Beach Bound swap quilts

Another swap wrapped up recently, this one a beach and ocean-themed swap. Given my background as a marine scientist, this one was impossible to resist signing up for. My partner shared this lovely color inspiration collage:


I also gathered that she loves turtles and storm at sea quilts, so naturally I thought of combining them!

Turtle Storm at Sea quilt | Flying Parrot Quilts

Essentially, I just replaced the central squares of the storm at sea blocks with appliquéd turtles. I think it turned out to work rather well!

Turtle Storm at Sea corner | Flying Parrot Quilts

I kept the quilting simple‚ÄĒstitch in the ditch and a little outlining, except for the turtles where I used some free motion quilting to both secure the appliqu√© and give the turtles some more definition.

Turtle Storm at Sea detail | Flying Parrot Quilts Turtle Storm at Sea detail | Flying Parrot Quilts

I found a great turtle print in the same sort of cool colors in my stash for the backing.

Turtle Storm at Sea backing | Flying Parrot Quilts

I was really pleased with the way it turned out, and I was thrilled to hear that my partner loved it, too!

The quilt I received is nothing short of amazing. Swap hostess Meredith took my love of science and oceanography and made me an ocean profile quilt:

Ocean Profile quilt by Meredith Russian

The details she put into this are just fantastic. She hand embroidered the depths delineating the various zones of the ocean, and she used the quilting to show how only blue light penetrates into the ocean depths. At the top, there are plants and fish (red, because that makes them hard to see in a place where there is little red light); below that, particles sink into the ocean depths.

Ocean Profile quilt by Meredith Russian

And she backed it in one of my favorite prints ever:

Backing - Ocean Profile quilt by Meredith Russian

It’s hanging in the living room now, so that all my nerdy friends can admire it too when they come by!

Posted in Finished Quilts, Mini Quilts, Science, Swaps | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Harry Potter swap quilts & some great news!

I love the Harry Potter books, and so I couldn’t help myself and joined¬†a Harry Potter themed swap a while back. The partner I was assigned said her favorite book was¬†Goblet of Fire, so I made a book 4-themed quilt for her!

Harry Potter quilt | Flying Parrot Quilts

I drew the flames and then fitted various spells into them. These are fusible web-backed appliqués that I cut very carefully using small scissors. I also used batik fabrics, a choice I mostly made because they looked best, but since batik fabrics have a high thread count and fray less easily, anything else would have been a disaster with these sorts of fiddly shapes!

Harry Potter quilt detail | Flying Parrot Quilts

The top half was quilted with a flame motif, but to add a little extra something, I quilted Harry and Voldemort’s duel in the graveyard into the bottom part of the quilt. When I quilted this, I was a little disappointed because it just didn’t look right until I realized I’d forgotten Harry’s glasses!

Harry Potter quilt detail | Flying Parrot Quilts

I had a little scare about this quilt possibly getting lost (swappers, please make sure you keep your host informed of any moves!), but I’m pleased to hear that it has reached its new home and is being loved!

In return, I received this delightful quilt that completely captured my sentiments from Sandy! (I like the movies, but if you watch them with me you’ll have to listen¬†me complain about everything that was left out, and how they totally didn’t explain what just happened properly, etc. etc.!)

Harry Potter swap quilt by Sandy

I also found out yesterday that my quilt “The Disintegration of the Persistence of Artichokes” took first place in the new modern category that the Pacific International Quilt Festival has just added to their show. PIQF has only a few categories but many ribbons within each category, so I was hoping for something, but I really wasn’t expecting the top prize in the category.¬†I wish I could be there, but fortunately there are kind people on Instagram who will take pictures for me‚ÄĒit didn’t seem real until I saw a photo!


Posted in Shows, Swaps | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Giveaway winner & AQS Chattanooga modern eye candy

Thank you so much to everyone who stopped by and said kind things about my quilt. I read every one of them, and they all made me feel warm and fuzzy! I’m working on a pattern for the quilt, so please check back if you were one of the people who really wanted to make this same quilt!

The winner of the Peppered Cottons bundle is Carol. Congrats Carol!

