Wednesday, November 26, 2014


Sorry for the delay. Being confined to the house one would think I had more time to do my blog, but I have had a surge in working with different companies designing quilts for their new fabric collections. As soon as they come out as free patterns, I will let you know so you can take advantage of the free downloads.

Yesterday I got a phone call from a Special Education teacher who I used to work with. As I said in my previous messages, I am not very good on the phone and with small talk, so I think about my friends all the time and think about calling them, but don't act on it. I was so happy that she did take the time to give me a call and to catch up. She told me that she and some of the other teachers that I worked with have finally retired. She also mentioned that right after she retired she slipped and broke her foot! She is the fifth person that I know who broke a foot this year.

I have a friend, Rosemary who travels and assists me when I teach and it seems like when things happen to me or her, then the other has the same problem. It started last year with some female problems. I found out that I had to have surgery and a few weeks later she found out she had the same problem and had to have surgery. It's too bad that we don't live closer to each other because we weren't able to keep each other company. After that, I found out that I had cataracts and had to have surgery on both my eyes. A month later, she found out she had to have cataract surgery too! Well a few months ago, she fell down and broke her foot. Lo and behold, a couple months after that, I fell and broke my foot! We are both hoping that nothing serious happens to either one of us in the near future! Her daughters suggest that maybe we should stop hanging around together.

After my accident, I contacted one of my good quilting friends and teacher, who lives in Virginia, to tell her what happened. I found out that she fell down during a vacation and broke her ankle in 3 places, so she was confined to the house for a few months. I was posting an image of the boot on my foot on Facebook and two of my FB friends told me that they also broke their feet this year. I sure hope that this is the last of our calamities for a long time!

I do want to congratulate Patience Griffin again for winning the last drawing. She told me about her website and that she is an author of quilting related books. She is also having a drawing on her website Patience Griffin for one of her books. I love reading books by quilters about quilters! Please visit her website to check it out and enter her drawing.

The current fat quarter collection that I  am giving away tomorrow is another part of the P&B Luxury Essentials collection that I gave away in the first drawing. The colors are just yummy! I love the gold swirls in it.

I started playing with it using my patterns and I decided to use the Glorified Nine-Patch with a Twist pattern. It involves curve piecing but don't let that scare you. The pattern can be made with 4", 6", or 9" templates. Since there are only 7 fat quarters in this group you will have to add some fabric of your own to complete the 4" block (12" square), 6" block (18" square), or 9" block (27" square). I have made this quilt with both 4", 6" or 9" templates with 9 light and 9 dark or medium fat quarters. For the 4" block fat eighths will be enough.


The original quilt I made for this pattern uses the 4" template set. I made this quilt with a group of fabrics I won from Miniature Quilt Magazine for one of my quilts that I entered in their Miniatures From the Heart Contest. I entered this mini quilt in one of the local quilt shows in St. Louis and it won a first place prize in the miniature division! I think it won because I matched the binding to the fabrics along the edge of the quilt. I have instructions in the pattern how to do this so you can do it on any quilt to give it an extra detail that will impress your friends and judges for shows. I hope you can see the binding in this image.

I have some wonderful tips for sewing curves for perfect seams and no pleats every time and will include them in the next post after I announce the winner. You can find the pattern along with the templates here: Glorified Nine-Patch pattern and 4" templates. The winner will receive these fat quarters and the pattern with the 4" template set. There is also a 6" and 9" template set available for purchase to make this quilt. Instructions for all 3 sizes are included in the pattern. I am still having that 20% off all regular price purchases so it would be a good time to purchase a template set if you want one. 

Please leave your comment at the end of this post to let me know how you would use these fabrics and I also want to know how you feel about curved piecing. Please share this blog with your quilting friends. Good luck!

As always; do what you love and love what you do. Thanks for reading, Toby Lischko

Sunday, November 23, 2014


My husband woke me up early yesterday morning panicking, because he went to feed the kittens and none of them showed up. They ALWAYS come to breakfast. My thoughts first were that a coyote got them. I lost 3 cats in the last few months and I wasn't sure I could handle losing all 6 kittens! Mike told me that because the cats travel in a pack that he doubted that that happened. As he was getting ready to go outside to look for them he looked out our back sun room window and said that he saw 3 of them behind the fence. His first thought was that because our neighbor was deer hunting and he couldn't find the dear, that maybe they found it (thus they weren't hungry). We called them and then the other 3 showed up.

