Working with Minkee

I have a love/hate relationship with Minkee — but mostly love! Leslie brought two quilts recently that both have Minkee involved. One of the quilts had a Minkee backing, and the other quilt featured Minkee on the front for applique fabrics. Minkee can be tricky to work with on a longarm machine. Keeping the stretch parallel to the rollers will help to keep the stretchiness of a wild Minkee backing  tamed. Also, keeping the side clamps very loose —- so loose that you will think that the quilt top looks rather baggy —- will also help you to avoid having the backing shrink up when you remove the quilt from the machine. The most important tip I like to pass along is: REMEMBER NOT TO ROLL THE QUILT TOO TIGHTLY.  If that’s the only tip you remember, you will avoid a lot of headaches.

Backings pieced from Minkee should be avoided if possible. Because of the thickness of the Minkee, the seam on the backing can show through to the front of the quilt. Also, it’s a bit difficult to piece Minkee without having it slide around, causing a backing that looks square on the table to look like this on the machine:

If this backing had been pieced out of any other fabric but Minkee, I would have removed it from the machine and done the piecing over. As it was, I held my breath and let the extra fabric be absorbed by the dense snowflakes that would be quilted on it.

If you have any frustrations during the process of working with Minkee, just slide your hand across the wonderful fabric and you will be guaranteed to smile!

If you would like to experiment with a little touch of Minkee, but don’t want to use it for the entire quilt, consider using it for your appliqué fabric. Leslie brought over a quilt that had adorable elephants appliquéd on it, and she used various pieces of Minkee as the appliqué fabric. She used flat Minkee, striped, nubby… a little bit over everything. The elephants look so cute with the little bows on their heads!

The Quilts of Gee's Bend

Close-up of Ellen's quilt Ellen brought this quilt in to me the other day, and she had the perfect vision of how she wanted it quilted! Her perfect piecing made my job pure pleasure. We used the stand-alone feature of Creative Studio software to plan out her vision, and then executed her ideas to reflect her wonderful choices!

I did a little research on the women of Gees Bend and found their web site, The Quilts of Gee's Bend, Quilters Collective History, here.

According to the web site, "The women of the Gee's Bend Quilters Collective all live in the area of Rehoboth and Boykin, Alabama.Throughout much of the twentieth century, making quilts was considered a domestic responsibility for women in Gee's Bend. As young girls, many of the women trained or apprenticed in their craft with their mothers, female relatives, or friends; other quilters, however, have been virtually self-taught. Women with large families often made dozens upon dozens of quilts over the course of their lives."

You can meet these amazing women here.

I look forward to seeing more of these quilts! Be sure to look at the various pictures so you can appreciate Ellen's quilt!

Using Glue to Match Seams

Karen brought over a quilt top with a real "Go Green" theme to it.

She found the fabrics at Timeless Treasures, and I'm sure her daughter will love this one! The backing fabric needed to be pieced together, so I thought I would take pictures along the way so you could see how I used glue to make the process much easier! There were motifs and lettering on the backing fabric that had to match up perfectly, and the glue is the secret to doing this project. Here's the process:

Fold one of your pieces of fabric under 1/2 inch, and press, being careful not to stretch the folded area as you press. Set this piece on top of your other fabric piece, matching the pattern on both sides.

Working in small areas, use a small line of Elmer's School Glue on the folded portion of your fabric. Squeeze a line of glue approx. 10-12 inches long on your folded seam allowance, then set the fabric in place on top of the flat area. Press with a warm iron (no steam). This will set the glue, and keep things from sliding around. When you are sure that the glue is dry, you can turn back the edge of the fabric to check on everything. It should look like this:

If you used a little too much glue, some may have leaked through to other layers.

Don't worry! It's easy to run your finger along the area, and gently pull the glue apart.

If your seam is long, you may want to add a few pins along the area before you carry your fabrics to the sewing machine. The glue is fairly strong, but not enough to support a lot of weight.

After stitching the entire seam line, run your finger along the glued area to open the seam.

As you can see, the glue did a great job of holding the layers together.

Press the seam open.

The selvage edges must be removed from both pieces of the backing fabric before putting the quilt backing on the machine. You can do one side at a time with a rotary cutter, or just use scissors.

Turn the backing over to the right side, and press.

The glue really helps with the process!

Square both ends of the backing, and you're ready to quilt!

