s basically more musings on an earlier post I wrote titled, “The only one standing in my way is me.” (Incidentally that one was written just after quilt market, too!)

I’ve mentioned before on this blog that the summer of 2012 is when I decided I wanted to go professional with my quilting: start entering national shows, writing for publication, and  teaching nationally, etc. Along the way there have been heart-breaks, disappointments, and failures along with the successes. I read once on a well-known designer’s blog (sorry – I forget who) that people thought the blogger was an overnight success, but in reality it took 5 years of daily blogging to get noticed. 5 YEARS! So that number has always stuck with me along with the idea of having a 5 year plan.

So far I’m 3 years into my 5 year plan and it feels like things are finally starting to happen. It’s exciting but scary all at the same time, but I promised way back then that I would take my readers along for the ride! Every day I worry that I will mess up or make some huge mistake that I can’t recover from, but then I just hold to the idea that hard work will pay off in the end.

pubicityThis is the only sneak peek I care share now, of some opportunities that coincided with Spring Quilt Market. It was a case of good timing, preparation, and flexibility.

One of my favorite phrases is “good luck is what happens when opportunity meets preparation” and I truly believe that! I have had some great opportunities come my way, which I will share with you as I can. One thing I have learned time and time again this year is that as long as I produce good quality work and meet my deadlines, more doors will open up. Yes, you have to be knowledgeable in your field, but even the biggest divas in the world won’t be given a second or third chance if they fail to produce!

I’ve looked up to many in the quilting industry for guidance and advice; in turn, I’ve been able to mentor a few close friends in order to pay it forward for the help I’ve been given. So this is just more encouragement to any of you out there that want to engage in the business of quilting, or follow in any other creative endeavors. Don’t fall into the trap of self-doubt or “why me?” syndrome. Instead, I encourage you to embrace the idea of “why not me?”

I will leave you with this challenge: think of your biggest pie-in-the-sky dream and take steps NOW to make it happen. If you’d like to share what that is – I’d love to know! If it’s more personal, write it on a note to yourself and remind yourself to look at it every day.

And now, go make something happen!

If you enjoy my blog, be sure to subscribe to my weekly newsletter: Friendly Threads!

Quilt Market Perspectives Spring 2015

I’m finally recovered from my Spring Quilt Market “hangover” that I can finally blog about it! This is only my 3rd time attending market (including a brief visit way back in 2008 and then again last fall). My goal for the trip was two-fold: order new precuts for our store and connect with several industry folks to firm up relationships that had already been established and seek out new ones. Jason and I divided and conquered our tasks –  he took care of meeting with the vendors while I was able to put on my “designer” hat and mingle with many of the movers and shakers in the industry.


I have to tell you – from a business perspective, it’s worth it to attend market whether you are an aspiring designer, shop owner, or other quilting professional. You just can’t beat the one-on-one face-time that’s possible at an event like this. I was able to firm up previous commitments I’ve already agreed to, and several new opportunities were presented to me as a result of attending. So yay for business networking! Here a few fun highlights from the show:

 angela_leah_christaMeeting the amazingly talented Angela Walters and Leah Day was a highlight of my trip!

I was able to meet one-one-one with two of my machine quilting heroes: Angela Walters from Quilting is My Therapy and Leah Day from The Free Motion Quilting Project. These women are incredibly successful and they are very passionate about what they do! They are also generous with their knowledge and it was fun to chat quilting and business with them. I have a feeling you will be seeing more amazing things from these ladies in the future, so be sure to follow them, if you don’t already. :-)

The day before market opens for business, dozens of 15-30 minute schoolhouse presentations are offered so that shop owners can get an overview of the latest and greatest at market. Schedules are handed out a few hours before the event begins and everyone quickly scrambles to choose which lectures they’d like to attend.

schoolhouse_scheduleQuilt Market is a great place to bump into quilty friends!

