Out of This World

Have you heard about the star block challenge started by astronaut Karen Nyberg? During her recent mission at the International Space Station, she sewed a quilt block. A star quilt block. In space. Here’s a photo:

nyberg Out of This World

NASA Astronaut Karen Nyberg with the quilt block that she made in space.

I also love this photo of the stuffed dinosaur she made for her son. It was constructed in space, too.

Nyberg dinosaur Out of This World

Toy dinosaur made by Karen Nyberg

Now that she is back on Earth, she had a few things to say about sewing in space, and she also invited quilters to create their own star-themed quilt blocks to be joined into a big quilt that will be displayed at the International Quilt Festival in Houston, Texas, this coming fall.

“Now that I’ve tried my hand sewing in space, I can say one thing with certainty: It’s tricky,” Nyberg said in a video sent down from the space station. “This is what I’ve made. It’s far from being a masterpiece, but it was made in space. I’m inviting all of you to create your own star-themed quilt block. We’ll be combining them with my block to create a quilt for [the] 40th anniversary International Quilt Festival in Houston. I can’t wait to see what we make together.”

Blocks are due by August 1st, 2014, and as June is almost over(!), I decided I should get going on a block if I wanted to have it done in time. Here’s what I came up with.

starblock Out of This World

9 1/2″ star block made by Gigi Khalsa

It’s rather literal, with the space print background and fiery-looking star, but it’s not really any sort of traditional star quilt block. It’s on a basic nine patch grid, but I added quick-corner piecing to the center patch, sharp star points on the outer center patches, and my favorite 1″ strips on the diagonal to the corner patches. I used Northcott‘s Stonehenge Out of This World for the space print and sun fussy cut and Troy Corporation‘s The Gathering by Mary Fisher for the bright yellow-orange sections. It looks like it’s shining brightly in the dark vacuum of outer space! The rules say it must be signed with your name and location, but I’ll do that when I get ready to send it off.

I’m wondering , since the deadline is still weeks away, if I can come up with another star block that I like better. There’s so many ways to go with the star theme! Wonky, improvisational, applique, traditional pattern, foundation piecing, the list goes on. But only one block is allowed per person. Here are the other rules for entering the challenge if you are interested in submitting your own block.

I, like Nyberg, can’t wait to see the final quilt. Are you going to make a block for it? There’s still time!

Quilting is spreading all over the world and now it’s in outer space, too! Follow along as we track quilting’s progress on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Google+ and our website. I hope your weekend is out of this world!

 

Posted in Call for Entries, Events, Gigi, Inspiration, Staff Quilts | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Gifts for Quilters Giveaway

PLEASE NOTE, THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED. THANK YOU TO ALL WHO PARTICIPATED. CONGRATULATIONS JINGER, LYNNE and DIANE!

Here in the northern hemisphere, summer is almost upon us (the solstice is this Saturday, June 21st), and that means that any spring cleaning we’re going to get done while it’s still Springtime would need to happen this week. So while spring cleaning around the office, I found a few of the “Gifts for Quilters” as featured in our December/January 2013 issue lying around and thought now would be a good time to give them away to three lucky winners!

First prize would be wonderful for someone who’s about to quilt one of their quilts. It includes a 12 spool Metallic Sewing Thread Sampler Pack from Presencia, five assorted Quilt Templates from the Indigenous collection by Kim Bradley Creations, a six-pack of Quilter’s Tips by Noble Notions and a pack of three Quilter’s Clamp by Noble Notions. (Total prize value of over $160!)

Prz1 Gifts for Quilters Giveaway

Second prize is a size large T-shirt by Quilt T Shirts proclaiming “chicks flock to quilt retweets.”

Prz2 Gifts for Quilters Giveaway

Third prize is a size extra large T-shirt by Quilt T Shirts proclaiming “Who needs the gym? pump that iron.”

