Midnight at the Oasis Final session

Session Seven

Border 5 – Courthouse Steps


For this border, I found it tedious to cut the various strips for the blocks.  It seems I did nothing but cut and sub-cut strips for several days.  Again, I like the contrast between the background fabric and the feature fabric to really stand out.             DSC_0653samllDSC_0654 small


I changed the background of my design wall.  Brian thought the red background overshadowed the quilt.  This is the quilt so far, with some of the courthouse steps. I’m liking how it is turning out.

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Here is the finished quilt, hanging up in my shop! I’m really pleased on how it turned out, and I hope you’re all pleased with your own.




I’ve sure enjoyed this quilt along, and hope you have, too.  It’s amazing how unique each of our quilts are, using the same pattern.

Next Quilt Along will use the Green Tea and Sweet Beans pattern by Jen Kingwell.  We’ll give details in an upcoming newsletter.

Quilt Along Session 6

Border 4, Checkerboard

Well, the end is in sight (for me at least).  It’s been fairly slow going, but you’re all doing great.  I love seeing the photos you’ve posted to the Facebook Group page.


The pattern gives two options for the checkerboard border: You can cut (276) 1 ½” x 1 ½” squares of the secondary background and (276) 1 ½” x 1 ½” squares of a large variety of prints.


You can cut 1 ½” strips of background and 1 ½” strips of prints and sew them in sets of three and sub cutting at 1 ½” increments.  If you alternate background/print/background and print/background/print, press seam to the background piece, these sections will nestle neatly together.            DSC_0647 v1

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After piecing the checkerboard borders, I actually had to remove one section from each border to make them fit my quilt so far.  Again, that elusive 1/4″ seam.  Remember, the pattern writer usually designs and makes the quilt while she is writing the pattern.  The measurements she gives are for her borders, blocks etc.  I would bet money that if we compared our finished quilt sizes at the end, we will have multiple variations.  Remember, no quilt police here.                  DSC_0651 v1


Next session is on February 2, 2015

Homework – finish Checkerboard border.


Quilt Along Session 5

Border 3: Churn Dash

Well, using  these blocks to make borders that need to fit really requires some finagling the end product, doesn’t it?

The best advice I can offer for the churn dash block is to make sure the value of your background is different than the value of the feature fabric.  Wherever possible, I kept the background fabric and feature fabric uniform for each block.  I also wanted the background to be lighter than the feature fabric.

I cut (2) 1 – 7/8″ squares of background, (2) 1 – 7/8″ squares of feature, (1) 1″ x 6″ strip of background, and (1) 1″ x 6″ strip of feature fabric, and (1) 1 ½”  square of background fabric.

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I made the corner pieces as indicated, but I sewed the 1″ strips together and sub cut into 1 ½” sections.

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Continue to make (52) 3 ½” blocks.

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Next Session is on     January 9, 2015         Border 4: Checkerboard

Homework: finish churn dash border.

Midnight at the Oasis 4th Session

You all said that I should post the next session even though most of you weren’t up to this point. I’ll keep the sessions up until everyone is completed.

4th Session

Border 2: Applique Vine

Before going farther, I need to confess that I had to adjust the size of my orange peel borders.  I have found in many patterns, my 1/4″ seam will vary from the pattern maker’s 1/4″ seam slightly.  Even if I vary as small as 1/16″ of an inch; with as many seams as we are working with, that 1/16″ can really add up.  No Worries, before you add a border, make sure you measure the section you are adding the border to three times.  When you are adding the left side border, measure the left side of the piece, the center and the right side.  Add the three measurements and divide by three.  This will give the average size and that is the measurement you use for the length of both side borders.  Add the side borders and then measure again: top, center and bottom.  Find that average and use it for both the top and bottom borders.  Repeat this for every border you add.

This may sound like an annoying extra step, but it will be well worth the effort.  This quilt has a lot of borders, and each border is made up of small blocks with many seams each.  Don’t be that quilter whose quilt is lop sided or doubles as a “D” cup bra when you lie it flat!

Having said that, begin by cutting (4) 5 ½” x 25 ½” strips (or whatever your sides and top borders measure out to be) of the primary background fabric.

The pattern calls for a 3/8″ bias tape maker.  If you don’t have one, you can press your 1″ strips lengthwise with wrong sides together and stitch a 1/8″ seam along the edge.  Press seam to one side on the back so you can sew it down with the seam hidden under the vine.

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Cut out the other applique pieces G, H, & I and the leaves for this border.  I made (10) G pieces, (20) H pieces, (55) I pieces and (15) leaves.