 It was fun to see smiling friendly faces from the likes of Becca from Sew Me a Song, Amy Friend of During Quiet Time,  Leanne Chahley from She Can Quilt, and Sharon McConnell of Color Girl Quilts. We spent the day bumping into various online friends and having lots of great impromptu chats between schoolhouse sessions.

melissa_schoolhouse This is what a packed schoolhouse room looks like! Melissa Corry has a great “mom voice” that can be heard above any crowd. She’s just as fun as her quilts!

The hardest part was choosing which school houses to attend. So many of my friends were sharing their new books/fabrics/products at the same time! One of the best presentations was from Melissa Corry of Happy Quilting. She has a new book out and her schoolhouse was packed! She enthusiastically shared quilts from her book along with tips for shop owners on how to market it and make kits from it. I took lots of mental notes so that I’ll be ready to roll with my presentation, come fall!

Here’s a little montage of just some of the booths and people I met. Even after 4 days on their feet, these designers kept on smiling! Below from left to right: Bari J., Kimberbell Designs and Amanda Herring (The Quilted Fish), Atkinson Designs, Brenda from Pink Castle, Deb Strain, Sherri McConnell (new Moda fabrics), Carolyn Friedlander, Eleanor Burns, and Elizabeth Hartman.

market_montageI took more pictures which I will share in a future Craftsy blog post, so stay tuned for that!

By far, my favorite moment was getting to share sneak peeks of my book and a few quilts from Machine Quilting With Style along with a demo. This was a great practice run for me, as I’ll be able to do a schoolhouse and several book signings in the fall at the next quilt market.

book_promoMy publisher, Martingale, had a huge booth with a demo area for their authors, plus plenty of quilts on display to showcase their current catalog of books. It was a great setup!

If you were able to participate, either in person, or virtually through social media, what were some of your favorite quilt market moments?

Paper Pieced Quilt Along #3 – Sewing the First Block

A Note About the Blocks


8″ Finished Deco Dresden Block

Each block has quite a few pieces so they take a long time to assemble. However,  the actual sewing is relatively easy. I have scheduled the quilt along so that you basically have three weeks to complete the blocks (but of course I encourage you to work at your own pace). Today’s tutorial will go over construction for one block. Next week will be a continuation of block making with examples from many of you! The following week we will spend some time on alternate layouts. So don’t stress and enjoy the meditative piecing process. :-)

Setting Up Your Workstation

Before we begin sewing our paper foundation pieced blocks (click here for the QAL schedule), we need to set up an efficient work space. You will be sewing, pressing and trimming for each piece on each block, so you want to have each work station close at hand for efficiency.

sewing_stationI sew in front of me with my ironing board and portable pressing mat to my left, with a cutting table behind me, forming a U shape. I can move between all three effortlessly while I construct my blocks.

Trimming the Foundations

After you have printed off 48 copies (or however many blocks’ worth you need) of the paper foundation pattern  shared last in the last post, roughly trim around both sections of the block pattern. Trim close to the outer edges to help with better fabric placement.

foundation_trimmingRoughly trim the excess paper around each foundation template.

Making One Block

Make one complete block first to get the hang of how the process works. When you are comfortable, sew multiple blocks at the same time, chain piecing all of the same units as you go. For my quilt, I am making approximately 4-8 blocks at once. For the one block version, you can chain piece the A units and the B units for efficiency.

Step 1

Glue or pin a background rectangle to your foundation paper covering piece A1 with 1/4″ of fabric extending past the seam lines on all sides. The wrong side of the fabric should be glued or pined to the wrong side of the paper. Repeat for section B1. If the paper is thin enough, you should be able to see through it. If not, hold it up to a light source or window.

first_pieceThe photo above shows two black background rectangles glued to A1 and B1. One is face up, one is face down so you can see roughly what it should look like on both sides.

Place the paper print side up. Place the thin straight edge along the seam line between A1 and A2 or B1 and B2. Fold the paper over the straight edge. Leave the background piece where it is. Repeat for section A & B.

first_foldCrease the sewing line between 1 and 2, then fold the paper template over the straight edge.

