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.

Growing Pains

We're currently adding the embroidery designs back to this site, and we are having a few growing pains. You can access the designs by clicking on the left side of the page where it says Embroidery store, or in the yellow box at the top of the page in the link that says The Embroidery Store is now open. When you arrive at the store, some of the individual designs are marked as Out of Stock. This is one of the growing pains that I mentioned, and our web master will be fixing this just as soon as he can. All of the designs are available for your shopping cart. Another growing pain is on the Collections page. You can see the name of the collection, but none of the individual designs that are in the collection. I've decided to feature two of the collections here, because they have a Christmas theme, and they are on sale right now!

Here are two of the collections --- the Christmas Train collection, and it's adorable stitched on a mantel scarf, and the Christmas Candles are wonderful on towels, table linens --- anywhere that you want a touch of applique and glitz:

Quilted 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. 

Fabric Boards

Here is a great way to get an early start on your organizing projects in your sewing room! My fabric stash was starting to have a life of it's own --- and threatening to fall off of the shelves and onto the floor! I could never find what I needed, and if I did find it, the fabric was a wrinkled mess. Here's a picture:

Then I discovered that Linda of Putting You In Stitches has the perfect solution. She has fabric boards that are cut to just the right size to put my fabric on with ease. Some of my boards have less than a yard, and some of them have more than 4 yards on them! Check out what a difference it makes with organized fabric shelves!

You can order these fabric boards by contacting Linda via email at  Check out her photo memory quilts while you are there! Enjoy!

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:


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!

Roses Galore!

Just as I finished picking the last roses of the season from my garden, I received this beautiful quilt top from Priscilla Madsen. I opened the box to see many gorgeous embroidered roses, and instantly I knew how I wanted to quilt this! I had been wanting to use a collection called "Carmen's Roses" from One Song Needle Arts, and this was the perfect time. With lots of bias piecing, and tons of red roses, I considered using stippling or hand-quilting to tame any puffiness that may occur after quilting. As it turned out I decided to combine both! The hand stitching is right next to the embroidery, which makes the roses stay a little bit closer to the surface.

This quilt was done with a Gammill machine and a Statler Stitcher, allowing the roses to be trimmed where necessary to fit in with the blocks that only had room for certain segments of the designs. If you enjoy machine embroidery, these red roses can be purchased through the Stitchery Mall .  Having seen this embroidery, I have to say that it is exquisite!

The quilting designs can be purchased from One Song Needle Arts, and can be seen here:

How a stitch is formed

I received this little video today from a very kind gentleman, and I just had to share it with you! Neither of us can find the originator of it, but it's not from lack of trying.... This displays how a stitch is formed. You can see how the rotary hook spins around, capturing the thread from the needle, and actually forming the stitch. If your top tension is too tight, the rotary hook cannot form the stitch, and you will have skipped stitches throughout your quilt top.

The formation of stitches

Flannel --- my favorite alternative to muslin

Quilts are meant to be snuggled under --- right? So often we treat the back of the quilt as an afterthought. It's easy to use muslin, because it matches everything. And who's going to see the back, anyway? The answer is --- you are! If you will be using the quilt on a bed, or in your family room to snuggle under, you really need to put a bit of thought into the back side of your quilt. There are a lot of alternatives to the plain beige muslin of yesteryear. Now we have tea-stained muslins to choose from, and some of them are beautiful. Keep in mind that you may have a seam in the center, so take that into consideration if it will have an effect of the way the back of the quilt looks when it's finished.

Another alternative is a wide back fabric that is becoming more available every day. These fabrics often have gorgeous prints --- but you may have trouble finding one that matches your quilt top in color tones.

That leaves us with the third choice of using one or more of the fabrics from the front of the quilt. Now you have a perfect match --- but did you plan ahead when you bought the fabrics for your top so that you would have enough to piece the quilt back? You can always piece together the leftovers from the front, and hope that the back looks like it was planned that way...... but do you have the time or the energy to do that?

