Five Year Finish

witch quilt by buggy barn

This quilt is finally finished. It only took 5 years.

There is nothing overly complex about this quilt that made it take so long. I took a class at Quiltique when I was on maternity leave after having my oldest, who is now 5. I finished the blocks within a few days of taking the class.

A few years later, I put the blocks together and finished the quilt top. I had a friend quilt it.

A year or so after that, I made the binding.

This year, I stitched on the binding. Finally. It took 5 years, but this quilt is finished.

I have quite a few more UFOs (Un-Finished Objects) hanging in the closet that need piecing, quilting, and/or binding… I’m hoping to start working my way through them, instead of adding to them. I have already trimmed 3 quilts that need binding, and cut out their binding. I’m taking baby steps, but at least they are in the right direction.

Do you have any UFOs that you want to get caught up on?

PS – If you are interested, the quilt pattern for the quilt pictured above is from Buggy Barn. It is a fun stack-and-chop technique for making a quilt block.

Sweet Tea Picnic Made Easy (and Nine-Patch Napkins)

Sweet Tea Picnic

Recently, I was invited by Davidson’s OrganicsĀ andĀ Missouri Star Quilt Company to create a picnic. I couldn’t refuse. I’ve become something of a homebody, and anything to get me out of the house is a good thing! Plus, my son loves picnics. I kept this picnic simple, easy, and most of all, fun. They sent me sweet tea and fat-eighths of fabric to play with, in exchange for sharing my experience with all of you.

I packed up a picnic basket so that my son and I could spend the afternoon at the park.

pack up the picnic basket

I kept it simple. Mason jars with ice tea spoons, some snacks, honey for sweetening up my tea, my nine-patch napkins (more on those in a bit), and a juice box… because most 5 year olds aren’t big tea drinkers. Oh… and those big mason jars? Those are my secret weapon for packing an easy picnic.

One large mason jar is filled with ice. The other is filled with hot water and tea. The tea takes 5-7 minutes to brew. Which is about how long it takes to walk to the park from my house. So, while the water is boiling, I pack up the rest of the basket. Once the water is hot, I pour it into the mason jar, add my tea bags, pop on the lid, wrap a towel around the jar, and off we head to the park!

brew sweet tea on the go

By the time we get there, my tea is brewed, and I can pour the ice and tea into the smaller mason jars for drinking! Super easy. And while I sip my tea, my kiddo can do lots of this:

slide at the park

This made for a perfect fall afternoon with my kiddo. He’s growing up so fast!

With the fat eighths of fabric sent to me as part of my picnic package, I whipped up some nine-patch napkins. These are easy to make. Not quite as easy as the tea… but pretty simple.

I started with my fabric and 4 linen/cotton napkins.

nine patch napkin supplies

I cut the fabric into strips, 2.5″ wide, then stitched the strips into sets of 3. I pressed the seams so that half of the sets had the seams facing out, and half had the seams facing in.

two sets of strips

Then I sub-cut these into 2.5″ strips.

cut strip sets

I piled up the sets. The row on the right has the seams pointing out, and the row on the left has the seams pointing in.

I paired up strip sets to make four pairs, each using one strip from the right row, and one from the left row. Because the seams were pressed in opposite directions, they nest into each other perfectly, making for perfect intersections where the seams all meet.

I then added another strip to one side of each pair, making nine-patches.

pink the edges

Instead of leaving the edges raw, or trying to turn them under, I used pinking shears to trim the edges. This will keep them from fraying, and I really like the look of a pinked edge.

I pinned each square to one corner of a napkin.

pin squares in place

Then I stitched each square in place.

stitch down nine patch

It was that easy! We’ve got this picnic basket as a wedding gift, and until now I’ve always used paper napkins. I’m so glad I now have a set of nice picnic napkins to go in my picnic basket!

quilted napkins

Thanks again to Davidson’s Organics and Missouri Star Quilt Company for letting me join in on the fun!

Same Block, Three Ways

same block three ways

Recently, I made 3 different blocks for a swap. Well, they look different, but really they are the same. They all use green and red fabrics from Kate Spain’s line “In From the Cold” for Moda Fabrics. And they all actually use the same block pattern… but by switching up the color placement, and the amounts of red and green in each block, I ended up with three completely different blocks!

same block, three colorways

This is a great exercise when playing with color. Different colors, in different places, make the same block… not so much the same.

 

Quilting Feathers Class with Sharon Schamber

Earlier this week I had the chance to take a class from Sharon Schamber, an amazing free-motion quilter. When I saw Quiltique advertise the free-motion feathers class, I immediately knew I wanted to sign up. One of my goals last year was to get comfortable with free-motion quilting. I never did it. I hoped that this class would give me the push I needed. In whatever form that might be. Inspiration, knowledge, tools… I was lacking in all these departments.

