Sunday, August 23, 2015

Botanical Beauty

Occasionally I receive a commission for a special quilt project and this month Becky at Patchwork Posse commissioned a quilt for her club and Facebook group.  I was thrilled to take up the pencil (or in my case, the computer) and come up with something special for her.

Since I am in the art nouveau mood with my 2015 Block of the Month, I took several of my favorite bonus block patterns and put them together into a throw quilt I thought her subscribers might like.  I call the designs Botanical Beauty and and did two different versions.  Yea, I can't do just one.

 Blue Bell Block

Trillium Block

Using these two blocks and the border block from my Deco Gardens BOM I came up with this:

I loved the way the blocks swirled around the middle making a secondary pattern of leaves in the middle.  Just to be goofy, I offered a second version with a lime green background, just for fun.

I should not have been surprised when she picked this one as the one to offer to her subscribers.  She preferred the lighter background.  Isn't it amazing what a small (or large?) difference a background color can make?

Want the pattern?  Join Becky's Posse and it will be yours for free!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

August Block

If you haven't picked up your free August Block of the Month yet be sure to click on the BOM tab and download it.  This is the center block in the 3-block panel that forms the first row of the design.  It is also repeated in the last row.

August Free Block of the Month
 If you want the bonus block, subscribe to my newsletter and you will get links to both block delivered to your email box.   
August Bonus Block

Please note: signing up for my newsletter is a 2 step process.
     1) enter your name and email on my blog or website
     2) open your email and click on the link to confirm your email subscription.

If you don't confirm the subscription it won't send you a newsletter.  This way I make sure your email is valid and you confirm that the newsletter is approved email and not spam.  Of course you can unsub anytime right from the newsletter, if you no longer wish to receive it.

I gotta tell you I really fell in love with this bonus block and have designed a small quilt project using it and next month's bonus block.  You can get it for free if you are a member of Becky Jorgenson's Patchwork Posse quilting site.

Also next month I am participating in an EQ Seasons Row-A-Long Blog Hop and you are NOT gonna want to miss this.   My row (and the free pattern for it) will be featured on September 15.

Sign up for the EQ Seasons Row-A-Long on Facebook.  The other rows are even cuter than mine and they each represent one of the seasons.  Mine is summer, of course and camping season.  Wait till you see some of the quilts the girls are putting together with the rows.  OMG I am soooo wanting to do one.  So check out my blog in September for this cool event.  I will be offering great fabric pack and pattern giveaways all month long!

Oh, and I saved the best news for last.  Grandbaby #2 is on the way!

Friday, July 10, 2015

July is Flying By

The 10th of July already and I am wondering where the first 10 days went?  I have been enjoying having some down time - at last - after my hectic spring schedule.  It has been great to get some design time and catch up on projects. Although I have to admit I have not yet been able to do any sewing!

I have hired a professional organizer to help redo my office and design space.  Oh yea, I could be on the hoarders!  I'll keep you posted about how I am decluttering now that my work life is all at home!  Retired you ask?  Really??

I am very happy to be designing for Northcott fabrics.  I have been working on patterns for four of their August releases which will be in stores next March.  This has been incredibly fun and energizing to work with new fabric lines.  Three lines are complete and I will finish up designs for the fourth line this weekend.  They just sent me pictures for a great patriotic line in the Stonehenge series and I will start on that next week.  I will share pictures when they go public.

In the mean time, I have been having fun designing more bonus blocks for Deco Gardens.  Gosh this is fun.  Here is a sneak peak of the August Bonus Block

I am also working up a couple of layouts for those of you who would like to put all your blocks in one quilt.

Here is the first layout I came up with.   There are a few duplicates in here just to fill up the spaces until I get all the bonus blocks designed and added.

And I have a few bonus patterns I am putting together just for my subscribers.  I know, I should keep it a surprise, but I will share one of them with you because I really like it and hope you will like it as well.

Don't do applique?  It is all done with fusible web and raw edge machine applique.

The next few weeks will be busy preparing to teach at the AQS show in Grand Rapids!  I am so excited about offering classes at the show and hope I will see some of you there! Check out the line up of classes HERE.  The EQ7 Bootcamp is full but there are a few spots left in the EQ7 Applique Drawing class and in the Curved Piecing without Pins class.

If you missed the Grand Rapids AQS Quilt Week class you could still take the EQ7 Bootcamp at Des Moines, October 3.  Enroll early as this class filled quick in Grand Rapids!

