March 30, 2012

Giveaway Winner

Chiska won the fat quarters bundle for our March contest. Congratulations, Chiska!

March 28, 2012

What fishermen and quilters have in common

While my husband and I were away last weekend, my oldest son Michael took Chris and Ryan fishing. This picture of Ryan against the mountainous background gave me an idea for another landscape quilt, until I noticed the open-mouthed catfish, struggling, right before Ryan sent him back into the lake water and saw it swim away. Will definitely have to edit the catfish and the fashionable glove out of this picture for the quilt.

As a result of this fishing trip, Ryan has spent about $70 at Walmart, buying the biggest fishing tackle box they had, plus lots of yucky stuff to put in it. When we got home, he looked so happy placing each lure, hook, etc, into its many compartments. It reminded me of how happy I get every time I buy a new gadget for my studio. Besides the love for nature, here ends the similarity between fishermen and quilters as far as I am concerned. (I could not help thinking of all the pretty fabric I could have bought with that money...)

Embroidery and Applique Inspiration

As I always quilt my projects, I own a few books with quilting designs. Looking at them, one can easily see how they could be used as patterns for embroidery and applique. Have you used any designs as such? Those with continuous line lend themselves more readily for stitchery and applique. One book in particular comes to mind, with designs so lovely I have thumbed through its pages very often for inspiration: Hari Walner's Continuous-Line Quilting Designs: 80 Patterns for Blocks, Borders, Corners, & Backgrounds (I found it here). Check it out and you will know what I mean - major eye candy!

March 26, 2012

Fat quarter giveaway

Fellow quilters: time is running out on the fat quarter giveaway. Just write something about the person (or persons) who inspired you to become a quilter. The winner will get a cool bundle of fat quarters from the Romance collection by Willowberry Lane for Henry Glass & Co, just in time for Easter. Start typing!

Storage for Projects

My projects-in-progress are usually stored in zippered plastic bags. However, the other day I found these awesome plastic boxes at Walmart for under $4.00 a piece. A bargain!

At 15" x 11 1/2" x 3 1/4", they are the right size for storing fabrics, patterns, and everything else for your project, as well as for temporary storage of sewing items you will be using during a retreat. I bought three of them, but am going back for more, as they stack well. Oh... my studio is getting so organized!

March 22, 2012

Paper Piecing Tutorial

Paper piecing is so much fun! You can create amazing designs, or simply use one of the many blocks available. I LOVE Carol Doak's 300 Paper-Pieced Quilt Blocks (I found it here)! It has tons of wonderful blocks and the possibilities are infinite. The book comes with a CD so you can print the blocks you like when you are ready to start your project.

I print a few blocks, then cut and paste them onto a page so I can get as many blocks as possible (sometimes 2, sometimes 4, depending on block size) on one page, making sure I leave about 1/2" between blocks on all sides. Once that is done, I print the page onto foundation paper (vellum paper), and cut each one. Then, I choose fabrics, cut them per her cutting instructions (Carol Doak tells you the size for each piece - little fabric waste!), and put it together. This is another must-have book for your library.

Now, onto the tutorial.
Gather all your pieces of fabric, and the printed paper foundation blocks.  For the fabric pieces, I left the one that will be placed onto the spot marked #1 on the block with the right side up. All other pieces I flipped them upside down, so when I get them to place on top of the previously sewn fabric, they will already be on the right orientation, i.e., right sides will always be together and ready to be sewn.

Place first piece of fabric onto vellum paper block: right side of fabric is facing you, block is upside down so numbers are all backwards.

Hold paper and fabric up to a light source in order to make sure that the edges of the piece of fabric extend beyond the solid lines of part #1 by at least 1/4" (this will be your seam allowance). Now, place next piece of fabric, in this case a beige triangle, onto the first piece of fabric. Where? Well, you will be sewing on solid line between 1 and 2, so you will place the triangle over that edge of the first piece.

 Fold back this second piece of fabric to make sure it is placed correctly and that its edges extend over part #2.  You can see (I hope!) on the left side of this picture that the beige triangle extends beyond the solid lines of part #2.

You will be sewing on the solid line between parts #1 and #2, so make sure pin is not in the way. In short, you will always be placing the fabrics on the reverse side of the paper, flipping it, and sewing it on the right side of the paper.

Always start sewing a few stitches before the line and end a few stitches after the line. These extra stitches will be undone in another step.

Finger press seam.

Flip block so now right side of paper faces you, place a note card, post card or credit card against the line you will sew next, in this case the line between block parts #1 and #3.

Remember the extra stitches? Here is where you will smooth the seam allowance and undo them so the fabric lays flat.

Trim it by using your add-a-1/4" ruler. It will site nicely against the folded paper.

Next, place the following piece of fabric RST onto the pieces already sewn, on the side of the solid line between parts #1 and #3.

Again, make sure the piece extends beyond the solid lines of that part.

Flip the block and sew on the solid line.

Again, with the right side of the paper facing you, place a note card against the next line you will sew...

... fold paper back onto the card exposing the seam you will trim to ensure it measures 1/4".

Trim using the ruler and the rotary cutter.

Flip it and align next piece of fabric to that edge you have just trimmed, as it will be sewn on solid line between parts #3 and #4.

Make sure new piece of fabric, again, goes beyond the solid lines all around.

By now you got it. Repeat same steps until you have sewn all the pieces to form the block.

