How to fight Lex Luther using only fabric
The Fat Quarter Gypsy Quilt Designs
Follow on Bloglovin

How to fight Lex Luther using only fabric

Making It! Jo's little chemo goal - Week 2

by Joanne Hillestad on 02/13/20


My Birthday Celebration Continues!

Last week I discussed why turning 50 is so exciting for me.
If you missed that post, you can find it here??

This week, I would love to talk about the fabric that inspired me to have this mini blog event.
Last October, while in Houston at International Quilt Market, Kate, Kris and I walked into the Marcus Fabrics’ booth and spotted the Soulful Shades of Pink collection. It is in a pink that is not traditionally associated with the breast cancer awareness campaigns.
I instantly loved it… for exactly that reason!

Let’s go back in time.
I was diagnosed on September 27, 2007. Four days later Breast Cancer Awareness Month kicked off. It felt like every third commercial was about breast cancer. It was overwhelming at that particular moment in time. Now, don’t think I’m against having a month for breast cancer. Not at all! However, in the midst of a diagnosis, it can be stressful and anxiety inducing.

The traditional pink became a constant reminder that I had cancer. As a result, making a quilt in the traditional pink sort of screams BREAST CANCER to me. I just never felt compelled to make a quilt for someone or myself in fabric collections using that pink.
Now, I’m sure other survivors don’t have the same thoughts. We all deal with things differently. But for me, the pink is okay in small quantities. But a whole quilt would be too much for my over-thinking brain.

When I saw the Soulful Shades of Pink collection by Marcus it was perfect.
Pink, but not the traditional one.
Calming. Lovely.


It is a great mix of pinks and grays. The stripe is perfect for a binding.
The butterflies make me smile.
I absolutely love everything about it!

Next week I will reveal the quilt I designed. All profits (everything except the cc fees) for all 2020 sales will be donated to the American Cancer Society. I’ll explain why I donate to the American Cancer Society every year in next week’s post. The pattern will be a pdf download only available on my online store starting next Friday, February 21st.
Here’s a tiny sneak peek:

Thanks for stopping by! 
Schedule of Events: (I borrowed this from Kris/ blog post... thanks Kris!!)
Feb 7th
Kate will be posting a mini tutorial and a link to the free pattern.
I will be posting about my breast cancer story.
Kris will be posting tips on strip piecing.

Feb 14th
Kate will be posting a mini tutorial to enhance the free pattern.
I will be posting about why I chose this fabric line and show snippets of my project.
Kris will be posting a mini tutorial and a link to her free pattern.

Feb 21st
Kate will be posting a mini tutorial and showing other projects made with the fabric.
I will be showing off my project and a link to the pattern. All profits from the pattern sales will go to the American Cancer Society.
Kris will be posting a mini tutorial about sizing the project for kids.

Making It! A celebration of Jo's chemo goal - Week 1

by Joanne Hillestad on 02/06/20


So, I just turned 50.

Many women don't look forward to this milestone.

Many women haven't been diagnosed with cancer at 37.

I was.

So, turning 50 to me is a celebration! 
A huge, exciting and wonderful gift!
I smiled from ear to ear on my birthday!

Here is my story... and something fun I am doing to celebrate it.

Let's roll back 12 plus years ago.  I was a busy mom working in Corporate America as a database analyst.  My 2 boys were aged 8 & 10.  It was August and the whole family was heading out to Moab, Utah for a well-deserved vacation.

Moab 2007

We were travelling with 2 families:  In total we had 7 kids, at least 3 dogs and a cat along for the ride.  We were travelling in our RVs and camping at Dead Horse State Park.  If you ever get a chance to visit Moab in an RV... it is a great place to stay.

On the drive out I wasn't feeling my best.  I seemed to catch some sort of bug while heading over the mountains.  I spent the first few days sick with a fever.  I started to feel a little better and enjoyed the remainder of our vacation.  But there were times I just couldn't catch my breath when hiking up big hills.  It was strange.  I even told me husband at one point... I think something is wrong with me.

