Roses and Arrows Quilt Along Series Videos

We've been having a blast with the Roses and Arrows quilt-along over at the AmyQuilts Facebook page. Have you been quilting along? It's not too late to enjoy this fun and laid back project to improve your free motion and ruler work quilting skills. I even have a few kits still available and all the videos have been posted after the live broadcast finished.

Below are the videos so you can find them easier than scrolling through the FB page and watch them without having to be on FB. Though I suggest you check them out on FB to see peoples comments, questions, and my responses. These can be pretty helpful too.

Remember that these live videos are a little more ramble-y than my Youtube videos. I'm not sure how much of these videos, if any and when, will be added to my YouTube channel. Most are around an hour long. Feel free to skip ahead through the chit chat, but keep in mind, sometimes FB doesn't load things well when you skip ahead.

To purchase the Quilt Along Kit and the Backing Kit.
There's also a thread kit which gives you a choice of two top threads and a great color to use on the back with our backing fabric.
Finally, we're using a few rulers on this panel and they are the QPC #12 and BFF or my new Low Curve rulers #12 and Mini. I've put those into a Starter set. Plus you'll want to use a straight ruler and this is my favorite straight ruler.

First we started off with piecing the panel and borders. That link is to the blog post with instructions. Here's the video on Facebook: Roses and Arrows Part 1, which is a bit of an introduction

An Intro to McTavishing

For our next video, due to a brown out at our shop following a big snow storm, I did a video at my new studio and I demonstrated the McTavishing design I will be using in the center of the panel. Drawing this design really helps! Watch this video in Facebook or watch it below here on the blog.

Beginning to Quilt the Panel

Posted on January 23rd, watch on FB or below. Showing a little stitch-in-the-ditch followed by McTavishing in the center of the panel and discussing how to work around and through the letters across the panel.

More McTavishing....

January 26 video is about more McTavishing and another way to work around those letters to make things extra swooshy.

Starting with Ruler Work!

Next we introduce simple straight-line quilting. I'm keeping it pretty basic for folks who are new to quilting with rulers. This video was shot January 30th.

Adding in Crosshatching

This video was done February 2nd and we continued with straight ruler quilting and added in curved crosshatching.

The below 2 videos had a little technical problem and was shot in two parts on February 13th. and focuses on stitching with rulers in the flying geese.

Below, February 16th is a bit of a review.

February 23 is working a very simple design in the narrow inner border.

Curved Echo Border

February 27th, my first video in the new studio! In this video below (watch in Facebook) I show a great border design.

March 6th is a follow up to the border design. Watch it on Facebook, or below.

Starting with the video below, I move to a 3 video per week schedule: Wednesday at 1pm and Fridays at 1 and 5pm. Watch this video shot on March 8th below or directly in Facebook.

The 5pm video below or watch in Facebook. I start stitching some backgrounds fills around the "pieced" blocks.

This next video, shot March 15th at 1pm, includes another background design as well as a tutorial on thread tension and free motion quilting. Watch below or in Facebook.

Next is the 5pm video from March 15th showing a design worked around the flying geese units. Watch below or in Facebook.

In the below video, we revisit the flying geese units with a stitching path that allows the entire row to be stitched continuously. Watch this March 20th video directly on Facebook.

That's nearly all the videos, there will possibly a review video before the final one. Sections of some of these videos will be edited for use on YouTube eventually.

To be continued......

Splendid Sampler II: Potted Paisleys

I have to say I was pretty flabbergasted when Pat asked me to contribute a block design for her Splendid Sampler II book. While I'm no stranger to making my own designs, especially since I like to do my own thing, making small 6 inch finished blocks is certainly not what I typically do.

Pat popped in for a brief visit at my shop.

Truthfully, I'm all about the quilting! Piecing, applique and embroidery (mostly machine embroidery these days as I am a Janome dealer) are just the thing I do to give myself a canvas to stitch out my heart. I am more likely to design a large block, set it on point with a bunch of negative space around it and quilt away!

I took it on as a skill builder, a challenge for myself to step outside of my comfort zone and take bite sized nibbles of techniques that I don't usually do. I think we all need to do that from time to time.

I'm getting ahead of myself! These Splendid Sampler designer posts get visited by all kinds of new folks, so an introduction is in order.