Place the add-a-quarter ruler on top of the paper, fabric and straight edge and rotary cut along the edge, trimming off the excess background fabric. You are now ready to sew the first piece.

first_trimYou can use a small ruler and slide it up and down as needed, or use a longer one.

Step 2

Flip the paper to the wrong side and place your A2 fabric piece (color 1) lining up the edges of the background rectangle. My A2 piece is dark red. Lift up the paper if needed and check the front side ensure your fabric is overlapping the seam line by at least 1/4″ all around.

add_a_colorRepeat for your B2 piece, or color 2. For my quilt, this is the yellow rectangle.

Flip the paper to the print side and sew on the line between A1 and A2 or B1 and B2. Be sure to start sewing 1/4″ before and after the seam line for seam allowances. For extra security, back stitch the beginning and ending few stitches if desired. Shorten your stitch length to perforate the paper, making it easier to tear away later.

first_sewRemember – always sew on the printed side so you can follow the lines!

You will sew each line in numerical order. The first seam line to stitch is in between A1 and A2 or B1 and B2. The next line to stitch is in between A2 and A3 or B2 and B3, and so on.

Once you have sewn the A first line and B line, remove the pieces from your machine, flip the newly sewn pieces open and press from the front of the block. You are now ready to trim again and add the next piece.

first_redyellow_pieceSew on the printed side. Then flip the paper over and press from the non-printed side.

Step 3

Repeat the trimming process by creasing the paper along the next seam line between A2 and A3 or B2 and B3. Fold the paper template toward your left, covering the straight edge. Add your quarter inch seam allowance with the ruler, and trim the excess. The pictures below are in order from left to right, top to bottom.

second_trimCrease the seam line, fold the template, add a quarter inch seam allowance, and trim.

It’s time to add a background rectangle: place it against the A2 or B2 color, sew on the paper side, flip the paper over, open the piece and press. Be sure the background rectangle completely covers the area of A3 or B3 with 1/4″ extra on all sides.

black_cornerAfter this step it will be time to trim up the yellow strip and add another yellow strip.

Step 4

Repeat this process until you have sewn all of the pieces on the A template and all of the pieces on the B template. When pressed your pieces should look roughly like this:

messy_blockFor my block, three reds and one orange are sewn onto the A section; three yellows and 2 oranges are sewn onto the B section. I cut a lot of scraps so my blocks will vary slightly in color placement.

Step 5

Flip the two halves of the block over so the paper side is up. Very carefully, trim the units along the seam allowances. Be sure to trim 1/4″ away from all of the points. Now they should look much nicer like this:


Pin the two units together between B10 and A8 and sew along the seam to join them. For easier matching, sew from the straight side toward the triangle tips. Match them so they look like this:

join_templatesSew on the seam line at the top of the units to join the paper pieced templates together.

Step 6

Carefully remove all of the paper template in between the sewn pieces, starting on the outer edge of the block and working your way across the block.

paper_tearingPaper templates partially removed.

Once the paper has been removed, press the block so that it is nice and flat. Add the half-square background triangle to complete the block. Trim if needed so the block measures 8 1/2″ x 8 1/2″.

finished_blockDeco Dresden Block 8 1/2″ x 8 1/2″

Hint: use a square acrylic ruler as you trim and remember to leave 1/4″ of background beyond your colored points so that they don’t get cut off.

Goal for Next Time:

Sew 3-4 more blocks and share your progress on instagram #paperpiecedqal and on Facebook at Quilt With Christa.

Copyright and Permission Granted

I am very happy to share my knowledge with you free of charge during this quilt along. However, this information is for your personal use as a loyal reader of my blog. Please do not make copies of any part of this quilt along to distribute it to your friends. If you’d like to tell them about it, simply share my QAL site link with them and encourage them to come on over and join us:

If you’d like to share links to my site on Facebook or on your own blog, that is great, too!

At the conclusion of the quilt along, I will be happy to edit down all of the content and turn it into a pattern for sale, so that others can use my pattern as a teaching aid in the future. :-)


Fabric Friday – Free Spirit Style

Here are some new fabrics I have been crushing on!