Prz3 Gifts for Quilters Giveaway

Because of the nature of the second and third prize, which won’t fit all of our readers (apologies to those of you who, like me, are a different size than those shirts we have available to give away), comments for entry to win this contest should be in two parts (within the same comment). In order to enter to win the first prize, leave a comment on this blog post below telling us what you think you might find if you spring cleaned the darkest corner of your quilting/sewing room/closet/space. To also enter to win second or third prize, add another line to your comment telling us that you would like to enter to win either the size large or size extra large T-shirt. Comments which do not say that they would like to be entered to win either the size large or extra large T-shirt will be assumed to be entries for the first prize only.

Comments must be entered by 11:59 PM Mountain Time, Sunday June 22, 2014. Open to anyone worldwide who has not won anything from Quilters Newsletter in the past 90 days. If you are randomly selected as a winner, the email will come from questions@qnm.com with “Quilters Newsletter blog giveaway” in the subject line.

To keep up with the latest happenings, inspirations and giveaways at Quilters Newsletter and in the quilt world, follow us on social media through FacebookTwitterGoogle+Pinterest,Instagram and YouTube, and don’t forget to visit our website for previews of what’s in the latest issue (currently June/July 2014 which can be purchased at your local quilt shop, bookstore, or online at Quilt and Sew Shop)!

Posted in Contests | Tagged , , , , , | 238 Comments

Quilting the Wind

I love to learn. I love to experiment with new things and try new techniques, especially in my quilt making.

I’ve worked at free-motion quilting on my personal machine for a number of years. I consider myself proficient at stippling and meandering. I’m also able to quilt swirls and cursive writing nicely. Pebbles – not so much – I tend to get compulsive and instead of pebbles – I make grains of sand – and the quilt becomes very stiff.

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Flowers Quilted with a Paper Pattern

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Feathers Quilted with a Paper Pattern

For the more complicated things like flowers and feathers, I tend to use patterns or stencils. But I want to grow past that. A large part of wanting to be able to eliminate using patterns is the time involved. I have to copy the pattern onto copy paper, pin the pattern to the quilt, quilt through the pattern and then tear away all the paper. If I use a stencil, I have to mark each and every line in the stencil. Not having a pattern or a stencil would make the quilting process quicker.  Then I could make more quilts. (Smile.) So I’ve set a goal to learn more patterns that I can quilt without a paper pattern or stencil.

Last week, I decided it was time to learn to create the look of wind. I see it and admire it often on quilts made by other quiltmakers. So I googled “machine quilting wind pattern.” I read through a couple of blogs and looked at the photos. Then it was off to the studio. I marked a top edge of the space I wanted to quilt and used the seam on my half square triangle as the bottom edge. The width of the space between those two edges will depend on the size of your space to be quilted but for my little quilt, I made my top line 1 1/8” from the edge of my HST. But then because my area to be quilted was triangular, I wound up ignoring those marks.

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Marked and Quilted

I felt like I needed something in the widest part of the triangle. The stitching is a simple matter of stacking 3-5 swirls and then moving on to the next area. I had 8 small areas to be quilted and by the time I got to the 3rd, I felt like I was doing an acceptable job. That doesn’t mean I’ll take out the first 2 because they are not awful and they add to the story of the quilt.

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The Same Space without the Marked Lines

The biggest ah-ha moment for me was when I realized that by stitching an odd number of swirls, I ended up on the opposite end of where I started and I could easily go forward to a whole new space. Elementary, I know but it just hadn’t clicked for me before.

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Another Space with Wind Quilting

If you are like me and want to expand your quilting abilities, I urge you to go for it. Try a new pattern on something small and not terribly special so it won’t break your heart if it isn’t wonderful. Play around with a pencil and paper for a few minutes before you start quilting with your machine. There is something about drawing the pattern on a piece of paper and familiarizing yourself with the ins and outs and ups and downs of the pattern that makes it easier to stitch with the machine. And for the first couple of projects with a new pattern, use thread that matches the fabric you are quilting on. The quilting blends in a little more and mistakes aren’t as visible.

