Saturday, September 24, 2016

Presents Quilt. Just in time for... anything!!

I was browsing other people’s blogs this last week and noticed that quite a few of them were doing WIP Wednesdays… I always have a million projects going at the same time, but once in a while pick a partially completed one to work on.  Unfortunately, I also have a really bad predilection to start something new instead!  While looking for the scraps for one quilt to start piecing the backing, I stumbled over a layer cake that I had purchased earlier this year – all of the fabrics are chocolate themed!  I also recalled a video from Missouri Star Quilt Company that called for a layer cake or four charm square packs to make a quilt where each block looked like a wrapped present with a bow on top – how cool that would be with these chocolate fabrics!  Jenny made hers with Christmas fabric and it’s really pretty, too!

Here’s the pic of the fabrics I will most likely use, the layer cake and a treasure chest of pink fabrics that some awesome Alex Anderson retreaters gave me for my birthday a few years ago.  I’ve been taking little bits of this and that out of the chest for a long time and this may be another foray into the goodies inside!  I also have some pink sparkly fabric – of course I do! – and that may work its way in there as well.  The directions call for 4 half yard cuts for the ribbons and bows and 2-1/2 yards sashing, which looks like it is mainly 2-1/2” wide, so perfect for a precut bundle.  I have one called “White Out” from Wilmington Prints that I purchased at Nuttall's Sewing Centers in Riverton, Utah when I was teaching there last May, but – darn it! – there are only 24 strips, so I need a second one.  And then to pick the pinks… where the heck is that pink glittery fabric?  I know it’s here somewhere!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Am I Coming To A City Near You?

A lot of quilt teachers book two or three years out, but I tend to book a season at a time.  The last puzzle piece just fell into my October-December 2016 schedule, so I’m totally full and am now starting to book January-June (and even a little September!!) 2017.  The classes are a good mix of topics, but since I’ve started teaching the Westalee/Sew Steady ruler work, that has really become a big player in my schedule.  I’ve already taught several ruler classes this year and have eight more days to go, mostly my basic class, but a couple of Ruler Play 2 days are in the mix.  These are really fun classes and I think of something new to demonstrate with the rulers every time I teach them.  One class I did in July seemed so inspirational; some of the students were coming up with new designs and I’d come up with one and then run to the machine to stitch it out – basically, doing impromptu demos as well as the planned ones.  One of the ladies said in her evaluation that I “didn’t seem well prepared.  She sure winged it a lot!”.  It was trying all the new things that made the class a hit for everybody else, furthering their knowledge of various uses for the rulers, not just the ones pictured in the leaflet or demonstrated by me.

Here is a pic of my sample for Ruler Play:

And here’s Ruler Play 2 (I really need to get around to binding this….):

Here’s a link to my busy busy schedule – hope I’ll be seeing you somewhere in my travels!

Friday, September 16, 2016

Summer issue of Gen Q!

Always happy to get new issues of Generation Q Magazine! This summer's issue has some great articles -- I especially enjoyed the one that reviewed all the cool subscription boxes available for quilters! I'm a sucker for programs that send me new gadgets fabric every month. What about you? Have you tried one of these services? What did you think?

Another timely and excellent article takes us through the steps of routine maintenance and caring for our most precious (and costly!) tool, our sewing machines.

And of course it wouldn't be GenQ without projects!

I liked this one so much! I remembered the Pie Making Day fat quarter bundle included in my May Quilty Box (yes, I do get one of those subscription boxes and I love it!). This pattern calls for a half yard of each of 9 fabrics, so I hopped on to the Quilty Box website and ordered another bundle. I always have tons of white fabric around here, but if I don't have just the perfect white, I can drive over to Bolts in the Bathtub in neighboring Lancaster CA and bug Dawna into helping me find it!


I have a few copies of this summer's magazine -- leave a comment, like us on Facebook, or join our email list and we'll give some away!  We happen to have a few copies of another issue too... would you like both??

Monday, September 12, 2016

Winners Announced!!

