What If?

Today I want to take you through the process of writing a pattern and the “what if” of looking for a mistake.

There are three of us on the editorial team who write patterns and edit and proof each and every one. One person is the assigned editor and measures the quilt and the blocks and calculates the number of blocks and patches for the entire quilt.

Next the assigned editor labels the blocks and the patches within the blocks. She draws the block and measures the patches within the block. Then by simple multiplication and addition, she calculates how many of each patch we need for the quilt. From there she figures the yardage required. We actually have two different ways that we figure the number of patches required for the quilt so the assigned editor has already double checked the figures by the time she passes the quilt on to the copyeditor.

The copyeditor starts from scratch. She remeasures, refigures and double checks all the math. Then the third person reads it all over and checks it again. We rotate the assignments. So if there are 6 quilts, each of us is the assigned editor on 2, the copyeditor on 2 and we have the third look on the last 2.

When the quilt gets to the artist, she draws it full size and the measurements and math are checked again.

I know it sounds like a lot of doing the same step over again and again, but I actually really like it. It gives me confidence that what we print and put online is correct and our readers can make the quilt with our instructions.

But now, let’s talk about what happens if someone says a block doesn’t work and they think there is a mistake.

The first step is to check the math. We make sure there are the right number of patches and we make sure they are the right size. Sometimes to be absolutely certain, we make a block.

That’s what happened with this block.

Series block4 What If?

Block 4

This is block 4 in the series quilt we are working on. It’s in the February/March 2014 issue of QN.

We received questions about this complicated block. Here you can see the center of the block has many seams and it isn’t symmetrical. It looks symmetrical when it is done but the way it is cut and sewn is not.

A word of caution about something with this many seams. If the seam allowance is off by just two threads in each seam, by the time you have five seams, the difference is now 10 threads; enough to make your block a noticeably different size than you intended. It is worth the time to double check your seam width.

block 4 003 2 What If?

A close-up so you can see all the seams

And here is my completed test block, which I made following our original instructions. I did not find a mistake but when we do find mistakes we post them on our website.

By the way,  I thought it was really amazing what a difference fabric selection made with this block.

block 4 002 2 What If?

My Test Block

I used the Kitschenette collection by Andover Fabrics. The colors and the fun and funky prints gave my block a completely different feel than the original block.

Now, my desk is a little scary today. I think I should see if I can complete a couple of things and get them put away. So until next time, be sure to visit our website and our YouTube channel and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+Pinterest and Instagram. Happy quilting!

Posted in Staff Quilts, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 9 Comments

Downton Abbey Sew-In, Season 4 Weeks 5, 6 & (part of) 7

acfc64e0226d90026cc0d53d5067d11b Downton Abbey Sew In, Season 4 Weeks 5, 6 & (part of) 7

As good a description of hand quilting as any other.

OK, no spoilers, because I still haven’t finished watching last week’s episode of “Downton Abbey” owing to the fact that I was visiting my parents last weekend and my dad has been following the Olympics, and I’ve only been able to watch about half the episode online since returning home. I did enjoy this New York Times article on “The Transformation of Lady Edith” that focuses on her evolving style, which I really enjoy witnessing. Her character gets some of the best wardrobe choices.

As for progress on my quilt, I’ve still been toiling away at my sample motifs, this time with some new needles that arrived since the last time I blogged. I’ve had a packet of 25 John James #10 betweens for ages that is just about depleted — the store where I bought them, Q Is for Quilts in Burbank, Calif., unfortunately closed a few years ago — so now was as good a time as any to get some good replacements. I only got two new types of needles: John James #11 betweens and Roxanne #10 betweens. For comparison’s sake I also pulled out an ancient pack of #10 betweens I got at the House of Fabrics chain store when I was first learning how to quilt.

DSCN3752 1024x993 Downton Abbey Sew In, Season 4 Weeks 5, 6 & (part of) 7

Tools of the trade: hand quilting thread, water soluble marker, Roxette thimble, betweens needles

I experimented with the four different needles, using black hand quilting thread (which I’ve had for years but never used before) so I could better evaluate my stitches.