I can’t show you the whole project. It’s a sample for something Mary Kate and I will be doing at Quilting LIVE in Georgia September 11-13th. For more information about Quilting LIVE, click here. We’d love to see you there.

And now it’s on to other projects for me. For you, don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, Google+, YouTube and our website for the latest news in our world and for great ideas and tips for your next quilting project.

Happy quilting until next week!

Posted in Inspiration, Lori Baker | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

I’m a Fan

If you’ve looked through Quilters Newsletter‘s most recent issue, June/July 2014 (available at the Quilt & Sew Shop if you’ve not yet seen it), you may have seen the new Bloc Loc Bloomin’ Cogwheels rulers that are featured in the Staff Picks section. These are really cool wedge-shaped rulers that allow you to cut wedges from strip sets, and the grooves on the back of the ruler catch the seams on the strip sets so the cuts are easy and accurate.

When I started experimenting with the rulers, I made a few short strip sets without really planning them out, color-wise, just to get a sense of how the rulers work. When those wedges were cut I decided I didn’t really like how the fabrics and colors were interacting with one another. So I made more strips sets, cut and sewed them, and that resulting circular block is pictured in the magazine.

Well, I had to do something with those unused wedges. I’d used what they call the Four Blade set, which means that 4 wedges make a quarter-circle (They also carry a Five Blade set). Joining 5 of the Four Blade wedges (stay with me here) makes a nice fan-shaped wide wedge. What if I could turn that into something useful? Like a little bag, shaped like a fan?

I joined 5 of the wedges, then 5 more to make a front and a back.

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Two fan-shaped wedges

I found some scraps to use for the lining, and fused Lazy Girl‘s Sew Lazy Face-It Firm interfacing to the lining pieces, after trimming the interfacing 1/4″ all around so it wouldn’t be in the seam allowances. Then the linings were joined to the pieced wedges and pressed on the fold.

fan2 Im a Fan

The linings are fused with stiff interfacing. One wedge is folded and pressed at the seam.

A bit of batting under the pieced wedges would add softness and dimension.

fan3 Im a Fan

Interfacing on one side of the seam, batting on the other. Softness and structure. (I did trim the excess batting that you see there.)

Then both sections were quilted.

With the cool decorative zippers available, it’s fun to show off the zipper tape, so I just stitched the zipper right on top of the wedges. I stitched one side too close to the zipper teeth and it interfered with opening and closing, so I had to take that out and re-sew it. Otherwise it was very simple. So that made it look like a crazy butterfly shape.

fan4 Im a Fan

Quilted wedges get a zipper added on top.

fan5 Im a Fan

Here’s the back, or what will be the inside.

fan6 Im a Fan

Close up! Gold metallic thread adds fanciness. Uneven lines add charm(?).

Then it was just a matter of finding something that would work with all the disparate fabrics to use for the bias binding. I chose a mottled army green to match the camouflage zipper and cut my bias strips 1 1/4″ wide. A single layer would minimize bulk, especially in those tricky areas near the zipper. I put on the binding. I left a tail since I thought it might be nice to have a wrist strap.

fan7 Im a Fan

Almost done! Even the strange fabric combination can’t dampen my excitement.

The thread tails got cleaned up and I tacked the wrist strap into place. And it’s actually quite a nice shape for a small clutch-type bag! It looks like a fan, but you can put things inside of it!

fan8 Im a Fan

And done!

fan9 Im a Fan

Here’s how you can hold it. Like a fan!

You couldn’t carry a ton of stuff, but you could definitely fit a phone, a slim wallet, keys, etc.

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It really works.

I am pretty pleased with the pattern, though I admit the fabric choice is off and won’t really coordinate with my wardrobe so well. But I like the idea and it works, so I’ll definitely have to make another in different fabrics that I’ll be happy to carry in public.

If you haven’t tried these rulers, I (and Quilters Newsletter) highly recommend them. You can make more than you think! And speaking of recommendations, if you haven’t entered our books giveaway, go do so now!