Franklin by Denyse Schmidt is available in full-size design rolls, 10 squares, and coming soon – fat quarter bundles! I love how the precut collections include an assortment of solids to go with the prints. Personally, I hope Free Spirit continues with the full size precuts, rather than the smaller bundles. :-)

denyseschmidt_franklinFranklin by Denyse Schmidt for Free Spirit

 Folk Song by Anna Maria Horner is a colorful array of cheerful florals mixed with a few bright geometrics. It’s a nod to her earlier collection Good Folks from several years ago.

folksongFolk Song by Anna Maria Horner

Clementine, Heather Bailey’s newest line mixes well with her other collection and features the same fresh mix of pink, aqua, and orange. I especially love the butterfly prints!

clementineClementine by Heather Bailey

Finally, you can’t go wrong with anything from Tula Pink! Moonshine is still available (until it sells out). Her designs and unique color palettes are so popular, it’s hard to keep them in stock!


Moonshine by Tula Pink

I hope these delicious looking bundles can tide you over until I return from Quilt Market with a full report on the latest and greatest coming you way!

Do you have a favorite fabric brand? If so, which one?

Paper Pieced Quilt Along #2 – Cutting the Fabrics, Block Pattern

about this Quilt Along

I am presenting this free quilt along on a 12 week schedule so that everyone can sew at their own pace. There’s plenty of time to catch up if you start late, and you can jump in and out at anytime. Remember to share your progress in my Facebook group: Quilt With Christa!

layout_variationsJust a few of the layout variations that are possible with this block!

Visit the Paper Pieced Quilt Along page for links to all of the tutorials as they go live!

A Note About cutting

If this is your first paper piecing experience or it’s been awhile, I recommend that you cut out enough fabric for just one block and make a test block (instructions to be shared next week) before cutting the rest of your fabrics. After making one block, you may choose to cut smaller pieces depending on your preferences and your ability to withstand the waste.

My philosophy on cutting for paper piecing is that you can either waste fabric by cutting oversized pieces, or waste time trying to cut them all perfectly. The choice is yours!

Remember, I am making 48 blocks, 8″ x 8″ finished for my quilt. Adjust your quantity as desired.

Cutting Strips for 48 Blocks

Note: Width of Fabric (WOF) is usually 40″ – 42″

  • From background (black) cut:
    • 19 strips, 2 1/4″ x WOF
    • 18 strips, 2″ x WOF
    • 3 strips, 4 1/2″ x WOF
  • From color 1 (reds) cut:
    • 29 strips, 2 1/4″ x WOF
  • From color 2 (yellows) cut:
    • 29 strips, 2 1/4″ x WOF
  • From color 3 (oranges) cut:
    • 20 strips, 2 1/4″ x WOF
    • 12 strips, 3″ x WOF

Sub-cutting Units for One Block

Refer to the paper pieced block diagram below for reference. Label your pieces if needed to stay organized.

  • 2 rectangles, 2 1/4″ x 6″ of background (black) –  A1, B1
  • 1 rectangle, 2″ x 3″ of background (black) – B11
  • 8 rectangles, 2″ x 2 1/4″ of background (black) – A3, A5, A7, A9 & B3, B5, B7, B9
  • 1 square 4 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ of background (black) – cut in half on the diagonal for 2 block corners
  • 3 rectangles, 2 1/4″ x 8″ of color 1 (reds) – A2, A4, A6*
  • 3 rectangles, 2 1/4″ x 8″ of color 2 (yellows) – B2, B4, B6*
  • 2 rectangles, 2 1/4″ x 8 1/2″ of color 3 (oranges) – A8, B8
  • 1 rectangle, 3″ x 9 1/2″ of color 3 (oranges) – B10

*Note: You can get away with cutting shorter lengths if you like: (6″ – A2, B2);  (7″ – A4, B4)