DSCN3751 867x1024 Downton Abbey Sew In, Season 4 Weeks 5, 6 & (part of) 7

trying out different hand quilting betweens needles from John James, Roxanne and a chain store

I started out with one of the House of Fabrics betweens over there on the left, but as you might be able to see, it snapped; luckily the tip of the needle stayed in the sandwich, especially since I wasn’t wearing my glasses. To be fair, the spot I chose to start quilting was close to the hoop and my tension was too tight. But still, lesson learned. Next I tried (L to R) one of my trusty John James #10s, followed by the Roxanne #10 and then the John James  #11. I finished by trying a House of Fabrics #10 again. When I started stitching with the #11 I thought it was going to end up being a clear winner, as I think I prefer the shorter length. However, I had a devil of a time pulling it through the quilt, and I don’t want to interrupt whatever rhythm I’m able to establish by constantly having to use a needle grabber. Such a pity. I gave it another go later when I was stitching a sample motif, and I had the same experience, leaving the thumb and index finger on my stitching hand pretty tender from trying to wrestle with it. The House of Fabrics needle felt less sturdy than the John James and Roxanne needles, and the eye is very small and hard to thread in comparison. So it looks like I’ll be sticking with the #10s for this, going back and forth between the John James and Roxanne betweens (both brands are available in the U.S. from Colonial Needle).

DSCN3748 1024x1016 Downton Abbey Sew In, Season 4 Weeks 5, 6 & (part of) 7

partially hand-quilted Celtic motif

This motif measures about 5″ diameter, but I think I’d like to enlarge it about 200%. I think even if my stitches were like pinpricks, the detail of the animals’ heads and tails would be hard to make out at this size.

So my next frontier is going to be getting new thread. As you can see in the photo of the tools I’ve been using, my spool of white hand quilting thread has been used and I have no idea who made it or how much is left.  I’d like to maintain consistency as much as possible when it comes to the real thing.

And with that, it’s getting about time for the final episode of season 4 to air tonight! I’ll need to catch the last half of last week’s episode after putting the kids to bed and settle in for the two-hour finale. I may give my sample a break and turn to some big-stitch hand quilting during the show. It goes quickly and doesn’t require nearly as much concentration. Whatever you choose to do this evening during “Downton Abbey,” enjoy it!

Posted in Mary Kate Karr-Petras | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Final Present Report

Ok, last one. For now anyway. This one was made for a special request from my husband. For his birthday, he got a cool portable drum machine, the Korg Volca Beats. He’s very happy with it, apparently it is a lightweight, inexpensive, easy-to-use, versatile drum machine with some useful features that were previously only available on very expensive models. I know that a quilting blog is the last place you’d expect to find recommendations for electronic music equipment, but if you know anyone who likes this sort of thing it’s a really great gift.

Since it’s small and portable, he asked me to make a carrying case for it as a Christmas gift. He wanted it to be low profile, so I couldn’t use my favorite bright prints in crazy combinations. Oh well. Other than that I could make it however I wanted. I settled on a subdued tone-on-tone black print.

When I went to Fall Market in Houston last October, I attended a Schoolhouse session led by Annie Unrein who makes the most incredible bags. Each one is more wonderful than the last. To give them structure, she uses a product that she developed, ByAnnie’s Soft and Stable. It’s a soft foam, about 1/4″ thick, that holds shape without being too stiff. She gave out samples during her presentation and it was the perfect amount for the case I wanted to make.

I was very impressed with this product! The way that it’s used is to stitch your fabric pieces to the foam before joining them. It’s a little more labor-intensive than fusing an interfacing, but the feel of the foam is softer yet also more sturdy than traditional heavy interfacing, if that makes any sense. It’s also very lightweight. I measured the drum machine’s dimensions and cut my fabric pieces just a bit larger than each measurement (accounting for seam allowance, of course).

korg2 Final Present Report

Front and back panels prepped, bottom panel awaits the lining fabric.

Each piece of Soft and Stable was layered with the outer fabric, stitched, then the lining was stitched to the other side. I suppose I could have stitched the front and lining to the foam at the same time, but I didn’t want to take any chances that it would shift or wrinkle on the side I couldn’t see. A back, two sides, bottom, top, the front and the front flap. Velcro would keep the front flap shut. I made a handle but that doesn’t have Soft and Stable in it.

korg3 Final Present Report

Front panel, top, back, bottom and front joined with bias binding, the sides are ready to join.

