September, Part 2


Hi everyone! I hope this month is treating you well so far. I spent Labor Day weekend up in the Sierra Nevada mountains, bidding a fond farewell to summer. Fall is definitely in the air now, and I think my number one task right now is getting used to my new routine. And remember when I said this newsletter had two parts? Well, it's true. Lots of fun stuff going on. So I'm back with September, the sequel.

Videos! Pop-opens! Palm trees! Magazines!

1) I have been a part of the Creativebug family for many years now. Sometimes, when we're filming, it's almost like I'm sitting around the fireplace chatting with my pals. Minus the fire. And with bright lights and a camera in my face. But almost. Check out this mini-documentary on CBTV, Creativebug's FREE library of artist biographies, live stream recordings, and other fun glimpses into the lives of the artists.

How I use journals

3.) Speaking of Nicole and Delilah... let's talk about Craftcation 2017! I'm super excited to be teaching again, and look at what an amazing cast of presenters is already on the lineup! General registration opens on October 13th at 9AM PST, so mark your calendars. Click on the photo below for the registration info. If you've ever wanted a vacation, on the beach, with a bunch of awesome crafty people, taking crafty classes and just generally being crafty and awesome... this is your conference. Palm trees! Fish tacos! Glue guns! Need I say more?!Photo courtesy of Dear Handmade Life (me, Amy Tan, Adrienne Wiley, Kiffanie Stahle in our panel on Multiple Income Streams.)

4) Lastly-- phew!-- Can you believe that people are already thinking about holiday gifts? Yes, it's true. Well I wrote a sweet little tutorial for Modern Patchwork Gifts on how to make a set of these nesting fabric buckets with handles. I also had a revelation last week that they also make great handbags. Get a copy and make some!


See you soon!


September! Part 1!


September! It’s Fall! Back to School! Virgo birthday season!

It’s also that time again when I announce all the cool stuff going on. There’s so much, actually, that I’m dividing into two posts. Because I like sequels.

1-- I'll be heading to Palm Springs at the beginning of October for Quiltfest Oasis. I'll be teaching and lecturing, alongside some other awesome quilters, including Libs Elliott. Check out the details here or by clicking on the photo. See you in Palm Springs! (I'm so excited, by the way, I've never been to Palm Springs!)

2-- Next up! The following week, I'll be back in the Bay Area teaching for my second year at the Pacific International Quilt Festival. And this time, you'll recognize right away who else is going to be there.

There are still spots open in some of our classes, so head over to the website to sign up. See you in Santa Clara!

2-- Next up! The following week, I'll be back in the Bay Area teaching for my second year at the Pacific International Quilt Festival. And this time, you'll recognize right away who else is going to be there.

There are still spots open in some of our classes, so head over to the website to sign up. See you in Santa Clara!


Part Two of the September updates to come... including some dates for your calendars and fun projects to announce! Stay tuned.

Oh, and if you aren't already doing so, follow me over on Instagram to keep track of my comings and goings:)

See you soon,


Washing Instructions- Hats, Pop-opens, and Sleep Masks

I took several of my handmade products with me backpacking to Emigrant Wilderness a few weeks ago. When you come home from a trip like that, all you really want to do is take a long hot shower and sit down on the most comfortable chair in the world-- which, after sitting on granite for days, is any chair, by the way. Then you look over at your backpack, which you can smell from across the room, and contemplate how long you can put off the task of washing its ENTIRE contents.

But don't feel too sorry for me:


There's my reversible sun hat! In the wild! It was the perfect hat to bring because it had a large brim, and was lightweight and highly packable. But man, did it get dirty! I'm talking sunscreen-sweat-bug spray-dirt-dirty. Washing it an alpine lake is a fantastic option for cleaning out in the woods... but back in San Francisco, I wanted to get everything CLEAN-clean. Which, by that I mean actually using soap.

So I'm taking the opportunity to share some important washing instructions for a few of the products I make.

Photo by Isabel French.

1.) Pop-opens:

This felt like a good opportunity to make a really grainy GIF. Please enjoy!

Basic instructions: Hand wash exterior, sponge wash interior.