Sub-Cutting Units for 48 Blocks

  • 96 rectangles, 2 1/4″ x 6″ of background (black) –  A1, B1
  • 48 rectangles, 2″ x 3″ of background (black) – B11
  • 384 rectangles, 2″ x 2 1/4″ of black background (black) – A3, A5, A7, A9 & B3, B5, B7, B9
  • 24 squares 4 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ of background (black) – cut in half on the diagonal for 2 block corners each
  • 144 rectangles, 2 1/4″ x 8″ of color 1 (reds) – A2, A4, A6*
  • 144 rectangles, 2 1/4″ x 8″ of color 2 (yellows) – B2, B4, B6*
  • 96 rectangles, 2 1/4″ x 8 1/2″ of color 3 (oranges) – A8, B8
  • 48 rectangles, 3″ x 9 1/2″ of color 3 (oranges) – B10

cut_stripsMy cut strips gradated by value – you don’t have to sort them this way, though!

Paper Pieced Block Pattern

Click on the picture below, or this link, to download and print off as many copies of the foundation paper pieced pattern as you need, 1 page per block. You can use regular copy paper, or specialty foundation paper. Print off an extra copy for reference and to jot down notes about fabric placement.

Be sure your printer is set to 100% printing. For accuracy, measure the seam allowance from B1 to B11 . It should measure 8 1/2″ exactly. Note that the pattern does not include the corner triangle. That will be attached separately later. The finished block size is 8″.

Deco-Dresden-FoundationClick here for the Deco Dresden Foundation PDF

Next Lesson

In the next post, we will be making the first paper pieced block to familiarize you with the process. Feel free to work ahead on your own if you are already comfortable with the process! Since it’s just one block, you will have plenty of time to make it, then finish your cutting after the test block if desired.

Click here for the full quilt along schedule and links to each tutorial as they go live.

Sharing is Caring

When you’ve cut your strips – be sure share them in my facebook group: Quilt With Christa.
I’d love to see your progress and answer any questions you may have! You can also share your progress on instagram with the hashtag #paperpiecedqal.

Copyright and Permission Granted

I am very happy to share my knowledge with you free of charge during this quilt along. However, this information is for your personal use as a loyal reader of my blog. Please do not make copies of any part of this quilt along to distribute it to your friends. If you’d like to tell them about it, simply share my QAL site link with them and encourage them to come on over and join us:

If you’d like to share links to my site on Facebook or on your own blog, that is great, too!

At the conclusion of the quilt along, I will be happy to edit down all of the content and turn it into a pattern for sale, so that others can use my pattern as a teaching aid in the future. :-)

To Market, To Market…

Later this week kicks off the semi-annual International Quit Market for the quilting industry. It’s a place to see the latest and greatest in quilting fabric, supplies, books and patterns and it’s also an excellent source of what’s happening world of quilting!
I am excited because I get to share sneak peeks of my new book (it doesn’t release until September), and share a little machine quilting love with whomever stops by the Martingale booth. If you are there on Friday – why don’t you pop by and say hi! Details below:
If you can sketch it, you can quilt it!
Martingale Booth (#325)
Friday, May 15th, 4:30-5:30 PM

And guess what? There will also be some pin-trading going on at this market!


A few industry friends and I teamed up to get the word out about each other’s pins. Look for these signs throughout market and grab a souvenir pin! I’m sure plenty of other exhibitors and attendees will have them, too, so it will be a like a little treasure hunt!

If you can’t be at quilt market in person, be sure to follow along virtually on instagram with the hashtag #quiltmarket. And I’m sure there will be lots of fun pics shared with #notgoingtomarket or #vitrualquiltmarket, too! :-)

Fun Things Happening Around Here – Share Your Good News, Too!

I have two quick things I’d like to share!

First, I found out this week that my blog is one of the finalists in the National Quilter’s Circle blogger awards. Thanks you guys for nominating me – that makes a girl feel so great!! Click here to check out all of the finalists and vote for your favorites in all 4 categories. :-)


Second, I just got word that my quilt, Modern Logs won a 2nd place ribbon in the modern category at HMQS (the Home Machine Quilting Show in Salt Lake City, UT). It’s an amazing show full of very stiff competition!! I have entered quilts in that show now for the last three years and attended in person the last two times. Of course, it’s one of the ironies of life that the year I am unable to attend the awards ceremony is the year I receive recognition. ;-) I have a running joke around here that I only get ribbons at the big shows I don’t attend, LOL!!