Then it was just a matter of assembling all the pieces. To keep both the inside and outside nice and raw-edge-free, I joined the panels with bias binding on the outside. I thought the Soft and Stable might get too bulky, but multiple layers went very smoothly under the presser foot. The only tricky parts were trying to sew over bias-bound corners – I ended up finishing those by hand.

korg4 Final Present Report

Adjusting the length of the handle – if it’s too short, you can’t get the machine in and out! There’s the drum machine in the background.

It was a fun and productive way to test out a product that I’d been curious about. If you make bags and haven’t tried ByAnnie’s Soft and Stable, well, you should. Whether you make a custom drum machine case for the electronic music composer in your life or make yourself a cool tote, you’ll like the process and results of using this product.

korg6 Final Present Report

All done! The corners got bulky and needed hand finishing.

korg8 Final Present Report

Here’s how it looks when it’s open.

korg9 Final Present Report

And now from this angle.

Look at the nice sturdy structure that the Soft and Stable provides! The photos were taken with nothing in the case, so there’s no internal object holding everything up.

Do you know of any products that make certain sewing processes more fun and easy? Let your fellow quilters know about them! Tell us in the comments, or on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ or our website. Our YouTube channel might have some hints and tips on video that you might find useful. I’m going to quilt the weekend away and I hope you will too. Enjoy!

Posted in Gigi, Inspiration, Staff Quilts | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Along the Way Giveaway!


Designed and made by Melanie Greseth and Joanie Holton of Tailormade by Design in Farmington, Minnesota, Along the Way is featured as a pattern in Quilters Newsletter‘s February/March 2014 edition.

AlongtheWay 580 Along the Way Giveaway!

Made with the colorful florals of the Floral Philosophy collection by Maria Kalinowski of Kanvas Studios for BenartexAlong the Way is a bit like a stroll through a flower garden. And we thought you’d might enjoy some springtime flowers, so we’re giving away two  prizes –  a bundle of 12 fat quarters from the Floral Philosophy collection in pinks and a bundle of 12 fat quarters from the Floral Philosophy collection in grays. Two winners will each receive one of the bundles.

FloralPhilosophyPink Along the Way Giveaway!

First Prize: 12 fat quarter bundle of Floral Philosophy by Maria Kalinowski of Kanvas Studios for Benartex in pinks.

To enter to win, leave a comment below this post telling us what you would make with Floral Philosophy. Deadline for entering is 11:59:59 PM Mountain Standard Time on Sunday February 23, 2014.

One comment per person. Open to anyone who has not won anything from Quilters Newsletter in the last 90 days.

FloralPhilosophyGray Along the Way Giveaway!

Second Prize: 12 fat quarter bundle of Floral Philosophy by Maria Kalinowski of Kanvas Studios for Benartex in grays.

Be sure to follow Quilters Newsletter on our various social networking platforms: FacebookTwitterGoogle+InstagramPinterest and even YouTube!


Posted in Contests | Tagged , , , , , | 671 Comments

A Two-Hit Weekend

Wow! Last weekend was a delight!

It started out Friday after work when Bake (my husband) and I went to the opening reception for the MANifestations exhibit at the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum (RMQM) in Golden, Colorado.

RMQM was founded 24 years ago and is in a wonderful building constructed in 1905 in downtown Golden. I like downtown Golden lots. It seems that history just surrounds me when I’m there. So hanging out there is fun and Friday night was no exception.

The museum hosts an exhibit every other year of quilts made by men. The quilters were from all over the U.S. –  New York to California – and the quilts were diverse, including art quilts, traditional quilts, wall size,  bed size. It was just amazing.

Here are four quilts to whet your appetite.

13 latimer tree overall 2 A Two Hit Weekend

Tree of Life by Tim Latimer of Lansing Michigan

Tim was the featured quilter in Meetin’ Place in the Dec/Jan 2014 issue of QN so I got acquainted with him as we were gearing up for that issue. I follow his blog. He’s a horticulturist and I enjoy his blog for the peeks into his garden as well as his quilts. He’s a hand quilter and his Tree of Life has been wowing everyone who sees it.

44 michalski cosmic overall 2 A Two Hit Weekend

Cosmic Plum by Michael Michalski of Brooklyn, New York

I like the colors, the asymmetry and the dimension of this one. There were lots folded flaps that drew me in to look closer. It was intriguing.