Arrange vines in a free form manner on the border background.  At each edge of the border, extend the vines an additional 2″ or so.  The vine on both ends of the borders  extend past the edge several inches so you can stitch these pieces of vine over the basket handles in the corners.


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Arrange the flowers, and leaves over the vines on border background and applique.  Save (4) flowers to put in the corner baskets.

The corner baskets call for (8) 1 – 7/8″ squares for each basket for a total of (32).  Cut each square in half diagonally and stitch them together randomly for a scrappy look.

  Once you assemble the baskets, cut (4) 5 ½” x 5 ½” square from the primary background.  Measure down from the top corner 1 – 1/8″ and mark.  Do the same on the bottom left corner.  Cut from mark to mark.

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Sew the basket to the background square.    DSC_0630 v1  Add a basket handle to the basket.

Sew a border to each side of center square.

Stitch a basket on each side of the top and bottom borders, then sew the borders to the top and bottom of the square.  The basket corners should be toward the inside.

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Once the applique borders are finished, add the tiny borders as before:

Cut (2) 1″ x 35 ½” strips }     Adjust if necessary.

Cut (2) 1″ x 36 ½” strips}

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The next Session is on    December 26           3rd Border : Churn Dash

Homework – finish applique border

Midnight at the Oasis Third Session

Hi Everyone:  Wow!  You guys have been doing awesome work.  There’s so much creativity and neat use of colors.  I hope you’re having as much fun and are as challenged as I am.  This quilt takes a lot of work!  Anyway, here goes for the third session.

Border 1: Orange Peel

I decided to use lighter fabrics for each background.  I chose 4 darker/medium fabrics in the same color family (whenever possible) for the orange peels.

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Cut (20) 4 ½” x 4 ½” squares

(80) F templates using various prints.  I found it easier to pin the four fabrics together and draw the template on the top one.  I could then cut all four at the same time.

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(I am using the same technique for applique for the whole project, so I won’t repeat those instructions again.)

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Once you add this border, add the tiny border strips.

Cut: (2) strips 1″ x 24 ½”

(2) strips 1″ x 25 ½”


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Next Session is on or about November 29 and will cover Border 2: Applique Vine

Homework: Finish Orange Peel borders

Midnight at the Oasis Second Quilt Along Session

Hi Everyone:

We’re back from our fabulous trip to Israel, and I’ve prepared the second session of our Midnight at the Oasis quilt along.  I hope you’ve all selected your fabrics, and are ready to get to work.  And this quilt is quite a bit of work, I must say.  Here we go!

Preparing templates for cutting:

The last page of the pattern are the templates that we’ll need to add 1/4″ seam allowance to before we use them to cut out the pieces.


I like to trace each shape onto template plastic with a Sharpie fine point permanent marker before I add the 1/4″ seam.  It is easier for me to add the seam allowance when I have it already on the plastic.


As I mentioned at the beginning of the sew along, I encouraged you to read the entire pattern ahead of time.  As I read about the center square, I decided not to cut the fabric of template E.  Instead of piecing E to the four pointed star, I would rather cut a 15 ½” x 15 ½” square, and applique the star on that.  This is my personal preference, if you want to piece, please do whatever technique you like best.  (Obviously, I will need a little more fabric if I’m going to cut a larger piece of the primary background than the pattern calls for.)


Once my templates are ready, I need to decide the fabrics that I’ll use in the Center Square.

-Primary Background – one 15 ½” x 15 ½” square

-64 of a variety of fabrics for template A                                        DSC_0572 v1

-Multi red for small borders – template B

-C & D, I’m not too concerned, as long as they look pleasing.

-8″ x 8″ square for circle appliques – secondary background


When I’m ready to applique the circles (and eventually the four point star), I don’t want to needle turn and I don’t want raw edge applique.  I have found a happy medium when I use a thin non-fuseable interfacing.  The finished piece has a little more depth than using raw edge applique with Steam-A-Seam.   Once you have your piece ready for applique, place it face down on the   interfacing,

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and stitch all the way around using a 1/4″ seam.

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On curved pieces, clip up to, but not past the seam, so when you turn it right side out, it will lay flat.     DSC_0575 v1                   Make a small slit in the interfacing, and turn right-side out.    DSC_0576 v1DSC_0577 v1                     Press so you can’t see the stabilizer.    DSC_0578 v1

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Begin assembly of center Section.




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Press lowest layer of A’s to left, next layer to right, then left again.  This will allow your triangles to nest together more easily.