Quilts on the bed, quilts on the sofa, quilts on the wall, quilts that can hold items and be worn on the wrist – we love them all! We tell the world about it on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+, YouTube and our website. Have a super-duper weekend!

Posted in Gigi, Inspiration, Staff Quilts, Tools | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

So Many Books Giveaway!

PLEASE NOTE, THIS GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED. CONGRATULATIONS JACKLYN, BECKY, MARION AND TRACEY!

If you pick up a copy of Quilters Newsletter, you’ll find a section in the middle called “Staff Picks.” Each issue, we pick four fabric lines, four books and four notions to recommend to you, our readers, from all the newest items in the quilting industry. But we don’t just arbitrarily suggest these fabrics, books and notions without physically holding them in our hands and reviewing them first. For each issue, we’ve given away fat quarter bundles from most of the fabric lines we’ve picked for the Staff Picks section (last week’s fabric giveaway was a bundle featured in our April/May 2014 issue, still available for sale at Quilt and Sew Shop in both print and digital formats), but we haven’t done too many giveaways of the books we get in for review (and sometimes we don’t just get in a book for review, but also one or two more of the same book to give away)!

Which means that we have a lot of books in our office. So many books, in fact, that this week we’re having a giveaway of just books! Three books each to four lucky winners. There are two sets of each of the two sets pictured below to give away.

Simple Set So Many Books Giveaway!The “Simple” set includes Simple Blessings: 14 Quilts to Grace Your Home by Kim Diehl from That Patchwork PlaceSimple Appeal: 14 Patchwork and Applique Projects for Everyday Living by Kim Diehl from That Patchwork Place and Simple Quilts from Me and My Sister Designs: Easy as 1, 2, 3 by Barbara Groves and Mary Jacobson from That Patchwork Place.

Tote Set So Many Books Giveaway!The “Totes” set includes Uncommonly Corduroy: Quilt Patterns, Bag Patterns, and More by Stephanie Dunphy from That Patchwork PlaceKitchen Stitches: Sewing Projects to Spice Up Your Home compiled by Karen M. Burns from Martingale and Sew Practical: 13 Fun-to-Sew Designs for You and Your Home by assorted designers from That Patchwork Place.

To enter to win one of the four sets of three books, leave a comment on this post below telling us if you’d prefer to win the “Simple” set or the “Tote” set. Since winners are randomly selected, it’s not guaranteed you’ll receive the set you prefer, but we’ll try our best! Comments must be entered by 11:59 PM Mountain Time, Sunday June 15, 2014. Open to anyone worldwide who has not won anything from Quilters Newsletter in the past 90 days. If you are randomly selected as a winner, the email will come from questions@qnm.com with “Quilters Newsletter blog giveaway” in the subject line.

To keep up with the latest happenings, inspirations and giveaways at Quilters Newsletter and in the quilt world, follow us on social media on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube, and don’t forget to visit our website for previews of what’s in the latest issue (currently June/July 2014 which can be purchased at your local quilt shop, bookstore, or online at Quilt and Sew Shop)!

Posted in Contests | Tagged , , , | 640 Comments

A Caring Quilt

001 2 A Caring Quilt

It’s no longer a PIG!

The first week in April, I told you about a simple, fast quilt I was making on my serger. I got the top, backing and batting assembled in just over 7 hours.

But then it became quite a joke because after making a simple, fast quilt, I decided simple, fast quilting wasn’t good enough. I talked about the quilting in my blog post the second week in April.

I didn’t get quite done with the quilting when my sewing machine went on the blink so I folded the quilt and put it away. When I got my sewing machine back from the shop, there were higher priority items so the serger quilt stayed in the closet. And stayed in the closet. And stayed in the closet some more. So much for being a fast quilt. It had become one of my dreaded PIGS (Projects in Grocery Sacks).

Finally this past week, it was time for the serger quilt to be finished. I unsewed the center design. I had quilted it with dark thread in the bobbin and gold thread on top. The bobbin thread pulled up to the top and was very noticeable. I quilted it the second time with navy thread on the top and the bottom and I’m much happier.