66 ferry for overall 2 A Two Hit Weekend

For the Love of Cheddar by Rod Ferry of Council Bluffs, Iowa

I enjoyed this one with its reproduction fabrics giving it an antique look. It is positive proof that simple blocks can yield striking quilts.

Center Star Volckening 2 A Two Hit Weekend

Center Star by Bill Volckening of Portland, Oregon

I’ve met Bill, we’ve talked about his collection of quilts but this was the first quilt I’ve seen that he made. He collects antique and vintage quilts but this one is very modern in feel. His tastes must be like mine – all over the place. I so admire antique quilts, traditionally pieced and hand quilted, but I also love the modern, improvisationally pieced and heavily machine quilted quilts.

One other quilt I want to mention is Interactive Music Quilt by CJ Baar of Aurora, Colorado. Baar has two hobbies. Quilting is one, microelectronics is the other. He combined the two hobbies and created a quilt that lights up and can be played like a piano. Different squares of fabric have different tones.

There were so many other quilters (31 in all) and so many more quilts. To see images of more of the quilts and for more information go to the RMQM website.  If you live nearby or are planning a visit to the area between now and April 29th make it a point to see the exhibit. It is definitely worth your time.

Saturday Bake and I went to the Rocky Mountain Sew Expo. It always seems to me that Sew Expo features a lot more for the garment seamstress than other shows. I am a garment seamstress as well as a quilter so I truly enjoy seeing what’s new and different in the fashion world. I bought patterns and fabric and brought back quilt ideas to pursue for the magazine so it was a well-spent few hours. And Bake is a great companion for those excursions. He has a wonderful sense of color so we often consult about what colors of this or that will be best and he’s great at carrying packages. I did chuckle. The only things he mentioned afterwards were some cute little plastic grommets that I’ll need to get for an added touch to the next knit top I make for our granddaughter. Yep, he likes to spoil her as much as I do.

Today I’m home for President’s day and believe me I’m taking full advantage of the holiday. I love to throw something for dinner in the Crockpot first thing and then just sew all day when I’m home alone for the day. I hope your President’s day is as nice as mine.

Remember to  visit our website and our YouTube channel and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+Pinterest and Instagram for the latest in quilty news and ideas.


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

Learning to Love Fabric Storage

How do you store your fabric? When I first started quilting, I got a nice big plastic tub and figured that would be plenty of room for all the fabric I was going to need. It was, for a while. But the tub started overflowing and the lid wouldn’t stay shut, so I put the excess fabric in a bag. Then I needed another bag. Then, maybe I’d put this coordinating group of fabrics in a box since they look nice together and would make a great quilt. Oops, I need another box for these fabrics someone gave me. Oh, I should keep my smaller scraps separate so let’s put them in this drawer. And so on. It got to the point that I didn’t know where anything was. I knew I had half a yard of some specific fabric but I’d have to look through 50 different containers to find it. Time for a fabric storage overhaul.

I thought about where I should keep it and decided on the closet in my sewing room. Out of the way but accessible. I still have to find a spot for all the stuff that was displaced, but it’s not fabric so it’s less important anyway. Next was to decide what kind of container. There are lots of choices! Shelves, boxes, bins, drawers, bolts, hangers, and more. Most of my fabric is pretty small pieces – fat quarters or smaller – so I’d want a system where I could see a bit of everything and not have to go digging around. You may have seen that Quilters Newsletter has wire drawers in the sewing room in our Creative Spaces Special Issue, available at the Quilt & Sew Shop. I don’t know what model or make those are. I did some research and found the style and price I liked best at Ikea – the Antonius wire drawer and frame system that can stack multiple frames. They’re relatively inexpensive and as long as you can use a hammer you can put it together easily. I got four frames, for a total of 16 drawers.

baskets Learning to Love Fabric Storage

Stack of wire drawers!

It took minutes to put everything together, but much longer for me to refold all my itty bitty pieces of fabric to fit in the new set up. I can go into the folding saga some other time. I’m really pleased with it because, while there’s no way I can fill up all my drawers with the fabric I have now, there’s plenty of room to grow. Or I can put a group of fabrics into its own drawer if I know I want to use them for a specific project, and I have a few drawers for WIPs. It’s really nice to pull out a drawer and be able to see everything I have in a certain color. Plus I was able to get rid of a bunch of deteriorating cardboard boxes and bags that were cluttering my space.

drawersfull Learning to Love Fabric Storage

Fabric storage in action!

