long arm

Taking your time

Connie Repro Quilt
Connie Repro Quilt

The secret to an amazing quilt? The inside. That's right --- the part that no one can see. Connie pressed each tiny block in this quilt, and paid a lot of attention to the squaring of each block, and the direction of her seams. When she joined each block together she made sure to alternate her seam allowances, and there are no lumpy areas in this quilt. Waiting until the end of piecing the quilt top) or even the piecing of just one row SEEMS like a time-saver, but in reality you save time by taking care of each tiny issue along the way. This reminds me of something a house painter explained to me years ago. "A wall can only look good painted if it's smooth before the paint is applied. If you paint over all of the lumps and bumps, trying to hide them, you'll still be able to see them in the end."

Adding a feathered over-all design to this quilt in a nice even density enables the eye to go to Connie's accurate piecing and enjoy her vast selection of fabrics. It also makes the back of the quilt as pretty as the front. This quilt measures 103 inches square, and will be used and washed frequently. An over-all design is perfectly suited for a high-use quilt.

Connie's quilt also reminds me of something that George Washington said because I firmly believe in this principal.... people won't remember how QUICKLY you did something, they will remember how WELL you did it. Relax and take a little extra time pressing along the way, and enjoy your piecing. Years later, you'll be happy you did!

Holly Lane

Christmas is my favorite time of year, and this quilt tops my list of things that can make me start singing Christmas carols! While working on this beautiful quilt, I could imagine cookies baking, twinkling lights, and the sound of jingle bells.

Bev did a beautiful job piecing this quilt from The Quilt Company, and it was truly a joy for me to do the quilting on it! The quilt is called Holly Lane, and you can see it here. We decided to use Christmas bells, holly leaves, hearts, and stars in the separate borders to add even more fun to the quilt. Each of the four corners has a crisp snowflake. Bev still has a little more work to do. There are red buttons to be sewn on all the way around the outer border, tiny door knobs to add, slower buttons in the windows, and hand-stitched smoke from one of the chimneys. A dark green binding will finish the edges of this quilt. Each house features a layer of high-loft polyester batting to make it really stand out from the background.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Hooterville in a Hurry

There are many patterns to choose from these days that are geared toward busy schedules, and this cute quilt from Connecting Threads is one of the best. It features owls that are bright and happy, and the Hooterville kit has all the fabric you need to hand-applique each owl and tree. It's designed by Linda Hohag of Brandywine Designs.

Needing a gift quickly, my friend Linda decided to make the center border from the same fabric as the outer border. Hearts are quilted in the center border, and stars are quilted around the outer edge of the quilt.

To take it one step further, the owls and trees were digitized so each block could be machine embroidered. This gift was finished in a flash! Details were quilted on the owls and trees, and stippling fills all of the white areas. This quilt was fast and fun! Make sure to click each image twice, so you can see the largest version.

Kelly's quilt

This quilt has "been in the making" since 1991. My parents chose the four calico fabrics for this quilt that was intended for my young daughter, and I chose the blocks from a book called "Scraps, Blocks, and Quilts" by Judy Martin that had names of lots of traditional patterns. (This is an older book, but you can still get one from Amazon by following the link below. I LOVE this book!)

I wanted blocks that pertained to my daughter, such as "Eyes of Blue" and "March Winds" and "Puppy Love" --- things that were special to her at the time.

I started this quilt with ten-inch blocks, hand-quilting each one with a "quilt as you go" approach. After a short time, I decided that it would take too long to finish this quilt, even though it would only be sized for a twin bed. I made a trip to the local copy shop, and had the patterns enlarged substantially. I cut the pieces from these larger patterns, and used the larger seam allowance shown on the new templates.

Time went by, and life got in the way. Another daughter came along, and this project was hung up in the closet to finish later. All of the blocks were pieced, and hanging up on clip-type pants hangers.

Now that my oldest daughter is a mother, and my parents have passed away, I felt it was important to finish this quilt. I joined all of the blocks together, including the ones that had already been hand-quilted. Using Creative Studio with my Statler Stitcher, I was able to choose quilting patterns AND create new patterns from elements contained within the original ones.