Wildflower Quilt by Smith Street

Wildflower Quilt I was lucky to receive this quilt done by Lyn Christian of A Design by Lyn. The colors are amazing, and the flowers are gorgeous! She is truly and artist! If you have a chance to go to Lexington, Kentucky to take a class taught by Lyn, you will never forget it! I'm going to let her tell her story here about her thoughts and experiences making this quilt.

"This is Wildflowers by Smith Street ......

I will be teaching this class at my local shop "Q is for Quilting", here in Lexington, Kentucky. When I was asked to teach this class, I thought WOW...this should be fun!  I looked at the pattern and I immediately remembered being a child growing up in Wisconsin. The forest floor had wonderful spots of sunlight and there were bursts of colors from the amazing flowers and ferns.

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Excitedly, I researched the flower names and what the colors would be.  The trillium was the first one I researched.  I know wild trilliums to be WHITE with just a tiny touch of pink as they start to fade.  You can look into the Wisconsin woods on a spring day and think there is fresh snow on the ground because the trilliums truly carpet the forest floor.

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The colors on the quilt pattern were deep orangey reds and such.  I decided to use a bit of creative license -- I wanted my version of this quilt to have what I remembered for colors of these flowers as I walked with my mom and dad.  After all, there are no quilt police that will take my pattern away if I don't follow it word by word and color by color and fabric by fabric!  So off I went on a new adventure -- choosing fabrics!

16This pattern is a great one to let you bring lots of YOU into it.  I can visualize this quilt done in colors of the sky (with blues and pastels), to colors of the earth and forest (like I have done), to calico patchworks of the fields.  Let your imagination be your guide as you choose your fabrics.  In this quilt, many of the borders and sashes are different...as are the trees, and plants and foundations of the forest floor -- but I think it would be as beautiful done simply, with just a few choice fabrics that are well loved. It would feel like a planned garden, peaceful and serene.

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There is a method for doing applique included with the pattern. I use an alternate method for all of my applique designs, and I was certain that my method would work for these designs too. I wrote to the designer, and asked for permission to rework the designs so I could teach my method of applique to my students.The designer was great and gave me permission to do just that.  I changed the steps for marking and tack down, and this has really simplified the process for the applique.

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Making small changes can really have a big impact in your quilts! This alternate applique method has brought those blooms right off the fabric!  I also took away some of the secondary fabrics on the centers and chose embroidery threads that would add dimension.  My next step is to add some very tiny crystals in matching colors --  I want it to seem as if drops of dew have formed in a few places to catch a fracture of light and draw the eye to the quilt.  I added dimension to some of the flowers using specialty fabrics like ultra suede  and dimensional fabrics for stamens and such to bring it off the flat background.

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This was a fun project to do, and it really gave me the opportunity to think outside the box. This pattern is available directly from Smith Street Designs, and includes directions for multiple sizes. And if you are near the Lexington, Kentucky area stop into the shop and take a class -- I guarantee you will have fun!"

Border pucker panic? Use steam!

Border panic? Quilting condition? Surprise hiccup?  Just what can you say when you approach a section of a wonderfully pieced quilt that has a tricky situation that you didn't notice before mounting the quilt top on the machine? This quilt has lots of gorgeous fabrics in it, and the blocks and borders were nice and flat when I looked at the quilt laying flat on a table. After I had done a row or two, something on the left side caught my eye. What's that?!?!?!  Oh my gosh, where did that come from? It was a pucker that appeared overnight when I wasn't looking! Uh-oh

After rolling back and forth a couple of times, I noticed that there were a few of the sneaky little devils in this border. Funny thing, though.... every other border was perfect.

Border excess

I decided to stabilize the entire area, because it was too late to take the quilt off of the machine and remove the borders. This is how it looked with a little stitch in the ditch to hold all of the layers in place:

Border puckers

Time to heat up the steam iron. It never ceases to amaze me how much excess I can remove with just a gentle shot of steam. (Hint ..... this works particularly well when the fabrics have not been steamed during the assembly process. I have been asking all of my customers if they used steam during piecing whenever I see an issue with their quilts.)After just two shots of steam, the fabric was already starting to behave better.

