Courthouse Steps Inspiration

Deb Heatherly and I are not only Creative Grids® designers, we are also friends. She has designed four of our most popular tools – Cat’s Cradle; Strippy Star, Turbo Four-Patch and the Ultimate Flying Geese.

We both travel and teach – and love to demonstrate Creative Grids®. My latest Cut Loose Press™ pattern, Log Cabin Nights, was inspired by one of her quilts – Steps to the Stars.









Here is the story.  I was working on a king sized quilt and needed a final border.  I loved the way Deb combined Strippy Stars and Courthouse Steps blocks in her pattern. As a border, however, I needed a darker look that would frame the quilt and be striking when it was hanging off the side of a bed.









I completed the quilt –  and loved the border. There was a long dresser in the room that was scratched on the top. What is a quilter to do? Make a dresser scarf of course – and Log Cabin Nights was born. Look at your patterns as inspiration and see what happens!

I just noticed a white spot on the top of the buffet….back to the sewing room.

The Perfect Scrap Quilts!

L8529There is a reason the log cabin block is the most recognizable quilt block in history.  This simple block can be pieced in a variety of ways to create a traditional log cabin; a courthouse steps, a half log cabin, or a square within a square – and they can all be trimmed with the 6″ Log Cabin Trim Tool!
These blocks are the perfect “Scrap your Stash” choice because the designs created are actually studies in lights and darks.  Simply sort your stash and start cutting strips!  If you choose to chain piece these blocks, they can be completed in fifteen minutes!

Log Cabin Quilts (#L8529) is a true labor of love because I wrote it!  Yes this is a totally biased blog because I love the tool – and the eight projects I created with it.  And the best news?  These projects used up about 40 yards of my stash – talk about a win/win!
The cover quilt features a square within a square log cabin version that is pieced like a Courthouse Steps block. That means you can sew opposite sides at the same time so they are very fast to piece.  I added an optional square of wool in the center of the light colored blocks to add texture.  The Grecian style border is pieced with the log cabin tool as well.

L8529_3A picture is worth a thousand words – so here are a few of my favorites.  This half log cabin quilt features a strip pieced border made with 2 1/2″ strips sewn into a tube.  Yes, the instructions are in the book and this is now my favorite border for ANY quilt.  If you like to work with wool, add the houses.  You can wait to decide until you piece the blocks because it is just as striking without them!
Three of the quilts in this book are twin size.  I have decided that at this point in my life, I am making quilts that fit beds!  But, it is easy to adjust the size to your needs.

This traditional furrows setting for the log cabin block takes on a funky feel when the “furrows” are planted with wool circles.  These wool circles were a great way to use up my scraps of wool as well.  The border reminds me of the jacks I played as a child.  This border is attached to three sides of the quilt.  You may choose to add it to all four sides but this was an easy way to teach my grandchildren how to make a bed!  They always know which end to put over their pillow.  Once again, you can choose to leave off the wool, but in this case, it is hard to resist!

L8529_1The other projects include two table toppers; place mats, a framed picture, and three floor pillows.  All of these projects would be perfect classes.  Start with the 24″ floor pillows.  They make great gifts and are the perfect introduction to show your students how to make a traditional log cabin, a courthouse steps, and a half log cabin block.  I backed them with Shannon Suede which gave them a professional look.  This fabric is 56 – 58″ wide and comes in a variety of colors in 10 – 12 yard bolts.  What a great way to introduce your customers to this fabric!

The six inch log cabin trim tool (Item #CGRJAWMN6) as a stand alone product or can be purchased as a two in one tool.  The Log Cabin Trim Tool Two (#CGRJAW2) combines two sizes – the six inch and twelve inch blocks.  Whichever trim tool you choose, the results will be spectacular!  And at just $18.95 the book is a bargain – that is roughly $2.00 a pattern.  Who can resist a bargain!

