That one time I got to Mingle with Midge and Madge!

I spent the weekend with friends, both new and seasoned, up in Denver, Colorado at the Create – Make – Celebrate Retreat hosted by the fabulous and talented Laura Kelly Walters. I got to learn some new crafting techniques, brush up on some that I’ve played with in the past, and even teach one of my favorites… English Paper Piecing!

The wonderful folks at Prym-Dritz sent kits for me to share so that I could teach the class. I was so excited to be able to share my passion with all these awesome creative gals!

Learning to English Paper Piece

Some of the gals tried it, and it wasn’t for them. But others… others really took to it! I saw ladies doing EPP in our group pow-wows throughout the weekend, and it warmed my EPP-loving heart!

epp-in-the-laura-kelly-stud

epp-at-retreat

playing-with-hexies

Two of the amazing ladies at the retreat – Midge and Madge – have a crafty YouTube series, and invited me to be a guest (WHAT!?). I had a blast chatting with them… please watch the video below!

In case you’re wondering, the quilt shown in the video is “25 Hexies” and the pattern is available for purchase on Craftsy.

25 hexies image small
And I did take a quick photo of Madge’s flappy EPP before she fixed it. This is too cute!
the-epp-faux-pas

Stardust Quilt (Free Pattern)

This stardust quilt was made using Fat Quarters of Art Gallery Fabrics’ line “Playing Pop”, which can be found in stores now. I used the lighter prints as low(er) volume background prints, and the darker prints in to make the stars.

Free Quilt Pattern - "Stardust"Stardust Quilt: finishes 48″x48″

It makes for a fun, scrappy background quilt that looks a little more fun and planned!

For this quilt, you’ll need:

4 FQs dark or med/dark prints (stars)
5-7 FQs med/light prints
8-10 FQs light prints
Backing, Batting & Binding

Cut:
From *each* of the dark or med/dark prints:
8 – 4 7/8″ squares (cut in half diagonally)
1 – 4 1/2″ square

From the med/light prints (total from all):
45 – 4 7/8″ squares (cut in half diagonally)
14 – 4 1/2″ squares

From the light prints:
18 – 6 3/16″ squares
36 – 2.5″ x 8.5″ rectangles
36 – 2.5″ x 4.5″ rectangles

You can lay out the fabrics to make your design:

stardust quilt layout

There are 2 alternating blocks that make up the design. A diamond-in-a-square and a square-in-a-square. Stitch these units together, then stitch them all together to make the quilt.

If you want your quilt to look very intentionally scrappy, you can make the four square-in-square blocks using the dark fabrics for the center, then the 14 diamond-in-a-square blocks using 2 of the dark triangles on each, then make the remaining blocks using the remaining fabrics, and then stitch it together. Depending on what kind of quilter you are (and how much design wall space you have available), you can make this quilt using whichever method you like!

unquilted stardust quilt

Quilt as desired.

stardust quilt front

I pieced my back from the scraps and leftover Fat Quarters in the bundle. You can also see my quilting here. I used my walking foot to stitch-in-the-ditch around the stars, then did dense swirls in the space around them.

back of stardust quilt

Such a fun quilt to whip together!

photo of Stardust quilt

That one time I became an Award Winning Quilter

One of the most interesting and frustrating things I learned when working at a quilt shop is that quilters collect fears from other quilters. One quilter will look at a pattern and exclaim that it is “too hard” because of the inset seams or curves, and the other quilters within earshot will nod… and those originally contemplating the pattern will shy away.

I was determined that I wouldn’t take on the fears of other quilters – but then I did. Shortly after starting at the quilt shop, I attended the local quilt show there in Las Vegas. I asked a friend if she had any quilts hanging. She told me “Oh no! If you have more than one stitch in the corner of your binding, they mark you down!”

Wow. That sounded scary. So I didn’t enter my quilts. I took on a fear of quilt shows.

Ellipsis Quilt(If you’re interested, you can buy the Ellipsis Quilt here.)