This quilt will be a gift to my grandson this year. He will be moving out of his crib, and into his first "big-boy bed", and he will be able to enjoy the colors of the quilt that his great-grandparents chose with love.

Don't throw it away -- SEW it away!

Don't give up on that project! Reading the book "That Dorky Homemade Look" by Lisa Boyer has really energized me to finish my UFO's. How could I resist buying her book when her first "Principle of Dorky Quiltmaking" is to buy fabric that you "feel sorry for"! That is soooo ----- ME! Many times I've bought something that I thought would make an adorable project, and my husband and kids would look at me like I had finally gone over the edge. I would dive head-first into my idea, get half-way through the project, and then run out of steam. Whether it was my own creation, or whether I was following a pattern, sometimes things just didn't look quite right.

Quoting Lisa Boyer, "Enjoy the process. Don't worry about judgements, and realize that the rules are something you can embrace or reject at will, whatever suits you. Quilting styles, fabric colors, opinions and rules change with time. The only truly lasting thing in a quilt is the love you sew into it."

How many times have you gotten half way through a project, and then gave up? It just wasn't turning out the way you expected that it would. The disappointment was strong, and it was easier to toss the project aside than it was to think about wasting any more time finishing. it. After all, you thought.... how could it possibly get any better if it looks this bad now? Of course, then the guilt sets in --- and you think of not just the time that has been wasted, but also the money for all of the materials that are in your project. Occasionally, you question your own skill set, thinking that your project doesn't even resemble the picture on the front of the pattern!

If this ever happens to you, try to find a box to store this project, and consider finishing it someday. Why store it in a box? Because throwing everything into a bag just leads to having the contents become wrinkled and messy. If everything is in a box, ready to begin work again, chances are that you will want to "play" with this project. Store the fabric, any pieces that have been cut, embellishments, the patterns, etc. in your box. A clean pizza box can be wonderful for this. Next time you are in the pizza shop, get a few boxes for yourself. You can label the top or front with the project name, and stack the boxes neatly on a shelf. Almost every project is worth finishing, even if you use the item for a different plan than the original idea. Taking a break from the frustration can give you a fresh outlook, and you can return to finish the project sooner if you actually "can't see it" for a few days.

Consider the project below. Susan bought a pattern for a beautiful Asian wall-hanging. She carefully chose a printed panel and all of the coordinating fabrics, trims, medallions, border fabric, backing, batting, and metallic thread. Following the directions closely, she executed every step with careful consideration. The piecing was perfect. All of the ribbons were inserted in the correct places. Even a soft satin binding was added to the outer edge.

But for some reason, Susan wasn't pleased with all of the work she had done on her project. The directions called for stitch in the ditch between blocks, and stitching around the graceful flying cranes with metallic thread. All of the steps were done perfectly, yet Susan felt something "just wasn't right" with her finished project, and it had been tossed aside for many months. Last week, she brought the wall-hanging to my studio for my opinion.

After one glance, I decided that the thick fluffy polyester batting was the culprit. While it served the intended purpose of making the detail stand out on the flying cranes, it also made the entire background puffy. The outer borders were five inches wide, and without any quilting inside to hold the layers together, each one looked slightly lumpy. The weight of the metal medallions pulled on the fabric, and without any support, the fabrics in those two squares hung there limply. Each of the squares looked pretty.... but again, puffy. We had to plan a way to save this project. In it's current condition, Susan didn't want to hang it up on her wall.

We looked through lots of designs for the various areas, and chose patterns and borders to add to her project. Two of the medallions that were on the quilt were glued on, and could not be removed, so we had to plan around those. Also, there were ribbons and braid to avoid. I love a challenge!