My name is Amy K. Johnson and I'm a quilter, teacher, shop owner, Janome dealer, blogger, mother and more. Not necessarily listed in order of importance, of course. You can find me at Sew Simple of Lynchburg in Virginia and online at, where I sell my favorite rulers for ruler work, tools, fabric, and more. You can even see me over at Bluprint, aka Craftsy, where I teach Quilting with Rulers. Lately, I've been having the most quilting fun on my Facebook page AmyQuilts where I've been doing live quilting videos twice a week. We're currently doing a fun free motion quilt along using a panel and added borders to play with free motion and a few basic ruler work designs.

Quilting with rulers, also called free motion ruler work, on a stationary sewing machine is something I've been doing for quite a long time. In fact, that's how I first met Pat. She had heard the buzz about using rulers to quilt on a sewing machine and contacted me to be interviewed on her radio show on the April 4, 2016 episode and again this past September. She's an amazing interviewer. Like having a chat with a friend.

Fun fact: I'm a Janome dealer and my husband is my sewing machine tech. We joke that between us we know the guts and glory of sewing. He literally knows the guts of sewing machines and I get to use them to make all kinds of gloriously fun projects.

So what's a gal like me to do when challenged to design for such a specific project as the Splendid Sampler? Well, I took my favorite quilting design and turned it into an applique block.

 That's how Potted Paisleys came to be. A sweet block with a boho vibe featuring fusible applique. I love traditional applique with a modern twist and adore ones that look like a vase of flowers. So I turned some paisleys into a potted paisley plant.

Just like any other quilter doing the Splendid Sampler projects, I started with a fabric pull. AS a shop owner, I could have been matchy-matchy, but instead I went for a kind of controlled scrappy look. I pulled across several lines by Moda and put fat quarters of several colors from each line into my project box, plus a few Grunge and white on whites. This is where I pull all the fabrics for my blocks going forward.

I think it works, don't you? I don't have a bunch of blocks to show you, but I'm trying to do a few each month.

I used my new Cutterpillar light box to trace my shapes and to flip the diagram for my placement. Tip: When using one of these fabulous light "boxes" and your pattern has printing on both sides, use a less intense light selection. Mine has 3 choices. This will let you see the lines on the top facing side far better than the back. The brightest light will make them show equally.

Building up my applique...

 Final placement on my background....

Ta Da!

Looks a bit like one of my paisley play pieces, don't you think?

Since I'm really all about the quilting, I'll be doing a live Facebook video at 1pm Eastern US time with a tutorial on free motion quilting a paisley design at my Facebook page, AmyQuilts. I'll post the recording there so you can watch when the time suits you. Don't do Facebook? Check out my YouTube channel. The video will eventually be added to it, plus there are quite a few videos on free motion and ruler work.

Don't forget to enter the activities (giveaways?) over on the Splendid Sampler page, and check out the other 3 designer's blocks for this week.

If you're looking for a great companion block to mine, I nominate Flower Child by Carolee McMullin on page 102. A match made in hippie heaven.

Sew Simple Studio for

I have been remiss in blogging about my newest challenge and project. I've talked about it in Facebook, but haven't actually posted here. For Christmas, I gave myself a building!

OK, so I actually signed a lease for the building, a 1920's storefront in my local town of Altavista, Virginia.

Why? First of all, we're not moving or closing our shop, Sew Simple of Lynchburg. Rather this is a way to make our shop better. We are getting crowded in our current location and I kept driving around Lynchburg looking for possible places to move the shop. But there really wasn't anything that was a reasonable step larger. Just places that were huge, expensive, or not in a good location.

Add to that, we still have a few years on our current lease and it is in a great location. I had spent a fabulous weekend in early December with Carol Britt from Batiks Etc. & Sew What Fabrics in Wytheville, VA where we talked about our visions for our businesses. I had shared with her my trouble seeing us get bigger, as well as my frustrations of not having time to make the projects I wanted, recording my videos, and topped off with late hours at the store trying to do that, I was missing having time with my kids.

On my 2 hour drive home from Wytheville, I had plenty of time to think. I began to think of what our shop did, what our customers wanted, and whether there was anything that could be taken out of the store to give us more room for the necessary activities and products. Suddenly, it hit me, I didn't need to be there!

That's sounds a bit drastic, I know, but as I thought about it, my video equipment and my sewing machine set up could be removed from the shop and would give the shop's classroom some much needed space. Additionally, I could do much of the shop's admin in a different location which would allow us to use some of the office space at the shop for processing inventory when it comes in. This is an activity that often was being done in the classroom. As a result, we often had to clean up the classroom to have a class and also, get my stuff back out in order for me to make samples and videos.

I love my set up, but it takes up a lot of space in the store's classroom.

But I already knew working from home wasn't going to work. I have already been doing much of my computer work from home and it just wasn't working well. There certainly wasn't room in our house for the sewing and quilting studio, plus the video equipment. So what's a girl to do?

