Category Archives: linen

Essex Linen Hourglass Quilt

Essex Linen Hourglass Quilt

I hope you all had a great holiday – I’m finally getting everything back to normal around here and can’t wait to get back to my sewing machine. I finished this quilt before Christmas but didn’t want to post it because it was a Christmas gift. This design is an hourglass quilt, which uses my favorite half square triangle blocks. I alternated a solid block with an hourglass block, because this entire quilt is done in linen and I thought an hourglass block all the way through the quilt might be too heavy with that many seams.

I really love items sewn with linen and I almost exclusively use Robert Kaufman Essex in Flax, a cotton/linen blend that is really nice to quilt with and is machine washable.  It’s a nice neutral color that blends well with a lot of quilting cottons.  For the colored hourglass blocks, I wanted to try to match the fabrics in the room where this quilt was going to end up.  Robert Kaufman’s Essex Yarn Dyed linens were just about a perfect match and they are the same blend of cotton/linen, but with a cross thread of white to provide a beautiful tweedy look that is just gorgeous.  These fabrics just appeal to me so much.  You’ll see more of them in my quilts in the future.

essex linen hourglass stacked

I do have some tips on sewing with Essex Linen, though.  I know a lot of people do not prewash their fabrics before sewing (I prewash everything) but I strongly recommend that you prewash linen.  Unlike regular quilting cottons which may or may not shrink or change after a wash, the linen will shrink. And it may be just enough to ruin your project.  So I put mine through a very delicate cycle on cold water and then tumble dry it until it is thoroughly dried.  If the fabric is going to change in any way – bleed color, shrink, fray, etc. – I want it to do it now, before it’s sewn into a quilt.  I know people have had trouble in the past with linen and you don’t want any surprises.  So dry it well, iron the heck out of it and it should be fine. I even sewed double seams in this quilt – for every single block, just to ease the tension on the seams and prevent fraying. I don’t recommend trying to zig zag or overcast the seams – this actually makes the fabric fray and splits it.  I think sewing a double seam on a small stitch length, like 1.8, does the trick. This is so worth the extra time to not have to worry about quilting with this gorgeous fabric.

sewn double seams on every block to ease tension:


essex quilt hanging

The drape and softness of this fabric is really nice.  The linen has a weight and heft to it that makes a really snuggly quilt.

The colors I used in this quilt were Essex yarn dyed Taupe, Rust, Red, Olive, Leather, Charcoal,  and Espresso.  The background color was Flax.

essex linens
see that beautiful tweedy look the white cross thread gives the linen?

essex hourglass stacked closeup

I made sixty 5.5″ hourglass blocks and sixty 5.5″ squares out of the plain linen. The quilt is 10 blocks wide by 12 blocks long. The finished quilt measures about 50″ x 60″.

essex hourglass before quilting

before quilting and after

essex hourglass overhead

I didn’t want to stitch in the ditch at all for this quilt – again, not wanting to add any stress to the seams – and so I stitched lots of diagonal lines around the blocks.  This was the first quilt that I tried using Auriful 40 weight thread instead of my usual 50 weight.  I really liked the heavier look and did not have to adjust the tension of my machine at all.

essex hourglass back and front

For the backing, I used Zen Chic’s Modern Background Paper Handwriting, an awesome fabric that I thought went well with the linen. It’s a larger text fabric than the one that I used in my Shire quilt. Both super fabrics.

essex hourglass

I used something new for this quilt. I’ve always used Warm and Natural cotton batting for my quilts, but I was in a quilt shop recently that didn’t carry it – they firmly believed that Hobb’s made a superior batting.  It’s a blend of 80% cotton and 20% polyester, which gives it a little more loft and softness.  So I tried it in this quilt.  I could definitely tell a difference. The quilt was softer and had more drape, better for a quilt that you want to snuggle up with.  The Warm and Natural is a firmer batting for sure and probably a better choice for a wall hanging quilt.

essex linen quilt front

essex quilt full back

I even made a little pillow to go with the quilt!

essex quilt and pillowessex hourglass pillow

Hope you all had a wonderful holiday and thanks for dropping in!


Linking up to Fabric Frenzy Friday, Sew Fresh QuiltsLinky Tuesday at Freemotion by the River and Blossom Heart Quilt’s Sew Cute Tuesday

“Elf” Christmas Pillow

nana christmas pillow

I couldn’t let Christmas go by without making a version of Amy Sinbaldi’s Christmas pillow!  This was so fun to stitch up and I did it all in one evening.  Want to make one?  Her pattern is free!

linen christmas pillow side

The little polka dot fabric is a favorite from Art Gallery fabrics.   And I combined it with my favorite red mattress ticking fabric and Robert Kaufman Essex linen in flax

linen christmas pillow corner

I love to make fabric covered buttons, so any excuse I can get to use them, I do!  I get the little button kits from Hobby Lobby. They are so fun and easy and come in all kinds of sizes.

I used a Perle Cotton in black for the stitching and added a little linen crochet trim  . . .

Linen Christmas pillow stitching


linen christmas pillow buttons


I’m linking up with Sew Fresh QuiltsCrazy Mom Quilts and Fort Worth Fabric’s Frenzy Friday!

Have a wonderful holiday and thanks for stopping in!


elf image

Fabric Trays to Sew

fabric trays

Sometimes  you just have to sew something cute and sweet.

I love linen and patterned fabric together.  So when I decided to make these little trays, I knew linen would have to be involved.

And since I’m a little bit obsessed with Alisse Courter’s Magnolia collection, I had to include a little bit of this sweet fabric:

Magnolia Fabric for Tray

Have you sewn with this fabric? It is so soft and luxurious.  That whole collection is definitely going to be showing up in a  quilt one day that I’m going to make. And it may have to involve a bit of linen, also.

fabric tray before corners

These little trays are a snap to make.  I used A Spoonful of Sugar’s great little tutorial for making these.  You can whip one up in about 15 minutes.  She uses charm fabrics, which are 5″ square.  I did one in that size and did the next one at 6″ square.

fabric tray aubade

aubade cloud 9 fabric

I couldn’t resist cutting into this Cloud 9 Aubade fabric for one of the trays.  The linen I used was Robert Kaufman Essex Wide in Flax, a great linen blend that’s easy to cut and sew.  You can use any fabric for the outer lining, though.  The corners are just sewn up with embroidery floss or pearl cotton (which I used).

I’m using one to hold my beloved Wonder Clips.  They would obviously be great for jewelry, too.  What great little gifts they would make.

fabric tray wonder clipsFabric Trays two

Tall “Pin” Basket


Although I call this my “Pin” basket, I don’t use it for pins!   But I love text and novelty fabrics and so I sort of call this fabric my “Pin” fabric.  I found this fabric when we out in the Seattle area, in a fabric store on Whidbey Island.  I think I bought all they had – they were just some fat quarters.  There was no selvage identification or anything, so I don’t know what it is! But the fabric is great for fussy cutting.

PIn Fabric


I used some linen that I had and cut out motifs from the Pin fabric with pinking shears. I used very firm stabilizer and boxed the corners so it would stand up.  I made a custom button for the front and  I added a grommet just for fun so I have it hanging from a hook in my sewing area.   I also added a little detail tab from tape measure ribbon that I had:


This is actually one of my favorite things I’ve ever sewn and I was just sort of fooling around when I made it – a pleasant surprise!