Detailed instructions: Pull the interior out of the bag. Using lukewarm soapy water (I use a clean and free detergent), hand wash the exterior. You can soak it up to the zipper, just avoid soaking the interior. Then, take a sponge and wipe down the interior. Hang to dry or rest on a drying rack. Just 'pop' the inside back in once dry!

This is where I'll point out that people DO wash laminated cotton in the washing machine, and have no problems. It's up to you, in the end. :)

2.) Reversible Sun Hat:

Basic instructions: Machine wash, hang dry.

Detailed instructions: Machine wash with cold water in a regular load of laundry. To dry, I used a vase to prop the hat up so it dries in its original shape, but this is not necessary.

3.) Sleep mask:

Basic instructions: Hand wash, dry flat. That's it!


All of these items came in handy on my backpacking trip, by the way. Some things that I'd add to my list of handmade items to bring for next time: A variety of bandanas (for ascot purposes) and several small drawstring bags for separating and sorting items inside backpack.

All in all, 31 miles, four days, one blister, and a lot of dirt. But worth every bug bite.


Homage to the Pioneer Women

One of the things that I love about quilting is the mixture between the precise and the improvised. There’s nothing that gives me more satisfaction than when my corners nestle perfectly when I’m chain-piecing a quilt top together, but I also rebel against repetitive quilt blocks. I suppose that is one reason why I would be considered a “modern” quilter.

But it turns out my “classical training” has influenced my designs a bit more than I thought.

I wrote a blog post a year ago about a quilt I made for a dear friend who was moving in which I used the friendship star block. I just love how the shape of the star reminds me of a person walking forward with their head held high in a posture of self-assuredness. So this year, when my friend Annabel asked me to make a quilt using her stunning new fabric line for Windham, Maribel, the confident friendship star automatically popped into my head. It seems I just can’t shake this wonderful block.

Well what do you know... upon further research, I discovered that this was a favorite quilt among Pioneer women who made their journeys West.

Allow me to quote from the National Park Service website:

“The quilts the homesteaders brought with them were a comfort to these women who traded their home, family and friends in the East, for the uncertainty of traveling through vast prairies in the West. A quilt that held special value to the pioneer women was the Friendship Quilt.

Often it was done is secret, and then given to the woman as a going away gift. It usually was a group effort, with each block being sewn by a friend or relative with their name embroidered in the center. Putting a Friendship quilt on the bed, gave a woman a sense of connection with her former way of life. It kept alive the memory of family and friends, providing comfort and company during the difficult days of homesteading.

One woman homesteader said, "When I get lonely, I read the names on my quilt. "It was like putting her arms around someone and giving them a hug.”

Aw shoot, as a woman who herself journeyed from East to West… it’s NO WONDER I feel an affinity for this block! Not only does the star represent a strong, independent friend, but it evokes a warm embrace from said friend, and others. It's just perfect.

So from my homestead to yours, here’s my quilt, “Maribel’s Friends,” a variation on the block that is a simple combination between the half-square triangle and the simple square, chain-pieced together. Of course, the only things missing are the names of Maribel’s friends embroidered in the center:)

I'm so grateful to Annabel of Little Pincushion Studio for the opportunity to work with her lovely fabric. Have a peek at the look book here, and ask for Maribel by Annabel Wrigley at your local quilt shop!

Here's another little item I made with Maribel fabrics, modeled here by my friend Anne, who, by the way, is one hell of a quilt-holder-upper. And she also gives really wonderful hugs. :)

Pattern for reversible sun hat found on Creativebug.

Maribel's Friends: Mini Quilt Pattern:

Finished squares measure 3”, finished border measures 1 1/2".

You'll need:

-16 half square triangle blocks (See tutorial below)

-21 squares varying prints from the Maribel collection, cut to 3 ½”

-4 squares of white fabric, cut to 3 ½" for the center of each friendship star

- 2 strips for border, cut to 2" x 40"

Arrange your squares on a design wall or floor, following the photo. Chain-piece your squares together, saving the pressing for the end. (If you are looking for a tutorial on how to chain-piece, might I suggest my class on Creativebug, in which I talk you through the whole process.) Add border strips. Back, baste, quilt, and bind!