The fabric organization is still a work in progress, but it’s a million times better than it was before. Maybe this evening I’ll go and spend some quality time with my fabrics (which are all in one place now!) and we’ll laugh about the way we used to do things when we were young and crazy. Typical Valentines Day plans.

drawerspp Learning to Love Fabric Storage

Purple and pink are hopeless romantics wishing you a Happy Valentine’s Day.

If you need something fun to do this Valentine’s Day, make sure you go enter our giveaway! I hope you have somewhere good to put all those pretty fabrics should you win them! I’m also curious how other quilters store their fabrics, so please share if you have a good system. Tell us all about it, perhaps on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, Google+ or our website. Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

Posted in Gigi, Inspiration, Staff Quilts, Tools | Tagged , , , , , , | 42 Comments

Spirit of Valentine’s Giveaway


Has the spirit of Valentine’s Day entered your home or office yet? Many people in the Eastern U.S. are trapped inside with the snow and ice right now, but maybe this will provide a bit of cheer: a large bundle of fat eighths from the Surrounded by Love collection by Deb Strain for Moda.

ValentineGiveaway 550 Spirit of Valentines GiveawayFor a chance to win this lovely white, pink and red bundle, leave a comment below before the deadline of 11:59:59 PM Mountain Standard Time on Monday, February 17, 2014.

One comment per person. Open to anyone who has not won anything from Quilters Newsletter in the last 90 days.

Be sure to follow Quilters Newsletter on our various social networking platforms: FacebookTwitterGoogle+InstagramPinterest and even YouTube!


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Nancy Zieman — Determined to Succeed

“If something is worthwhile, you have to work for it.” — Nancy Zieman’s motto

 Nancy Zieman    Determined to SucceedSeams Unlikely, Nancy Zieman’s autobiography was recently released and we’re happy to participate in this blog tour celebrating the release.

I first met Nancy Zieman several years ago when I was editor of a trade magazine. Though we knew each other, we never worked on a project together. I did, though, keep tabs on what she was up to. After all, she was, and still is, an icon in the quilting and sewing world.

Fast forward several years to 2009 when I began working as an independent consultant for Clover, manufacturer of quality quilting, sewing, needlework and craft supplies. That’s where I once again crossed paths with Nancy. Clover offers a wide variety of products under the Nancy Zieman name and I was fortunate to be invited to meetings where Nancy proposed ideas for new products. Her creativity never ceased to amaze me.

I’ve gotten to know Nancy better over the last five years and I can honestly say she is as “normal” as they come. She’s down-to-earth, humble, gracious and kind. As she says, “I live a pretty quiet life; part of my life just happens to include a job on television.” That’s a pretty humble statement.

Reading Seams Unlikely gave me so much more insight into her as a “normal” person and business woman. Having learned that she grew up on a farm, I now know how she persevered and succeeded in life – both personally and professionally. I didn’t grow up on a farm, but I grew up in a farming community and I know how tough farmers are and how they sometimes struggle yet manage to survive and love what they do. And they continue the battle day in and day out. The resilience of farmers is to be admired, as is Nancy’s resilience to overcome hardships, such as Bell’s palsy.

Nancy’s farming background surely contributed to her drive and her desire to be a success. She played the hand she was dealt and she didn’t let adversity get in the way. Today she’s a resounding success in business and in life.

To enter to win a copy of Seams Unlikely, leave a comment on Nancy Zieman’s February 4th Seams Unlikely Blog Tour posting.