Here's a picture of the five inch wide puffy border without any quilting:

Puffy

And this is how it looks with quilting to hold the layers together:

New Border

I've had many projects come through the door that just need a little bit more work to make them truly finished. When Susan came to pick up her wall-hanging, she was jumping for joy. Her Asian wall-hanging had been set aside for months, and now it's ready to hang. A few days later, she wrote to me saying "You inspired me to try another quilt!  Thank you from my heart! " It's a great feeling of accomplishment to finish a project. Having my partially completed projects neatly organized has helped me to finish some that I had thought would never be finished. Some of my UFO's have become gifts, and other's have been donated to charity upon completion. I will always remember Lisa Boyer's words of wisdom: "The only truly lasting thing in a quilt is the love you sew into it."

And for another great book by Lisa Boyer, check out "Stash Envy and other Quilting Confessions and Adventures"!

Ribbons and Bows

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and Sue Jackson of Sue's Sew EZ Designs created a pattern "Ribbons and Bows" that is just perfect for the cause. It can be used as a remembrance -- or -- made in different colors for a totally different look! Ribbons and Bows

Marie made this adorable quilt for Taylor with so much love. She started with the Ribbons and Bows pattern, and took it a step further by changing the color scheme to beautiful shades of blue and teal. This quilt will be hanging in Taylor's bedroom, and it's a perfect gift for a wonderful young lady! I asked Marie to tell me a little bit about Taylor, and she said "Taylor will be turning 11 on her birthday in early January. She is in 6th grade and her cheerleading squad is going to regional competition. She is a very classy young lady and I think this quilt just suits her." I agree! The pretty fabrics that Marie used to make this quilt are very classy, and embroidering her name on it is just the perfect finishing touch!

Most of the patterns used in this quilt are from One Song Needle Arts, including the background section around the bow. I added two layers of polyester batting behind the bow, stitching along the edges, and then trimmed away the excess.

Polyester batting

This was done on my regular sewing machine, but I could have just as easily done it on the longarm machine. When this stage is complete, the results can be a bit puffy, as shown in the picture below:

Puffy bow

The quilting that happens afterward tames everything down in the surrounding area.

Finished trapunto

After all of the extra batting was trimmed, I mounted the quilt in the usual manner. All of the borders have special treatments to them, including modifying designs to fit in between the "ribbon" sections. Marie wanted to tell Taylor how much she loves her, so we chose to quilt "I love you" all the way around one of the borders.

ILY border

I think Taylor will be very happy to receive this quilt!

Click twice on any of the pictures to enlarge them.

Summer at Mom's Quilt

Romantic pinwheels and hand applique The quilt was made possible with a lot of help from my friends on my Candy Apple Quilts Yahoo group. I asked for everyone to send a 6-inch strip of floral fabric to me so I could have lots of variety. The response was overwhelming! Here are just some of the fabrics that I received:

Lots of florals!

Shades of green for the leaves

I was intrigued with finding a faster way to create all of the half-square triangles that would be needed for the center section, and for the border. Using a Gammill machine with a Statler Stitcher enabled me to do most of the work with the computer! I put a solid white fabric on the machine first. Then, I placed a strip of floral fabric right side down on the white fabric with a pin at each end to hold it in place. Using the computer, I set up all of the sewing for the half square triangles.I then cut the strips apart and ironed the pieces open to create all of the pieces I needed for the pinwheels.

When all of the pinwheels were complete, it didn't take long to sew them together into the center portion of the quilt.

Each of the fabric strips right sides together

From the various green fabrics, I cut all of the leaves for the appliqued border. All of the applique was done by hand.

Back to the quilting machine with more white fabric, and a pretty lime green. All of the half square triangles were laid out in advance, and sewn row after row, non-stop.

After cutting the rows and blocks apart, I had all of the half square triangles that I needed for the outer border of the quilt!

The only job left was to measure the applique borders and the outer borders, and apply them. I added the binding, sprinkled a few yo-yos on for fun, and it's done! Click on the images below to see the full-sized pictures.

This pattern for the quilt is available from McCall's Magazine. For the half square triangle Statler pattern, please email Gary and Linda Schmitz at ewok335@centurytel.net, or check their web site for patterns.