Feel free to adjust the size, or add more blocks. Just adopt that Pioneer spirit... sky's the limit!

HST tutorial:

Cut 8 squares to 3 ⅞” (4 colors and 2 low volume white prints, 2 solid white) and follow tutorial to make HSTs. Pair colors with low volume whites or solid whites!



Summer News

Happy Summer!

School is out and the sun is out (occasionally) in San Francisco! There has been a LOT going on over here, so allow me to cut to the chase.

Attention World!

I LIVE STREAMED! Yep, I made my very first infomercial, an impromptu Facebook live video from the Patchwork Show Oakland a couple of weeks ago. Thanks to the team at the Patchwork Show, and also a special thanks to my friends Justin and Jamieson for helping, it was like sweet serendipity the way that whole thing went down.

In case you missed it and need a few chuckles, here it is:

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Attention Pop-Open Coveters!

My Etsy shop has a new look. Also, I’m going to be adding this beautiful medium size to my offerings, as well!


Attention Sewists!

My latest post on the Dear Handmade Life blog is a tutorial on how to make this super easy sleep mask. I’m taking mine on an upcoming backpacking trip, since that summer sun makes it almost impossible to sleep past dawn. You should make one, too! 


Awesome photography by Isabel.

Also, my latest Creativebug class, How to Sew a Dopp Bag, is the June Bag of the Month! If you haven’t checked out the trailer to see if it’s your thing-- which I can already tell you it is-- here you go! Don't forget to use the promo code ASHLEY for a free two-week trial!


Attention Pop-Open Owners!

Are you taking yours on any trips this summer? Take a photo of your pop-open in the wild, like my friend Diali has here in the Grand Tetons! Tag me (@alphabetashley) and use the hashtag #popopensinthewild and it could be shown on my page! Also, at the end of the summer, there might be a prize involved. Just saying.


Attention Quilters!

I'm excited to be teaching at Quiltfest Oasis in Palm Springs this October 6-8th! I've never been to Palm Springs and I feel like it might officially make me Californian. I can't wait! Head over to the site to see why I'm so honored to be a part of this lineup.

Also in October, I'll be returning to the Pacific International Quilt Festival in Santa Clara! Head over here to see my class offerings and also who else will be teaching... hint: It's my mom!

Attention World, Again!

Last but certainly not least, I’m thrilled to share that an article I wrote will be appearing in issue #30 of Uppercase Magazine! More on that soon, but if you aren’t a subscriber yet, use the code “summer30” for a discount. This magazine is one of my absolute favorites, and I look forward to receiving it more than almost anything. To say I'm honored that words that I wrote will be printed in this beautiful publication is a vast understatement.

That is all, for now. Thank you for reading, and happy summer out there! I'd love to hear from you, especially if you have any ideas for more silly live videos!

More from me really soon.



What's New

Lots of fun stuff happening over here!

First of all, this week is QuiltCon 2016 in Pasadena, CA. I'm thrilled for several reasons, one of them being the cool classes I'm taking, including my first long-arm class! I'm excited to see friends and meet new ones, hopefully. And of course, I can't wait to see the one and only Gwen Marston as the keynote speaker this year. But... it's also the first time I have a quilt hanging in the show! I'm extremely giddy to see "Pixels" hanging on the wall of a show... it will be a special moment for me, for sure. More on this soon!

Secondly, my latest class on Creativebug is out! The Perfectly Pixelated Jelly Roll Quilt is a great beginners quilt top project. It features my favorite chain-piecing technique, and explores how to use a design wall to map out your design. 

If you haven't signed up to Creativebug yet, now's your chance. They're offering a free month subscription if you use the code MSTAR. What are you waiting for? Just head over and check out their instructors and classes if you don't believe me about how amazing it is.

Thirdly, I'm so pumped to be writing a monthly post for the Dear Handmade Life blog. If you're not familiar with this website, it is one of the many glorious brain children of Nicole Stevenson and Delilah Snell, of Craftcation and the Patchwork Shows that I participate in and love. Check out my maker profile and see my first DIY post, this super sweet and simple fabric wallet.