Screen Shot 2015-10-01 at 11.41.36 AM

For everyone else, here’s some eye candy! I went to the AQS show in Chattanooga a couple of weeks ago to see my quilt hanging:

Aritchokes quilt at AQS Chattanooga | Flying Parrot Quilts

The show was great, and it was so fun to see my quilt in a display of this caliber. Here are some of my favorites from the modern category!

A Slice of Pi, Connie Griner

A Slice of Pi by Connie Griner

The quilt above really appealed to me because of my love of scientific quilts. I got to chat with Connie for a while while we were waiting to pick up our quilts, and she said she had made this in celebration of the Pi Day of the Century last March (3/14/15). It features the first 100 digits of pi!

Honey, What Color Should We Paint the Living Room, Jeri Fickes

Honey, What Color Should We Paint the Living Room? by Jeri Fickes

Chasm, Susan Cronenwett

Chasm by Susan Cronenwett

The next two appealed to me because I love birds:

Me And My Shadow, Vicki Ruebel

Me And My Shadow by Vicki Ruebel

Black & White Crayons by Lynn Tyler

Black & White Crayons by Lynn Tyler

Love in the Digital Age, Kristin Shields

Love in the Digital Age by Kristin Shields

This Side Up, Judith Putnam

This Side Up by Judith Putnam

Disoriented Vortex, Nancy Packard

Disoriented Vortex by Nancy Packard

Snack Time, Donna DeFusco

Snack Time by Donna DeFusco

Next up on my project list: making something with the fabric I bought while there!

Posted in Blog Hops, Shows | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Jaftex Anniversary Blog Hop & Giveaway!

Hi everyone, and welcome to my stop on the Jaftex 85th Anniversary Blog Hop! If this is your first time stopping by, I’m Sylvia and I’m primarily a modern quilter. I also love to make science-inspired quilts!

When I was asked to participate in this blog hop, I knew right away that I wanted to play with Peppered Cottons, as I’d had my eye on some of these for a while. They are shot cottons, meaning that the warp and weft threads of the fabric are different colors, and¬†this gives them a near-solid appearance while adding a little bit of softness and interest to the look.

Giveaway Bundles | Flying Parrot Quilts

Many of my quilts have a large expanse of background fabric, so working with fat quarters is always a challenge for me. However, this¬†line has a lovely range of neutrals, and I decided to combine them into¬†a pieced background¬†and just add a little pop of color. Since I’ve had Dresden Plates on my mind lately, I decided to make fat Dresdens. Here’s the quilt I came up with:

Mountain Rainbows | Flying Parrot Quilts

The chevrons reminded a¬†friend of mine of the Rocky Mountains, so “Mountain Rainbows” is it for the title of the quilt!

The Dresdens were machine appliquéd on using an invisible thread, but unfortunately, as soon as I started quilting, the stitches began popping, so I had to go back and restitch them all down by hand. I quilted swirls into each colored wedge, which involved a lot of color changes and thread burying, but was so worth it.

Mountain Rainbows Detail | Flying Parrot Quilts

Mountain Rainbows detail | Flying Parrot Quilts

The rest of the quilting was straight line quilting following the chevrons, but I skipped every other line or so, and it really adds to the texture. I used my walking foot for this part. You can see it nicely in this photo:

Mountain Rainbows | Flying Parrot Quilts

For the backing, I used leftover colorful fabrics from the Dresden Plates. I rather like the color block effect!


The fabrics are really soft and have a lovely drape; I actually starched them fairly heavily to make accurate piecing easier. However, they are a nice weight and not overly thin. This is my favorite color‚ÄĒlight blue crossed with purple, and it almost¬†shimmers.

Mountain Rainbows back detail | Flying Parrot Quilts

My favorite part of this quilt is the binding. I decided to continue the background gradient into the binding. I had never matched up colors at an angle before, and it was definitely a challenge, but there was just nothing else that would have quite worked the same.

Mountain Rainbows binding | Flying Parrot Quilts

Mountain Rainbows binding | Flying Parrot Quilts

Would you like to win your own 20-piece fat quarter bundle of all the fabrics used in this quilt? Here are the giveaway rules:

1. For a chance to win, leave me a comment and tell me what you would make with these fabrics.

2. For a second chance to win, follow me on Instagram, Bloglovin’, or by email. Leave me a separate comment telling me how you follow!

