Love Is the Key

February 12, 2016

I had the opportunity this past week to stitch up a wonderful paper-pieced pattern by my friend Kitty Wilkin, who blogs at Night Quilter.

Here’s the beautiful photo she took of her new pattern, Love is the Key, which she posted last week.

Love is the Key by Kitty Wilkin


I’ve mentioned before that Kitty and I first met a couple of years ago when we happened upon each other’s blogs, and realized that our blog names, and our lives, were very similar.  We quickly became close friends, and now we communicate every day by text.

Kitty and Stephanie

Kitty Wilkin of Night Quilter (left) and me, a year ago this week, when we met each other in person at QuiltCon in Austin

Kitty knows that it’s been awhile since I have had time to sew, and she sent me her new pattern, Love Is the Key, just in case I needed a little project to get me back in the groove.

Have you ever had this experience? You’ve taken a break from sewing, and when you’re finally ready to get back to it, you have no idea WHAT to sew!

There were so many ideas for potential projects swirling around in my head, I was completely overwhelmed. So I was relieved when Kitty emailed me her pattern; it was just the assignment I needed to get going.  I haven’t paper pieced in over a year, but it slowly came back to me, one little scrap at a time.

Love is the Key is a foundation paper pieced pattern that measures 9″ square, but with an option for a 4.5″ wide by 9″ tall version. It features a heart-topped key and is a very easy, beginner-friendly paper piecing pattern. It’s very fitting that I sewed this pattern this week, because the pattern was first conceptualized and sketched almost a year ago, on Kitty’s flight home from QuiltCon, the day that we took the snapshot above.

The 9″ square pattern, makes for a perfect throw pillow, once you add some negative space on all the sides.  Here is my version.

Love is the Key Pillow

I used my favorite Robert Kaufman Quilter’s Linen for the background, and some blue from my stash. The paper piecing went smoothly, but after I finished, and quilted it, I found one little error.  Can you see it? Check out this close up….

Love is the Key Pillow

I often sew in 20 minute increments; I always seem to be leaping out of my chair to get someone a juice box, or to tell someone to get off the roof of the playhouse in the backyard.  Apparently, interruptions like that can cause a person to forget pieces 7 and 8 in the pattern (in the upper right hand corner of the heart).


At least I finished it, and I really love it.

I quilted it with diagonal straight lines on my new Handi Quilter Avante.  If you’ve ever used a longarm, you know that long diagonal lines are a headache.  So I used a tried and true longarmer hack: I loaded the fabric for this pillow diagonally, which allowed me to stitch horizontally in order to achieve the diagonal look I was going for.  I used my channel lock, which locks the machine in the horizontal position, for stitching straight across.

Love is the Key Pillow mid quilting

After I finished all the matchstick quilting around the key, I planned to go back in and stitch the center of the heart. But then I heard someone scream that they spilled juice all over the laptop (I knew I shouldn’t have stopped to get that juice when I was piecing the darn thing), so I ran downstairs and completely forgot that I had ever planned to finish that center heart.

I mopped up the juice, we averted disaster, and I ran back upstairs with an exciting idea to attach the envelope backing of the pillow right on the longarm!!! Talk about saving time!

When I put the pillow on the sofa to admire it later that day, congratulating myself for achieving the envelope backing trick on the longarm, I was crushed that I had put the entire pillow together without remembering that last bit of quilting.

Quilting is a humbling sport, isn’t it?

But that open heart is kind of growing on me now. It’s sort of cute, even if it’s not perfect… In fact, it’s the imperfections that make something beautiful, to quote the wise Bob Ross.

Hope you have a great weekend! I’m off to a Handi Quilter teaching event tomorrow.  See you Monday!

Late Night Quilter





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  • Reply Elizabeth Bauk February 12, 2016 at 5:40 am

    Hi Stephanie! So happy you are back sewing! I well remember the days when all of my kids were small and I was trying to sew! Fast forward twenty-five years and you and your friend Kitty have given me the best idea for a perfect wedding gift idea for my younger daughter, who is getting married this June. The reception is being held at The Carolina Inn in Chapel Hill(it’s logo is a key) and of course , the “Carolina” blue is perfect! The pillow will be great for Kathryn and Adam to take to Boston to remember home!

  • Reply Melissa Lewis Reilly February 12, 2016 at 7:36 am

    Elizabeth – how perfect and how fun (love the Carolina Inn!). Stephanie – this is Such a great post. The hack is amazing and i did NOT know about the channel lock for straight line quilting! I’ve used the rulers but am never satisfied with the outcome. I work on an Avante (rent time on it at MLQS) and will be sure to ask about it.

  • Reply Yvonne @Quilting Jetgirl February 12, 2016 at 9:55 am

    You know, the key to love and quilting and life is to be open to it… imperfections and all. I didn’t notice the corner until you pointed it out, and I think the quilting is sublime. I love the trick to load items at a 45 degree angle, by the way!!

  • Reply Robin February 12, 2016 at 10:05 am

    Oh. My. Goodness. That. Is so me! Constant distractions and ending up with a less than perfect result. Gotta love those imperfections! Endless opportunities for improvement. Haha. Have a great day (and we’ll keep trying).
    Robin Preston

  • Reply Anja @ Anja Quilts February 12, 2016 at 9:57 pm

    It’s awesome. Makes a great pillow. Glad to see you’re getting back to sewing.

  • Reply cheryljbrickey February 13, 2016 at 7:23 pm

    I really like the pillow! The diagonal lines really highlight the key and give the background great texture. That is so cool you were able to put the pillow backing on using the longarm!

  • Reply kittywilkin February 14, 2016 at 5:40 am

    You are too sweet! I’m glad this quick sew was able to jump start your sewing again! Try some #sewtake20 breaks!! Although I know your little ones will most likely find some craziness during that 20 <3 You amaze me. Your pillow is gorgeous. Ps. You totally know I strictly told you NOT to sew this up since you have so much on your plate 😉 I'm glad you did, though, and hope it helps get you back into your quilting groove.

  • Reply Jayne Willis February 14, 2016 at 8:18 am

    I love this key and your pillow is wonderful! The quilting is amazing! I’ve had times where I wanted to make something, but got stuck on what it would be!!

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