My favorite quilt back has become flannel. It's widely available in solids and prints, reasonably priced, washes well, and the best part is that it's SNUGGLY! The quilting looks wonderful on the back of the quilt, and you may find yourself enjoying the back as much as you enjoy the front!

My friend Karen has been using flannel on lots of her quilts, and I really enjoy the final effect! She will be able to enjoy snuggling under this quilt all through the holidays!

Babies --- gotta love 'em!

Karen's baby quilt My friend Karen made the cutest baby quilt last week! What is it about babies that brings out the very best in all quilters? Her quilts are always beautifully pieced, but this one was extra-perfect! We had fun talking about the little angel that will be receiving this quilt as a gift, and how much love will be surrounding her when she is born.

Karen chose to add an extra white border on both ends, just to feature quilted hearts for this precious baby! Great idea! Here's a close-up of her white border:

The corner created an interesting challenge, as we tied everything together to keep it visually consistent. Don't forget --- you can click on all of the pictures here to see larger versions.

Karen is planning an embroidered label for the back of this quilt --- and I think that's the perfect touch! What a wonderfully lucky little baby!

Boo Applique for Halloween!

I just received the cutest picture from Linda! She used the Boo Sign Applique and created an adorable wall-hanging!

What a creative idea, Linda!  Thanks so much for sending along the picture!

Amy sent along a picture of how she used the same design on treat bags. I just love this! Thanks, Amy!

The Boo Sign Applique is available as a single design, or as part of the Autumn Collection that is on sale right now. You will receive 18 designs for one low price!

Making One Pattern Work Overtime

So many quilts --- so many decisions!  Planning the quilting designs can take as much time as choosing the fabrics, and is a vital step in the process. When Gail and I started looking for designs for her perfectly pieced Bear Paw quilt, we quickly noticed that there were as many approaches to this quilt as there were days in a year!  We knew we wanted something classic, and a lot of detail in the blocks to draw attention to the gorgeous fabrics Gail used to make it. We found that we could use one classic design in three various ways, and achieve a unified appearance.  Here is the design we started with:

First, we placed the design in the central bars of the block. Then, we added them to the sashes around the outside of each block. Looking closely, you can see how the different sizes of the sashes stretch the design to create the unique appearance of each:

For our third addition to the quilt, we added this same design to the piano key border. Each of the keys were four inches long, and two inches wide.  You can see how multiple additions of this design, side by side (instead of lengthwise), created a powerful statement!

We needed one more design for the four-inch square red blocks, so we chose a coordinating block:

The old expression is true --- sometimes less really is more! Designs have a way of taking on their own life, and it can be very tempting to use as many as possible in an effort to show them off.  Keep it simple, and let the fabrics and piecing shine through!

How should I quilt this?

Everyday, I hear this same question --- how should I quilt this?  Anyone in the business of doing long arm quilting knows that there are a hundred different ways to approach the same quilt top. OK, maybe not a hundred .... but you know what I mean. Customers who bring their quilt tops in for quilting service are often at a loss for what would look best on their quilt top. They have spent countless hours creating a family keepsake, and when it is finished they want to have a quilt that will be beautiful enough to pass down to future generations. Often, these folks have spent quite a bit of money (in addition to all of that time!) on fabrics, patterns, books, batting, tools --- maybe even classes to learn how to make this beautiful quilt. But when I ask them how they envision the final step -- the actual quilting -- some are at a loss with what approach to take.

There are a few things to consider in this decision making process. Most importantly --- how will this quilt be used when it is completed? Will it be hanging on a wall, resting on a table top, or used on a bed or as a lap quilt? If the finished quilt is going to be used on a bed and frequently laundered, then the best method of quilting is usually an overall design, known in quilt lingo as an "edge to edge" design. The more often a quilt is laundered, the more the layers shrink causing the tiny details in some quilt designs to become lost in the texture of the surface.

On the other hand, if a quilt will be used as a table topper, or on a wall, or in a quilt contest ... then custom quilting of small individual areas will really make the quilt top sparkle.