A few weeks ago we did a blog post announcing that we had reached 10,000 students enrolled in Paula's Craftsy Class.  We are so excited to hit such a big number!!

We drew the winners and are so excited to be giving away Paula's Craftsy Class to all three!  Congrats to JANET, SARIE, & ALESSANDRA on winning and we hope you love the class! We'll send you the instructions on how to download your class via Facebook message.  Be sure to send us pics of what you create!!!

We wish we could have picked more winners but for those of you that didn't win, HERE'S A LINK to get Paula's class at 50% off.  :) 

Thanks to everyone for participating in the giveaway!!

Happy crafting!

Friday, September 9, 2016

When It's Super Hot Outside, How Do You Cope?

Living in the high desert of Southern California means that we have beautiful weather seven to eight months of the year and miserably hot weather the rest.  This year was a little different – I’m usually totally over summer by the end of May, but this year we had a real spring!  It stayed cool until around mid-June, so I wasn’t sick of summer until the end of June.  Doesn’t take me long.

We’ve had a couple of 100+ heat waves and now it’s settled back into the low to mid 90s for a couple of weeks, a welcome respite.  But I am ready for cooler weather and ready to think cool thoughts, so what did I decide to do to beat the heat?  Make a Christmas quilt and focus my thoughts on winter!

I ordered the “Christmas Cheer” kit from Craftsy; the pattern and fabric are from Robert Kaufman.  I just ordered it a couple of weeks ago; it was on sale and might be still available.  One comment I have to make about the pattern, though, is that it advises the quilter to sew on the various strips of border fabrics without measuring -- for instance, “Sew a Fabric C strip to either side of the quilt top & trim the excess.”  That’s not the way I roll!  I measure through the center, cut the borders to that exact length and then pin them to the quilt top, easing any fullness in as I go.  This is the method I teach in my Borders & Bindings classes and on my video of the same name and it ensures I get a flat professional looking quilt.  That particular directions problem aside, I liked the pattern and the fabrics and found it really easy to piece.  Started it the day before yesterday and will finish today; I would like to add it to the quilts I take everywhere with me and use it as an example of a medallion style quilt, meaning that when I do the machine quilting I will quilt it from the center out.

Here’s a picture of the pattern in the red/silver colorway that I purchased:

I happily put on border after border – there are 6 borders before you get to the final one – measuring, cutting, pinning and sewing away and everything is fitting perfectly and life is good.  Except – I’m not really crazy about those light colored cornerstones in the corners of the very last borders.  First of all, it’s my least favorite fabric of the group and there wasn’t enough there to fussy cut those cornerstones so that a pretty snowflake would end up there.  Second, I just thought it was too light and attention grabbing out there in that last border.  If it’s going to draw that much notice, it should be prettier.  So I sewed up the final borders for the sides and attached them on the quilt, then found a vacant space of floor and auditioned some other options.

Here’s what the quilt would look like with the cornerstones in the fabric that the kit directions indicated:

Then I grabbed some leftover four patches and striped squares from the pieced border, border 3:

Then I paired the same four patches with a different background fabric:

Next, the fourpatches are rotated – I think they look like little bows! – with those same striped squares:

Lastly, I put the print fabric from the second picture back in and arranged the four patches on top of it.  That’s what I decided to go with; the four patches reduced the brightness of the print and I like that.  Now to go make a few more four patches and cut some squares.  Next decision:  If you look carefully at the corners of that pieced border, you’ll see that they are rotated differently.  Top left and right have the red squares at the top left of the four patch while the bottom corners have the red in the top right position.  So I rotate the four patches to reflect that in the final border?  Or make them all look like bows? 

Hmmmm……I’ll let you know when I complete it and post the pic later!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

16,000 is a Very Big Number!