Book Signings At Market – Booth #138

Come to the Checker Booth to meet the authors and receive a signed copy of their newest book.  This year I have the honor of being the first author to participate!  A picture is worth a thousand words – but having the schedule for the book signings is priceless!

Quilt Block Fusion – Penny Haren
Saturday 11:30
Item #L113008  Retail $24.95

Knockout Neutrals – Pat Wys
Saturday 12:30








Item #B1180T  Retail $24.99

Just a Quilt? – Dalen Keys
Saturday 1:30








Item #DK568  Retail $16.00

Gimme 5 & Make It Scrappy – Tricia Cribbs
Saturday 2:30









Item #FF127  Retail $14.95

Get Adicted to Free-Motion Quilting – Sheila Sinclair Snyder
Saturday 3:30







Item #11011  Retail $19.95

Sew Classic Clothes for Girls – Lindsay Wilkes
Sunday – 11:30







Item #U2256  Retail $27.99

Stitch it for Fall – Lynette Anderson
Sunday – 12:30







Item #U7133  Retail $12.99

Strip Smart Quilts II – Kathy Brown
Sunday – 1:30



Item #B1176T  Retail $24.99

Easy, Elegant Punchneedle – Marinda Stewart
Sunday 2:30








Item #STB1226-2  Retail $19.95

Come join us to spend some quality time with the authors!


My new book has arrived!

Writing a book is like giving birth!  You invest almost a year of your life into writing it – and then one day it arrives for all the world to see.

I know this is self-serving, but bare with me!  If I ever give birth to another child, you are going to see that as well!  At my age,Lord help us all!

Quilt Block Fusion contains ten techniques that I developed to make it possible for anyone to successfully piece miniature blocks.  But, all of these techniques can be used in larger blocks as well.  After all, if you can piece a six inch block, a larger version is a piece of cake!



Item #L113008  Retail $24.95

It is easy to achieve perfection when paper-piecing blocks.  This table runner introduces everyone to the basics – but notice that the fabrics are fussy cut as well.  All of the print fabric comes from the same stripe.


Any of the blocks in the book can be substituted in this simple design to showcase them beautifully.  Adding Pieced Applique to this basic block, creates a totally different look.

2012-01-04 21.15.05  2012-01-04 21.15.21

Adding four triangles to the paper-pieced foundation creates the flying geese units on point.  The triangles are turned so this creates an heirloom quality block.  And, by placing the applique on top, you can guarantee that all your points match perfectly.

Notice that the center square is fussy cut!  It is oh sew easy and adds a dramatic touch to all of your projects.  The cover quilt showcases all of the blocks and techniques in the book – and sets them in a fussy cut paper-pieced star.  It looks like you worked really hard, but again it is so simple!

2013-04-05 16.25.33

Once again, this dramatic setting can be used to showcase any block.   Since the star points are paper-pieced, the foundations can be blown up to any size you need.

In this basket table topper, your students can learn traditional paper-piecing by creating the flying geese sashings.  The basket is actually paper-pieced in a matter of minutes by combining paper-piecing with pieced segments and flipped back appliques.  It is so fast and easy that  you will want to reduce the foundation and createe an entire basket quilt of minis.  I can’t wait to start on mine….I’ve already got the fabric.


In Black Tie Affair, a 6″ block becomes a 36″ table topper by paper-piecing a star within a star!  Talk about getting a lot of bang for you buck!  This is a great project for those customers who have inherited a few blocks and want to share them with all of their family members.


In Grandma Emma’s Garden, Grandmother’s Flower Gardens were machine pieced and appliqued between strip pieced rows.  They were sewn totally on the machine in less than six hours!


Or fussy cut each hexagon and then piece them on the machine as well….

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Or, piece a round Dresden Plate by using a template so the outside edge is turned perfectly AND once again, you can make 24 of these in less than six hours!  The pointed version is even easier….


2012-08-05 16.39.39

   2012-03-26 14.47.31

This book has it all – new and exciting techniques; projects that incorporate them – and can be switched to showcase the blocks you want to teach; and enough illustrations to guarantee that even beginners will be successful.