Will the quilt be going to a child or adult as a gift? Are there any fabrics in the quilt that could bleed if the quilt was laundered? If the quilt is a gift, think about the type of designs that would suit the recipient of the quilt  --- masculine, feminine, juvenile, etc. Will the dog be sleeping on it?

To show you an example of the same quilt done in two entirely different methods, I have taken pictures to demonstrate.

Barb's quilt with each block done individually

We knew that this quilt would be hung on a wall, and used for decorative purposes only. Therefor, it was an easy decision to stitch each block and sash separately, and use another design in the outer border.

This same quilt, used as a laptop quilt, is much better suited to having the "edge to edge" approach.

There is an even distribution to the quilting stitches. When this quilt is laundered repeatedly, it will remain looking nice for many years to come.

While cost and end use are considerations when making a quilting choice, the most important thing to remember is that you are the artist! After spending so many hours to achieve the finished quilt, you may have a vision of how you want to see the quilt finished. Always work together with a long arm quilter who can share your vision, or who can help you decide what that vision should be.

A visit to the 1930's

There is just something heart-warming about working with the 30's reproduction fabrics. It can take me back in time to a simpler way of life, and I just love the colors!

This quilt features one of my favorite colors. They called it "cheddar", and that name fits perfectly!

This quilt had a lot of hand work done on it --- all of the tiny fan blades were applied on a white foundation with tiny little hand stitches. You can just barely see them in the close-up:

We added tiny hearts to the narrow green border, and hearts with streamers in the outer green squares. Just the right touch for a feminine feel! Next time you feel like taking a trip down memory lane (even if you weren't around in the 1930's!), consider making one of the various patterns for all of the luscious reproduction fabrics that are currently available!

Beer Mug Applique and Tablecloth

This pattern goes together very quickly, and gives you lots of open space in the center for adding embroidery and appliqué! There are only 14 blocks to piece, and two outer borders, so it will be on your table quickly.

For free directions to make this tablecloth project, write to us and you will receive a PDF file right away. Simply send an email to with "Free Tablecloth" in the subject line.

Click here to purchase the embroidery machine files for the beer mug applique pattern that I used in this project, it's available for instant download in DST, HUS, JEF, PES and SHV formats.

A Mother's Love

This quilt was one of my favorites to work with! Brought to me by a wonderful woman who embroidered every block, she told me the story of how she was making it for her daughter. It has more work, joy, and talent, and love than any other quilt I have had the honor of doing. Here is a picture of the entire quilt: Each block demanded different treatment, so we put our heads together, and came up with designs that incorporated hearts --- to play on the theme of love and family. My favorite: We added lots of hearts throughout the quilt, in many surprising places!

Receiving a hug from Leslie when this quilt was done was one of my happiest moments!

Same pattern -- different look!

Time to reuse some of the patterns I have, and try and make them look completely different! This quilt has a formal name (which I can't remember....) but I call it the Orient Express. It has lots of Asian influence, and beautiful butterflies all over.

Any time I see butterflies, I think of my friend Lyn. That happened with this quilt, and then it dawned on me.... the Stained Glass quilt that we just finished for her had a beautiful butterfly pattern on it! That would be a great one to use again! I'm not sure if you can see the design in the close-up above, but it's exactly the same as the design used on Lyn's Stained Glass quilt below. Same pattern, but a totally different look!

Quilts as Suncatchers

Have you ever felt that you would run out of space for yet another quilt? The beds are covered, the walls are covered, the table tops are covered --- even the dog is wearing quilted jackets! A nice idea for a  small quilt is hanging it on a patio door or window. Let the sun shine through it and highlight your beautiful stitches! Here is a new wall-hanging made by Lyn Christian of A Design by Lyn that will hang in a sunny spot soon!

Lyn's quilt has butterflies in the center panel that can be highlighted with crystals, and the borders could be done, too. Here's a close-up of one of the butterflies.

There's always a good reason to finish up those small quilts! And now you have a new place to hang them!