Click here for a list of all of the HMQS 2015 winners.

HMQS_2ndThanks to Michelle Freedman (aka designcamppdx on Instagram) for the pic!

But enough about my good news – I’d like to hear about yours! What good things have happened to you or a loved one this week? (And if you are having a particularly bad week – here’s a virtual hug for ya!! XOXO!!)

Now it’s time to go sew!

Craftsy Recommendation: Start Foundation Paper Piecing

Because paper piecing is on my mind with the launch of my paper piecing Quilt Along, I thought it would be the perfect time for me to recommend a fabulous Craftsy class from Elizabeth Dackson: Start Foundation Paper Piecing.

startfoundationppI’ve been a fan of Elizabeth’s no-nonsense, thorough teaching style and I’ve several occasions to interact with her through the  Modern Quilt Guild. Let me tell you – Elizabeth is prepared and knows her stuff!

I’m currently watching Start Foundation Paper Piecing not only to support  a friend (and someone I look up to), but also to perfect my own paper piecing skills. I always say it’s a great idea to take classes on the same subject from a variety of different sources to gain a better understanding of the material!

Here’s a quick rundown of the class topics:

  • Introduction (7 min) – supply list and general overview
  • Block Planning (25 min) – tips on color choices, cutting, and reversing templates
  • Sunray Block (41 min) – learn the basic paper piecing method step-by-step
  • Vortex Block (34 min) – practice chain piecing, acute angles, combining units
  • Starflower Block (19 min) – working with directional prints and irregular templates
  • Monarch Block (16 min) – combining multiple templates
  • Pictorial Blocks (27 min) – it’s as fun as it sounds!
  • Lesson Bonus (10 min) – looking for your next project and shopping for templates

Doesn’t that sound fun? And here’s the best part – all Quilting Classes are on sale for Mother’s Day. Yes – ALL classes. So while you are checking out Start Foundation Paper Piecing, you can load up your virtual cart with other classes you’ve had your eye on.

Paper Pieced Quilt Along #1 – Supply List and Sewing Schedule


Are you ready to join me on a paper piecing adventure? I’d love to have you! For my next quilt along, I will be sharing a 12-part tutorial series, showing you how to make a complete paper-pieced quilt from start to finish including machine quilting!

My block design was inspired by a traditional Dresden Plate block that I reinterpreted in EQ7 using hard edges and sharp angles rather than soft curves and circles. I renamed it Deco Dresden since so many friends on Instagram told me it looked like an art-deco design. :-)


8″ Finished Deco Dresden Unit – Designed in EQ7

The Design

When you place four of the Deco Dresden units together one way, they form a really cool sunburst block.


 16″ Finished Sunburst Block

If you’d like to try a more modern, geometric look, you can sew your blocks together like this:


16″ Finished Geometric Pinwheel Block

One quick tip as you are planing your colors: By using a color gradation and placing similar values in the same spot you can create a pretty cool optical illusion effect, where the blocks look like they are leaning to the left or right (depending on the order of your gradation).


 Can you see that the blocks all appear to be leaning to the right? – Putting negative space in between the blocks emphasizes the optical illusion. Size shown is 56″ x 64″.

If you would like to create a more traditional or contemporary look, balance out your color values so that the lighter colors are on the ends. Then set the blocks together side by side:


 Here’s a more traditional/contemporary layout with the blocks in a straight set. Finished size is 48″ x 64″ as shown. Add extra background borders or more blocks to make it bigger.

For a completely different look, you can lay out the blocks individually like this:


 As of now, I think this is the layout I’m going to choose –  64″ x 80″.

This is just the beginning of what you can do with this block! During the quilt along, I’ll share several more options of how you can set your blocks.