I have always had indoor cats until we moved out to a more rural area. I never had to worry about anything happening to them other than growing old or coming down with some type of disease (cancer, etc.). We have had cats and dogs since before we got married. Since we have been together (it will be 45 years this December, married for 42 years) we have had 19 cats (we currently have 8) and 9 dogs (we currently have 2).

I always wanted cats when I was a kid but my brother had terrible allergies and asthma so we weren't able to. I used to cut out pictures of cats in my mother's magazines and keep them in an album knowing that it was as close as I was going to get to having a cat as a child. My husband was never allowed to have any animals and loved dogs but his mother grew up believing dogs do not belong in a house. So we knew we both wanted to have animals in our lives. He never liked cats but when I started bringing them home, he had a hard time saying no! It is always hard to lose a pet. Some I have been more attached to than others. Only people who own pets can understand the connection that there is. It just reminds me that everyday that they are with us is very precious.

Anyone who has ever own a cat knows that we don't really own them and they come into our lives sometimes by accident and sometimes on purpose. Our first outdoor cat was discovered in a neighbor's bass boat while he was fishing over 10 years ago. He realized that there were kittens with her and knew that if anyone could get them out of his boat, Mike could. Mike was able to coax her out with food, and while she was eating he was able to get her two kittens. He built a little home on our front porch for her to raise them. We never really gave her a name so we just called her momma kitty. We gave her two kittens away, but she continued to stayed close to home. We were never really able to get very close to her. She was just not a people cat. The last couple of years she was willing to let us pet her just a little. We didn't know how old she was when we got her but recently we noticed that she was losing weight and her fur was a disaster which, with cats, is a sign that something was wrong. She continued to have a good appetite and was active so we never thought anything about it. Just that she was getting old. Well, a couple weeks ago she did not show up for breakfast and we knew that something was not right. We didn't see her at all after that so we figured she just went somewhere in our woods to die. Rest in peace momma kitty.

I could go on forever talking about my animals, but I will tell you a little about each one in future posts.

Now to the winner. I was so happy to see that there were a lot more people reading my posts and leaving comments. I hope each of you share my blog with your quilting friends and they share it with theirs. I would love for more people to follow my posts and share in my personal and quilting life. People who know me, know that I am a very private person, but every little bit of myself I can share with others, helps me to open up a little bit more. People say that keeping a journal is a good thing, so I will use this as my journal.

Today's winner is Patience Griffin! She said "From a distance this looks like a complicated pattern, but up close it looks easy. I love this pattern. I would love to make this for my cousin who loves quilts and has been a wonderful cheerleader in my life." Congratulations Patience! Please email me with your address so I can send you your prizes. Everyone else, don't give up. I have 9 more drawings! 

I said I was going to show you how to use my Cutting Corners template set with this pattern. This template set and my North Star set are both available for purchase on my website. I am currently having a 20% off all regular priced items on my website until December 15 (along with fabrics for as low as $5 a yard) so this would be a good time to purchase either one. That also includes my Mosaic Magic pattern.

In the Mosaic Magic pattern, there is a triangle on the ends of long strips and half-square triangles. 

There are two templates that are included in the set. One is a right angle triangle. It can be used to make half-square triangles and eliminates the need to draw a line on the back of the squares used to create those triangle ends. 

When making half-square triangles, you do not need any special math. You only need to know the size of the finished square. As you can see in this photo there are lines on the triangle. They give you the size of the finished piece. If you know that size, you only need to add your usual 1/2" seam allowance when cutting strips. Place the two strips right sides together and cut them out at the same time by lining up the appropriate line on triangle to the bottom of the strip. Then take them to the sewing machine and sew along the long edge. This particular strip was cut at 2" and will create a 1-1/2" HST. You can also see that the corners are trimmed before sewing so you have no dog ears to trim after sewing.