Hanging Garden Quilt

This beautiful quilt was created by Priscilla Madsen of Madsen Originals. The lace embroidery is spectacular! It was just published in the most recent issue of Designs in Embroidery Magazine.

I'd like to share some close-up pictures with you, so you can see the quality of the stitching. Click on the image to have it open on a new page. Then, click on the image again, and you will be able to see a larger version.

It was a real pleasure to do the quilting for this project! Priscilla is wonderful to work with -- and so talented!

Patriotic... and Proud!

Now available as a pattern for you to download today!Order the quilt pattern here!

It was an honor and a privilege to complete this quilt! Measuring 55 by 48, it's a contemporary version of the American flag. You can see by the close-up picture of the square section, the detail of the eagle that is quilted with a circle of stars surrounding him.

Inside of all of the white stripes, there is lettering for the entire Pledge of Allegiance. Inside the red stripes, you will find quilted stars.

To highlight the area that traditionally has a blue background, you will find a blue and white checkerboard. This left the center square available to the light shade of gold that features the eagle. This is a very quick quilt to make, and is a wonderful gift for someone who is very patriotic and proud. Order the pattern here.

Annette Williams entered her quilt, and won first place! (See picture below). Congratulations, Annette!

Congratulations, Annette!

Lavender and Lace

Done in many shades of lavender, burgundy, green, and cream.... this quilt by Maureen was perfectly pieced, and so much fun to work with! Maureen chose feathered blocks by Kathy Olson, and a wonderful feathered border to compliment her squares and triangles!

Click on the images, and then click again for a full-sized image.

April Blossoms Quilt

This pattern was featured in the March/April issue of Quiltmaker Magazine. When I saw it, I knew that it would be the perfect stash-buster! It's so much fun to use up old fabric, so I can go shopping for more!

This quilt is made by hand-appliqueing a central square that measures 24 inches. Then, seven different borders are added that consist of half-square triangles, piano keys, standard borders, and four rectangular areas with more hand-applique. Having lots of large sections made the quilt top go together very quickly, and it was lots of fun!

To complete the quilt, I used a very small stipple in the areas surrounding the appliques, and patterns from Anne Bright's Merrily Blooming collection for all of the other areas.

To finish everything and add a little more pizzazz, I made yo-yos from fabric, attched them to the flowers, and then added buttons on top! If you click on these images below, and then click again, you will be able to see the full size pictures.

Spring Fresh!

Karen has really captured the freshness of the season with this quilt! I'm always awed by her fabric choices, and her piecing... but this is my favorite one so far.Spring Fresh Quilt I just love everything about this quilt --- the hydrangeas are gorgeous! Karen and I both think of fresh linens and sunny spring days when we look at these fabrics, and I think she chose the perfect feathered design for the quilting!

Computer quilting meets 1930's fabric

Jean chose a wonderful design to place in the empty area of her Dresden project! All of the fan blades were done using a curved line instead of traditional stitch-in-the-ditch, creating a much softer feeling:

Looking for a design to combine with the soft feel of the fan blades, Jean choose a design that could have created a problem if it had stitched in the fan blades. Using the Statler Stitcher and Creative Studio software, if was simply a matter of trimming away all parts of the design that we didn't want. This trimming function created a smooth-stitching design that filled the empty areas perfectly.

Connie celebrates her mother

I had the rare privilege of working with Connie to complete a quilt that her mother Eunice pieced. It was done in bubble gum pink and apple green, and completely hand-appliqued. Eunice duplicated this beautiful pattern that was originally published in the mid-1800's, and her applique is so perfectly done! Connie will be keeping this quilt in a special place to honor all of the beautiful hand work that her mother used to finish this beautiful quilt:

Garden Party Quilt is a prize winner!