And on the personal project side, I can finally share this baby quilt that I made for my dear friend’s new baby boy. I used these delicious constellation and moon phase prints from Moda, and love both the random chaos and occasional order that the half square triangle design created. I have an image of him, as he grows, staring at the triangles and squares and finding new patterns and different shapes each time. 


I just love this quilt, and I hope he does too.And don't forget, registration for Craftcation is open!

See you soon,


Baby Bibs: They're SO In

There are more babies in my life right now than ever before! And that’s saying something, because I remember one year at my school in Spain when so many of my colleagues were pregnant --something in the water, they said-- that when those little guys reached school age, they filled almost an entire preschool class!

Well now it’s January 2016, and it seems the baby-having has ramped up again. I can’t seem to throw a cat without hitting a newborn or a pregnant friend! And the ones that have arrived recently, boy, are they gorgeous little humans.

Who spit up a lot.

And are in need of bibs.

I suppose I’ve been bib-making for many years now. A few years ago, during another baby-having extravaganza at my school-- this time in San Francisco, and this time by the wives of my co-workers, so NOT school water related, thankfully-- I thought of this simple, customizable, and easy-to-make baby gift.

And I’m not kidding when I say they really do make the perfect, easy gift. Using 100% cotton makes them fully washable, totally useable, and extremely soft. If you don’t believe me… try it yourself! By taking my class, Quilted Jelly Roll Baby Bib!

I’m super excited about all of my newest classes on Creativebug, but this one in particular is near and dear to my heart. Not only is it extraordinarily fun because you get to use strips from a jelly roll, but it involves making an improv log cabin block, which means that when you make this little guy, you are officially-- gasp-- a quilter!

I hope you guys will check it out. What’s more, and perhaps the best part of it all… Creativebug is offering the first month FREE for new members using the discount code MSTAR through 3/31/16! So, if you haven’t tried Creativebug yet, this is your chance.

AND! I’m so honored and excited that this class is part of an exclusive offer with Missouri Star, who is offering the Mojito jelly roll (the one I used for this class) as their Daily Deal on Friday, January 15th! By the way, if you don’t know about Missouri Star, check them out here, or read what Abby Glassenberg just wrote about them over here.

Happy baby-having and bib-making, world!


(My thanks to Brené Brown, for reminding me-- while reading her latest book over the holidays-- of the fabulous "cat-throwing" expression.)

Happy New Year!

I spent the first day of 2016 with this view. It wasn't a terrible way to start, I'd say. That's me in the distance looking like a lego person. The photo credit goes to my friend Isabel, who is such a talented photographer. She makes us all look stunning, including this craggy old cliff in Point Reyes.

Here's to inspirational friends, new beginnings, new projects, new perspectives, and hopefully a ton of surprises this year.



PS- My newest Creativebug classes are coming out soon! Plus some other crazy cool projects. Stay tuned:)

Photo credit Isabel French

Back to School Newsletter


I know, I know. Nobody wants the summer to end! Some people are happy to be back at school (or to send their little/not-so-little ones back to school!) and some are perhaps... a touch reluctant that the glorious unscheduled time and freedoms of summertime have come to an end.

Over here in San Francisco, summer endures. As we enter the warmest and sunniest two months of the year in the Bay Area, I'm gearing up to go "back to school" in a sense myself. Next week, I'll be teaching a live (that's right, LIVE) class called "How to Teach a Craft Class" on CreativeLive.

I'm excited about this class for a number of reasons. First of all, I LOVE talking about teaching and all of my experiences over the years of teaching teens, tweens and adults. But I'm pretty sure people don't want to just listen to me ramble off stories about kids hiding under tables or what it's like to take 54 kids to Central America.

So. This class is for anyone who has a craft. This class is for anyone who has ever been told, "Oh, you should TEACH that!" This class is for any artist/crafter/maker who wants to expand their business and add more income. I'm going to show you why you are ALREADY a teacher.

We're going to talk about what's holding you back, and you'll learn the tools and tricks you need to go forth and TEACH. And I promise, it will be FUN. And by the end of it, you'll not only know what to do, but you'll wonder why you weren't doing it already.