To read what others have to say about Nancy, follow the Seams Unlikely Blog Tour:

February 4          Nancy Zieman           http://www.nancyzieman.com/blog/blog-tour/seams-unlikely-book/

February 5          Eileen Roche          http://dzgns.com/blog/

February 5          Pat Sloan          http://patsloan.typepad.com/

February 6          Melissa Stramel          http://melissaslilaclane.blogspot.com

February 6          The Long Ladies          http://www.mariemadelinestudio.typepad.com/

February 6          Tori Thompson          http://totallystitchin.net

February 7          Amy Barickman          http://www.indygojunction.com/blog/

February 7          Melissa Mora          http://mellysews.com

February 8          Shari Butler          http://www.doohikeydesignstudio.com/blog/

February 8          Vicki Christensen          http://www.sewinspiredblog.com/

February 9          Carolina Moore          http://alwaysexpectmoore.com

February 9          Kate Mclvor          https://theconfidentstitch.squarespace.com

February 10          Amy Ellis          http://amyscreativeside.com/

February 10          Melissa Mortenson          http://www.polkadotchair.com

February 11          Ilene Miller          http://happyvalleyprimitives.blogspot.com/

February 11          Liz Hicks          http://blogerisms.blogspot.com/

February 11          Rachael Pannepacker          http://www.jaybirdquilts.com/

February 12          Bill Gardner          http://www.quiltersnewsletter.com/blogs/insideqn/

February 12          Elizabeth Evans          http://www.simplesimonandco.com

February 13          Amy Webb          http://www.amylouwhosews.com/

February 13          Lindsay Wilkes          http://thecottagehome.blogspot.com

February 14          Gertie Hirsch          http://www.blogforbettersewing.com

February 14          Veronica Philips          http://cloverusa.wordpress.com/

February 15          Jenny Gabriel          http://www.sewvacoutletblog.com

February 15          Laura Wasilowski         http://artfabrik.com

February 16          Frieda Anderson          http://www.friestyle.com

February 16          Rita Farro          http://ritassewfun.blogspot.com

February 17          Cindy Cloward          http://www.rileyblakedesigns.com/blog/

February 17          Joan Hawley          http://www.lazygirldesigns.com/blog/

February 17          Patty Young          http://modkidboutique.blogspot.com

February 18          Nancy Zieman          http://www.nancyzieman.com/blog/

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Quilting with Embroidery Software

Note: This is a guest blog post from our partners at BERNINA.

By Debbi Lashbrook, BERNINA of America Educator

It is absolutely amazing how software can add special touches to your quilting projects … from the beginning stages of planning your quilts; to auditioning and positioning of embroidery designs; to accurate placement of designs on your quilt blocks; to precise, perfectly mitered corners on your appliqué designs; to quilting in the hoop projects; even to creating and embroidering a quilt label that will document your creation. If you enjoy multi-media art quilts, with BERNINA Embroidery Software 7 and the included CorelDRAW Essentials X6, you can print your photographs and add special embroidery touches to the printed fabrics that you use in your quilts.

Planning Your Quilt 3 300x161 Quilting with Embroidery Software

Planning your quilt.

With the Quilter program that is included in the software, you can create a layout; then choose among several built-in patchwork or applique blocks. Don’t see what you like? Then create your own in the software. The special drawing tools can be used to draw applique shapes as well as patchwork blocks so you can truly create the quilt you want. Rotate and arrange the blocks and get a preview of how the blocks will look. There are built-in fabrics included in the software, but you can also scan your own fabrics and place them in the quilt blocks. The Quilter program gives you rotary cutting instructions for the quilt you create and calculates the yardage needed for each of the fabrics you choose.

Resizing an embroidery design 3 300x155 Quilting with Embroidery Software

Resizing an embroidery design.

Switch to the embroidery canvas and you can select from several built-in quilting designs that can be added to your quilt, or you can create your own quilting designs automatically or manually.  The designs can be placed on your quilt blocks and resized to fit the block perfectly. Transfer the designs back to embroidery and the resized design is ready to send to the machine for quilting in the hoop. Stress-free quilting!

It is so much fun to see your creation grow from a picture on a computer screen to a finished quilt. Well, this step is a big one and indeed, the most challenging part is finding time to complete your project!

How would you like to win a Bernina 750 QE sewing machine? Enter the Quilters Newsletter Celebrate 45 Years of Quilting Quilt Challenge for your chance to win! Read more.

And be sure to register for the Quilters Newsletter Retreat sponsored by Bernina, and featuring Wendy Butler Berns’ fantastic picture machine appliqué technique. The Retreat will be at the Bernina Creative Center in Aurora, Illinois, September 26-27. Get more information.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

This Little Piggy

I am making such good progress on this quilt. It was #9 on my list of PIGS (Projects in Grocery Bags) in my first blog post this year.

002 2 This Little Piggy

Quilt Top Done!