I posted pictures of a quilt called A Mother's Love last November, and have received many compliments on how beautiful it turned out to be.... but the real credit for this amazing quilt goes to a wonderful lady named Leslie Clarke. She spent countless hours piecing it, with applique and crystals in perfect proportion. She even added her own border to the entire edge that included more applique and crystals! This quilt was made with love for Leslie's daughter Nicole, and it was truly a labor of love. I had named the quilt A Mother's Love, but the actual name of the pattern is A Garden Party, and is available from Smith Street Designs. This past week, Leslie received word that she had won second place in a quilting contest for this quilt! Congratulations, Leslie! Here is part of the story that Leslie included with her entry:

"This quilt was my first quilting project on my new embroidery machine. When the instructor teaching the class on how to use the machine pattern became ill, I decided to forge ahead and also to really stretch and make the queen-size quilt. My daughter was moving to a new apartment, and -- since her favorite color is red -- it had to be for her!"

If you're anything like me, the first thing you think of when you are this happy is the Snoopy Dance theme song --- this music has been dancing around in my head ever since Leslie told me she won the prize!

Placemats to embroider!

embroidered1
embroidered1

There have been lots of requests for these placemats, and we have various colors to choose from! Just think of what you can do with these! You can use them unadorned, and embroider them when you have some free time. You can make a set for yourself, and your best friend at the same time. You can turn them into book covers, cake or bread baskets, tote bags or make-up bags --- the possibilities are endless! 

This has been one of our top sellers in embroidery blanks! Check back often for new colors, or feel free to contact us with a specific request. You can also send in your own fabric --- this makes it easy for you to coordinate with your existing items! With custom orders, we will need a 2-3 week lead time to create your special items.

What you will receive with your order: Four placemats measuring 18 x 13 inches that are all in one large panel. You will have extra fabric surrounding the placemats that you can use to test your embroidery stitches, or painting techniques, or coloring ideas. You will be supplying your own binding fabric so that you can coordinate colors with your embroidery stitches or make a set of matching napkins. If you want the exact matching fabric for the placemats, please make sure to order it as a separate item.

Due to high demand, placemats are temporarily out of stock --- please check back soon.

The design that is embroidered on the peach placemat above is from A Design by Lyn and is called One by One. Thank you, Lyn!

tea-time
tea-time

This placemat features an adorable butterfly from Designs Sew Fine and is part of the Butterflies II collection.  A contrasting fabric was added to the edge of the placemat, and finished just like a small quilt. This is a great idea! You can make napkins to coordinate with your binding! Download a PDF with instructions now, and you can see how easy it is to create your own custom look!



Christmas Table Runner

I had so much fun doing the Christmas Mantel Scarf, and I wanted to use the pattern in a different way. The design is called Heirloom Lace. I turned the shapes sideways, and added some cross-hatching in the center section to highlight embroidery.

I used embroidery patterns from Carolyn Faulk at Embroidery Designs by Carolyn --- they stitched out beautifully. You could make one of these for each season, or for everyday use.

After all of the embroidery was complete, I made a facing for the table runner to hide the embroidery on the back. Then I added a cluney lace to the edges. You can click on each picture twice to see the largest version.

Now available! These table runners are available in kit form, so you will be able to add your own embroidery and edging trims! Click here to order!

Lou Ann from Maryland had this to say about her Table Runner Kit: "It is every bit as beautiful as I had expected.  My weekend project will be to finish it and put it on my table.  Thank you so much for your beautiful work!  Now, do I want to add a monogram to the small area like you suggested ………. add something to the middle ………. to the ends of the middle so I can use my candelabra.  I have a lot of thinking to do as I loved your suggestions – all of them!!!"

White Chocolate and Mint

When I saw the pattern for the popular White Chocolate Quilt, I just knew I had to make one. I had lots of scraps in the beige tones, but not enough for the larger squares, so I decided to modify the layout to use the fabrics I already had. By adding shades of green for the larger squares, I created my White Chocolate with Mint Quilt.

The first step was to piece lots of fabrics together on the longarm machine to create strips that could be cut into squares. Next, I placed fabrics right-sides together on the longarm, and used a digital pattern to sew lots of half-square triangles together. After all of the cutting and pressing was done, the blocks were assembled. It took a large surface to try a few layouts -- arranging and rearranging until I found one that I liked. All of the large blocks and border were pieced, and then it was ready to quilt!