Turn each technique into a class!


Sunday Morning at Market….

Sunday, May 19, 2013
Penny Haren 8:00 – 9:30 Creative Grids + Cut Loose Press = Perfect Demo
Join me to learn how to combine two Checker exclusives – Creative Grids and Cut Loose Press – and make them the foundation of your class and demo schedule.
Creative Grids is the most complete ruler line in the world – but is made right here in the USA!  Once you “Experience CGR”, you will never go back.  Our rulers feature Non-Slip grip which stops the rulers from slipping on the fabric when pressure is applied.  And, these rulers are not – and will never be – sold in chains.  They are exclusively sold to Independents like you!
Item #CGRTKAL45  Retail $17.95

Cut Loose Press are reasonably priced patterns that are, again, only available through Independents.  These patterns are printed on card stock on protected paper which makes it difficult to copy.  Since they are printed on demand, each pattern comes imprinted with your business name – and therefore, are always in stock.  Each pattern showcases four notions to encourage additional sales.
Surf and Sand
Item #CLPPHA003
This pattern features the ruler above.  The Dresden Plates are created with the CGRTKAL45.
Three other notions are featured:
The Creative Grids 8 1/2″ Square It Up and Fussy Cut Ruler is used to square up the blocks after the Dresden Plates are appliqued.
Item #CGRSQ8  Retail $22.45
The Hole Thing is used to trace the templates for the center circle on the Dresden Plate.
Item #CGRTPHT  Retail $5.95
This template is created with freezer paper….
Item #FREPA8112  Retail $8.49
One simple pattern gives you the opportunity to share four different quality products with your customers!  And, once they like the technique – and are comfortable with it – they can move on to other projects – a few are featured in this book:
Item #L113008  Retail $24.95
Kathy Seal has written three CLP patterns that support the Creative Grids Double Strip 90.
Item #CGRDBS90  Retail $26.95
These patterns all feature a specific technique using the ruler:
Tropical Blues:
Item #CLPKSE003
Hot Cross Stars
Item #CLPKSE002
Mirrored Tiles
Item #CLPKSE001
All of these blocks have bias edges, so it is a great opportunity to share the benefits of Best Press.
Item #560032  Retail $3.99
Janice Pope – Bias Binding Simplified
Janice designed the Bias Binding Ruler for Creative Grids and has made me a believer!  I had always heard that you should use bias binding – but never thought it was worth the time – until I talked to Janice and watched her video!
Item #CGRABB1  Retail $18.95

This is the first CGR ruler that illustrates how to cut bias binding right on the ruler and the video shows the entire process:  cutting the bias, turning the corners and joining the sides!
She even designed a quilt made with 2 1/2″ strips cut with this ruler and the 45 degree angles that are cut from the ends.
Item #ABB1207   Retail $8.00
Creative Grids designers love Creative Grids and are very supportive of each other.  So when Janice tried Jean Ann’s Log Cabin Trim Tools, these two Southern gals clicked!  Janice designed a quilt that uses all three sizes of the Log Cabins – 6″; 8″ and 12″!  And, yes, she will be sharing this quilt with you too…..
Item #CLPJDP001
These are demoes so no supplies are required.  Just show up and be ready to learn!  Then come to the booth to “Experience CGR!”

Checker Live – a Show just for you

This one is short and sweet – and for shop owners only!

Checker Distributors Website:

Checker Distributors has created the best website in the industry!  This site includes over 100,000 products – a shop owner’s dream!  You can also view video demonstrations of many of the products.

Creative Grids USA Website:

This site showcases all of the rulers and templates produced by Creative Grids.  You can even download a complete listing to keep track of your own collection.  The instructions for all current rulers are available for download and video demonstrations of all of the rulers are ready to view!