Congrats to Maddie Kertay and the BadAss Quilters Society on achieving a goal of 16,000 followers – and counting (quickly!!).  Maddie works very hard at her blog and her Facebook page to voice her thoughts about quilting, quilt shop ownership and life in general.  Love her thought provoking posts on the diversity of quiltmakers and how men are often dissed when they walk into a quilt store.  She had a hilarious post a few weeks ago about how some customers behave while fabric/pattern/notions shopping – I know some of you believe this stuff never happens, but it really does!  From a quilt shop owner’s point of view, she has gone into some finer points of how to serve quilters better and attract more business to the store.  Her ability to shoot from the hip and say things exactly as they are can be funny, but is always truthful – this is life at its BadAss Best!

So – are you BadAss?  To go to the Facebook page and see if this is something you would like to follow, click here!

Friday, September 2, 2016

What will you Craftsy?

Craftsy is having another great sale.  In fact this is the second biggest sale of the year.  EVERY SINGLE CLASS is 50% off.  So if there's a class you've had on your wish list... now is the time!  It doesn't get any cheaper than this!

We always promote everything quilting because that's what we love most but there are so many more fun classes out there so today is all about everything BUT quilting!

These are just a few examples from Craftsy's HUGE list of classes.  All classes are 50% off now through Monday.  Click HERE for the sale!

Happy Craftsy-ing!!  ;)

Monday, August 29, 2016

Now You See It – Now You Don’t!

One of the first things I teach in my two day Fluff & Stuff machine quilting class is ditch quilting.  If done correctly, quilting right in that seam should give your piecing (or applique, if done right off the edge) dimension without the actual stitches showing.  Monofilament thread seems to be the best way to accomplish this so that the piecing may be accentuated without any imperfections showing up quite so much.  The brand I use is Transfil, a nylon monofilament from Amann-Mettler Group.  Mettler is known widely and deservedly for their various weights of cotton threads, but I think the Transfil should be discussed as an essential part of a machine quilter’s tool box.

When we think about how a quilt is constructed, as we are piecing we are most likely pressing the seam allowances to the darker fabric so that they don’t shadow through.  Because of this, most “ditches” appear on the lighter fabric.  That is the reason that I use about six spools of clear Transfil for every one spool of the smoke color.  A quilt has to be pretty dark for me to grab the darker shade of Transfil.

The two pictures below explain that best:

In the picture above, I’ve placed the clear Transfil across an area of a quilt that has both light and dark fabrics.  You can see the clear against the dark green but it just disappears into the lighter green fabric.  This would be the correct choice when I am quilting in the ditch on a lighter fabric.

This second picture shows the dark (smoke) color of Transfil on the same two fabrics.  The reverse effect occurs – you see it against the light fabric but it disappears on the dark.  That would be perfect if the pressing dictates that the dark fabric is to be stitched in the ditch.  All of those triangles were pressed away from the points and the dark fabric was the ditch fabric in this particular place on the quilt, so I used the dark Transfil here.

Another way I use it is when I do cross hatching, also known as diagonal grid, on a quilt and will be stitching over different fabrics as I go.  The picture below shows a variation of the diagonal grid; this is a partial grid in each individual block of the quilt.  I chose the clear Transfil because it blended best with the autumn colors in this quilt....

Another question I get a lot:  Can I iron over Transfil?  Sure can!  When I teach, I carry around a stitched sample that has had a hot iron held down on it for 3 minutes!  If you are using a different brand of monofilament, I would test it first, but I know that I don’t need to worry about Transfil if I need to iron over it – it’s not going to melt! 

I have made a couple of YouTube videos about Transfil – one shows how I use it in machine quilting and the other shows you how to wind a bobbin with it.  Enjoy and be sure to ask any questions you have about this!

Oh, and before I slip away from my desk – I have 20 spools of clear Transfil to give away!  Do you want some?  Like us on Facebook or sign up for our Newsletter and you'll be entered!  We'll draw the winners next week!!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Hooray – Preseason Has Started!

Maybe I’m not the normal everyday quilter, but I am a HUGE sports fan, as in football, basketball and hockey.  Baseball, not so much.  In fact, not at all.  So the weeks (Months! Feels like years!) between the NBA Finals and the first football exhibition games are L-O-N-G and boring.  So when I started hearing about the guys heading back to training camp, both pro and college (although I don’t follow college sports nearly as much as the pros), I got excited.