You can click on the pictures below to see the steps I used for assembly. Each picture will open to a larger size when you click on it again.

You can order the original White Chocolate Quilt pattern from McCall's Magazine.

Quilted Mantel Scarf

christmas-mantel-scarf
christmas-mantel-scarf

Here's a project I've been wanting to do for quite some time .... a Christmas mantel scarf.

Using a design called Heirloom Lace from One Song Needle Arts, I quilted six repeats of the design across a fabric panel that was 84 inches wide. The total height of the design is just a little bit over 18 inches. When the designs were complete, I put another layer across the top of the "quilt sandwich" while it was still on the machine.  Straight lines were sewn down the sides and across the bottom --- leaving the top edge open for turning. I trimmed all of the excess fabric, clipped the points, and turned the facing inside out. Minimal pressing was required to smooth out the points, and the top edge was serged closed.

I have had many requests for this item to be included in our section for embroidery blanks! Coming soon -- a bright winter white, and an antique shade of off-white.

See below for more pictures. 

Wavy borders, and how to prevent them

Have you ever seen quilts with wavy borders? The border pieces that you cut according to the charts included with these directions (and other patterns that you have purchased) could be a little bit too longto be attached to the quilt center that you have completed. Everyone uses a slightly different size seam allowance --- and when you multiply the effects of the difference across an entire quilt top, the differences can be significant. If you already have some long border pieces cut and ready to apply to a quilt top, that's OK for now.  We want them to be a little bit too long to make it easier to use the following process.

You're probably thinking "Why can't I just sew a border along one side, and then cut off the excess when I get to the end?" The answer is that you will be stretching your border fabric as you attach it to the quilt top. All of the excess fabric will then end up being a wavy border, which makes it very hard for the person doing the actual quilting to get your borders to lie flat.

Here is a picture of the very bottom of a quilt that is almost finished:

end-row
end-row

You can see that the majority of this quilt is complete. As the excess fabric has accumulated down the sides of the quilt, it "has to go somewhere". In other words, it all ends up at the bottom. In this case, pleats were needed to remove the excess fabric --- and that's never the best approach.

Please resist the urge to sit down and sew your borders onto your quilt top without taking a few simple measurements first! You will stretch the edges of your quilt top, and you will end up with wavy borders , guaranteed! When you have wavy borders, your quilt is much harder to quilt, it won't lay flat on a bed or table, and it won't look right hanging on a wall. Just a little bit of extra measuring at this stage will save you a lot of frustration later.

We will be following that old advice "Measure twice, and cut once". You don't want to make any mistakes here. First, make sure your quilt center has been neatly pressed, and that all seam allowances are flat on the back. Lay your quilt on a large flat surface (a floor comes in handy here, but a large table is even better!) and use a metal tape measure. Lay the tape measure on the quilt in the center, measuring from top to bottom. Make a note of this measurement. This is the number you will use to cut two of your side strips to the proper length.

Use your tape measure to see how this center measurement differs from the measurement along the edge. You may be surprised to see the amount of difference between the two numbers!

Pin the two side strips to each side of the quilt, making sure the fabric is distributed evenly. Place a pin in the center, and one at each end. Then keep adding pins until you feel that all ease is distributed evenly. Sew the border strips in place. Press flat.

Now lay the tape measure in the opposite direction (going from side to side), but make sure it's in the center of the quilt, not along the edge. Make a note of this measurement. You might want to check again to see how different this center measurement is than one taken at the edge!

Cut your two remaining borders to the proper measurement, and pin as directed above, easing in any fullness.

Repeat this process for the rest of your borders, if your quilt has additional pieces.The more borders you have on your quilt, the more you will love using this method after your project is complete! I've received countless phone calls after teaching this method, and everyone of them is from someone who is now confident when it comes to this final step.  Too often we are in a hurry by the time we get to the end of the piecing process, and just want to get it done. It's worth a few extra minutes when it comes to the long life of your quilt!

No more wavy borders!