Checker Distributors Newsletter:

The Checker Newsletter is uploaded every Monday morning and includes three articles on a variety of subjects each week.  You can sign up to have the newsletter e-mailed to you by visiting the site.


This website is only available to shop owners after you sign in using your Checker account number and I.D.  This site hosts over 300 videos and class lesson plans.  We went to the best!  Top vendors and designers in the industry such as Eleanor Burns and Judy Niemeyer show you how to demonstrate and teach classes.  Why not go directly to the source?

Checker Live

But we were missing something!  We needed a way to put this all together for you.  How do you market and display everything in your shop?  What are the new trends in our industry?  How do you host an event in your shop?  How do we share a wealth of information about a specific product such as batting, threads, wools, etc.???

Welcome to Checker Live – a 15 minute (more or less) internet show hosted by Karen Montgomery and yours truly. Karen owns a quilt shop, sells sewing machines, designs fabric, rulers & patterns, and writes a column for Fab Shop.  I write the Checker newsletter, am on the Creative Grids design team, write books for Landauer Publishing, write a column for Fab Shop and USED to own a quilt shop.  Between the two of us, we know just about everyone in the industry and have been quilting for over 50 years!  And, we never agree on anything!

So log into CheckerYou the first of each month to see the latest episode!!!  Enjoy!!!

School Houses are a Must See!

School houses are scheduled the day before Market officially opens and are a great source of product information for shop owners.  These 15 minute to 30 minute sessions are opportunities for manufacturers and designers to showcase what’s new and share why you should carry it in your shop.  These sessions are a great way to choose classes and demonstrations for the next year!

We  have  a star studded cast – why not learn from the BEST???  I have spoken to all of these ladies – and been involved in the development of the topics – and they are absolutely awesome!  This is simply the best use of your time – bar none!!!

Rita Fishel
2:35 – 3:05 (Room 352F)
See the newest generation of Creative Grids Rulers
Meet the designers and the quilts that inspired the latest additions to the CGR ruler line.  Learn how to demonstrate each one and how to turn these demonstrations into sold out classes!
Rita Fishel
3:10 – 3:40 (Room 352F)
Turn those specialty rulers into maximum sales
Join the designers that make Creative Grids famous – and learn how to use their rulers as a basis for your next class!  See the latest books and patterns by these talented ladies.  Teachable moments included!
Karen Montgomery
3:45 – 4:15 (Room 352F)
“Demo Do’s and Don’ts”
Demo’s can bring dollars that have a hefty impact on your bottom line.  Learn what it takes for a successful demo and what pitfalls to avoid.
Hosted by Penny Haren and Kathy Seal
4:20 – 4:50  (Room 352F)
Class See 5 – Five Minute Demos that will increase sales and Inspire classes
Learn how to give this series of 5 minute demos in your shop – and turn those demos into classes.  Your favorite notions can now be your favorite classes!
Kathy Brown
4:55 – 5:25 (Room 362 E & F)
A New Pattern Series designed to Maximize Sales
Join Kathy Brown of The Teacher’s Pet as she shows you how to complete the sale – classes based on a pattern…including a notion,..,and made from simple pre-cut fabrics for fast and simple kitting!  Door prizes!
Penny Haren
4:55 – 5:25 (Room 352F)
Quilt shop only exclusive patterns to support the notions you love.
Cut Loose Press – developed for shops to promote and support notion sales.  Provide the complete package for demos – notions + reasonably priced patterns + shop friendly fabric cuts = increased sales.
Kathy Brown
4:55 – 5:25 (Room 362 E & F)

A New Pattern Series designed to Maximize Sales

Join Kathy Brown of The Teacher’s Pet as she shows you how to complete the sale – classes based on a pattern…including a notion,..,and made from simple pre-cut fabrics for fast and simple kitting!  Door prizes!

Joan Hawley
5:30 – 6:00 (Room 352F)
Stabilizers, Fusibles, Interfacings, Oh My…
Come learn about this Quilt Shop Only line of interfacings and take the confusion out of these products!