We got home from vacation and I felt like I had a sinus infection.  So, I went and got some antibiotics from the doctor.  Cleared it up after 2 rounds and I moved on.  Then one day I woke up with a sharp poke of pain for just a second under my left arm.  Hmmm... that was weird.  I went to feel the area and found a lump.  It was a Sunday morning.  I knew what a lump in your armpit could be.  Believe it or not... I saw an episode of Oprah one day years before where they talked about checking under your arms.  So, I was instantly frightened.  I made an appointment to see my doctor on Monday morning.

Spring 2008 - a few weeks after I finished chemo
She wasn't convinced it was anything... we waited for my cycle to come and go.  If it was still there, she said come back.  Now, I had never had a mammogram.  I wasn't old enough.  The recommendation at that time was 40.

So, when it didn't go away, I went back and that was when everything started spiraling out of control.  It took a full month for a formal diagnosis.  There are lots of steps.  By the end of September, I got the results and yes, I had breast cancer at the age of 37.  They said I probably had it for at least 8 years.  That would date back to when my youngest son was born.  

While going through all of this unbelievably scary stuff, I would pray to just make it to 50.  Please, just let me live until I'm 50... my boys will be 20 and 23 by then.  So much closer to being ready to make it without me.  You have so little control during something like this.  I had to do something, so I didn't lose my sanity.  I did lose a lot of that lingering baby weight... that was a plus.  However, I don't recommend the anxiety diet.  lol.

I had surgery 9 days after diagnosis and started chemo 3 weeks after that.
All of my hair fell out on Thanksgiving morning.  All at once.  

I continued to pray.  Let me get to 50.

I had 6 rounds of chemo.
I finished, and life started to move on.  It was still very scary many times.  Still is every now and then. Slowly but surely you learn to live with your new reality.  The day I accepted that I could get hit by a bus tomorrow, that no one lives forever, and I have to enjoy and appreciate every single day I get on this earth.... that day was a good day.  And here I am... 50!  I did it!  I made this goal during chemo to fight to get to 50 no matter what.  I have been lucky.  So far, my cancer has stayed away.  I still have to go annually to my oncologist and get tested.  Once a year I am a twit consumed by anxiety until I get the results.  My type could lay dormant for decades.  I will never be 100% free of the worry.  But I don't let it completely rule my life anymore.  A day doesn't go by that I don't think about it 100 times.  Anyone who has been through something like this will understand exactly what I mean.  My life changed forever back in August of 2007... but not for the worse.

Relay for Life 2008

I became an empowered woman who wasn't nearly as afraid to follow my dreams.

That is how the Fat Quarter Gypsy came to be.
Thanks to cancer.

And now I'm 50 and so very happy!

My new goal is 105!

It's time to celebrate!

I am hosting a Mini Blog Event with two of my favorite quilt designers:

Kris Poor from Poorhouse Quilt Designs
Kate Colleran from Seams Like A Dream 

Please visit their blogs and see what fun tutorials they have planned for you.
We will be posting 3 weeks in a row starting with today.  For me, this week is all about why.  Next week I'll share a beautiful fabric collection by Marcus Fabrics.  They were generous and sent us fabric to make projects and a quilt for this blog event.  We saw this collection at International Quilt Market in October and instantly knew we needed to do something with it.  So, come back next week to see it.
The last week I will be launching a new quilt pattern called “Feel The Love” under the Swirly Girls Design brand. The pattern will be available as a pdf download.  All profits (everything except the credit card fees) for 2020 sales will be donated to the American Cancer Society.  I'll dive into why I support the American Cancer Society every single year on week three.  

Marking my 50th birthday by giving back is something I am really excited about!
Time to go do a few celebratory cartwheels… oh wait… maybe not.  I am 50 after all!

Schedule of Events (Thanks to Kris... I totally stole this from her blog post):

Feb 7th

  • Kate will be posting a mini tutorial and a link to the free pattern.

  • I will be posting about my breast cancer story.

  • Kris will be posting tips on strip piecing.

Feb 14th

  • Kate will be posting a mini tutorial to enhance the free pattern.

  • I will be posting about why I chose this fabric line and show snippets of her project.

  • Kris will be posting a mini tutorial and a link to her free pattern.

Feb 21st

  • Kate will be posting a mini tutorial and showing other projects made with the fabric.