I’ll pick a winner at the end of the blog hop.¬†(Although I usually try to respond to all comments, the volume during giveaways may mean I’m not able to. Rest assured that I read them all!)

For more chances to win all month, visit some of the other stops on the blog hop! There is also a grand prize giveaway, with chances to win a sewing machine, threads, and more, plus a chance for your favorite quilt shop to win, too. You can enter that drawing here:

85th Anniversary Giveaway
(Thanks to cosponsors Aurifil Threads, Schmetz Needles, and Janome!)

September 1 РKim Diehl guest posting @ American Patchwork & Quilting
September 2¬†–¬†Pepper @¬†Pepper at the Quilt Studio
September 3¬†–¬†Anjeanette @¬†Anjeanette Klinder
September 4¬†–¬†Leanne @¬†The Whole Country Caboodle
September 5¬†–¬†Mark @¬†Mark Lipinski’s Blog
September 6¬†–¬†Heather @¬†Heather Kojan Quilts
September 7¬†–¬†Heather @¬†Trends and Traditions
September 7¬†–¬†Martha @¬†Wagons West Designs
September 8¬†–¬†Linda @¬†Linda Lum DeBono
September 9¬†–¬†Heidi @¬†Red Letter Quilts
September 10¬†–¬†Jill @¬†Jillily Studios
September 10¬†–¬†Dana @¬†My Lazy Daisy
September 11¬†–¬†Penny @¬†Sew Simple Designs
September 12¬†–¬†Ida @¬†Cowtown Quilts
September 13¬†–¬†Liz and Beth @¬†Lizzie B Cre8ive
September 14¬†–¬†Melissa @¬†Sew Bitter Sweet Designs
September 15¬†–¬†Yvonne @¬†Quilting Jetgirl
September 16¬†–¬†Amy @¬†Kati Cupcake
September 16¬†–¬†Barbara @¬†QuiltSoup2
September 17 –¬†Erica @¬†Kitchen Table Quilting
September 18¬†–¬†Leona @¬†Leona’s Quilting Adventure
September 19¬†–¬†Margot @¬†The Pattern Basket
September 20¬†–¬†Sylvia @¬†Flying Parrot Quilts
September 21¬†–¬†Lorna @¬†Sew Fresh Quilts
September 22¬†–¬†Kim @¬†Aurifil Threads
September 23¬†–¬†Rebekah @¬†Don’t Call Me Becky
September 24¬†–¬†Julie @¬†The Crafty Quilter
September 25¬†–¬†Mary Ellen @¬†Little Quilts
September 25¬†–¬†Mary Jane @¬†Holly Hill Designs
September 26¬†–¬†Daisy @¬†Ants to Sugar
September 27¬†–¬†Melissa @¬†Happy Quilting
September 28¬†–¬†Janet @¬†One S1ster
September 29¬†–¬†Jenny @¬†Martingale& Co.
September 30¬†–¬†Teresa @¬†Third Floor Quilts


Posted in Blog Hops, Finished Quilts | Tagged , , , , | 328 Comments

Progress on WIPs!

A while back, I posted a tutorial for the Gnomes and Trees block I asked Stash Bee to make for me earlier this summer. One of the blocks went on an accidental overseas adventure, but has finally arrived safely here, so I was able to put the top together at long last.

gnomes & trees top | Flying Parrot Quilts

I added a big tree for a focal point, but am considering whether it needs some ornaments appliqu√©d on, or whether I just want to add some “tinsel” with a couching foot during quilting. I guess the contents of my yarn stash might answer that one!

I’ve also sandwiched and started to quilt on a giant dahlia quilt top I’ve had done for some time. Because I’ve been experimenting with battings lately, what batting to put into a quilt seems to become an ever more difficult question!

dahlias top | Flying Parrot Quilts

I haven’t made a quilt from a pattern in years, but after seeing all the beautiful fussy-cut La Passacaglia quilts that people are working on, I finally succumbed and bought the book. I’m really enjoying having a hand piecing project to work on during TV time as¬†we work our way through Star Trek and House!