After steaming

Since this border was on the side of the quilt, I decided to wait until the entire quilt was finished before I turned it to deal with this problem. Traveling through the rest of the quilt was easy, and I made sure that everything remained nice and square. After finishing, I turned the quilt and remounted it to work on this border. One more shot of steam now. I kept both hands near the needle as the design stitched, enabling any excess to be evenly distributed. The finished border was perfectly flat in the trouble area:

Finished border

You can see that the problem did not migrate further down the border:

Excess gone

I would recommend this method for borders -- or blocks -- that are giving you trouble with puffiness!

Austin block layout

This quilt was made with blocks chosen from Quilter's Cache. You can see the Austin block here, and the layout for the quilt here.

Linda's Log Cabin Quilt

Linda's Log Cabin Quilt I recently received a quilt top from Linda at Putting You In Stitches. I love her sense of humor! She had been working on these log cabin blocks in her spare time (what's that? LOL!) and after making so many of them, she just wanted to be DONE ALREADY! Rather than face the idea that she would need to make twice as many as she already had finished for this large quilt, we decided to try an experiment.

Linda took very accurate measurements of her quilt top along the four sides, and most importantly, through the centers in each direction. She cut five inch wide borders in the same colors that she had used for the log cabin blocks, and added those wide borders to her pieced center area. The extra time that she took to do her measuring made this quilt top lay perfectly flat -- and made it a joy to quilt!

Borders

The design in the center is a pattern from Anne Bright called Playful Paisley. This design has appeal to any age, and any gender. The four designs in the outer borders are also from various Anne Bright collections. Border number 1 (the blue border) has the coordinating Playful Paisley design, border 2 is called Swirling Double, border 3 is from the collection Bending In The Wind, and the white outer border is also from the Playful Paisley collection.

Enjoy the pictures! Note --- if you click on a picture to open it, and then click on it again, you will be able to see all of the details!

Baby's Bow Wow Blankie

Puppy Love There's nothing better than having someone come to pick up her quilt, and having her give me a giant hug!  Karen worked hard on this adorable quilt for her little grand-daughter, and it was worth every minute.  Her piecing is perfect, the applique is precise and smooth, and the finished project is wonderful!

Karen wanted to have a quilting design that reflected something to go along with the puppy theme. We chose a design from Vickie Maleski that has small bones and paw prints. She requested that there be no quilting on the puppy appliques that surround the outer border.

Puppy

All the quilting was done to surround the puppys, but not stitch over them. Karen is deciding if she would like to leave the puppys unquilted (as shown in the original pattern), or if she would like to add some hand quilting to them.  The quilt is adorable just as it is, but the nice thing about adding hand-quilting is that she can add it at a later date, even after the quilt has been laundered numerous times. Now that's flexibility!

The Baby's Bow Wow Blankie  pattern was created by Bonnie Sullivan of All Through the Night Folk Art Designs, and is available by clicking here.  Be sure to click on the pictures below to see more of Karen's quilt project!

Are you ever too tired to quilt?

Everyday, people ask me "How do you do it?" Since I have been using the Vitamix, I have lots of energy and I know that I am doing the best I can for my body every day. My joint pain is gone, and I can stand for 12 hours on a concrete floor without feeling any muscle pain! I've decided to endorse Vitamix, and become an affiliate for the company, because I feel very strongly about the nutritional benefits of the product and what it can do for people's health.

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The Department of Health suggests 9 servings of fruits and vegetables every day. Sure, you could have a V-8 ..... but why not go with a more natural and healthful approach? I wanted to escape the preservatives that are found in so many foods these days, but I don't have time (or patience!) to nibble on carrots and lettuce. Diets like that remind me of eating rabbit food, and no one tends to have the discipline necessary to stick with that type of food for very long.

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Did you know that all of those itty-bitty seeds on the outside of a strawberry contain pytochemicals? That's where all the nutrition is hiding. Just chewing a strawberry doesn't release those phytochemicals into your system because your teeth just aren't powerful enough to break apart all of those tiny seeds -- but the Vitamix has the power to do it! My goal is to squeeze all of the healthy ingredients out of my food, and to be able to do it quickly. Oh --- and I want it to taste good too!