After moving to San Diego, I decided to enter the quilt show here. For a small extra fee, I could get feedback on the quilt entered. I wasn’t looking for a ribbon – I was looking for honesty. As a quilter, I think my work is pretty good. But I’m not the best – and I can always use some constructive feedback from an expert. So I chose two quilts to enter. Including an unfinished quilt I (coincidentally) started about the same time I collected my fear of entering quilt shows. I would get these quilts finished, and I’d learn how to get better at my craft. That was winning.

The first night of the show, I went to see all the quilts. I was thrilled to see some beginner quilts hanging – they didn’t take on a fear of quilt shows! Good for them! I wanted to see which quilts had ribbons so I could see what I should aspire to – but none did. Yet.

After chatting with a few friends, the organizers started announcing the awards. When they came to the modern category, they announced my name as the second place winner. WHAT!? I wanted to shriek! But I knew almost none of the ladies there, so I stayed silent as I did a happy dance on the inside. I WON! What had I been afraid of this whole time? How many potentially award-winning quilts have I made, and not entered? Maybe none… but I will never know. Because I accepted my friend’s quilting fear as my own.

I’m so glad that I overcame my fear, and entered the quilt. I only wish I’d done so sooner!

Later that week, I picked up my quilt, my red ribbon, and a check. I also was given an envelope with feedback from the judge. Which told me I need to work on my binding. Maybe my friend was right about quilt shows – but that didn’t mean they were something to be afraid of.

Ellipsis close-up

If you’d like to make this quilt (it is SUPER simple to make, and uses 2.5″ mini charms and a jelly roll), you can buy the pattern in my pattern shop.

Clouds are for Cuddles Quilt

If you follow me on Instagram, you saw me working on this fun quilt. I was in love with these fabrics the moment they arrived… Shannon cuddle fabrics are so super soft! Both my boys had cuddle-backed blankets as babies, and still love snuggling with them. When I saw the greys and purples for this project, I knew that my moment had arrived! Finally a Shannon Cuddle quilt for ME! But, I knew I’d be sharing with the kiddos… so I made a quilt big enough for us all to cuddle under!

Quilt made entirely from Shannon Cuddle Fabrics

This quilt is cuddle from start-to finish, with Fairfield batting between. I started off with some great Shannon Cuddle fabrics. I was supposed to pick fabrics for my project, but was in the middle of my move at the time, so asked Nikki to just pick something for me… I’d figure it out. She did a great job picking fabrics for me! From the yards of awesome printed cuddle she selected, I knew I needed to make a quilt! Here’s what I used:

1 cuddle cake “Sterling Silver”
1 yard print one
4 yards print two (includes backing – use 1 yard print 2, and 3 yards backing if you want a different backing)

Cuddle yardage is nice and wide, perfect for making bigger quilts without having to worry about pieced backs! This quilt is 57″x76″, without having to piece the back! I quilted it on my regular domestic sewing machine, so I didn’t need a lot of extra on the sides for quilting – if you plan on taking this to a long-armer, you might need to stitch a strip of fabric to each side to attach to the longarm.

Making the quilt was pretty straightforward.

1. From each fabric, cut two strips, one 10×57.5″, one 15×57.5″

2. Stitch together three rows of cuddle cake squares, each 6 squares long.

3. Alternate the rows of fabric as follows:
10″ strip fabric A
cuddle cake squares
15″ strip fabric B
cuddle cake squares
15″ strip fabric A
cuddle cake squares
10″ strip fabric B

Then quilt and bind it! I used cuddle for both the backing and the binding. This was my first time both free-motion quilting on cuddle, and binding with cuddle… and I don’t know why I waited so long!

Quilting on cuddle was simple, and really forgiving. I spray basted the front and backing to my Fairfield batting. To secure it a little more before free motion quilting, I used my walking foot to stitch-in-the-ditch between the rows. Then I had fun quilting!

Quilted Shannon Cuddle

 

I free-motion quilted the squares in different ways, but added some walking-foot quilting on some of the rows, because I had no idea how I wanted to quilt this fabric… so I just went with simple!

quilted lines on shannon cuddle

 

Oh so snuggly!