One more thing.  I am participating in a Row-A-Long this fall and have designed a super fun summer camping themed row.  Keep watching for updates.  You will be able to download the pattern my row along with all the other designers who are participating.  And the rows are amazing.  More about that coming soon.

I have saved the best for last.  Yesterday, I got to watch my grandbaby take his first real steps -- trotting across the room on his own two little feet. And we got it on video!  As soon as I set up a U-Tube account I will upload it cuz it is just so stinkin' cute!  hehehe

Friday, May 29, 2015

Why I Love Quiltmaker Magazine

Do you subscribe to any print quilt magazines?  I used to subscribe to them all. It was like Christmas or my birthday when one would arrive in the mail.  I would pour through every page hunting up new projects, looking for trends, colors, or ideas which would inspire me to sew.  Later it became a source of inspiration for my own designs.  I felt I needed to stay aware of what was being published, and what quilters were buying and making.

I wrote off my subscriptions as a research expense.  Then when my patterns started appearing in magazines I had even more incentive to see what was being published.  I had to scope out the competition.

As I moved from publishing designs in magazines to publishing patterns I began to let my subscriptions lapse.  It was a lot of money and I found that I was letting issues -- still in their bags -- pile up on the coffee table, lonely and unread.  But I kept my subscription to Quiltmaker up to date.  I loved those Patch Pal patterns in every issue.  I vowed someday I would make them all. Their style was in sync with my own and I always felt my patterns would be a good fit for their editorial style, despite the fact that I never sent them any designs.  I did have a block in the #2 100 Blocks volume, but didn't send any others as you don't get paid for those.

So today 2 amazing things happened.  My July/August issue arrived in the mail.

I had been tipped off by my friend Christie in OKC that there was a Patch Pal Flamingo in this issue so I was anxious to see it and scope out when I would have time to make it.

Sure enough, there it was, and just as cute as I  hoped it would be.  But then I started thumbing through the rest of the issue and an ad caught my eye.

After I gasped I looked closer and sure enough, that was MY QUILT in the Keepsake Quilting Catalog ad.  

They really should warn you that they are going to do that to fend off potential heart attacks when designers see their work in a magazine without prior warning! 

NOTE:  One also does not get paid when one's work appears in an ad in a magazine, fyi.  However, if you were to go to Keepsake quilting and purchase that pattern, this designer would get paid (cha-ching!)  Even better, if you go HERE and purchase the pattern, this designer gets paid more (cha-ching-a-ling). 

I noticed they are out of stock!  Hey I shipped them more today so they will be there soon! They had been offering kits to go with this pattern.  If you want one, give them a call and ask when they will have them.  I will also have kits for sale at the Kansas City Regional Quilt Festival June 19, 20, 21 in Overland Park, KS if you want to pick one up in person.

Keepsake still has my Vintage Sampler pattern and kit on sale.

They have discounted the kit price on the Summer Iris Picnic Quilt.  Now would be a great time to pick up a kit for less $$.  

Heck, I even ordered one so I could make another one to give away!  LOL

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Fusible Web Mysteries Revealed!

Don't you love an intriguing headline?  Hehe.  But in reality I get a lot of questions about fusible web when I teach and lecture.  So here are a few thoughts on fusible web.  I thought I would share my preferences with you since I tend to publish a LOT of patterns with raw-edge applique applied with fusible web. 

Everyone has their preferences but here is some information about using fusibles to help you make the best choice for your projects.

1. To use fusible web your applique pattern needs to be reversed. This is because you trace the pattern on the fusible web paper backing then apply to the BACK of the fabric. This process reverses (creates a mirror image) of the original design. 

When you get ready to trace your applique templates check the pattern carefully to see if the templates are reversed. If not, you will have to reverse the templates FIRST, then trace them onto the fusible. If you have a light box or an easy-to-reach window, you can tape the originals up backwards and trace onto fusible in one step.

In the picture above I show a block design with the applique placement guide. The templates are traced off of a set of templates which are first reversed than separated into individual templates on the page.  This is more work for me, but less work for you when you get the pattern!

Now what kind of fusible web should you use.  There are a lot of them out there on the market, so let me talk about a few of the brands I have used and the ones I like the best.

