Monday, November 14, 2016

Quiltmaker's 100 Block Blog Tour

Volume 14 of Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks magazine is now available and I have a block inside! I am thrilled to be in the company of so many awesome quilt designers, including Bonnie Hunter, Carolyn McCormick, Nancy Mahoney, Sarah Maxwell, and more. Here's the pretty cover:

Order a magazine online



My block is called Chicken Foot, and it's not an original, unlike the other 99 blocks in the magazine. It's a traditional block, but one that has fallen so far under the radar that it's nearly impossible to find a reference to it or pattern for it anywhere. It was also my Mom's absolute favorite quilt block of all time. She loved to piece it by hand and made several quilts using it, as well as many "orphan" blocks.

For the magazine, I resized the block to 12" finished size and made up a sample using 1930s repro prints. I loved the opportunity to showcase these cute novelty fabrics in such a sophisticated setting. Take a look:


I recently finished a quilt featuring some of Mom's Chicken Foot blocks for my niece's wedding. I made appliqued blocks for the alternate spaces. The name of this quilt is From This Day Forward and the pattern will be available in an issue of McCall's Quilting magazine sometime in 2017:


But Chicken Foot blocks don't just have to be pastel! How about glorious red, white, and blue?


As you can see, when you do a bit of planned fabric placement, instead of a completely scrappy look, you can get all kinds of secondary designs going, which I love. Another great feature of this block is the large open center, perfect for showcasing a bit of applique, embroidery, or fancy quilting.

The Chicken Foot block is a bit challenging to make, but its versatility, uniqueness, and striking geometric qualities make it well worth the effort. I hope you'll give it a try and send me a photo of your version!

Now for a magazine giveaway. Leave a comment below with an idea for how you'd make this block by midnight, November 18, and you'll get a chance to win a copy of Volume 14 of Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks. Good luck, everyone!


Monday, November 7, 2016

Advent Calendar Wall Hanging Ready to Quilt

I've been having quilty adventures left and right the last few weeks, starting back to work with McCall's Quilting and Fons & Porter to cover a maternity leave, finding a super-nice group of women to quilt with on Wednesday evenings (shout out to The Bee!), making Christmas crafts with my sister and cousins, and more.

But the main thing on my menu has been the Advent Calendar wall hanging, which got layered for quilting just yesterday!


I'm overall very pleased with it. Ideas for machine quilting are starting to solidify and I hope to get it on my worktable today or tomorrow. 

The little pockets for treats came out well. I made each pocket just a tiny bit wider than the patch behind it so it would be a bit gathered, allowing bigger treats without distorting the whole wall hanging. Bigger treats = happy kids!


One small problem came up right at the end. I must have been more tired than I knew on the evening when I fused the tree shapes etc. to the finished top, because the trunk for that tree on the right was WAY off center, too far to the left. Solution: Add a Christmas gift to the design and obscure the offending portion of the trunk. I think it works!


That photo was before the shapes were stitched down. The bow looks more like a bow now that it's stitched.

So, that's what's on my to-do list this week. How about you?  :)

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Advent Calendar Quilt Beginnings

Yesterday I started working out the details of my new Advent calendar quilt. First problem - how to get the numbers onto each 3" square window in the quilt. I knew I wanted to make circles with numbers on them, in hopes of stitching them onto the windows with decorative machine stitches so they look a little like wreaths. But I hadn't really thought out how to get the numbers onto the fabric circles.

Time is of the essence, of course, so first I considered fabric marker. I tried a variety of pens out on a variety of fabrics, but didn't like anything I came up with. It just looked - cheap.

Next, I considered applique. But when I realized the numbers would need to be about 3/4" (tiny!) and that I'd need to do 41 digits total, I gave that idea up. Even with fusible applique, that seemed like a big task when you consider the edge stitching required to secure everything.

Finally, I thought about embroidery. While I don't do it often, I do enjoy the process. And it would give the project the handmade look I'm going for. So, here are some of the numbers embroidered and ready to be turned into circles to applique to the window squares:



I used Sulky Petites thread, which is equivalent to 2 strands of embroidery floss but without the tangled mess. I loved the way it stitched! Straight stitches, back stitches, and French knots were all it took, and I was able to do it in front of the TV which is always a plus in the evening.

All 25 labels are finished - now on to making them into circles! More soon...

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Next Stop, Christmas!

Or more accurately, Advent. I have a really fun commission quilt to make next, an Advent calendar for a special little boy. His Mom wants it to be a wall quilt with pockets for treats, and I've been wanting to make something like this for a long time. Here's the design I came up with:


Working title - Christmas Condos! Mostly pieced, with a bit of applique. I like the numbers jumbled up in no particular order as it will keep the little guy searching for his treat each day.