First La Pass Rosettes | Flying Parrot Quilts

I’m heading to Chattanooga later this week to go to the AQS show.¬†I’ve never been to a national show and can’t wait!

Posted in In Progress | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Jaftex Blog Hop


I’ll be participating in Jaftex Corp’s 85th Anniversary Blog Hop! This will be chock full of cool projects and awesome prizes‚ÄĒhere is the complete list of stops. Go check them out, and make sure you come back to see the quilt I made¬†on September 20!

September 1¬†‚Äď Kim Diehl guest posting @¬†American Patchwork & Quilting
September 2¬†‚ÄstPepper @¬†Pepper at the Quilt Studio
September 3¬†‚ÄstAnjeanette @¬†Anjeanette Klinder
September 4¬†‚ÄstLeanne @¬†The Whole Country Caboodle
September 5¬†‚ÄstMark @¬†Mark Lipinski‚Äôs Blog
September 6¬†‚ÄstHeather @¬†Heather Kojan Quilts
September 7¬†‚ÄstHeather @¬†Trends and Traditions
September 7¬†‚ÄstMartha @¬†Wagons West Designs
September 8¬†‚ÄstLinda @¬†Linda Lum DeBono
September 9¬†‚ÄstHeidi @¬†Red Letter Quilts
September 10¬†‚ÄstJill @¬†Jillily Studios
September 10¬†‚ÄstDana @¬†My Lazy Daisy
September 11¬†‚ÄstPenny @¬†Sew Simple Designs
September 12¬†‚ÄstIda @¬†Cowtown Quilts
September 13¬†‚ÄstLiz and Beth @¬†Lizzie B Cre8ive
September 14¬†‚ÄstMelissa @¬†Sew Bitter Sweet Designs
September 15¬†‚ÄstYvonne @¬†Quilting Jetgirl
September 16¬†‚ÄstAmy @¬†Kati Cupcake
September 16¬†‚ÄstBarbara @¬†QuiltSoup2
September 17 ‚ÄstErica @¬†Kitchen Table Quilting
September 18¬†‚ÄstLeona @¬†Leona‚Äôs Quilting Adventure
September 19¬†‚ÄstMargot @¬†The Pattern Basket
September 20¬†‚ÄstSylvia @¬†Flying Parrot Quilts
September 21¬†‚ÄstLorna @¬†Sew Fresh Quilts
September 22¬†‚ÄstKim @¬†Aurifil Threads
September 23¬†‚ÄstRebekah @¬†Don‚Äôt Call Me Becky
September 24¬†‚ÄstJulie @¬†The Crafty Quilter
September 25¬†‚ÄstMary Ellen @¬†Little Quilts
September 25¬†‚ÄstMary Jane @¬†Holly Hill Designs
September 26¬†‚ÄstDaisy @¬†Ants to Sugar
September 27¬†‚ÄstMelissa @¬†Happy Quilting
September 28¬†‚ÄstJanet @¬†One S1ster
September 29¬†‚ÄstJenny @¬†Martingale& Co.
September 30¬†‚ÄstTeresa @¬†Third Floor Quilts

About Jaftex: Jaftex Corp. was founded in the 1930’s when Jacob A. Fortunoff started selling fabric on the streets of New York. At that time, the mainstay of the business was women’s sleepwear and lingerie. In the 80’s, Jacob’s grandson, Robert, dramatically changed the business of the company. The business focus was transferred to the over the counter quilt industry when Robert purchased companies like A.E. Nathan, Henry Glass, Stylemaker, Chanteclaire, Fabric Editions/Studioe and more recently The Blank Quilting Corp. Robert is now joined by his two sons, Scott and Greg. Scott currently is the President of Studioe Fabrics, The Blank Quilting Corp. & A.E. Nathan Co., Inc. Greg just joined the business in late 2014 and has successfully spearheaded the company’s foray into precut fabrics among other contributions.

Posted in Blog Hops | Tagged | 1 Comment

Golden Snitch tutorial

English Paper Pieced Golden Snitch Tutorial | Flying Parrot Quilts

I’m participating in a Harry Potter Mini Quilt Swap over on Instagram, and as a little extra for my partner, I made a Golden Snitch using English Paper Piecing.