  1. Light weight fusible webbing is best for most applique which will have overlapping layers. It is thin and keeps your pieces from being stiff. But lightweight fusible MUST be stitched down as the edges can become loose in handling or washing. The optimum stitches to use are a machine blanket stitch, and small zig zag stitch with matching thread, a blind hem stitch or a satin stitch.  Some use a straight stitch close to the edge, but I don't think that looks as well.  Satin stitch is the hardest to get looking good and takes the most skill.  The zig zag and blanket stitch are pretty forgiving and can look good with a little practice.
    Machine blanket stitch using a variegated thread.
  2. Heavy weight fusibles are great for mending and securing heavier fabrics to your background. They do not need to be stitched down unless they will receive a lot of handling, washing or wear - think denim patches your mom used to put on the knees of your jeans. I prefer to use these on craft-type projects and resist using them on quilts. 
  3. When deciding which brand of fusible webbing to use it helps to know what the characteristics of each brand are. Here is a great review of various brands of fusible web.  
  4. My favorite brand of fusible web is Shades "SoftFuse." It is a thin and light weight fusible with paper backing. It can be used with a hot dry iron, and holds extremely well when fused. It is my brand of choice when I am doing overlapping layers as it does not add any stiffness to the applique. On the down side it is also one of the most expensive brands on the market and you have to look for it, since it is not commonly carried everywhere. You can buy it online and it does come in a variety of sizes and shapes.
  5. Next on my list of favorites is Steam A Seam which is made by the Warm Co (they also make batting). They make a light and a regular product and they also make a product called Steam A Seam 2. The 2 means that it is sticky on both sides and will stick to both the applique and background fabric. It is movable or positionable until you fuse it. I love this characteristic since I often move pieces around a lot until I am satisfied with their placement. They won't slide around or move while I am working with a lot of pieces at a time. I typically use "Steam A Seam 2 lite" because it is light and flexible, sticky on both sides, easy to work with, available everywhere in lots of sizes and shapes, and can stand a very hot iron.
  6. Heat N Bond and Heat N Bond lite are also widely available and good for applications where a hot iron would damage the fabric. They require a medium iron -- too much heat will dissolve the bond between applique and background. Since I tend to use a hot iron I have to be careful when using this brand, and remember to turn down the temp on my iron before fusing.
  7. Wonder Under is a common fusible web available in the chain stores like Joann's and Hancocks. It is very inexpensive, comes on a bolt so you can get big pieces if you need it, and is easy to use. Watch your iron temperature with this and follow the instructions carefully. I have had mixed results with Wonder Under, and find that it adds a bit of stiffness to my work. I have had some difficulty removing the paper after fusing.
  8. Pellon made a knock off for Steam A Seam. It came out to replace Steam A Seam during the last two years when the Warm Co had suspended manufacture of their product while experiencing a shortage of parchment paper. It was a complete disaster. You cannot remove the paper backing. Pellon is a highly respected brand but they scored a miss with this product.

In my next post I will share some of my favorite tips for using fusible web, including great machine stitches and hints for making them look professionally done.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

May is Finally Here!

How I love May!  It is warm, the flowers are in bloom, the trees are leafed out, and the Chinese Elm row behind my fence completely hides the neighbors' houses.  My screened in back deck is the perfect spot for meals, and the kitties love stalking birds from the safe
ty of the wicker chairs.

The front porch redo is finally finished and the guys put in my new front sidewalk on Easter Sunday.

The mess is now all cleaned up and grass is growing in all the bald spots.  I will plant hostas along the front of the house and finish landscaping along the walkway next week.

Of course May would not be complete without a beautiful new free block!  The free May block is posted and ready to download.  And I gotta admit, it is one of my favorites.  Despite loving the turquoise color, I love the funky tulip shapes and graceful art nouveau lines.

Click on the 2015 BOM Tab at the top of the page on my blog to download your free block during the month of May.

The bonus block is available to my newsletter subscribers.  This month it is a stylized rose in shades of lavender and blue-violet.  You don't want to miss it.

Not a subscriber?  You can purchase these blocks Here.

The other reason I love May is that it heralds the beginning of camping season.  I love spending time outdoors, at the lake, in the woods, just about anywhere.  And of course that means getting the Whale out of storage.

Since we traded up from a tent, it is a bit more stuff to haul around with us and there is still the problem of cooking in a camp kitchen,

but I am willing to put up with the inconvenience!  :-)

Next week I am heading off to Cedar Rapids, IA to teach at MQS.  I will be doing three EQ7 classes, so if you are in the area or coming to the show, it would be a great time to sign up.  Then we head up to Minneapolis for Spring Quilt Market the next week.  Really looking forward to that.  If you are going please stop by the Quilt Woman booth where I will be helping out.