When you are piecing triangles, one of the most difficult steps is ensuring the points meet precisely.  One way of doing this, is to insert a flat headed pin from the back of the second layer from the bottom at exactly the spot where the points of the triangles meet.       DSC_0583 v1DSC_0584 v1DSC_0585 v1 Insert the pin through the point of the triangle you are piecing it to.

DSC_0586 v1DSC_0587 v1DSC_0588 v1Pull the pieces together on the pin, and place a pin on either side of the seam to make sure it stays in place.   I also like to put a dot on the seam where I want to be sure my stitch intersects.   DSC_0590 v1DSC_0591 v1   I will use the same applique technique for the star points      DSC_0597 v1


After you have made the star points, you will be ready to applique the circles (B, C, & D) onto the 8″ x 8″ center square.    Find the center of your square by drawing diagonal lines from corner to corner.

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Trim square to 6″ x 6″ and attach a pieced triangle to each side.   DSC_0599 v1  This is the time where you piece E between the points, or applique the star onto a 15 ½” x 15 ½” square. DSC_0600 v1DSC_0601 v1


Once you have you star on the center square, add the tiny borders.

Cut 2 strips 1″ x 15 ½” and stitch to top and bottom

Cut 2 strips 1″ x 16 ½” and stitch to each side.DSC_0608 v1

Whew!  That was a bit of work, wasn’t it?

Next session is on or about  November 14 and will be about Border 1: Orange Peel

Homework: Finish Center Square


Midnight at the Oasis First Quilt Along Session

Hi everyone, and welcome to my first ever quilt along.  I’ve tried to include as much information and hints as possible.  I hope we all enjoy making this quilt together.

Overview and General Observations:

I encourage you to read all the instructions before you begin this project.  You may find you have a better or different way of accomplishing the same thing.

One of the things I really like about Jen Kingwell’s patterns, she is a firm believer in using as many of the fabrics that you love in each quilt.  She has said before, if you are using 6 fabrics, they really need to match.  If you use 200, they really don’t need to.  She uses two or three fabrics to hold everything together. In Midnight at the Oasis, she has used the black and gray polka dot, the gray and white check and the bright green inner border.  The other consistent thing about the quilt is the outside border.  Each block uses the polka dot and another fabric in concentric squares.

Whenever I begin a project, the first decision I need to make is what colors/fabrics to use.

If I see something in a magazine, book or pattern that I really like, I try to decide what I really like about it (or don’t like).  Is it the colors, patterns, design, layout?  Once I figure out what is drawing me to that project, the rest is pretty easy.

When I look at Midnight at the Oasis, I immediately like the overall layout and design.  I like the value changes from section to section.  The center square is dark, first border light, second border dark, next border light, then dark again.  The outside border has the darker polka dot, but I don’t think it reads too dark.  More of a medium.

What I don’t like is the black and gray polka dot that appears so prominently.  I don’t like that you can’t see the applique vine and flowers, so I will change that for sure.  In Jen’s pattern, she has used a complimentary gray and white check for the secondary background.  I do like the check, so I’ll plan to use a check that works well with my new primary background.

The small borders that separate each border are consistent and super fun.  Don’t know what I’ll use yet, but I definitely want something that stands by itself.

Fabrics I've decided to use (for  now)

Fabrics I’ve decided to use (for now)

Fabric and Color Selection:

I decided to use a light red dot on white background for my primary fabric, and a fun red/white check for the secondary fabric.  I tried several fabrics for the small borders and finally decided on this red/multi fabric.

The pattern calls for 2 – 1/4 yds of the primary background fabric.

3/4 yd. secondary background

1 yard for the tiny borders and binding.

The pattern calls for 2 to 2 – 5/8 yds of the feature fabrics.  My fabric calculations turn out to be closer to 5 yards.  If you are using fabrics from your stash, use whatever you have on hand.  You won’t be concerned so much about how much you will need.

– If you choose to use fat sixteenths, plan to get a wide variety.  Each yard has 16 fat sixteenths.  So you should select 80 or so fabrics for your project.

– If you are planning to use fat eighths, each yard has 8, so you will need 45 or so.

I want a wide variety, so I have chosen 80 fat sixteenths.  I have lots of dots, stripes and small floral patterns.

