Best quilting buds, back again: new from Kim and Jo (+ fabric giveaway!)

Gather your favorite fabrics—and your favorite quilting friends—because Kim Diehl and Jo Morton are back with Simple Friendships II!

Simple Friendships II

Kim and Jo have a fun idea for you: start with patchwork, add a few friends, and stitch it all together with gorgeous new patterns from their latest book. Their all-new, showstopping quilts reflect each designer’s signature style.

From Simple Friendships II

Every chapter showcases a classic quilt block; Kim and Jo each take the block and transform it into a spectacular quilt. Discover fresh spins on Churn Dash, Ohio Star, Flock of Geese, and more. Instructions make it easy to create blocks on your own or as part of a group—and the sampler quilts included are simply stunning!

We asked Kim and Jo some pressing questions about their latest book, and what other sewing adventures they’ve been on lately—read below for their answers!

Stitch This!: Your first book, Simple Friendships, was an instant best seller. What inspired you to team up again for Simple Friendships II

Kim DiehlKim: Jo and I live in different parts of the country and we’re used to working on our own during other book projects—we just bop along by ourselves and see where the wind blows us. Collaborating on our first Simple Friendships book was a real change of pace! When we began that book, we had a rare opportunity to get together face-to-face and brainstorm while sipping Starbucks (my kind of meeting!). It was really fun to stay connected throughout the process, compare notes and projects, and share the love. So of course I wanted to do it all again for Simple Friendships II! With a basic format already in place from our first book, we had an easy time falling into a creative rhythm for this new book (even without being able to suck down coffee together), and I feel that it’s even better than the first!

Jo MortonJo: Even though we don’t live close to each other, we keep in touch via the internet. We each do our own take on a block (not confined by block size). People seemed to enjoy the first book, so a second book was an exciting idea for both of us!

Churn Dash quilts
Kim and Jo’s takes on Churn Dash

ST!: What’s your designing process like—do you draft a pattern first or gather fabrics first? Do you draw ideas on paper or use a computer?

Kim: I tried being spontaneous in the design of a project ONCE, and found myself lying awake each night wondering what my next “spontaneous” step would be. I couldn’t handle it! I have to admit that I’m totally into planning. I begin by exploring block and layout ideas using graph paper. When I have a basic blueprint, I use a computer program to plug in prints and colors so I have a jumping-off point for when I begin making the quilt. That said, once I begin stitching I never hesitate to trust my instincts and stray from the plan if I feel changes are needed.

Jo: I don’t use a computer to design quilts, I never have. I’m happy working the way I work. Old habits and all that jazz.

Ohio Star quilts
Ohio Star gets a makeover from Jo (left) and Kim (right)

ST!: What’s inspiring your work right now?

Kim: Last year was my year of embracing simplicity, so I’m currently in the process of finishing a few in-progress projects inspired by that theme. I recently realized, though, that I’ve been so goal and deadline oriented that I somehow let evening handwork fall off my radar screen. I’m in the process of remedying this heinous oversight, and I’m currently working up blocks and appliqué designs for a long-term project that will let me enjoy hand stitching again.

Jo: Antique quilts, mid-to-late nineteenth century, have always inspired my work. My husband and I live in a 90-year-old bungalow, and we live with antique furniture (a 20-year collection process purchased during many road trips). Some pieces were acquired in Pennsylvania and Ohio, and we also own some great reproduction furniture from Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia, and New England. These pieces suit my soul, and I need to make quilts that are also good for my soul. I’ve always said that I make quilts for me, and share them with you.

Courthouse Steps quilts
Two versions of Courthouse Steps: Kim’s (left) and Jo’s (right)

ST! What’s on your sewing table right now?

Kim: Lots of simple patchwork blocks and lots of wool-on-cotton appliqué designs!

Jo: Fabric! I’m currently finishing a couple of quilts made mostly with my Hickory Road line with Moda Fabrics, which begins shipping to quilt shops this month. I have a couple of block exchanges coming up and I need to get my blocks sewn.

Kim Diehl's sewing space
A peek at Kim’s sewing space: the wool appliqué is part of a just-for-fun project; the patchwork blocks are for an upcoming book.

ST! What’s your #1 tip for beginning quilters?

Kim: Strive for accurate seam allowances! Each time I begin a new project I take a quick moment to double-check my seam-allowance width. I cut three rectangles, 1½" x 3½", and stitch them together along the long edges. After pressing the seams away from the center rectangle, the patchwork should measure 1″ in width. If the size of my center rectangle is off, I make an adjustment when feeding my future pieces through the sewing machine. Once I’ve achieved accuracy, I know I’ll have smooth sailing.

Jo: Learn the basics (take a beginner class recommended by someone you admire). Acquire and work toward learning good skills. Math is involved in skills. I learned how to draft patterns from a book by Jinny Beyer in the early 1980s. Once you understand the math and can sew a consistent seam allowance, you’ll be able to make most any quilt.

Sampler quilts
The stunning samplers: Harmony by Jo (left) and Best of Friends by Kim (right)

Quirky Questions for Kim and Jo

 What’s your secret talent? 

Kim: I can’t carry a tune in a bucket when singing. I can’t bake a cake that doesn’t cave in at the middle to save my life. But I’m a fantastic disco dancer.

Jo: Answering questions . . . from my students.

 What movie have you seen again and again?

Kim: I have a handful of favorite movies that I never get tired of: A League of Their Own, Gone with the Wind, Forrest Gump, and Con Air, to name a few. (I have eclectic tastes!)

Jo: Miracle on 34th Street with Maureen O’Hara, Edmund Gwenn, and Natalie Wood—the black-and-white version, of course. I also love The Devil Wears Prada and Pretty Woman. Most evenings TV isn’t very good, so I watch/listen to Home Improvement and Last Man Standing or old reruns of Murder, She Wrote.

 If someone narrated your life, who would you want to be the narrator?

Kim: Ellen DeGeneres for sure. She would make everything I do, including my goof-ups, sound down to earth and funny.

Jo: The American historian and novelist, Shelby Foote.

We’ve got a very *friendly* giveaway coming your way!

Our friends at Moda Fabrics sent us a bundle of Jo’s Shirtings; our pals at Henry Glass sent a bundle of Kim Diehl’s Wit and Wisdom fabrics. What shall we do with them? Well, give them away to two lucky winners, of course!

Simple Friendships IITo enter you name in the drawing to win Kim’s or Jo’s fabric bundle plus a copy of Simple Friendships II, tell us:

How often do you quilt with friends?

  • As often as I can!
  • I have regular meetups with my quilting buds.
  • I usually quilt by myself—but quilting with friends sounds fun!

Share your answer in the comments to be automatically entered into the random drawing—we’ll choose two winners and let you know by email if you win. Good luck! And if you’re ready to begin a new quilty friendship with Kim and Jo, order your copy of Simple Friendships II at our website and we’ll send you the eBook for free.

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Thanks to all who entered the drawing! The winners are Ann and Joni.

Ann says, “I mostly quilt by myself but do belong to a quilting group that meets once a month and we have a retreat at least once a year. I also do many workshops with the two quilt guilds I belong to  I would love to have more opportunities to quilt with friends but dealing with elderly parents as well as grandchildren doesn’t leave me much time lately. Thanks for this opportunity!”

Joni says, “I usually quilt by myself—but quilting with friends sounds fun! Thanks for the opportunity!”

We’ll email you about your prizes, Ann and Joni—congratulations!


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