You can also use this template to eliminate having to draw a line on the back of a square in patterns that tell you to do this for a variety of blocks such as Snowball or Flying Geese. I originally designed this template set because I thought that drawing that line was a waste of time. The edge has to be trimmed anyway. This is a strip that is 3-1/2" wide and I place a 3-1/2" square on the right end of the strip. The template is lined up along the left edge of the square and the 3" mark along the bottom of it. The seam line (dashed line) goes through the right bottom corner. Just trim and sew it with a 1/4" seam allowance. You do not have to be afraid of bias edges. Just don't stretch the edge when you are sewing and let the machine do the work. I finger press everything before I take it to the iron (dry iron) so that I know that the seam is nice and flat and it doesn't stretch the seam.

I will show you how to use this template set more with some of the other patterns that I will be giving away.
Here is a sneak peek of the next bundle I will be giving away.  It is another bundle of P&B's Luxury Essentials that I gave away in my first drawing. It has a very cute gold swirl in it. Tomorrow I will play with it in some of my patterns to show you how you can use it. You can put your comments in tomorrow's post for the next drawing.

Stay warm and dry and come back tomorrow. As always; do what you love and love what you do. Thanks for reading. Toby Lischko

Friday, November 21, 2014


It always amazes me how some people can post on a blog every day or every other day. I was never very good at small talk and I feel like this is a place to put small talk. I'm not one to be on the phone every day, even though I think about my friends often. I call them when I have something specific to say or to catch up after not hearing from them for a while. I only like to write about something that imparts information to the reader.

My husband is just the opposite. He has a gift for gab. He is usually on the phone 3 or 4 (sometimes more) times a day with friends or family talking about politics or listening to their problems. He is a very good listener on the phone (but I don't always think he listens to me) and always has his opinion about things when people ask (and sometimes when they don't). He speaks his mind and always gives an honest answer whether or not they want to hear the truth. I always wished I could be like that. He is always telling me I should speak up for myself or people will walk all over me. I have gotten better as I get older. Especially when I was working in Special Education when I was in the head of a team of educators, who determined the future of a child's education. If I didn't stand up for my opinion, the team would not have respected my decision. I had to be confident that I knew what I was talking about so that others believed me too.

I was a shy child. The youngest of 3 children. My sister was the talker (and still is). She could tell you every little detail of things no matter how insignificant. If you had asked me in my younger days, whether I thought I would be speaking in front of large groups, I would have told you "no way". I have been back to groups, that I spoke to when I first started lecturing, and they tell me I have really come a long way from where I started. I still think I have a way to go to be the kind of speaker I want to be. I never thought when I first started quilting that I would be doing what I do today.

Okay, enough about me. Now down to business. I'll let you know more about me in future posts!

Patti Oakley was very excited about receiving her prize! (Well who wouldn't be excited about winning a prize.) Today's bundle is a little different than the one I showed yesterday. This P&B collection is called Bella Suedes. It has a variety of prints and read as tone-on-tones. If you don't know what that means; the colors in the fabric are very close together (different tones or shades of the same color). The bottom fabric looks blue in this photo but is actually grey with a black design.

I decided that if you wanted to use them in a quilt you would need a little more variety in the colors. I was playing with some of my patterns to see what the fabrics would look like in them. Many times we depend on a fabric pattern to help "sell" the look of the quilt. Designing with solids (or almost solids like batiks and tone-on-tones) is more of a challenge. When I work with those kind of fabrics, I have to make a quilt that lets the design of the block show off the fabrics instead of the other way around. I used my Mosaic Magic pattern. It was my very first published pattern and was picked up by and can be found here: Mosaic Magic Pattern. It was originally published in McCall's Quilting magazine. The pattern has instructions for many different sizes from a wall to a king.

It has been my best selling pattern for at least 10 years! It can be used in so many ways.

It has a very simple block in it.


Here is what I came up with in two slightly different color settings.


The fun thing about this block is that you can rotate it to create a myriad of designs.

Isn't that fun!!! The possibilities are endless. In my next blog after I pick a winner of the bundle along with my pattern, I will show you how to use my Cutting Corners template set to make the Flying Geese and half-square triangles in the block with very little fuss.

If you would like to be in the drawing for this, please leave a comment on the bottom of this post (click on comment) and tell me how you would use these fabrics or pattern. Please feel free to forward this blog to your quilting friends so they can participate too. Each drawing starts with a new group of participants, so the previous comments will not count towards this drawing.