  • I will be showing off my project and a link to the pattern. All proceeds of the pattern sales will go to the American Cancer Society.

  • Kris will be posting a mini tutorial about sizing the project for kids.

Kismet Blog Hop by Tammy Silvers for Island Batik

by Joanne Hillestad on 02/03/20


Welcome to my day of the Kismet Blog Hop!

I just love this collection! It is full of bright, happy colors with a great mix of prints and tone-on-tone fabrics that play well together. I was fortunate enough to be able to play with this collection last fall. Tammy Silvers from Tamarini's (the designer behind this lovely collection for Island Batik) asked me to make something for her booth at International Quilt Market in Houston, TX. Of course I said YES! Tammy's booth was in a bohemian vibe so I ran with that when I designed these cute Stacking Pop-Ups.  Tammy sent me the cute tassels to give them that little extra something-something. I just love how they turned out!

Before I share more pictures of the pop ups I made,
let's enjoy some of my favorite fabrics from this collection:

More Pop Up Pics:

From left to right: XL, Medium & Large
The XL is me having fun playing with a 2-1/2" strip bundle.  No pattern, just sewed strips together and cut into angles just to sew them back together again.  I basically built a piece of fabric and then cut out the side of the pop up from that piece.  You could do the same any way your heart desires!  I added the tassels after the pop up was completed the old fashioned way... by hand with a needle and thread.

I think they turned out cute.

I hope you enjoyed a little Kismet inspiration on this fine Tuesday!
Tune in again tomorrow through Friday for more inspiration from my fellow blog hop designers.


Here's the schedule of posts:

Monday 2/3 

Tammy Silvers                  Tamarinis                        Instagram: @tamarinis

Island Batik                       Island Batik                     Instagram: @island_batik

Pauline McArthur             Funky Friends Factory     Instagram: @funkyfriendsfactory


Tues 2/4 

Joanne Hillestad             Fat Quarter Gypsy             Instagram: @fatquartergypsy



Wed 2/5 

Kate Colleran                 Seams Like A Dream          Instagram: @seamslikeadreamquilts

Becky Jorgensen           Patchwork Posse                Instagram: @patchwork_posse


Thur 2/6 

Kris Poor                         Poorhouse Quilt Designs    Instagram: @poorhousequilts

Swan Sheridan               Swan Amity                         Instagram: @swanamity


Fri 2/7 

Erin Sampson                Aurifil                                   Instagram: @aurifilthread

Jessica VanDenbrugh   Sew Many Creations            Instagram: @sewmanycreations

Sarah Furrer                 Studio 180                            Instagram: @studio180design

Tammy Silvers              Tamarinis                             Instagram: @tamarinis

Make sure you visit Tammy's blog post for information about her giveaway! 

I will be doing a giveaway as well.  You must have a shipping address in the US or Canada to win. 

Raffle starts on 02/04/2020 at 12:00 am and ends on 02/07/2020 at 11:59 pm.  Winner will be notified via email and will have 48 hours to respond.  If no response within the 48 hours, a new winner will be randomly selected until a winner responds and I can ship out the prize.  You would be amazed how often people forget to check back to see if they won!!  So, watch the spam folder on Saturday the 8th!  

How do you enter?  Easy peasy... just click the link at the bottom of this post and visit my facebook page via Rafflecopter.  I use rafflecopter so you can enter your email address privately.  Only I will be able to see it.  I will not be adding email addresses to my newsletter list.  I rarely send newsletters... 

Thanks and good luck!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Let's Flamingle! Quilt Cruise 2021

by Joanne Hillestad on 12/03/19

5 Days of Deals starting this Friday!

by Joanne Hillestad on 11/27/19

Christmas is on the way!  Just a quick little post that we will be having 5 days of deals on the online store starting this Friday, 11/29/2019.  Each day we will post new deals that will last until the stroke of midnight on 12/3/2019.

We will wait to ship all orders until Tuesday, 12/4/2019.  That way, if you purchase more than one deal, we can combine them for shipping and refund the difference back to your payment method (cc or Paypal).

Happy Thanksgiving!
Jo and Blondie

What's New...