Some quilters have told me, though, that they may not be great pro or college football fans, but they are totally into Friday night high school football where their sons and grandsons are playing and/or daughters and granddaughters are cheering them on.  It’s a whole family event!  Which brings me to the quilting connection:  Football games are held at night.  Even here in perpetually sunny California, by mid-October, it is really cold at night, at least in my high desert.   Could be 60’s, but more likely 50s, maybe 40s.  In any event, that calls for a quilt!

I have very definite football quilt standards:

1)      No white!  Even if it is one of your school colors, try to minimize the white in it if you can’t eliminate it entirely.  Yeah, it looks snazzy in a contrasty, school mascot-y, kind of way, but doesn’t look so great when the people in the stands above you spill their soft drink (or, even worse, beer) and snacks all over you.  It only took one batch of catsup covered fries bobbled by a 5 year old to get that concept through to me.  My high school colors were red, white and black; easy to eliminate the white.  UCLA: light blue and gold; the blue could be a little darker, right?  Remember the catsup!  And mustard is much much worse and doesn’t always come out.

2)      Also remember that it occasionally, if you are not in perpetually sunny Southern California, rains at a football game.  Quilt will get wet and sodden, so I prefer a batting that dries pretty fast, like a cotton/poly blend, rather than 100% cotton that will take longer to dry out.  (More on batting HERE.)  When this happens to me, it goes right into the washing machine and the dryer when I get home.  Reason?  Some fabrics will run forever, even if you’ve prewashed the fabric and washed the quilt a dozen times.  I’m a better safe than sorry person on this issue and Color Catchers are a must!

3)      Football quilts, at least in my house, should be big enough for two!  That way, especially if your team isn’t playing well and you aren’t jumping up and down cheering, you can wrap up and share some warmth!

My favorite football quilt is this one – all autumn colors, no white!  Batting is Hobbs 80/20 cotton/poly blend.  Size is 64”x80”, although Dan did say that he thought it could be another foot longer to give us some “wiggle” room – I wonder if he is referring to our middle aged spread?

On the cover of the latest issue of Modern Quilts Unlimited is another great football quilt – lots of brights!  It’s made with ombre fabrics in five rainbow colors plus black ombre from the Shades collection by Kinkame for Clothworks.  The quilt measures 62-1/2”x77-1/2”, rated beginner level and all the directions are in the magazine.  There is a kit available as well if the fabric isn’t easy to find in your area or if you think you’d like something else.  The piecing directions are specifically for the ombre, though, to get the shading just right.  Once I read them through, it made perfect sense why the strips were cut and joined the way they were (all very simple and still definitely beginner level). 

So do you have favorite football traditions?  Favorite quilts?  Dishes for tailgating parties?  It’s only going to be 93 degrees today, a respite from the 100+ we have been getting for much of the summer.  I am so ready for fall!!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Genius Hacks Every Quilter Should Know

Am I a genius?  Well, yes, yes I am.  :)  But CRAFTSY has an amazing, genius, FREE, 18 page guide available for download! 

Genius Hacks Every Quilter Should Know is a free PDF guide available exclusively from Craftsy, featuring 18 pages packed with tutorials, quilting tricks, and tips from the experts!   Download it instantly for free now (even print it out if you'd like!) and enjoy it forever in the comfort of your own home!

What You'll Get

  • Instant access to foolproof tips and insider quilting tricks for making each project easy and efficient
  • 3+ step-by-step, easy-to-follow tutorials

What You'll Learn

From mastering the Magic 8 Method for making 8 half-square triangles at once, to organizing your quilting studio - you'll discover genius quilting tricks that'll help you streamline each and every quilting project!


  • How free-motion quilt on a regular sewing machine
  • The secret to a perfect quilt binding
  • How to make 8 half-square triangles at once
  • And more!


Happy Hacking!! 

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