While space in Lynchburg was hideously expensive, the small town we live in (or officially, across the river from) had several vacant storefronts, like many small towns these days. I set a budget and decided that if I could find a space that fit it, I'd set up a studio space. This choice has been a real challenge! It means stepping up and making sure I am using this space to generate it's own income via video classes, pattern design, writing that book on ruler work that I really need to do, and more.

Isn't it funny that even when you feel like you just can't do one more thing, life has a way of making sure we step up, take it on, and move forward?

Removing a partial wall that had been added in the past.

My new studio has three main areas, my quilting and video area, an open space twice as big as the shop's classroom, perfect for hosting classes and workshops, and a private back area for my office and space for my kids to hang out.

Speaking of the kids.... the studio is walking distance from school for the older two, as well as the library, 2 parks, and the Y. It's a mere one mile from our house, though with the hills, river, and road between the two, not great for walking or biking from home. Since the studio will not be open to the public other than for special events and classes, they can spread out through the space. Leah is looking forward to more sewing time with me and my geeky oldest is looking forward to inviting his friends over after school to game together sometimes. Leah has asked for crafty classes for her and her friends too.

The community is also asking for classes. Some are quilters, but there is also interest in just having something fun and creative to do in a small town. I'm certain we can provide that eventually.

The building had been home to a series of hair salons since the 40's. The last one had an interesting mix of Art Deco meets Industrial design.

In the meantime, I have a lot of work to do. Nearly 100 years old, this building has a lot of character and what has been referred to as "layers."  Some of the layers are good, others, like the remnants of a past dropped ceiling and the cheap paneling put over the original bead board is not so great. My budget is small, so the work and outfitting the space with what it needs will happen gradually, especially as I still have my duties at the shop to attend to.

The painting begins. Not sure what colors we will paint the walls, but we're starting with primer.
While I will be separating my duties across two places, it will allow me to be more focused, efficient, and present in each space. That's a good thing.

Craftsy Becomes Bluprint

If you've been a student with Craftsy, you've already heard the news that Craftsy has become Bluprint (and dang, it kills me to not put an E in bluprint) but you may have questions about what this means as a purchaser of my classes and other classes on Craftsy as well as  the subscription program.

The subscription based Bluprint has been run separately from Craftsy for quite some time, though it originally started out as the Craftsy Unlimited plan. Abruptly, after the poorly handled changes in Craftsy's pattern designer marketplace, the powers that be (under NBCUniversal) announced that it would no longer use the Craftsy brand and all services would be offered under the Bruprint name.

If you read the woes of the majority of designers and pattern sellers as they scrambled to set up web shops a few days before Christmas as their patterns were removed from Craftsy, you know that these changes have been quite painful for the creative instructors and designers that had been working with Craftsy. Changes have been rolling out far longer for instructors than most Craftsy/Bluprint customers realize. They have been incredibly frustrating, confusing, and for most instructors, handled in the silence of professional courtesy.

This has left students in a pickle as well, as some classes no longer have an instructor answering their questions in their "forever classes." After seeing their income slashed by 80% on average, or their extensive class materials and even printed patterns given out for free, some instructors have parted ways with the arrangement. Their classes are still available, but the instructor gets nothing from them.

As instructors, we have been told that questions asked by subscription customers will not be shown to us, as if not having to answer students' questions makes up for lack of compensation. For the most part, we are instructors, teachers, people who share....we don't want to leave students hanging with their questions. Though we are also business people, parents, spouses, individuals with bills to pay.

I can't answer for other instructors, or even the powers that be at Bluprint, but what I do know is that I continue to answer questions, both within the class platform (assuming they show the question to me) as well as through my website, Facebook, and email. I do my best to provide the information without having to answer the same question thousands of times over, via my posts here and videos.

Yes, there can be thousands of the same question. Last year was the last time I was given a full student count and at that time it was 27,000 students for just the first class! Since then, they won't give us a student count or other basic metrics, citing that their status as a publicly traded company, we might be able to somehow calculate company earnings and conspire to do some illegal insider trading.

Some instructors have thrived under the new arrangements, with special types of classes and shows, and new instructors have also been recruited who have no expectations from how it was in the past. If it works for them and their students, fabulous!

In the meantime, if you own classes purchased outright, it appears you will continue to have 'forever access' to the classes, though you may or may not have an actively participating instructor.  If you are taking classes as a subscription member, take advantage of all the answered questions that have come before you, as well as read the class materials. There's a wealth of information in these classes already.