Made a little extra for my #HarryPotterMQS partner! #epp #englishpaperpiecing

A photo posted by Sylvia Schaefer (@flyingparrotquilts) on


It’s been getting a lot of love from the other participants, and since it will be a little hard to part with, I decided to make myself one, and put together a tutorial for you in the process.

Continue reading

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Gnomes and Trees quilt block

Have you started your Christmas sewing yet?¬†Ha, ha. Funny. I generally start Christmas sewing on about December 15th, but I’m way ahead of the curve this year because I asked members of my Stash Bee hive to make Christmas blocks for my turn as Queen Bee last month. I realized I hadn’t shared the tutorial here and thought I would do so!

Gnomes & Trees quilt block tutorial | Flying Parrot Quilts

This block was inspired by this quilt, but¬†a wonkier version. It’s a great block for using up some of those scraps, and other than the open squares, doesn’t require any sort of precision. These instructions are for individual 3×3 blocks that finish at 15″ square, but if you’re making the whole quilt by yourself you could just as easily sew together the subunits in rows and columns.

Click below for the full tutorial!

Continue reading

Posted in Tutorials | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Celestial Orbs pattern is available!

I’m pleased to announce that the pattern for Celestial Orbs is up on Craftsy¬†(for US customers) and PatternSpot¬†(for international customers)!

Celestial Orbs Quilt Pattern

My lovely pattern testers improved this pattern greatly; you can see one version, by Tracy,¬†here¬†and here! Hers is Fourth of July themed, and it’s lovely to see it in different colors.

I think this pattern suits itself well to a variety of fabrics. I mocked up a couple of more traditional versions. Here is the mini quilt, also included in the pattern, in traditional florals:

Celestial Orbs quilt | Flying Parrot Quilts

Or how about Kaffe Fassett?

Celestial Orbs quilt | Flying Parrot Quilts

Paper piecing instructions aren’t included in this pattern, but I’ve drawn up¬†a free 5-page guide¬†that covers the basics so even a beginning paper piecer can make this quilt. Click here to get the PDF, it will also be accessible from the tutorials page.

And if you make this quilt, I’d love to see what fabrics you choose!

(Edit: update to add Tracy’s second post)

Posted in Patterns | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

MQG Riley Blake fabric challenge

A while back the Modern Quilt Guild sent out fabric bundles with the instructions to try something new using the fabrics. I realized they would be perfect for a design I’d been thinking about for a little while.

Geese in the Ferns | Flying Parrot Quilts

Several people told me it reminded them of ferns, so I’m calling this one “Geese in the Ferns.”

The new technique I tried with this quilt was reverse appliqué. I first paper pieced the curved geese sections, then I cut out the white background sections, carefully turned under the edges, and machine appliquéd them on top.

Geese in the Ferns in progress | Flying Parrot Quilts

Geese in the Ferns finished top | Flying Parrot Quilts

I marked registration lines on my templates to help me line them up again later, but foolishly did so using the first pen I grabbed from my cup, which turned out to be a pink felt tip pen. It made easily recognizable lines, but when I used starch to turn under the edges, it bled right onto on the white fabric and has left small pink spots in places. I haven’t washed the quilt, so it remains to be seen whether they will come out, but given that I’ve ironed over them I’m not holding my breath. I like to say that I learn from every quilt, and this one definitely taught me a valuable lesson.

At the suggestion of my friend Marybeth, I quilted large swirls in contrasting turquoise thread. I filled in the rest with all-over small swirls using white Invisafil thread. (Marybeth had some great additional suggestions about quilting ghost triangles, but I was really just ready to be done with this quilt, particularly given the pink spots.)

Geese in the Ferns detail | Flying Parrot Quilts Geese in the Ferns detail | Flying Parrot Quilts

I used some of the leftover fabric on the back and a spot in the binding. Even though it’s very simple, I think the back actually looks pretty interesting with the contrasting swirls.

Geese in the Ferns back | Flying Parrot Quilts

Geese in the Ferns back detail | Flying Parrot Quilts

I’m working on a whole bunch of quilts simultaneously, so there should be lots more to show soon!

Posted in Mini Quilts | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments