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

2) Speaking of families, mark your calendars for the Fall Patchwork in Oakland! I love the community that Nicole and Delilah have built, and am proud to be a part of this show. Also, big news, I am going to be selling my pop-opens in a new material! I’ll give you a hint, it starts with waxed and ends with canvas. That’s right, the long anticipated WAXED CANVAS POP OPENS! Come and get yours on November 5th.


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?!panel-craftcationPhoto 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!

3– Lastly for now, I am super excited to have been featured in Creativebug’s LIVE video a few weeks ago in which they announced a new partnership with Joann Fabrics! I gave a pretty detailed free-motion quilting demo, too. And the best part? It’s FREE to watch. It’s Creativebug’s best kept secret! Head over to the cbtv LIVE video library, or to the Creativebug Facebook page to check it out:


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:

For a step-by-step tutorial on how I like to wash my pop-opens, check out this video:


This also 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.


Also, for those looking for a pop-open, use the code SUMMERLOVE at checkout on my Etsy shop for 10% off your order, through next Monday, 7/25/16!

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:


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.