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Free-motion quilted with a pattern

I also took out the quilting on the block I was working on when my sewing machine wasn’t quite working right. I quilted it again and it’s so much better.

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The Second Time – MUCH Better

As I was redoing the quilting in those two places, I was thinking that I’d like the quilt better if I had quilting in more of the blocks. There were just too many unquilted blocks. It looked unfinished. And I was also thinking I’d like it to be a “caring” quilt for a family member with health issues.

I sent out a couple of texts and emails to other family members asking for messages to express their love and support and I quilted them on most of the empty blocks. Here’s one. The name of the person the message is from is on the block, too.

015 2 A Caring Quilt

One of the Messages

Free-motion quilting of cursive writing is a thing I’d like to encourage you to try if you haven’t. It is so easy. Your brain knows where you need to go next when you are writing so it takes much of the mystery out of free-motion quilting.

There are 13 messages on the quilt and two more have come in today from people who were away from their computers over the weekend. I’ll put them on the quilt tonight and send it off tomorrow.

The quilt is 80” x 80” – a perfect size to snuggle under. I think it will be a hit. And it is no longer a PIG.

Until next week, happy quilting!

Remember to follow us on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, Google+, YouTube and our website for all the things quilty.

Posted in Inspiration, Lori Baker, Staff Quilts | Tagged , , , , , | 10 Comments

A World of Beauty in Detail

My experience at Market was similar to Lori’s and Mary Kate’s – there was lots to see, plenty of people to meet and reconnect with and cool new things to discover. We’ll be sharing a bunch of new products, techniques, quilts and inspiration in coming issues and blog posts, so stay tuned! But with all the hustle and bustle of Market, it was a pleasure to be able to take a moment to look at the quilts in the small but impressive World of Beauty exhibit which was a little island of calm amidst the busyness of Market business.

One fun thing that happened was Bill and I were invited to attend a breakfast and presentation hosted by Olfa, to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the rotary cutter. It was interesting to see the very first prototype and to learn how this indispensable tool has developed throughout the years. I use my rotary cutter all the time so I am very grateful that the rotary cutter exists to make quilting that much more fun and easy.

markrotarycutter A World of Beauty in Detail

Olfa’s very first rotary cutter prototype, from 1979, is on the bottom.

Back in the convention center, there were a couple quilts in the World of Beauty exhibit that looked lovely from afar, but even more incredible upon closer inspection. Here are a few of my favorites, with some nice detail shots so you can see what I’m talking about.

markogawa A World of Beauty in Detail

Yumemi by Maiko Ogawa of Tokyo, Japan. So much to look at!

I love how lively this is! Here’s Ogawa’s statement about the quilt: “This [Yumemi] is my seven-year-old daughter’s name. My dream at her age, “Dad, I want to live in a two-storied house,” came true when I became her mother. The girl in the garden represents my daughter, as well as myself in childhood. After 30 years, I reunited with my father, who taught quilting. I want to keep such a lovely dream.”

It was pieced, appliqued  and embroidered by hand, and has both hand and machine quilting. But I promised a closer look so here we go.

markogawa1 A World of Beauty in Detail

All the vignettes with bouquets of flowers were so dense with exquisite detail.

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Lots and lots of work – by hand!

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Another beautiful bouquet. You can see a peek of the raw-edge lawn in the center panel at the very top of this photo.

markogawa4 A World of Beauty in Detail

The center panel had such amazing details, like the individual roof shingles and the layered raw-edge fabric creating a grassy lawn, for instance.

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Let’s take a look at the borders! Wow!

Truly inspiring work! It’s difficult for me to imagine ever being able to make something like that, but I’m glad somebody else worked so hard to make it so I can see it.

Another quilt I loved, also by a Japanese artist, had details that made me stop and look closely in admiration. Since it’s made in only taupe, it’s much more subdued than the first quilt, but the work that went into is so impressive.

markendo A World of Beauty in Detail

Bless My Sweet Home by Tomoko Endo of Fukushima, Japan, made entirely by hand.

This is what Endo said about her quilt: “While I was making my quilt, the big earthquake happened in my town on March 11, 2011. It was a terrible natural disaster, but I realized I had a wonderful family and friends. I tried to put those feelings in this quilt.”

Detail photos? Well, alright.

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One of the house vignettes.

 

markendo2 A World of Beauty in Detail

Sunbonnet Sue hanging up some clothes to dry.

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Playing in the snow. Aren’t the little border flowers nice?

This next quilt has amazing details, too, but in a different way than the first two.

markgodden A World of Beauty in Detail

Zen Magpies by Helen Godden of Latham Canberra, Australia. The birds were painted by hand.

This one was so inspiring to me, since I’ve been practicing my free-motion quilting. Hopefully one day I can be as adept as Godden. Here’s what she said about the quilt: “What is black and white and quilted all over? Painted on silk sateen, the magpies sing their song with such joy and freedom. They are surrounded by extreme quilted doodle-mania, an explosion of decorative free-motion fun. With over 100 different designs, the quilter has found her Zen.”

Close-up of the quilting:

markgodden1 A World of Beauty in Detail

Lots of Zentangle-like designs, all done beautifully. It takes a lot of skill and confidence to lay down that heavy black thread on white sateen!

These quilts aren’t ones you see every day and it’s such a privilege to be able to study them up close. But it also makes me want to hole up in my sewing room forever to work on making quilts! It’s won’t be forever but this coming weekend I can get a good chunk of time to quilt, at least.

Please follow us on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, Google+, YouTube and our website for all the quilty news. Have a marvelous weekend!

Posted in Gigi, Inspiration, Tools, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Flower Power collection Giveaway!

PLEASE NOTE, THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED. THANK YOU TO ALL WHO ENTERED. CONGRATULATIONS SUNNYBEC AND JOYCE!

A while back, Gigi shared her small patchwork project using Red Rooster’s Flower Power collection, which was a bunch of multicolored squares made up from strips of gradated fabrics. It ended up 16″ x 18″ (click on the link above to see it) and upon taking it home, she decided she might be able to improve upon the design, as well as bring it up to 18″ x 18″. While making it, she said that she got so wrapped up in arranging the colors that she probably made too many cuts to the strip sets. And you can’t uncut fabric, unfortunately.

There were a few more of the strips of gradated fabric left, so she joined the last of the strips together into strip sets. Then, out came the seam ripper.

flowerpowerredo1 Flower Power collection Giveaway!

Nine patch, you are out!

Good start, but we can go just a bit further.

flowerpowerredo2 Flower Power collection Giveaway!

Another three squares, gone.

Now, since the original composition measured 16″ tall (wide?), just one more row of 2″ squares would bring the entire thing to a square 18″ x 18″. So 3 squares were added to the top right, and in place of the removed squares were inserted the newly made strip sets.

flowerpowerredo3 Flower Power collection Giveaway!

Hooray for partial seams!

It’s better! The squares were nice and all, but they didn’t show off the fabric to it’s best advantage. Here’s the finished 18″ x 18″ panel in its final form.

flowerpowerredo4 Flower Power collection Giveaway!

Sometimes things have to be taken apart so they can be made better.

This fabric collection is great. Any quilter would have a blast playing with these versatile prints.

We asked Red Rooster Fabrics if they might be willing to share a fat quarter bundle with one of our lucky readers, and instead of just one bundle to share, they sent us two! So today we’re giving away one bundle of Flower Power collection fat quarters by Red Rooster Studio for Red Rooster Fabrics to each of two lucky winners!

FP 003 Flower Power collection Giveaway!

 

To enter to win one of the two Flower Power collection fat quarter bundles, leave a comment here on this post by 11:59 PM MDT, Sunday June 8, 2014, and tell us if you’ve ever had to take apart a project in order to remake an improved version of it. Open to those who haven’t won anything from Quilters Newsletter in the last 90 days. If you are randomly selected as a winner, the email will come from questions@qnm.com with “Quilters Newsletter blog giveaway” in the subject line.

PS: The April/May 2014 issue of Quilters Newsletter, where Flower Power was featured as one of our Staff Picks can still be purchased from Quilt and Sew Shop.

And don’t forget to check out our website for news and inspiration, and to follow us on social media to keep us with the latest giveaways, trends, and more, on FacebookTwitterPinterestInstagramGoogle+, and YouTube!

Posted in Contests, Gigi | Tagged , , | 310 Comments

Another Purple Quilt

As I mentioned in my blog post when we returned from Quilt Market a couple of weeks ago, we get lots of paperwork and samples for making quilt projects at the show. I’m still slowly working through that stack on my desk.

Last week I made a little bit of time to work on one of the samples. It made me laugh because after I decided which one to work on, I realized I’d chosen a purple one. I like purple so much, I get pretty predictable in my choices.

612 2014 Another Purple Quilt

The Beginning

The kit was from Coats and included Dual Duty XP Paper Piecing thread which I had never tried. I love foundation piecing for the accuracy and sharp points you can make with it so I was excited about starting my project. Coats Dual Duty XP Paper Piecing thread is very fine to eliminate bulk so the accuracy is even easier to achieve. It’s a polyester thread and comes in eight colors, in values ranging from very light (white and ecru) to very dark (black and navy blue).

I don’t remember doing any foundation piecing since I started working for Quilters Newsletter over two years ago, so I must be rusty. That’s the only way I can explain the fact that the very first seam I sewed was wrong. I put the fabrics in the wrong order. The paper foundation should have been on top, then fabric 1, then fabric 2. I did it with the paper foundation, then fabric 2, then fabric 1. I had to take out my stitches. I was actually pleased after the fact because taking out the stitches gave me a good idea of how strong the thread is. It’s a very fine thread but it is nice and strong.

I don’t usually cut the pieces before I foundation piece but because there was a limited amount of fabric in the kit, I decided to cut the pieces. All went well until I sewed the final piece on the unit. I’d cut it wrong. Thank goodness I usually do a test block or in this case a test unit.

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Oops!

So here is where I did one of the smart things for the day. I went to our Best Scrap Quilts 2014 issue and read the Designer Tip titled Foolproof Foundation Piecing and started again. I traced the pieces on freezer paper and then cut my patches.

This time the piecing went well and in no time I had two blocks completed.

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The Completed Blocks

I like to leave the paper in place until the all the blocks are completed and the blocks are sewn together. I think the extra stability of the paper is worth having to work with the extra bulk.

I spliced the batting. It’s really easy. I cut the edges that I’ll be joining so they are both nice and straight, butt them together and zigzag so the zig catches one piece and the zag catches the other.

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Then I used the method art director Susan Geddes used for a project in the upcoming Best Christmas Quilts 2014 issue to make a pillowcase finish on the little wall hanging. The on-sale date for the issue is August 12 and you’ll want to watch for it at your local quilt shop or at Quilt and Sew Shop .

I then spent a while doing some free-motion quilting. My friend Kim from Husqvarna Viking sent us a Free Motion Spring Foot for the Viking Sapphire 960Q in our studio so I had to try it out. I didn’t mark anything, I just eyeballed it. That works for me in small areas; large areas I have to mark. The new foot worked well and I was pleased with my free-motion quilting.

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Free-motion Quilting

When I was done with the free-motion, the little wall hanging seemed a little lumpy and bumpy to me, so I went back and did some stitch-in-the-ditch quilting which took care of that problem nicely.

And here it is all finished and ready to hang. It’s small. The blocks finished at 8” square but now that it’s quilted, it is 7 ½” x 15 ½”.

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Finished!