Finally, with right side of the paper facing you, trim the block, placing the 1/4" mark of your ruler onto the outer solid lines, trimming it all around.

You can now join all blocks together. Do not remove the paper until blocks are joined to the rest of your work, which will ensure the edges of the blocks are secure and won't distort. When removing paper next to seems, you may want to use tweezers.

Wouldn't it be nicer if this picture had not been rotated? Ai, ai, ai... But I think you can see how nicely the blocks join together...
Was this tutorial helpful? Let me know, and send me your questions!

March 20, 2012

Chatting with our Quilting Idols

As I read patterns, collect quilt books, thumb through quilt magazines, and go hunting for the newest fabric collection, I often wonder about the lives of the authors, designers, and quilt store owners. What prompted them to start quilting? How did they go from quilters to entrepreneurs?

So, I decided to find out by interviewing them. The result is the newest page on this blog, Meet Leading Quilters [I renamed it Meet the Masters recently!]. It takes a little bit of time to be able to complete an interview, but as they are available I will post them. So, check back often!

I would also like suggestions from you: who should I interview next? Is there an artist or business owner who you admire and would like to learn more about his/her life and craft? Suggest a name and, whenever I publish the interview, you will get a stack of fat quarters! What are you waiting for?

March 15, 2012

Inspired by Nature

I took this picture during my last trip to San Diego. This seal was posing for me for a very long time... He is destined to become the subject of one of my upcoming art quilts. After dinner and dessert, I sort of feel (and probably look) like him right now. Should I call the art quilt 'self-portrait'???

Easter Bunny

Easter is just around the corner. As I was wondering what Easter-related project I would do this year, I came across the picture of this bunny I made last year, based on a pattern I purchased at the Handmaiden in Sandy, Utah, across the street from Quilts, Etc. My mother loved it, so it now lives in Brazil with her.

I am tempted to make more bunnies for this Easter - perhaps a decoration for the front door or a banner. Whatever I decide to do, I will share a picture with you. What are you working on for this Easter?

Ruler Bag

During our last quilt guild meeting I learned how to make a cool bag to carry quilting rulers (thanks, Diana!). The perfect item for our upcoming retreat. The bag folds totally flat when empty (the rulers give the bag its shape), a welcome bonus for those of us with limited storage space in our sewing rooms.

There are enough pockets for different size rulers, as well as smaller pockets for rotary cutters, scissors, and other notions. It was easy to make, and I used a decorative stitch for topstitching. What do you think?

March 12, 2012

Machine quilting class

I can't wait to see the projects my quilting friends will quilt using their own sewing machine! Isn't it amazing what you can do with the walking foot, beside straight lines? And... free-motion is not that scary anymore, is it? I love teaching...  particularly to a group of enthusiastic friends! Too bad I left my camera home! :-( Now I need to make the transition from thinking about all the fun we had today, to what I will cook for dinner... Quilt sandwich, anyone?

Sunbonnet Sue

What do you think I wonder about as I lay awake in the middle of the night? Yeah... my next quilt project. I love Sunbonnet Sue and am planning a wall hanging based on three books I have. I will likely use applique instead of redwork embroidery. I wonder what it would look like if I mixed ideas of two separate books - one about boys and one about girls! Here are the books which are inspiring me: Sunbonnet Sue and Scottie at Play, by Suzanne Zaruba Cirillo and The Ultimate Sunbonnet Sue Collection, from Leisure Arts. Then again, my latest purchase was Precious Sunbonnet Quilts by Betty Alderman, featuring a more contemporary girl. So many choices!

6 Fat Quarters Question

What can I do with 6 fat quarters?

March 9, 2012

Applique Group Project - II

Well, we have a small group of quilters interested in this project. Just to refresh your memory: I will start with a background fabric (a fat quarter, for instance), and will applique something on it. Then, I will send it to the next person in the group, who will look at what I have done, and will either embroider or embellish it, or will add something of her own (a flower, the sun, or anything that goes along with what I have done). It is a small addition, which can be done in about an hour at the most. You will have two weeks to complete it. Then, pass it along to the next person. In the end, we will draw the name of one of the participants, who will receive our group project as a gift, plus goodies from Thimbles and Threads. Easy peasy! It will be fun! We will continue until all participants have a chance to win a project. What are you waiting for? Come on and join in the fun!

Cool place for fun projects

Guys, check out the Sewlebrity Scrapbook page of Bernina USA for interesting ideas for new projects. Yes, I am an unabashed fan of Bernina products, but these projects will work on any machine. If you know of a cool site or blog with fun things for quilters, how about sharing it with us?

Quilt in a Day

Make a Quilt in a Day: Log Cabin Pattern, by Eleanor Burns, was the first quilt book I purchased, and the Log Cabin pattern as demonstrated in that book was used in the first 12 quilts I made. I followed her instructions precisely, and appreciated her invaluable tips and great pictures. The next book by Eleanor I bought was Underground Railroad Sampler, followed by Still Stripping After 25 Years, then Quick Trip QuiltsIt's "El"ementary: Quilting Tips and Techniques and, finally, The Magic Vine. I love Eleanor's expressive personality, I am impressed by her story (and can relate to it at a very personal level), and by her accomplishments. Eleanor has been instrumental in making the art of quilting more accessible and easier to learn. Once I grasped the basics from her books, I was never again afraid to tackle more involved techniques. I highly recommend her books and techniques to any aspiring quilter.


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