 * Most of us are used to patterns that give us the number of strips we’ll need to make the blocks in the quilt.  In this case, we will need to make (52) Churn Dash, (44) Courthouse Steps, and a Checker Board border.  Since Jen is a hand piecer, she has you cut out each piece individually.  For example, cut (276) 1 ½” x 1 ½ “ squares of background fabric, and (276) 1 ½” X 1 ½” squares of a large variety of prints for the checkerboard border.  I am a machine piecer, and machine quilter.  I will piece 1 ½” strips, alternating a [background, print, background] and subcut into 1 ½” sections to sections I have cut from a [print, background, print] strip set.

 Since we are not given the number of strips for each block, I recommend cutting the strips for piecing before you cut out your applique pieces.  This way, you will know exactly how much you can use of each for your applique pieces.  I guestimate the following number of strips to cut from each print, but as I say, we may need more when we get there.

Cutting the Strips

Cutting the Strips

From each fat 16th, cut the following strips:

(2) 1 – 7/8″ x 9″ strips – these will be used for the churn dash corners

(2) 1 ½” x 9″ strips – these will be used for the checkerboard border along with your secondary border, and the centers of your churn dash blocks.

(5) 1″ x 9″ strips – you need (2) 1″ x 9″ strips for the churn dash blocks, and (3) 1″ x 9″ for each courthouse steps block along with 1″ strips of the primary background.

You will also need about 20 or so 1″ x 6″ strips to be used as the vines in the 2nd border.


The next Sew Along post will be on  October 31 and will be about preparing templates for cutting.

Your homework will be to make your fabric selections.


Midnight at the Oasis Quilt Along

We’ve been wanting to do a Quilt Along for awhile, and we love Jen Kingwell designs, so this was a perfect match.  This will be the first quilt along we’ve done, so please be patient with us.

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This will be a fairly relaxed QAL (quilt along).  I will be posting about every two weeks about my experience and suggestions in constructing the center block, borders and finishing work.  Like every other project I tackle, there will be a lot of improvisation and throwing the printed instructions out the window.  You’ll find that I love to make beautiful quilts and I’m willing to try just about anything to make it work.  When I run into a technique I’m not sure about, I give it a try.  If it doesn’t work for me, I find an easier way to accomplish the task.  I’ll be sharing those tips with you.

How it works.  We’ll publish a series of posts detailing each step in the process.  You can quilt along with us, ask questions, and share your techniques and advice with others.  You can follow along at our speed or go at your own pace as posts will remain on this blog even after the quilt along has been completed.

Schedule of Posts

  • October 17th — Ann’s Overview and General Observations on the pattern, including Fabric and Color Selection.
  • October 31 — Constructing the center section including templates, piecing triangles,  applique of circles, and more.
  • November 14 –Border one.
  • Ann is still working on the pattern, so there will be additional posts for the other borders, etc.

Purchasing the Pattern

We have plenty of patterns available in our store.  You can shop online by clicking here

I’ve started a Flickr group so that we can all share our progress, and if you use Instagram, you can use the tag #midnightheartsong.

So, are you anxious to join us in making this amazing quilt? We would love to have you join us!


Quiltcon and the Modern Quilt Movement (and the Quilt Police)

Let me preface all of this by saying that the following is just my opinion, and not the opinion of HeartSong Quilts or its brilliant owner/designer/glitterati, Ann Powers.

Just got back from Quiltcon in Austin, TX, and boy, was that illuminating.  We’ve been trying to get a handle on this “modern” quilt movement.  Everyone seems to have a different take on it.  We were hoping that hearing about it from the “horse’s mouth” would clear up our confusion.  Well—kind of.

There are clearly several camps in the modern quilt movement.  We heard from a couple of them.  Those who “birthed” this movement clearly have a view of what the movement is and should be, and made it clear what that is.  For those who organized the event, modern quilting is mostly an aesthetic and design thing.  If you don’t conform to those expectations, you are not making modern quilts.  Hello, quilt police!  They deigned to allow that those who have a “modern” sensibility could be considered “modern traditionalists,” but they were not modern quilters.  In fact, the judging of the show followed some pretty strict guidelines.  Modern quilts meant . . . well, what they defined “modern” as.  Now, that’s OK, I suppose.  If you want to join a group or club, you have to agree to be bound by their rules.  But, this should disillusion those who thought that being a modern quilter meant that there were no rules.

As I suspected all along, there are rules, and they are pretty strict about design elements and color.  No borders, no traditional blocks (unless they are distorted almost beyond recognition), lots of “negative space” (I got really tired of hearing that term—it appears to be the rallying cry of the movement), bright and “graphic” colors, minimalism, improvisational piecing, alternate grid structures, asymmetry, exaggerated scale, pixilization.

They specifically stated that being a modern quilter meant more than following the “modern” philosophy (no rules, etc).  In fact, one speaker who is very influential in the organization said that modern quilting is “more than a philosophy.”  There is a “specific quantifiable aesthetic.”

But wait. If you are well known, part of the “in” crowd, you can be modern without these characteristics.  We heard several well known and published quilters who made quilts with borders and modified log cabins and other blocks  which were recognizable.  It appears that who you know is a factor in whether you are considered a modern quilter or not.

The modern quilters claim that they are influenced by modernist and post-modernist movements in art, architecture and interior design.  I wonder how many of them actually are aware of and believe in the philosophy expressed in modern or post-modern art. Or, do they just like the look?  I think they like the minimalist appearance of these schools and of their quilts.  Giving them the benefit of the doubt on this issue, though, they deny they are creating art quilts.  But, a great percentage of the 228 quilts hanging in the show (600 plus entered, but did not pass muster in the jurying) were small wall hanging quilts. Modern quilters say they are not art quilters, that they believe in function as well as form, but  many of these quilts would only cover my left leg if I was watching TV.

I think there is a fair amount of arrogance and elitisim at work here.The stratified world of hip has reared its ugly head.   Now we not only have to fear the quilters who have “always done it that way,” and who tell us “you’re not doing it right,” but also those who tell us we just don’t get it, we’re not hip enough, not educated enough, don’t hang out with the right crowd.  I’m not sure which is worse, but I do know that it’s not good for quilting.  It is, however, a snapshot of our culture these days.  We’ve become class conscious and tend to put people in categories.  Just when we thought that quilting stripped away the barriers.  Don’t we just want to have fun?  Don’t we just want to do what we love, how we want to do it?  That’s me, folks.  Modern quilter?  Yes and no.  Modern traditionalist?  Why do I have to be labeled.  Aren’t I just a quilter?

Here’s the good news. You don’t have to be labeled.  I probably am not young and hip enough or creative enough  to actually create a modern quilt.  If you are, good for you.  But aren’t we really trying to tear down barriers?  Deep breath now and repeat with me—“I’m a quilter and I can make whatever I feel like making however I feel like making it, and I’m proud of it.”




Modern. What’s in a Word?

Modern.  What’s in a word?

Well, as a culture we’ve become less than precise in our use of words.  Now, we have the Modern Quilt movement, and we find that there are many definitions and understandings of “Modern.”  Ann and HeartSong have been “modern” since we  opened if you consider modern quilting as not the same old same old.  That’s why our slogan is “not your grandma’s quilt shop.”  We’ve always tried to carry what other shops didn’t want to take the risk on.  Sometimes we’ve been on the “bleeding” edge rather than the “leading” edge, but we have been pleased overall with the response from you, our loyal and wonderful customers.

Ann is an interior designer by trade, and has always had an understanding of color theory and use which she’s been able to share with our customers.  She truly understands the range of colors and design being used in the modern quilts designed by folks like Modern Quilt Studio.  Brian really enjoys the simplicity and cleanness of the design work in those quilts.  His quilting is usually geometric—no fru fru for him.

All this is a longwinded (what else from Brian) introduction to our Modern section in the store (and online).  We’re carrying modern magazines from Modern Quilt Studio, have selected books on the topic, have chosen patterns we think exemplify these quilts, and have grouped solids, semi-solids and other appropriate fabrics (think Marcia Derse) for your easy selection and use.

Now, having said that, we also think that the modern quilting movement includes those quilters who are tired of the same old rules and the same old people enforcing them.  “The only rule is that there are no rules” says one prominent website.  Yes, they are modern quilters, too, and we cater to them.  To Ann, patterns are like the Pirate’s Code—more like guidelines.  If there’s an easier way to do it, she’ll figure it out, and teach anyone who’s willing to listen.  She even tried to make yo-yos on her machine (to say that she doesn’t like to hand make anything would be to grossly understate the point).  Even though she was unsuccessful, it was an attempt which is legend in our parts.  You should have seen the look on her face.

Finally, we think that modern quilters are people who just want to have fun (I was tempted to say “girls” instead of people, but copyright issues intruded.  And after all, I’m a quilter, too).  We yearn for the good old days when folks gathered together to talk, laugh, eat, cry, hug, and sew.  No huge projects, raffle quilts, challenges, etc.  Just gathering and quilting for fun.  We’re starting to do that, too, with quilting bee opportunities, a Modern Quilt Guild, and a neat Quilts of Valor program to honor the vets that populate our town (Hot Springs, South Dakota—the veterans town).  Watch for news from us about when those programs will start.