And here's the fabric palette, so far. I'll need a few more reds and golds I think.


I can't wait to get started - more soon!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Sky High Finale

My Sky High quilt for Susybee/Hamil Textiles is finished! The machine quilting went really well, and I hand-stitched the binding down last night while watching TV. That's one of my favorite parts of making quilts - I love the contemplative nature of it. So, here it is!



The giraffe-print border fabric is SO adorable. Cutting it was actually the only slightly tricky part of making this quilt. You kind of need to lay out the entire piece of fabric and pre-plan where to cut strips featuring giraffe groups, and where to cut strips to use to add on as extra sky at the top of each giraffe strip. Like this:



But once those 9 1/2" wide strips are all cut, it's smooth sailing.

This quilt will be on display at International Quilt Market in Houston in the Hamil Group booth, #2641. If you love these fabrics and/or this quilt, let your quilt shop know and they can order yardage right there and then! The pattern will be FREE on the Susybee website here: http://www.worldofsusybee.com/patterns/free-patterns.html


Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Free Motion Quilting Fun

Today I was quilting my Susybee crib quilt destined for International Quilt Market, and I thought it might help someone out there to see how I give myself guidelines for free motion quilting without marking on my quilt tops. I will only make marks on a quilt top under extreme duress, that is, there's a design I really want to do and I can't figure out any other way to give myself the guides I need. In this case, I was able to avoid all marks on the quilt top, and here's one of the tricks I used.

Cutting simple shapes out of freezer paper, Steam-a-Seam 2, contact paper, or any light-to-medium sticky paper is a great way to get quilting guidelines temporarily onto your quilt top. Today I used leaf shapes cut from Steam-a-Seam 2. Freezer paper is good, but you have to use an iron to adhere it, and it doesn't have much hold, so I generally use that only for small quilts. Contact paper is stickier, and since this quilt is going to Market, I didn't want to chance any residue - the quilt won't be laundered before it's displayed. So - Steam-a-Seam 2 was the choice today. I started by cutting out a leaf shape from light card stock, and then traced it onto the SAS2 and cut out shapes. I think I cut out about 6 leaves total for this quilt; as you use them, the edges can get nicked by the needle or just generally ratty so it's nice to have a few for the project.

All you have to do is finger-press the shape onto the quilt top at the spot where you want a leaf (or whatever design you're stitching).


Machine quilt around the shape:


And then remove the paper shape.


In this case, I added a vein to each leaf without any markings or guides - freeform fun!



Then you can move the repositionable shape to the next area where you want a motif:


SO easy, and it gives me just enough guidance to get fairly uniform motifs.

Please leave a comment with any free motion quilting tips of your own. I'm always looking for new ideas!

Monday, October 10, 2016

Make New Friends...

Yesterday I got to visit the Catoctin Colorfest in Thurmont, Maryland, a HUGE arts and crafts festival now in its 53rd year. You know, the kind of event where you can't even park, you have to ride a shuttle bus there from an outlying parking lot. I went with my sister, my niece Lara, and her new husband Brian. Here we are right after eating a yummy street fair lunch of assorted bad-for-us foods.


As always happens to me at events like this, I went into it thinking how fun it would be to visit all the vendors that had anything to do with quilts and other textiles. And it was, it really was. There were some lovely quilts, table runners, fabric baskets, and more. But here's the booth that touched my heart the most:


That pretty pink and white quilt was being used as a tablecloth in a display of primitive wooden art pieces. It was in terrible condition, worn through in more places that not, with large areas of fabric missing entirely, but it was still so very sweet. I debated offering to buy it right out from under the display, but my pocketbook decided against it. Instead, I found myself having an imaginary conversation with the quilt.

"You are so beautiful! Look at all those perfect triangle units and that pretty hand quilting! And the soft pinks in your fabrics...just so sweet! I'm sorry you're feeling tattered and old."

"Don't feel sorry. I've already had a long and lovely life, and I'm not finished yet! Sometimes I miss the days when I covered my maker's bed and kept her warm as I was made to do, but now that I work at craft fairs I get to see more of the world, and to meet many people."

"Still, you must have suffered a lot of trauma over the years. Your fabric is so ripped up and tattered."

"That's not trauma, silly. That's love. My family loved me so much that they used me every night and laundered me often. I kept people warm and comforted sick children and even cuddled with a few family pets in my time. You can't be loved like that and not end up tattered. You've read the Velveteen Rabbit, right?"

"Good point, pretty pink quilt, good point. It's been lovely to meet you. Keep on keeping on."




The crowds were fun, the day was sunny and cool, and the leaves were just beginning to turn colors. A perfect outing with people I love. And I got to make a new friend - a pretty pink quilt I won't soon forget.