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Owner and pattern designer Natalie Barnes from beyond the reef, is also the author of A Modern Twist: Create Quilts with a Colorful Spin. In addition to Natalie’s artistic insights and patterns, quilting expert Angela Walters joins the fun in the book!

We all loved Natalie’s Back to School Pillow (for college students or anyone!) and the Easy Quilted Coasters + Table Toppers. Natalie’s latest project is Thanksgiving Album Blocks, a very personal design meant to celebrate memories of friends and loved ones sharing a meal at the Thanksgiving table. Turn your blocks into a very special table runner or even a quilt.

Natalie is always super-generous with giveaways! This time you could win one of three copies of A Modern Twist: Create Quilts with a Colorful Spin or three bundles of six different beyond the reef patterns. Tell us your favorite dish at the Thanksgiving table for a chance to win! (If you don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, we’d love to hear about a favorite holiday food for your family.)


Happiest Thanksgiving wishes! Only a handful of people know this about me… I love Thanksgiving more than any other holiday out there.

Thanksgiving is my favorite.

It is just the perfect day. You surround yourself with the ones you love and those that love you. You spend the day, or a few days, carefully making everyone’s favorite food. And you use all of the family recipes that have been handed down from generation to generation. Then you all sit around the table for the rest of the day. Phones get put on mute, and are left in a basket at the door. Before you know it, the stories start. The “remember when?”… The “who was that girl?” The “back in the day.”

Someone once told me to keep a small recorder in the dining room hutch for just these moments. And then it hit me– An Album Quilt! If I had a stack of blocks at the ready, everyone who sat around the table could sign an album block!

For this project I selected a fabric called “The Wordsmith,” designed by Janet Clare for Moda Fabrics, in a 10” square bundle. These fabrics debuted at Quilt Market and will be available from your favorite fabric supplier in 2016. I used a half yard of white fabric from my stash, for the signatures, and sorted the bundle of fabrics into darks and mediums, saving the lights for another day. If you want to use scraps, or family memento fabrics, you’ll easily be able to adjust the cutting instructions for your own project.

Finished blocks are 4” x 6”.

From white or cream fabric:
– Cut six (6) 2-1/2” x 41” fabric strips; trim selvedge.
– Cross cut these 2-1/2” strips into 2-1/2” x 4-1/2” rectangles. (You will yield nine rectangles from each 41” wide strip.)

From each of the eight dark 10” squares:
– Cut six 10” x 1-1/2” strips

From each of the twenty four medium 10” squares:
– Cut five 10” x 2” strips

Sew two 10” x 2” medium strips to the left and right of the (1) 10” x 1-1/2” dark strip to create a 4-1/2” x 10” pieced strip.

Press seams toward the center dark 1-1/2” strip.

Repeat until you have (48) 4-1/2” x 10” pieced strips. (Note: You will have extra medium strips.)

Cross cut these 4-1/2” x 10” pieced strips into four 1-1/2” x 4-1/2” rectangles. (Note: If you want to make a scrappy version instead of a matching block, cut six strips from each of the 10” pieces rather than four.)

Sew one 1-1/2” x 4-1/2” pieced rectangle to the top and one 1-1/2” x 4-1/2” pieced rectangle to the bottom of the 2-1/2” x 4-1/2” white rectangle.

Press toward the pieced rectangles to allow for a clean 2” x 4” album block area for your guests’ signatures.

Sew one 1-1/2” x 4-1/2” pieced rectangle to the left and one 1-1/2” x 4-1/2” pieced rectangle to the right of the 2-1/2” x 4-1/2” white rectangle.

Again, press toward the pieced rectangles.

Using the bundle mentioned above and the half yard of white/cream fabric, you will yield 48 album blocks.

Dharma Trading Co. is a fiber art supply company that has been in business for 45 years. This company will have lots of options for pens and markers to use for your signatures.

As an aside, I have friends who are headed off to live in Hong Kong for three months. As a Bon Voyage present, I will give them 48 blocks and a fabric pen to tuck into a side pocket of their suitcase. As they meet new friends on their journey, they will have an album block ready and available for a signature! And when they return, they will be able piece those blocks together to make a nice little table topper for their 2016 Thanksgiving table!

(Setting options for 4 x 6 finished blocks: 4 x 12 blocks = 24” x 48” table topper, or 2 x 24 blocks = 12” x 96” table runner.)

From my home to yours, happiest Thanksgiving wishes to you all!

Leave a note, and please tell us your favorite Thanksgiving dish. We’ll give away three copies of my A Modern Twist: Create Quilts with a Colorful Spin, plus three bundles of six different beyond the reef patterns. There are six chances to win!