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Working Through Your Quilting Ideas

Let me introduce myself: I'm Carolyn Vagts, editor of Quilter's World magazine and writer of this update. That's my day job, and at night, I'm an addicted quilter. I tend to eat, breathe and sometimes sleep with my quilting. I have a beautiful studio with my work space right in it. How convenient, since I work at and with quilting. As editor, I am very hands-on with every issue. I'm also very hands-on with this update. I love to share my experiences with other quilters in hopes it will inspire them to explore the endless possibilities available to them.

With each update I select a book or pattern to accompany it. It's usually something that I feel goes along with the content of my update. Many times, I'll look at a project and want to take the elements apart to design another. The pattern I've selected this month is Holiday Wreath Table Runner, which also includes instructions for making matching coasters. This project has a cute block pattern in it that could easily be used in many ways. This time I decided to play around with the table runner block pattern and my Christmas scrap fabrics to see what else I can come up with. I love the table runner, but I'm a bit tired of making runners. I'm ready to play around and explore the other possibilities.

Holiday Wreath Table Runner
Holiday Wreath Table Runner pattern can be purchased at

The first thing I did was grab the container I keep my Christmas scrap fabrics in and sorted out a few fabrics to start. This year, blacks, grays and reds are popular for Christmas and I have a few of those in my stash.

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The fabrics I pulled from my stash, and the fabrics I selected.

After I decided on the fabrics I wanted to use, I cut out the pieces to make a few blocks to audition. Sometimes this is the best way to actually make decisions on fabrics and on different ideas you might like to explore. I like to make a few blocks and then lay them out to help me see what the possibilities are and whether I like the combination of fabrics I've chosen.

Holiday Wreath Table Runner
My block pieces cut out and ready to start my sample block.

Just as I was ready to begin stitching the pieces together, I decided to make a change. I decided to stitch the hanging ribbon strip into the block instead of appliqueing it on. I really don't like to applique pieces if I can piece them into place. After making some calculations and another trip to the cutting board, I returned to my machine and stitched the hanging ribbon strip in between two white rectangles. Then I moved on to the wreath part of the block. I stitched the white squares to the black squares as directed and trimmed off the excess from each unit.

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Making the changes to the hanging ribbon unit and assembling the wreath part of the block.

When the two halves of the block were completed, I had to decide exactly what I was going to make with these blocks, because what I would be using them for would determine what I did next.

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The two halves of the block completed.

With the two halves of the block completed and a plan in mind, I stitched the two halves together to complete the block. I had decided to make a wall hanging with several of these blocks, and so I wanted to change the bow to a dimensional style similar to the one given for the coaster pattern.

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One sample block ready for its bow.
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Sewing the bow, and how it looks on my wreath.

I cut out a piece of fabric a bit larger than the size given for the coaster and followed the coaster's bow instructions to complete the first bow for my wall hanging. After I stitched it in place, I really liked how it looked. With that in mind, I sketched the layout I had in my head to make sure it would all come together as I envisioned. I wanted to offset the blocks a bit so they were not lined up evenly, and I thought I'd add name tags to each wreath for the members in my daughter's family. The colors will work perfectly in her home, and I know she doesn't have anything like it. This is going to make a great surprise and one I know she will love. Sometimes some of the best projects don't take a long time to figure out. I can't wait for a bit more free time so I can finish this wall hanging. I should have it all cut out this afternoon and then I hope to have it stitched together yet this week. Oh what fun! I can't wait to finish this one!

If you have any tips on how you channel your ideas into quilts I'd love to hear from you at

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