RSVP to the course here!


Did you know... you can watch the free live stream on September 2nd and 3rd, which includes a live chat forum where you'll be able to ask questions and interact with me in the San Francisco studio. Whaaat?

Are you out there teaching your craft? Are you an aspiring craft teacher? I'm thrilled to invite you to join the Teacher's Lounge, an online meeting point where you'll be able to connect with other crafty/creative teachers and talk shop! Get advice, find potential teaching gigs, exchange resources, and more. Make sure you're signed up for my newsletter to find out more.

I think you'd like:

  • Pam Garrison's Creative Sketchbooking class on Creativebug. Pam gives you the freedom to make mistakes, explore, and have fun using paints, ballpoint pens, collage, and more. I HIGHLY recommend it for a creative jolt! (If you follow my Instagram feed, you'll see it's my own personal obsession right now!)
  • You are a Badass by Jen Sincero. The title speaks for itself, but if you are ever wavering that you are, in fact, a badass, PLEASE read this book.

See to you soon:)


Want to get these newsletters via email? Sign up over here:)

A Proper Posse

I am so lucky because I feel like lightning struck twice. If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’d remember my obsession with Tuesdays. Back when I lived in Spain, I had an amazing group of friends who met every Tuesday for a session of crafting, yapping, and general silliness. Our bond, while no longer taking its weekly format, endures to this day.

When I moved to San Francisco, I did not know what was in store for me. I packed up my things into two giant green Correos boxes, and shipped them to the only person I knew in the state of California: my sister’s friend. So, going to a new city, a new job, an unfamiliar country… it all felt a little bit too much to bear without my pals.

But, lo and behold, the gods of friendship smiled upon me once again. Within my first week in San Francisco, I met two of the members of what would turn into a five-person posse. A proper posse.

If you follow my Instagram feed, you might recognize these ladies. Like my Valencian counterpart posse, we tend to meet once a week for a session of non-judgmental support, yapping, and general silliness. We have helped each other through tough times: breakups, surgeries, general malaise. We have celebrated joyous life events: new jobs, new loves, new husbands. We have helped each other move countless times, tracing a frenetic zigzag on the map of the Bay Area with our collective 12 different homes over the years.

And this time, one of us is moving farther away. Don’t get me wrong, this is in the "joyous life event" category, but it’s disguising itself as a sad moment in our lives. In this particular case, we celebrate her new opportunity, her fresh start, her bravery and inner wisdom. But dammit, it’s still sad.

For this special lady, I made a small quilt to take with her on this new journey. I chose the friendship star block, for obvious reasons, and the entire posse helped me with color and fabric choice. But I also love the friendship star because the shape reminds me a little bit of a person walking forward with her head held high, with an air of confidence, of self-assuredness. And what’s more, she is holding on to the people behind her, but she's not looking back.

Go forward, my friend.

(And, just to infuse a little bit more of the city that she loves so much, I took the little quilt out around the neighborhood for a little photo session. And rubbed it up against a nice selection of grimy walls.)


We love you, Larry.

Happy Times- A Patchwork Show Recap

Wow, that was fun.

As a two-time Craftcation attendee and steadfast devotee, I already knew that I loved Nicole and Delilah from Dear Handmade Life, who are the organizers of both events. The atmosphere that these women foster is not only one of immense inspiration and creativity, but it's one that's free of pretense or opulence. So it may not come as a huge surprise that I find myself quite at home around this crowd.

It was a busy day at Jack London Square, full of familiar faces... A friend brought her mother, another brought a group of girlfriends on the ferry, I even saw a fellow quilter who I met in Austin at QuiltCon! And that's just to name a few. It seems like almost all of my dearest peeps made it (if they weren't on their honeymoon!) and OH did they make it special. Flowers, photography, snacks, customer service, manual labor, moral support... It made all the difference.

But ultimately, you know what else made all the difference? My customers. Thank you to all of the people who stopped by, and whether you shopped or not, your feedback and enthusiasm about my bags made it all worth it. Robin the Flight Attendant, you are my hero. Also, I met so many of my amazing fellow vendors, including my neighbors on all sides, and fell in love with a local leather bag maker.

If you did not get a chance to check out my friend and photographer Isabel French's post about my booth, check it out here. And, if you ever have seven spare hours and need to hear someone gush about something they love, just ask me about Craftcation sometime.

Talk to you soon,


Photo courtesy of Isabel French

A Mother's Day Treat

Mother's Day is coming up! You might remember that me and my mom filmed a Mother/Daughter quilting class last year with Creativebug... Well if you haven't checked it out, you can at the very least watch the trailer (complete with eye-roll from yours truly) here.

Also, I thought you might like to know about a NEW Mother's Day offer from Creativebug! Click on the image below if you think your own mom might like a creative jolt for her present this year! TWELVE classes for her to keep FOREVER! The Creativebug library includes some AWESOME classes, and not just quilting! Some of my favorites include this watercolor class, this scarf classthis knit dog sweater class, and this felt sewing kit class. OH! The list goes on. Maybe one of the 12 could be a class featuring a Midwestern mother/daughter combo?

So click on this image to get your mama a sweet creative treat! Enjoy!

Give or Get Creativebug this Mothers Day

And... HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY to all you mothers, grandmothers, great grandmothers, stepmothers, almost mothers, sort of mothers, surrogate mothers, and friend mothers out there!


Photo courtesy of Creativebug.

Golden Gate #3

Pattern Inspiration: Gate #3GoldieGate3

The beauty in this gate, I think, is in the combination of patterns.

The sunburst in the lower portion is fun, and despite the fairly drab mustard color paint (which, as you can see, I tried to "liven up" with some blues and greens), the overall effect is fairly happy-making. Plus, if you look carefully, you can see the sun reflecting one of the heart-shaped side gate patterns to the right of the door! But my favorite part of this whole setup is the design at the top.

Big surprise there! There are lines or breaks in the gate that split the squares into triangles, making this a smorgasbord of triangle piecing. So, in other words, get ready to see some triangulation... my own definition of it, anyway... I already bought the fabric for this one.

Stay tuned for updates, or head on over to my Instagram feed to see my work in progress.

Thanks for all the support, guys!


Golden Gate #2, check!


Oh, the diamonds! The four-point stars!

This project had it all. Geometry, measuring, and a lot of free-wheeling. You might remember that I am a self-proclaimed "triangle-phile," and well, I do believe that I'd like to officially add diamonds (rhombuses, if you will) to my list of sewing shape celebrities.

As you can see, I marked the quadrants. My philosophy on marking is to err on the side of YES. Even though it can be (or it IS) tedious, I find that it pays off, especially when geometric shapes are involved!GG2-Photo5

But wait. What started out as an exploration of these four-pointed rhombi quickly moved into a focus on what I determined to be the negative space of this quilting design... the star. GG2-Photo1

Here you can see the free-motion doodle I placed into this star-shaped area. It not only made the diamond "pop," or "puff" up, but the use of blue thread gave the star area its own stand-out design.

GG2-Photo2GG2-Photo3 GG2-Photo4Thanks for all of your support!

See any gates out there you think I'd like? Let me know on Instagram with the hashtag #gatesofthesunset, or tweet me @alphabetashley!

See you soon!



Golden Gate #2

Pattern Inspiration: Gate #2 GoldenGate2

This gate is almost begging to be made into a quilt design.

You'll find this gate, literally, next door to GG#1 on 12th Avenue just off of Judah street. It just goes to show how packed this neighborhood is with these delicious doorways! One of my favorite parts of this door is the top right section, where the top of the middle diamond is shorter, giving it more of a gemstone shape. I still can't figure out if that's an optical illusion or not. Any mathematicians out there? In any case, I love this gate.

It's essentially made from blocks of four 60 degree diamonds whose points join in the middle. Speaking of which, I just watched this great free tutorial by Liza Lucy on Creativebug in which she shows how to cut these very diamonds! Ha. But, I'm still not sure if I'm going to make this gate pattern through piecing, machine quilting... or go crazy and do both!

Stay tuned, or keep up with my progress over on Instagram. Trying this design out with me? Use #gatesofthesunset to show it off!


Golden Gate #1, check!

Last week's gate project involved a beautiful Art Deco pattern that I had a fun and humbling time quilting onto a bright and colorful spectrum pieced top. I took all of the beautiful pre-cuts that I received at QuiltCon from Moda, Windham, and American Made Brand fabric companies, and I pieced them together. Color explosion!

Then, I took the gate pattern and developed the machine quilting design. The colors are so bright and beautiful that the quilting almost seems secondary, but I'm really happy with how it turned out.

One of my favorite parts of this project is going out and photographing in my neighborhood. I got several looks, a few curious glances, and one sweet woman who walked by told me she was "so happy to see a young person so passionate about quilting," which warmed my heart.

Here's a glimpse of my Golden Gates 1 quilt. Enjoy!

More #gatesofthesunset to come...



Golden Gate #1

Pattern Inspiration: Gate #1 Gate#1

I can't help but notice all of the design and quilting pattern inspiration when I walk through my neighborhood in San Francisco. The homes here in the Inner Sunset range from (may my 74 architect friends and family forgive my poor use of terminology) beautifully ornate Victorian single family homes to sparsely ornamented apartment buildings. The landscape changes from street to street, and even within each block. But no matter which avenue you find yourself on, you'll be sure to see a variety of these stunning iron gates.

This one is simply amazing (minus the weed growth in the corner!) and I love it. It's found on 12th Avenue, otherwise known as the flattest avenue, making it a commonly traveled street for me. I'm always struck by its crisp lines, its secondary diamond pattern, and its obvious nod to Art Deco stained glass.

And so begins my pattern inspiration series! If you want to join me on Instagram, use the hashtag #gatesofthesunset, even if you're not physically in the Sunset! Or, like me, if you plan on making a design or quilting pattern inspired by these glorious golden gates, I'd love to see it.

Have a great weekend!


To Infinity, and Beyond

This must be what it’s like when you come home from Burning Man. I’ve been on an emotional high ever since I came back from my big-fat-love-fest QuiltCon, and for some reason I’ve been thinking a lot about Buzz Lightyear. This feeling of awe and excitement about the world, it reminds me of what children must feel when they are growing up and want to be the President, or win the World Series, or dream of being an astronaut. You feel like anything is possible. Nothing seems out of reach, and why shouldn’t it?

Forget that I’m talking about a quilting conference. What I’m referring to is that universal feeling of purpose, the sense that everything makes sense. That I’m surrounded by my people. That there’s no financial, psychological, or logistical obstacles standing in the way of achieving greatness. That I figured out what I want to do.

Attend conferences, you might ask? Is that what you’ll do now? Gonna keep chasing that high? Cuz that’s not-really-a-job. No, as much as I love spending eight hours a day in dimly lit convention centers, it’s not the actual conference that I want to pursue. It’s what’s within the conference. The community. The spirit. The ART. Someone asked me last week what I want to do in this field, and all I could say was, “I want to do it ALL.” And I’m not even really exaggerating.

Originality, authenticity, tradition. These were all big takeaways for me. Within a community that feels comforting to me because I grew up immersed in it’s warmth, I feel like I’m finding my own place within it. But it will be new, and it might not be what I was expecting. After all, my old pal Buzz keeps telling me not just to go to infinity, but beyond as well.


Need a pick-me-up? Watch Spanish-speaking Buzz again, or for the first time!

Photo: Geometric Rainbow by Nicole Daksiewicz, Chicago IL

M is for Mother-Daughter Quilting Class

Quilts on Table

May always feels like a very family-oriented month to me. My dad, my sister, my brother-in-law, and BOTH of my nieces celebrate their birthdays this month. And to top it all off, it's Mother's Day! I seem to be the only one who doesn't get some love this month. Unless you count a 1/2 birthday. But who (above the age of 13) celebrates a 1/2 birthday...?

In any case, I have a LOT of cards to send this month.

Just in time for the familial festivities... I'm excited to share a project that my mom and I have been working on... a Mother-Daughter Quilting Class!

Many of you know that my mom is a professional quilter, and travels near and far in order to spread her knowledge of quilting. Teaming up with Creativebug allows students to gain access to her classes from the comfort of their own home. To top it all off, the video workshops are stunning!