I like to start my day with an Emerald Green Smoothie. It has pineapple, grapes, oranges, and spinach in it --- yum! And the preparation is easier than you would expect. One slice of fresh pineapple is all you need, and you don't even need to remove the core! (There's nutition hiding in that core, just like inside of the strawberry seeds!) Toss in handful of grapes, and don't even worry about using seedless ones --- starting to see the nutritional value AND the convenience? Just remove most of the outer peel on the orange, but don't get rid of all of the white portion -- yes, there's more nutrtion there too! Toss in a handful of fresh spinach leaves and a few ice cubes and flip the switch. Breakfast is ready in 30 seconds, and you can take it in the car with you. Or, another fast breakfast idea is too put cereal, fruit, milk, and yogurt into the Vitamix! That's much faster than eating a bowl of cereal and a container of yogurt, and it's healthy too! If you use fish oil, garlic pills, daily aspirin, or any other daily supplements, just throw them in the Vitamix with your breakfast and you'll never notice the taste!

At lunch time, you'll find me making quick soup with the Vitamix. I warm a cup of chicken broth in the microwave, then pour it into the Vitamix. Then I add tomatoes, celery, carrots, peppers, mushrooms --- anything I find in the fridge! Sometimes I add left-over chicken from last night's dinner! Two minutes later, I have steaming hot soup --- and I didn't even have to dirty any pots or pans!

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You can create the most healthy baby food possible, quickly and easily. With the rise of childhood diabetes, we all need to be creative in making healthy foods for our children. You can grind whole wheat berries, and knead dough for bread, all in the same container! You can also grind coffee beans, make your own peanut butter, make gravies and sauces without any lumps, and whip up a wonderful salsa in seconds flat! Check out the recipes -- they're amazing!

And clean up time? I add a speck of dishwashing liquid and some warm water to my Vitamix, and then flip in on for about ten seconds. Rinse and done. That's all there is to it. Really!

Talk about talent! No other kitchen appliance can give you the performance, speed, power, durability, reliability—not to mention health-enhancing benefits—that you get with the Vitamix 5200. This extraordinary machine does the work of 10 kitchen appliances with no attachments! It takes on over 50 “food feats”, including four unique processes that no other single kitchen appliance can handle. The Vitamix 5200 makes juice from whole foods in a minute, cooks soup from scratch without a stove, makes delicious, healthy ice-cream in 30 seconds and even grinds grain and kneads the dough for you in one five-minute operation. And that’s just for starters. Check this page to see all of the "food feats".

With a thirty day no risk in-home trial, you can be assured of your satisfaction. NoRisk2_small

And with a 7 year warranty, you will have peace of mind for a long time.

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The Vitamix website has lots of testimonials from folks who had health issues, and are now feeling great! You can even read up on weight loss! Be sure to use my affiliate code to buy this machine so you can get FREE SHIPPING in the United States or Canada!

Christmas Candles Galore!

Nine elegant designs, combining the best of applique and embroidery. There are so many possibilities with these designs! Table cloths, napkins, placemats, sweatshirts, quilts, sweaters, cookie tins, gift boxes and tags, pillows........ These designs were featured in the November/December 2006 issue of Designs in Machine Embroidery Magazine. To order these designs as a collection, please visit our store.  These are actual stitch-outs of the designs -- you click click on each image to see a larger picture.

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"!

Pennsylvania Dutch Embroidery!

Have your own little piece of the heartland! This collection of six Pennsylvania Dutch motifs looks wonderful on table linens, pillows, curtains, and many other places! Each design fits in a four by four hoop. Click on the pictures for close-up detail of the actual stitch-outs. 

Under the Sea Collection!

Welcome to our own little island get-away‚ Under the Sea! This collection of eight wonderful sea creatures would love to swim into your life. Each applique fits in a five by seven hoop. To purchase this collection, click here.

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.

The Snowybears are ready to play!

The Snowybears are here to have some winter fun with you! Machine embroidery, applique, and a gentle fur texture to their coats! Easy enough for a beginner, and fun for the entire winter! To order these designs, click here.

Summer Sunflowers to Last All Year

Summer is truly gone. When sunflowers are in bloom, we know the end is near. Now that all signs of the sunflowers have disappeared, we know it's time to settle in and watch the falling leaves change to falling snow flakes. My friend June has created a way to enjoy her favorite sunflowers all year. She stitched this wall-hanging in bright and bold colors that are guaranteed to keep the winter blues at bay. Sunflower

Just take a peek at her creative corners! These notched corners will be fun to bind, and will lend an intrigueing shape to this kitchen wall-hanging project.

Corner

Surrounding the central area, you will find lots of bright colors that are taken from the quilt background. Each tiny area was quilted separately. The finished project will be warming hearts all year long.

Click on each picture for larger versions.