It was cut out but then the stacks of patches got shuffled around when we moved. So the first step of finishing this was to organize the pieces and parts.

I’d cut it out from a Moda layer cake quite a while back when I was writing the pattern for Abigail Dolinger’s Berry Patch for the August/September 2013 issue of Quilters Newsletter.  I frequently cut and sew a block when I want to double-check the math or the way patches should be sewn together. When I was testing this pattern, I cut the pieces for an entire quilt. But then it just sat there. And sat there. And sat there some more.

Two weeks ago, I reorganized the pieces and started sewing the blocks. I had them finished last Thursday.

I had lots and lots of leftover pieces of batting so I decided to patch them together. It took a while but I wound up with what I like to think of as a free quilt batt. And a wonderful empty storage tub in my closet.

004 2 This Little Piggy

Pieced Quilt Batt

You can tell by the photo that some of the pieces are white and some are not but no one will be able to tell in the end. It’s actually very easy to piece batting. I use similar weights and types and I cut the edges straight with my rotary cutter.

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Stitching the Batting Together

Then with this cool foot – it’s called a narrow edge foot – I butt two pieces right up to the blade you see in the center of the foot and zigzag the pieces together with a 5mm wide zigzag. Because I just butt the cut edges together there is no lumpy place where the two pieces are joined, and once the quilt is finished you can’t even tell the batting is pieced.

The back is nothing special. Just a few pieces of yellow and white striped fabric I’ve had in my fabric inventory for a long time. There were a few small holes and a couple of unidentifiable dark spots. I didn’t want to stop to take time to wash it to see if the dark spots would come out so I just cut that part of the fabric away and pieced the rest back together. I thought it would be more interesting if I didn’t run the stripes all the same direction.

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The Back of the Quilt

I wanted to see if I could figure out a way to pin baste my quilt while it was hanging on my design wall but that wasn’t worth the effort. I couldn’t figure out a way not to pin through the flannel on my design wall so off to the living room floor I went. It’s a small quilt so I didn’t have to move any furniture. (Yay!) I use duct tape to secure the back to the carpet. I make sure it is straight and smooth and then I pull it nice and snug as I am taping it down.  Then I carefully smooth the batting and top in place. I start at the center and place my safety pins about 4” apart.

I wanted to do something different in the big square in the middle and remembered seeing a beautiful heart in a past issue of QN. The Easy Lesson in the October/November 2011 issue was about free-motion thread art. I enlarged the pattern to 400% of its original size.

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The Heart Pattern Pinned in Place

I’m a little sad because I didn’t think this part through. I should have done the thread art before my quilt was pin basted. I didn’t want to quilt the heart as densely as it would be if I did the technique as described. But I also didn’t want to unpin my quilt. So I decided to use it as a quilting pattern.  I wanted to use 12-weight thread but could NOT get my machine to stitch with it. Sometime while I was pinning the quilt a gremlin must have messed with my bobbin tension. I am comfortable with small adjustments so I cleaned and tweaked and cleaned some more but the gremlin won. I have no bobbin tension. It took me more than an hour before I gave up.

I broke out one of my other machines and free-motion quilted this pretty design. I was thinking this morning this may be an opportunity to experiment with some of the fabric inks/paints. What do you think?

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The Heart Quilted

I hope to finish quilting the rest of it this week. I love to bring my quilts to work and will have a consultation with the rest of the team to hear their suggestions for quilting. I really enjoy getting input from the others on my projects. They have such wonderful ideas.

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Here’s what I have so far.

This is not a fancy quilt – it will be a nice snuggle-under-when-watching-TV quilt. I wasn’t precise enough when I cut or sewed or maybe both so it probably won’t even be a gift. I decided it is better to finish it without it being perfect than to stress over points that don’t match. GASP! That’s a huge departure from my norm. Maybe I should use an alias when I make the label so no one knows it’s mine.

I have one more small thing. A few weeks ago, I was reading Diane Harris’ blog (from our sister publication Quiltmaker). She talked about saving empty spools as a gauge of how much sewing she does in a year. It’s a fun idea so here are my 2014 spools so far.

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Five and Counting

Now it’s back to work. I don’t think of my Monday blogging as work – just visiting with my friends in cyberspace.

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Posted in Lori Baker, Staff Quilts, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 9 Comments