Cuddled up with Cuddle

 

Laura Kelly Mini Quilt

As a quilter, I love giving quilts as gifts. It gives me a great excuse to make something lovely, and I get to share it with someone special. Earlier this year, I went to the Snap conference. It is held in Utah, and is a conference for creative online folks – mostly bloggers, but there are some vloggers, designers, and other creatives in the mix as well. This was my third year attending. Last year, I participated in their secret sister program. Kind of like a 3-day-long secret santa. It was awesome! The secret sister who had been given my name was the amazing, talented, and oh-so-generous Laura Kelly. She is such a sweet and lovely person, and gifted the most perfect little gifts each day of the conference. Since that time, I’ve gotten to know her even better, and am lucky enough to count her among my friends.

This year, I wanted to give her a little “thank you” for being such an amazing secret sister last year, and for being such a great friend. So, I made her a little quilt. A very special little quilt. Laura Kelly is an artist and designer, you may be familiar with her “Me and my Peeps” lines. I saw the cutest photo on Instagram, and decided to re-create it. I was about halfway through making the quilt, when she re-posted the old photo. Clearly, our minds were in synch… it was awesome.

Laura Kelly Quilt

The quilt is a super-simplified version of the image, but I tried to keep it very much her style… or, well, my interpretation of her style. I used black thread throughout, including quilting a “frame” around the outside. But on the background I used a variegated yellow thread, and a loopy stipple… but not every loop was a normal loop. Some were hearts. Some were stars… and some were letters! I took the words from her original image, and quilted them into the background. Along with her word of the year (grace), and my word of the year (thrive). Just a fun little Easter Egg for anyone who bothers looking closely at the quilting.

Laura Kelly Quilt Back

On the quilt label, I added the original inspiration image.

Though this quilt isn’t really my “style”, I absolutely love it, and it was rough giving it up. Really rough. If Laura weren’t such a super sweet person… it probably would have stayed here with me!

 

When a Butterfly flaps its wings…

I shared the back of this mini quilt on Instagram several months ago, and wanted to share the whole thing with you here, along with the story behind it.

back of butterfly quilt

Shortly after moving here, I checked out a couple of my local quilt shops. I got on the e-mail list for one, and opened their e-mails every time they came in. I was busy getting the house unpacked, and really wanted to find a place to fit in here in my new community. And one of the most welcoming sub-communities is quilters.

In their e-mails, the shop announced a contest. Make a small quilt featuring a butterfly, either one of the suggested designs, or any butterfly, and bring it in. The project was to be no smaller than 6×6 and no larger than 12×12. I thought about making one, but wasn’t sure if I would have time.

The night before the project was due, I decided I needed to create some “me” time. I needed to MAKE something! This project called out to me. I downloaded the butterfly file, cut it out on my Silhouette, and used it as a reverse applique on a 11×12″ block. Then I quilted. And quilted. And quilted.

Mini Butterfly quilt

My free-motion quilting felt really rusty. Ugh. But it felt great to be quilting again! It made me happy to create! I stayed up until almost 4am quilting. And it was exhausting in all the best ways.

close up of butterfly quilt

I brought the mini to the shop the next day. No makeup, hair unwashed and in a mom bun. I was going to drop off the quilt then go home to take a nap.

It turned out that the owner was in. I’d been wanting to meet her to chat about teaching at the shop, but she hadn’t been in the other times I’d stopped by. Of course, on those occasions, my hair was done and I’d paid some attention to my outfit. Despite not looking my best, I got to meet her, chat with her, and discuss the possibility of teaching at the shop.

I’ve chatted with her since, and am scheduled to start teaching. And one of the things that I’ll be teaching is how I made this fun butterfly! I’ll show how to use the Silhouette to cut it out, how I fused it together, and how to get it quilted up! I have some ideas for additional class samples… and can’t wait to get quilting on them!

In case you were wondering, I did win the contest… but only by default. There were no other entries. Which speaks to the power of showing up. I felt rusty, and didn’t feel this was my best work… but I turned it in regardless… and ended up winning both a prize, and a teaching gig!

 

Polka Dot Double Cuddle Quilt

I was sent some of Shannon’s awesome cuddle fabrics to stitch up something snuggly. Included in the fabrics were cuddle cakes – 10″ squares of assorted colored fabrics – all deliciously furry! I used some of the cuddle cake pieces in making the Fairfield Block of the Month, but that left me with some unused squares. These were easily whipped up into this Polka Dot Double Cuddle Quilt!

Polka Dot Double Cuddle Quilt

It is double cuddle – both the front and the back are made with snuggly Shannon Cuddle fabric. Perfect baby quilt, or snuggle quilt for a child!

To make the quilt, you’ll need:
6-10 Cuddle Cake squares
Paper-backed Fusible Applique
Round objects – bowls, cups, lids, etc.
1 yard solid color cuddle
1 yard printed cuddle
Crib-sized batting of your choice
1/4 yard cotton fabric (for binding)

supplies for cuddle quilt

Start by fusing the paper-backed fusible onto the back of the cuddle cake squares. Trace circles onto the back in various sizes and cut out.

Fuse the circles onto the front of the solid cuddle. Don’t leave the iron in one place for more than 2 seconds to avoid damaging the cuddle fabric.

Don’t applique them down yet!

Baste the layers of the quilt – the top, batting and bottom. Use whatever basting method you prefer – I like spray basting.

Using your walking foot, stitch around the edges of the circles – this secures the appliques and quilts the quilt all at the same time!

You can add additional quilting if you like, or if your quilting is too far apart.

Trim and square up, and use the woven cotton fabric to bind the quilt.

 

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How to Machine Bind a Quilt

Adding binding is the final step in making a quilt. I love the look of binding that has been hand-stitched down. But that takes a lot of time – four hours or more to hand-bind a quilt. And, although that isn’t a lot of time when you consider the overall time it takes to make a quilt, if I’m up against a deadline, or making a quick and easy quilt, I turn to machine binding. It takes a quarter of the time (or less), and although it doesn’t look quite as nice as hand binding, it is possible to make it look very professional.

You can use whatever size binding you like. I like to cut mine into 2″ strips.

Stitch the strips together, on the bias, to make one long strip. Press open these seams, then press the entire length of the binding in half, making it 1″ wide. Stitch the raw edge of the pressed strip against the raw edge of the trimmed quilt top, with a 1/4″ seam. The binding goes on top of the quilt, it will get stitched to the back later.

stitch down binding

When you get to a corner, fold the binding away from the quilt to make a 45 degree angle.

fold away corner of binding

Then fold the binding back to the quilt, so it lines up with the next side of the quilt.

fold corner of binding

When you get to the corner, fold down the triangle so it is out of the way. You do NOT want to stitch this triangle down.

tuck corner as you stitch

Stitch up to the fold. I like to go backward and forward a couple stitches right at the corner, just to make it extra secure.

stitch to corner

Lift up your needle and presser foot, fold the triangle flap back, and start stitching again at the fold. I like to go back and forth a couple stitches here, as well.

move fold

Continue all the way around the quilt. When you all the way around, back to the beginning, secure the two ends together. Then it is time to stitch it over the edge, to the back. Flip the quilt over, and pull the binding around to the back. Stitch right at the edge of the binding, and just to the left of your stitching line. This keeps your stitching off the binding on the front. The closer you get to that stitching line, the neater the front of your quilt will look. If you use a thread that matches your quilting, and it will blend right in to the front.

fold over binding and stitch

When you get to a corner, fold the binding into a point.

fold corner

Before you stitch the corner, flip the point up. I find that pinning moves the fabric too much, so I hold the edge down by pressing a pin down on top of the binding. This slips under the presser foot, and I can move it out of the way before the needle comes down.

stitch corner in place

Stitch to the corner, and with the needle down, pivot.

pivot at corner

Keep stitching this way, all the way around the quilt.

stitch down length of binding

 

 

 

You can see what it looks like from the front – nice and neat!

Stitched on binding from the front

 

 

How to fix a quilt mistake (after it has been quilted!)

Last spring, I made a quilt for Art Gallery Fabrics to hang in their booth at market. They sent me the fabric, and a computer-generated image of what the quilt should look like. And I went to work cutting, and piecing, and laying out, and more piecing, and quilting… until it was all done. After I had the quilt all put together and quilted, I laid it out on my living room floor only to discover… I’d made a mistake. I had placed the wrong block in one of the spots. And, it wasn’t out on an edge of the quilt where I might be able to pick everything out, replace the block, and then stitch everything back together. It was in the middle.

wrong fabric in place

After painstakingly laying out all the blocks, making sure everything was EXACTLY right, checking, re-checking, and double-checking at every point, I was so frustrated to have a mistake slip through! If the quilt was for my own bed, I might have left it. Things that are handmade are not perfect. That is part of the joy of handmade. The imperfections that show that real human hands put it together.

But this quilt was for the fabric manufacturer, and to hang in their booth at a Fabric Tradeshow. I wasn’t willing to let this big of an imperfection slide. So, I decided to fix the mistake.

All I needed was freezer paper, the correct fabric, a needle and thread, and my iron.

I started by tracing the triangle that was the wrong fabric onto the freezer paper.

trace incorrect piece

I cut it out, then fused it to the back of the correct fabric. I then cut about 1/4″ around the freezer paper, and ironed this in towards the freezer paper to make an applique.

remove freezer paper

I pinned the patch into place, lining up the edges of the patch with the edges of the fabric underneath.

pin down the patch

Three quick stitches in place underneath to anchor my thread before beginning…

anchor the thread

Using an invisible stitch (also called a ladder stitch), I stitched the applique piece over the incorrect fabric.

stitch down the patch

keep stitching around the patch

Once the patch was in place, I needed to quilt it. Luckily, I used a very simple straight-line quilting on this quilt, so I just needed to continue the lines across the patch.

quilt on top of patch

Yay! Quilted in place… you’d never know that there is a different fabric hiding under there…

quilted over patch

The last step was to bury my quilting threads. With both threads pulled to the top, I tied a double knot, and buried the thread and knot into the batting.

bury the threads

Although I had to hand sew on the patch, it was so much faster than tearing out all my quilting and piecing to reach the patch, replace the fabric, then re-piece and quilt everything. The extra layer of fabric doesn’t add much bulk, and isn’t at all noticeable in the finished quilt. And aren’t these Art Gallery Fabrics stunning? I just love this quilt!

fixed quilt

How to Square up Quilt Blocks

When quilting, squaring up quilt blocks is important. Squaring up blocks helps to keep the entire quilt square. The finished quilt top will lie more flat. The entire quilt will be more even. But squaring up blocks is a pain. It takes time, and sometimes it seems like maybe shaving off all those slivers can’t be as important as getting the project done NOW. But it is. Squaring up is such an essential part of having your points line up.

Here, I’m going to show you how to square up Half Square Triangle, or HST block. Because HSTs are stitched on the bias (an angle across the fibers, instead of parallel with the fibers), it can make the blocks stretch out of whack when you press the block open. I’m trimming these HSTs to 3″. I could use a 3″ ruler, but instead I use a square ruler that is larger than 3″, and just keep an eye on my 3″ mark.

trim block

I also line up the angle of the block with the 45 degree line at an angle across the ruler. This will help all the points line up. I make sure that the block is inside the 3″ mark, then trim off the excess on the two sides, where the block hangs out past the ruler.

The block gets rotated 18o degrees, and then I line up the 45 degree line, as well as the 3″ line both horizontal and vertical. Trim off the excess on two sides, and the block has been squared up!

trim other side

Repeat – over and over and over again… until all your blocks are squared up!

trim half square triangle blocks

That scrappy pile on the right… that’s a whole scrappy pile towards accuracy.