Thank you for reading. And as always, do what you love and love what you do. Toby

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


I was watching my kittens out the window this morning and I noticed that the biggest one, Graham, was outside his kitty door watching one of the other kittens, Butterscotch. She was on her "hunting mode". She must have seen a bird and I watched her climb up one of our pine trees. Graham seemed to be watching her to make sure she was okay. My husband says he is the alpha cat and that is his role.(She didn't get the bird.) Here is is on top of the log teepee my husband made for the kittens. Isn't he a handsome cat!

He is a yellow tabby with no tail. The father cat had no tail and four out of the six kittens are tailless.

After their mother had passed away, when they were 4 months old, I noticed that they would nurse on him. The vet told us that it wasn't abnormal for them to do that. I had thought they were weaned from the mother. I guess because it was her first litter, she continued to nurse them past what was usual. She was such a good mother to her kittens. I really miss her! I'm not sure what the usual time is since it was my first litter. I figured that they still needed that nurturing. He didn't seem to mind because he would just lay there and let them do it. They obviously did not get any milk and would leave his underside completely soaked! They are now 7 months old and do occasionally still do that, but he isn't as tolerant of it.

I stated yesterday that I would pick a winner of the fat quarter bundle I posted. I'll save that to the end of the message to create a little anticipation. (Of course there are those of you that will skip my message and go to the bottom!) First I want to show how to use my North Star template pattern to make the sample I showed yesterday. It is a very fast and easy pattern that can be made in a weekend. It is great for holiday gifts when you don't have a lot of time to make something. It comes in two sizes; 12" and 8" blocks.

There are two ways to use this template. The first method is to pick 3 fabrics. I like to use a light and two contrasting fabrics (I called them dark and medium but they don't have to be.) I had these fabrics in the house (since I am confined with my broken foot) so I had to use them.

The first step is to cut out the strips and sew them together. You can see I offset the sets so that I can get the most triangles from the strips. The size of the strips is in the pattern. One of the sets I pressed the seams towards the center, the other set I pressed them out.

Next place the strip sets on top of each other so that the seams fit together. I moved the top strip set down just to show how you put them together. They will be even when you start to cut. I like to put the strip set on top that has the seams pressed out.

Here is what the template looks like. You can see it is just a triangle that has lines on it.

To keep the template from slipping around when I am cutting I put rolled up adhesive tape on the back.

The next step is to place the template on the strip set, lining up the two lines on the template to the sewn lines (seams) of the strips. I took a close-up of the template lines so you can see them lined up on the stitched lines. You can also see that the point of the triangle extends into the center piece that was offset. Continue cutting out triangles, moving the template down the strip set as close to the last cut as possible. Do not rotate the template! You should be able to get 8 triangle sets from one strip set.    

Leave those triangles together because they are ready to be sewn. Sew them along the long edge and press all in one direction, either clockwise or counter clockwise. I've turned one to the back to illustrate this. Because the sets where cut out on top of each other, see how nice they match!

Layout the pieced squares. You can lay them out to make a star or rotate them to create an octagon.

Sew the squares together to create half the block. Press those seams in the same direction as the other seams (clockwise or counter clockwise).

Then sew the halves together. Spit the center seam and press in the same direction as the other seams. Now if you wanted to you could press all of the seams open. I have done both with this block.

Here is the finished block! Look how all of the seams match! Now wasn't that easy? In one of my next blogs I will show how to make it even easier with a border stripe.

 If you want a tip on how I establish my exact 1/4" seam allowance for a perfect fit, you can check out one of my first blogs on how I do it here:  Quarter inch seam.

Okay, time for the winner. (Drum roll please)....... Patti Oakley. Congratulations Patti! Send me your address and I can put your winning bundle and my pattern in the mail.

Here is a sneak peek of one of the group of fabrics that will be given away next. This collection is called Bella Suedes. There will be another group of four that I will be giving away with this one. I will be working on placing these in one of my patterns to show off how they can be used.

Time to go. Come back on Thursday for the next drawing. As always, do what you love and love what you do. Thanks for reading. Toby Lischko

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