I wish I could spend an hour or two every day for a couple of weeks to finish going through all the fun things from Quilt Market, but I can’t. I have meetings to go to and other things that are higher on the list of priorities. So for now, I’m going to move on to other things. Until next week, happy quilting! And  remember to check us out on our website, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Google+ and YouTube.

 

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A Vacation – But Not From Sewing

It was really hard for me to figure out the best time to schedule a vacation – there really isn’t too much downtime at Quilters Newsletter since we’re always working on something. I hadn’t been to visit my parents since they built a house and moved to Mobile, Alabama, and it had been too long since I spent any quality time with the both of them. I wasn’t about to schedule a trip down there in the summer, so right after we returned from Quilt Market, I repacked my bags and headed down south with my husband for a visit before it got too hot and muggy.

We had a wonderful time doing not a whole lot of anything. We spent a lot of time on the porch.

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Designed for enjoyable relaxation.

We looked at the garden, and got to eat nice meals with the vegetables grown there.

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There’s beans, tomatoes, peach trees and a whole bunch of other stuff I can’t remember.

We took a bunch of boat rides and admired the scenery. It’s really beautiful on the various creeks and rivers and you want to take a ton of pictures, but the trouble is the pictures all kind of look the same. I won’t show all of them.

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Scene from the boat.

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Horses grazing by the water.

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This one is zoomed in so you can see the pelican sitting in the tree.

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Panorama view from the boat.

We greeted the chickens.

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They made the nicest gobbly cooing sounds.

We gave a strawberry to a turtle.

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He’s not smiling but was really happy to get a strawberry, I could tell.

We hung out with Minnie the cat.

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Such a sweet kitty.

You may remember that I had designed a pillowcase to be used on the back of a chair. I’d meant to get it finished before we left on the trip but the time got away from me, as does happen. I asked my mom if she had a sewing machine I could use and she said she had her mother’s old machine and went to get it serviced and everything. So I brought the quilted top (I’d followed commenter Janine’s advice and did minimal quilting with vertical lines in copper metallic thread), the sides and back and intended to assemble it there.

My grandma’s sewing machine is an Elna that she bought in 1952. My mom said that when she brought it to the technician, he was so happy to see it and found out in his records that his father had worked on it in the 1980′s. It got cleaned and oiled and it works perfectly. It was so fun to sew on it! One of my favorite parts about it is that the carrying case also slides onto the machine and doubles as the sewing table. Totally cool.

alamachine A Vacation   But Not From Sewing

I love the new sewing machines, but there is something about old metal machines that is so satisfying.

It didn’t take long to put the pillowcase together, with a zipper so it can be taken off and washed. When it was done we put it on the foam piece that stands in for a pillow and it fit just right. It suits their decor well, which is a sort of Arts and Crafts style. We all oohed and aahed and I took a bunch of photos. Here are some of them.

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It looks nice with the lampshade and everything!

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Now from this angle.

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Perhaps you had wanted more glare from the window in the previous photo. No problem, here you go! I also wish I had pressed out those little wrinkles a bit better.

Part of the agreement for making the pillowcase was that we would trade it for some of my dad’s pottery pieces. He’s been making a lot of nice things so it was a really tough choice!

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Tough choice! I would have taken them all if I could.

Here are the items I was lucky enough to bring home. I love the iridescent finish on the vase and the pretty vibrant blue (my photo does not do it justice, unfortunately) on the jar with the lid. And my husband and I each have our own handmade mug to enjoy – he wanted the green one (also not well-served by my photo).

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Not the best photo of some great pottery.

Have you got any vacations planned, or did you already take one this year? It had been a long time since I’d been anywhere just to enjoy it, and it was such a great thing to unwind and recharge. Now it’s back to work and I’m ready for it!

Everyone here was so excited when we reached our 100,000 fans milestone on Facebook! Thank you for helping us get there! We’re also hoping to gain fans on Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Google+ and YouTube. Check out our website, too, for all the latest. Have a super weekend!

Posted in Events, Gigi, Inspiration, Staff Quilts, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments