Quilting with Friends – Surprise Quilt-along

August 26, 2023


Once a year I go quilting with friends in the mountains of north Georgia. I look forward to it all year long.

My friend Ginny hosts us at her lovely home and studio. Her studio, dubbed “The Annex”, is the cutest little house on their mountain property. It has a bedroom, bath, kitchen, a huge great room and a loft. The loft is home to her HQ Amara 24 with Pro-Stitcher and her extensive curated fabric collection (her stash). The great room is set up for sewing with machines and pressing and cutting stations, and just about every quilting tool you could ever need. You’ve heard of Barbie’s Dream House? Well this is a Quilter’sDream House!

This year I asked the ladies to participate in the Handi Quilter Surprise quilt-along and they all agreed. Each one chose her fabrics and brought them to the party.

Fabric Selections and Cutting

Pam chose a layer cake that she had won at a shop hop a few years ago.

She had some time, so she got all her pieces cut before our retreat. She recommends, when using the 10 inch layer cake squares, to cut three 2-3/4″ strips making sure you have a 1-1/2″ strip left.

Ginny chose a Christmas palette and so did Connie and I. These are Ginny’s fabrics, bright colors with a modern vibe.

I didn’t get a shot of Connie’s fabrics but you’ll see her blocks in a bit. She chose a red and green palette too, but with a more traditional feel.

I went with the Christmas 1/2 yard cuts I had from the Moda Christmas Eve by Lella Boutique line. And I added other fabrics from my stash and a couple from Ginny’s stash. My red and greens are more muted, with a sophisticated mood.

Tip: if you use yardage, you’ll only need to cut one 3 inch strip for each gift box. Then sub-cut your pieces from there.

Isn’t it amazing that although the 3 of us chose Christmas they are all different?


I also decided to make a table topper from some candy/ice cream fabrics in my stash. I thought that would make a cute item to use when we have family birthday dinners.


For my table topper I plan to make 6 gift box blocks and add sashing and a border.  I got the pieces cut for my blocks quickly.


Time to Sew!

We all got to work piecing our blocks.


I worked on my table-topper first.


You do much better work when you have a little chocolate now and then. We all laid out a block and then sewed the pieces together, chain stitching as much as possible. It helps to lay out the block pieces because it is easy to get the half-square-triangles that form the bow in the wrong orientation.


The half-square-triangles need slicing and trimming.


Sharing ideas

We shared ideas and techniques. We always learn from one another when quilting with friends. Connie thought the gift boxes would look great if she replaced the white triangles with the “gift wrap” fabric. If you are working from a layer cake, you will not have enough fabric to do this.

She was able to use a white sparkly fabric for some of her bows and a silver sparkle for the others.  That red and green plaid fabric is super cute.

A friend and neighbor of Ginny’s, Patt, decided to quilt-along and make Surprise too! She chose music-themed fabrics from her stash. She came to visit us one day and brought the blocks she had made so far.


How is your Surprise quilt coming along? Do you have any ideas to share? We would love to hear in the comments!

Be sure to come back next week for more ideas!


Quilt Every Day!


by Mary Beth Krapil





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August 26th, 2023

Once a year I go quilting with friends in the mountains of north Georgia. I look forward to it all year long. My friend Ginny hosts us at her lovely […]

2 responses to “Quilting with Friends – Surprise Quilt-along”

  1. I have a Forte with a Pro-Stitcher. Loved your article and the time we shared together. I finally finishe all my blocks and now on to the layout.

    • Yes! looking forward to seeing your layout.
      The Forte has been re-named the Amara 24 (same great machine!)

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