Quick idea for setting an autumn table

I needed a quick idea for dressing up the kitchen table for autumn. I quilted two yards of fabric, and then added a binding to it for a quick tablecloth.

Then, I used a pattern from One Song Needle Arts to do these placemats. The pattern has cross-hatching built right into the sides of it. It's easy to decide how large to make your placemats by using the following method:

Open the pattern on your screen in Creative Studio, and use a grid to see the size of the central area. You can use a grid of 1-inch to make the pattern size easy to measure. Decide if you want to adjust the pattern up or down a little bit after studying it on your grid. I cut three strips of fabric 1 1/2 inches wide, and pieced them together for each side. The inner square was cut 14 1/2 inches wide. After piecing the placemat, I basted it to my batting and backing on the machine. Using the head of the machine, I placed a p2p line on the exact edge of my center section of the pieced placemat. I then marked this line as sewn -- this is very important to do so your line doesn't stitch. You can then tweak the design on the screen to line up perfectly with your edges of the center section by sizing with the handles of the design. Click on start, and your design will stitch exactly where you need it to be. Add your binding while you still have the placemat on the machine, and then all you have to do is hand-sew it to the back. Very quick and easy!

How to choose a quilt size

What size should I make my next quilt? Here's the scenario..... there's a bed in the guest room that needs a pretty quilt on it before Christmas. But how do you decide what size the quilt needs to be?

You will need to make two decisions before you even pick up your tape measure. First, take a look at the side or bottom of the bed, and decide where you would like the quilt to end in length. How far off of the floor will look nice? Do you have a dust ruffle on this bed?

Quilts can be anywhere from 10 to 20 inches long on the sides, and as you can see, that will make a big difference in the finished measurements of your quilt. If you have a metal tape measure or yard stick handy, stand it up on the floor next to the side of the bed, to get a feel for the overall height. Now, still looking at your tape measure, decide if you would like the sides of the quilt that drape down to measure 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, or 20 inches.

Once that decision is made, we will move on to the decision of whether you would like to tuck the quilt in underneath the pillows, or just have the pillows piled on top of the flat quilt. Having a pillow tuck allowance will add another 10 inches to your overall length measurement.

Here is a handy chart to use in figuring out approximate quilt sizes. You may find a pattern that is just a little larger or smaller than these sizes, and you can decide if you would like to adjust the width of your borders to compensate for the difference, or maybe add or subtract blocks in your design. Click on the picture below to download a complete PDF file. This is handy to print out and keep in your purse --- you never know when inspiration will strike!

As our first example, let's choose a child's twin sized bed. I have decided that I want the twenty-inch drop so that the quilt almost skims the floor. I also decided I would like the extra length required to tuck the quilt under the pillows. From the chart that shows the Twin Mattress, I can go down the left side until I find the 20" drop and right underneath that line is the 10" pillow tuck. By running my finger across to the twin size mattress column, it's easy to see that my quilt should measure 79 x 105 inches. I will be cutting my backing and batting 87 x 113 so the quilt can be finished on a longarm quilting machine.

Let's try another example. This time, we'll use a California King sized bed. I want to keep the quilt high up off of the floor, and will not be tucking it under the pillows. A twelve-inch drop should be fine, with no pillow tuck allowance. Run your finger down the left side of the California King chart until you get to the 12" drop, and then follow straight across to the California King column. You'll see that the finished quilt should be 96 x 92, and your backing and batting will need to be cut 104 x 100 inches.

You'll notice that the measurements for the drop on the sides and bottom are only calculated for three sides. That's because the quilt does not hang down over the top of the bed.

You have a bit of leeway in these measurements, but this will get you started. Don't worry if things don't match up perfectly, BUT .... one thing to keep in mind before you get started is shrinkage. If you are using 100% cotton fabrics, and not pre-washing, you may lose a few inches in each direction when the quilt is first laundered. That may be a good thing, or a bad thing, depending on your intentions. Click on the picture below for a free complete PDF file!

Enjoy the process, and as always, enjoy the fabric shopping!

Not Really Knots

Here's another favorite quilt from Kim Montagnese of Colorz My World called Not Really Knots. Kim uses a new applique process that she created to make two different blocks that repeat throughout the quilt --- giving the feel of Celtic Knots without the complicated methods of creating them. The process is sheer genius! You can reach Kim for patterns and classes at: Montagnese@oh.rr.com

I hope you enjoy the pictures as much as I enjoyed working on this quilt!