This past month, I had the pleasure of joining the Creativebug party. In our class, we explore the differences between modern (me) and traditional (my mama) quilting by making two different quilts using the same color palette. We give step-by-step instructions on how to make both quilts, and give video and PDF instructions. Yep, that's right. Two for one!

The fun part about the class is that you can not only learn how to piece together both quilt tops, but you also get the added bonus of learning several machine quilting techniques. And considering we are both from the Midwest... there's a lot of smiling!

Here is a quick look at the filming. It was oh-so-fun!




And here are the quilts!

Two-Quilts-HangingCheck out the Mother-Daughter Quilting class on Creativebug! Also, browse all of the other amazing classes, and consider a subscription or even a free trial! You can't go wrong.

Many thanks to the wonderful peeps at Cbug, and of course...

Ash Sue Photo

(Photos courtesy of Creativebug Inc.)

A is for Achoo! (A Story and a Tissue Box Tutorial)

Back in October, when I was at the Pacific International Quilt Festival, I bought MORE of Heather Ross's delicious Briar Rose prints.

I know.

Did I really need more? Well, duh! YES I needed more! You always need more!

As it turned out, that extra yardage was the cloth that broke the camel's back. And by camel I mean the crappy Ikea cabinet where I store my fabric.  My shoe-box-sized fabric closet could simply not hold another chunk of fabric, beautiful as it may be.

I was faced with an age-old problem: Where to PUT all the fabric?!  So, big surprise here, I decided to make a storage satchel that was eye-pleasing enough to be left out on a shelf.

As far as the rick rack goes... I thought... "Oh, go on, Ashley, why not?"

Then I really liked how it turned out:


And that was when I decided to put rick rack on EVERYTHING.


'Tis the season to be sniffly, am I right? And that tissue box is kind of an eye sore. Why not add a little sass to that box o' pañuelos, your most commonly used household item?


Tutorial: DIY Beauteous Tissue Box Holder

*For a standard size cube tissue box


  • One 19” x 8” rectangle of fabric for exterior.
  • One 19" x 8"  rectangle of fabric for liner
  • Two 19” x 8” rectangles of thick fusible interfacing (I used Pellon Craft-Fuse)
  • 20” of Rick Rack
  • Thread
  • Pins
  • Awesome music

Written instructions following the photos!

Tutorial-1 Tutorial-2 Tutorial-4 Tutorial-5


1. Iron-on interfacing to the back of both rectangles of fabric following the manufacturer's instructions.

2. Take one rectangle and fold in half, “good” side in.

3. Sew two seams (1/4" seam allowance); one on the side and one on the bottom, leaving the top open. (Note: Top and bottom edges are longer, 9”)

4. Repeat for the liner rectangle.

5. Box the corners using the actual tissue box and a pencil to mark where you will sew.

6. Sew 1/4" outside the pencil line. Trim the extra fabric as seen in photo.

7. Turn lining fabric so the “good” side faces out.

8. Insert the lining “box” into exterior “box” so that the “good” sides are facing each other. Be sure to line up the two sewn edges.

9. Place rick rack between the two layers at the top edge, pinning as you go along. Be sure to leave a tiny bit of the rick rack sticking out.

10. Starting about 3 inches from the sewn edge, sew. Be sure to be less than ¼ inch from the edge, leaving about 3 ½- 4 inches open for turning.

11. Turn. It might fight with you, but don’t give up!

12. Iron the edge flat, particularly where the open part is. Pin this area closed. This might take some finesse, but it should blend in nicely.

13. Sew a finishing stitch along the edge.

14. Tie-off the loose threads.

Boom. Stylish sniffles. Enjoy!

Tissue1 Tissue2 Tissue4Briar-Rose-2 Tissue5You'll notice all different shapes and sizes, too! They're great for storing loose change, for gathering buttons, or even for collecting rouge threads. Anyone recognize that Amy Butler print?

Oh, and I'm selling these bad boys at the Friends School craft fair this Saturday, December 14th from 10-1 if you'd like to get your hands on one:)