The Caveat

I will guide you through all the steps of paper piecing these blocks, but here’s a warning up front: paper piecing wastes fabric, and these blocks are very time-consuming since they contain a lot of pieces per block. So allow yourself plenty of time and don’t rush it. The actual piecing is pretty straight-forward and the paper piecing method I use can be applied to any paper pieced block design.


 An early version of the block in a smaller size. All of that waste is just from one block!

One other thing – I will be showing you how to make the blocks and will include step by step cutting and assembly for the layout I choose. I encourage you to choose or create any layout you like, but you’ll have to figure out the additional math if needed. :-)

Group Quilt Along

Are you excited to explore the possibilities of this design? There’s no need to sign up and it’s completely free. The tutorials will be posted here on the blog, and you can join my facebook group Quilt With Christa to share pictures of your progress and get input from everyone else who is quilting along. I will also be posting real-time sneak peeks on facebook in between my scheduled blog posts. My facebook group is also a great place to trouble-shoot and ask questions!

For those of you who would like to share on Instagram, I will be using the hashtag #decoqal for this one. You can also share pics from any of my previous quilt alongs with the tag #christaquiltsqal.

Materials List

This is enough to make 48 Deco Dresden blocks, 8″ x 8″. I have used Robert Kaufman Kona Solids in some of my favorite colors – red, orange and yellow for my version. For more variety and movement, choose a range of fabrics for each color family. And remember, choose colors that appeal to you!

  • Background (Black): 3 yards for blocks only, or 5 yards if piecing in negative space or borders
  • Color 1 (at least 3 assorted reds): 2 Yards Total
  • Color 2 (at least 3 assorted yellows): 2 Yards Total
  • Color 3 (at least 3 assorted Oranges): 2 1/2 yards Total
  • Binding Fabric: Approx. 5/8 yard
  • Backing Fabric: Approx. 5 yards
  • Batting Piece: Approx. 68″ x 84″ (or at least 4″ bigger than your finished quilt size)
  • Neutral to dark cotton thread for piecing. I recommend Aurifil 50 weight.
  • Thread to match your fabrics for quilting. I recommend Aurifil 40 or 50 weight.

Other supplies

  • Add a quarter ruler (I think the 12″ size is the most versatile.)
  • A piece of thin but firm template plastic, or other thin hard edge such as a manilla folder or postcard
  • 48 pieces of lightweight copy paper or specialty foundation paper
  • Needles, size 90/14
  • Washable glue stick or pins for securing the first piece
  • Basic sewing supplies and rotary cutting equipment
  • Iron and optional portable pressing mat
  • Your can-do attitude – this is going to be fun!

Paper Pieced Quilt Along Schedule

  • Part 1 – Intro and Supply List – Today!
  • Part 2 – Cutting the Fabrics – May 13
  • Part 3 – Sewing the First Block – May 20
  • Part 4 – Sewing the Rest of the Blocks – May 27
  • Part 5 – Exploring Alternate Layouts – June 3
  • Part 6 – Sewing the Top – June 10
  • Part 7 – Backing and Basting – June 17
  • Part 9 – Machine Quilting – June 24
  • Part 10  – More Machine Quilting – July 1
  • Part 11 – Trimming and Binding – July 15
  • Part 12 – Wrap up and Share Your Success! – July 22

Copyright and Permission Granted

I am very happy to share my knowledge with you free of charge during this quilt along. However, this information is for your personal use as a loyal reader of my blog. Please do not make copies of any part of this quilt along to distribute it to your friends. If you’d like to tell them about it, simply share my QAL site link with them and encourage them to come on over and join us.:

If you’d like to share links to my site on Facebook or on your own blog, that is great, too!

At the conclusion of the quilt along, I will be happy to edit down all of the content and turn it into a pattern for sale, so that others can use my pattern as a teaching aid in the future. :-)

So who wants to quilt along?

When you’ve picked your fabrics, please share your stash over on my facebook group. I’d love to see what colors you are working with!