The end of May the Whale will be going to our annual 39th college reunion at Mohican in central Ohio.  It will be quite a trip and I am so looking forward to spending time with quilty friends along the way.

OK, now off to recover some chairs for the whale.  What are your plans for May?

Monday, April 6, 2015

April Blocks

The free block for April is posted and the Newsletter for April has gone out.

Block 4 Tiger Lily

Did you get my newsletter?  If so then you already received your free Bonus Block and half price pattern offer.

April Bonus Block: Too Toolips

April Sweet Pea Half Price Pattern.

What, you don't get my newsletter?

Geez just fill in your email and click subscribe!  I will send it out on the 15th again so  you won't miss your free blocks.

So down on the farm this girl has been busy.  You were right. . . those of you who said I would be busier retired than I was working.  Yup, sure is true.  I have had some great trips to speak to some wonderful guilds.  The Ladies in El Paso totally rock and I so enjoyed my time with you.

Then I had a much needed quilt retreat in the Arkansas Ozarks which gave me time to work on a new project.  Sorry, no peeking until it is done.  Watch for a new pattern coming in the June issue of The Quilt Pattern Magazine.

Last week I was in Washington DC to attend the Creative Arts Business Summit with Morna McEver Golletz.  What a fabulous experience that was!

This week I am so excited to be attending the first ever EQ Academy in Ohio to get totally edumakated in using EQ Stitch embroidery software.  I can't wait to be inspired by all of those EQ7 Geeks at the Electric Quilt Co.  What a dream come true! I'll let you know how it goes.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Sisters Weekend

I just returned from Ohio and a fabulous sisters quilting weekend.  My sister MJ completed her Dear Jane quilt and take a look at this masterpiece.

MJ's Dear Jane quilt top

Is this a WOW or what?  She has been working on it for 7 years! She began in a class at her local quilt shop and worked on it as she had time over the years.  Mostly a winter project, as she is an avid gardener and works outside in the warm months, she pieced all the blocks and triangles, many by hand, over the past years.  Finally done she trusted me with it to take to my favorite quilter, Brenda Weien, to quilt.

Sisters MJo and Gail came down to Columbus from Berea and Mansfield to round out the group.  Good eats, good drinks, and good times!

I worked on blocks from last year's BOM.  I never got them made last year as I was so busy designing and teaching.  So it was the perfect weekend to work on them, at last.  Blocks 1 and 2 are made and ready to be machine stitched.

Block 1 Agave Block 2014 BOM

Block 2 Splash Block 2014 BOM

The new BOM block for March 2015 is posted and the newsletter will go out tomorrow.  Had to do some catch up after being away last week.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Newsletter with Bonus Block

My newsletter went out last night with Block 2 of my Deco Garden Block of the Month and the second Bonus Block.

I have to say that I am having fun designing these bonus blocks.  If you haven't signed up for my newsletter you can do that right here.

Subscribe to my newsletter to get another free Bonus Block each month and the setting (sashing and border) instructions.

I send it out twice a month, so those of you who sign up after the first of the month can still get the bonus block for that month.  And this year I am running a year long promotion.  Send me a picture of your completed block and I will send you a free pattern.  Yup, really is that simple.  

Here is my first block. 

I used the fabrics from the Fabric Kits available from and they are just beautiful!  There are only a few kits left if you want to subscribe. 

Just to tempt you, here is the bonus block for this month!  

Remember you get this free if you subscribe to my newsletter.
The link to the bonus block will be in the newsletter sent out 
the 1st and 15th of each month.

Bonus Block 2

Also this month, my February Violets table runner is half price!  If you like doing English Paper Piecing with hexagons, here is an easy small project that you might enjoy making. Click on the picture below to purchase.

February Violets Table Runner
Also wanted to give a shout out to all the wonderful ladies I met in Ponca City, OK I met on Monday this week.  It was a great visit and I so enjoyed the group's hospitality and warm welcome.  My thanks to my hostess Jackie Bufton and all the board and members.


I shared my grandmother flower garden quilts with them and they shared a few of theirs during show and tell.  It was great fun to see those old treasures.

So far my first 2 weeks of retirement have been busy! I am spending the rest of this week relaxing and unpacking. And of course, I am gearing up for the next event on my calendar:  two days of teaching EQ7 classes at the Lawton, OK quilt show February 13-15.

If you are in the Kansas City area and have been looking for a beginner EQ7 class I am teaching at Quilting Bits and Pieces in Eudora on February 21, a Saturday, from 10 am to 3 pm.  Call to enroll at 785-542-2080.