If you are having trouble finding your forever classes on the Bluprint platform, clicking on the "shop" tab will take you to the re-branded old Craftsy site and your library of classes.

For my classes, I will continue to answer student questions if they are shown to me in my "Instructor's Dashboard." That is completely under the control of the Bluprint web gurus. There are far too many questions and answers to be able to search for new ones as they come up in the lessons.

While many things have changed in the time that I first started to work on my first Quilting with Rulers class with Craftsy, I am grateful that they took a chance in this rather unknown and less than photogenic quilting instructor to bring my ruler work technique on a stationary sewing machine to the masses. I was the only one actively teaching it then and Westalee was still in the process of finalizing their ruler foot prototype. Thank goodness for Janome and their ruler foot.

Changes that have happened in the industry also make it possible for instructors to create video content on their own that can rival what we could do before with these big professional studios. One of my disappointments with my classes with Craftsy was being left out of the editing process. So much content was cut out!

In March, I will ramp up video production to produce my new class on free motion quilting and I'm excited (and slightly terrified) to control all the content and production.

In the meantime, take advantage of my Facebook Live videos at AmyQuilts as well as my YouTube videos. By all means, watch my Craftsy/Bluprint classes, it brings me a few pennies and you get a well-produced class with plenty of content.

If you have additional questions about Craftsy classes, access to your class library, or your Bluprint subscription, check directly with them via this link as they know their platform and changes best.

How about you? Are you enjoying the changes to Bluprint? Are you enjoying my recent live FB videos (even if you just catch the replay)? How have my classes and videos helped you? Let me know in the comments. I love the conversation.

Roses and Arrows Quilt Along: Piece the Top

Let's make the Roses and Arrows QAL top.

Before we can quilt along (grammar-nazis, please weight in: Is it quilt-along, quilt along, what?), we need to have a top to quilt on. If you haven't gotten your Roses and Arrows Kit yet, click on over to and get it ordered. We're getting low on the white print for the border so don't delay. We've got the blue version of the roses print as well, and will likely substitute a few other fabrics for the border before we are done. I'll be using an alternative choice for my borders for better visibility in my live videos.
Remember to fussy cut those beautiful rose borders! (Do as I say, not as I did.)

This is a very basic top and measurements are given based on the panel size that I used. Panels can be tricky with measurements depending on how they are printed, so make sure to check how your panel measures up. You may need to trim up the length of your strips if you have pre-washed.

If I had my way, panels would be printed so they are at least 2 inches shorter than the actual width of fabric (WOF). Then we could easily add that first inner border without piecing. As it is, you might be able to, but if you pre-wash your fabrics, I just can't guarantee it, so we'll start off with piecing the narrow inner border. I'm a risk taker on my own projects, but like to play it safe when giving instructions.

Basically, we are putting a one inch inner border followed by a six inch (finished) border.

Illustration does not show bias join of inner border.

The Roses and Arrows panel has a dark red printed border. From the inner edge of this border, measure into it 1/4 inch and cut all the way around it. The remaining red is your seam allowance for attaching our one inch red grunge border. Like a scant 1/4"? Trim accordingly. I trim to 1/4" and make sure to stitch my red strips on with the panel side up and sew right along the printed edge.

From the red, cut five 1-1/2" x WOF strips. 

Three of them are used for the long sides. If you cut carefully, you can get away with using the remainder of the third strip for one of your shorter strips, but I've given you plenty in the kit.

Join three strips end to end at a 45 degree angle, like making binding. From this long strip, cut:

2 strips, 1-1/2" x 43-1/2 for sides

from the remaining red strips, cut:

2 strips 1-1/2" x 26-1/4" for top and bottom

In the kit I am including plenty of fabric so that the borders can be cut lengthwise and so that you can fussy cut to make the best use out of the print (especially for the roses print).

Paying attention to the print placement, cut from the outer border fabric:

2 strips, 6-1/2" x 45-1/2"
2 strips, 6-1/2 x 38-1/4"

Using the diagram below, assemble top. Press seams toward the red fabric.

Illustration does not show bias join of inner border

Press top nice and flat. Layer with batting and backing (Backing kit) and baste well. I pin baste. Use what works for you.

I'll see you on January 16th (7pm Eastern time) for our first official video which will include a segment about piecing those inner borders if you are unsure.

Remember I'll be doing both regular free motion quilting and ruler work with my new Low Curve rulers. I'll be using the #12 and the Mini. You may substitute the QP #12 and the QP BFF as they are the same sized curves. This project can be adapted for other rulers, but I love these.