When I signed up for her class, I had no idea who Sharon was. Really. I do know that Quiltique always brings in amazing teachers, and I have never met a single guest teacher in their classroom who didn’t live up to the hype (and then some)! She is an Award Winning Quilter, nationally (probably Internationally) recognized for her work.

award winning quilter sharon schamber

It was an all-day class, and very little of it was actually spent behind the sewing machine. The first half was a lot of lecture. Sharon has a unique teaching style that I won’t spoil for you by trying to explain it. But I learned more in class than quilting (for example, apparently I have a “biker chick” aura… for those of you who have met me in person, feel free to debate or agree). We talked a lot about the role of quilting, the proportion of quilting, and how to make decisions about quilting a quilt. I could listen to her lecture for another day and still feel like I only learned a little of what she had to offer.

She didn’t share her quilts until the very, very end of class… and I’m glad. Had I seen all this beautiful quilting beforehand, I might not have been able to focus on the class!

feather

I know it is hard to tell scale in these photos, but just check out all the beautiful detail in this quilting!

The gold thread in this next photo is bobbin work. A whole different technique… but check out the fill in the white space behind the bobbin work. Ah-maze-ing.

bobbin work

I snapped a photo of the back of one of the quilts as it was being folded up. You can see fingers in the top right of the photo, which gives you an idea of the scale here. Some of this quilting is seriously tiny!

back of quilt

I was fascinated by this little study. Each of these 9 squares is just 2.5″ across! How many stitches can you fit in a 2.5″ square?

quilting study

This gives you a better picture of how small this really is.

small study

This next quilt is all made from hand-dyed cotton. All the texture the quilting adds makes it look like velvet!

quilting texture

The different colored threads here help the quilting really stand out on this quilt.

quilting detail

This is a shot as this quilt was being opened. There are 99 different stipples on this quilt. A stipple is small quilting usually done on sections of the quilt that are in the background.

different fills

Here is an amazing fill – that wavy-line quilting with the cross-lines between? Wow.

more fill

And this is probably my favorite shot. These little toadstools live right on the edge of the quilt. Like a little secret surprise. I wonder how many surprises live in the quilting on this quilt?

quilted toadstools

One last shot of her quilting… this beautiful feather!

large feather

As a beginner, I’m not anywhere near this skilled. Her quilts are something to aspire to. But, I did take the first steps! I had a chance to try three feathers in class… and here is the third one!

my feather

Yeah, I’m no Sharon Schamber… but for my third attempt at a free-motion feather, I have to say I’m pretty proud of myself! I will have to keep working on it, practicing the shape and getting better control of my stitching speed… but I now have the tools, knowledge, and definitely the inspiration to make it happen!

More Riley Blake Fabric Fest

I had a total blast at Fabric Fest this past week, and wanted to share with you more of the fun goings-on. I really can’t express what an amazing job the folks from Riley Blake did on this event. Seriously. Putting on a conference is no joke, and these gals (and guys) knocked it out of the park on their very first try. I’m hoping they’ll do it again next year, and if they do I have no clue how they’re going to top this event!

Earlier I shared with you some pictures from my first night… there was some meet-and-greet with the other attendees, lots of ogling over quilts, and a little buying of fabric, too! (ok… maybe a LOT of buying of fabric! HA!)

jack quote

This quote is one from the Thursday keynote, and I loved it. I loved that I spent the week surrounded by dingledodies.

My first class, Tuesday morning, was with Amy Smart from Diary of a Quilter. Her class was part lecture, part hands-on about modern quilting. I’m a fan, and love absorbing the modern vibe whenever and wherever I can.

What is modern quilting

I took this picture so that I could put most of these books on my Christmas List! HA!

modern quilting books

In the hands-on portion of the class I whipped up a scrappy, quilt-as-you-go, free-pieced mini quilt.

modern free pieced mat

I kinda love how it turned out. I won’t even share with you all the ways it isn’t perfect, or all the things that look awesomely intentional, but are total happy accidents.

The Tuesday keynote was with Eleanor Burns. This lady is tons of fun.

Eleanor Keynote

Seriously, this picture of her is like the definition of all my favorite people: creative, and just a little crazy. But totally the good kind of crazy.

eleanor laughing

My Tuesday afternoon class was with Eleanor as well. If you haven’t read about my connection with Eleanor, you have to go read the whole story in the post where I talk about teaching at fabric fest.

eleanor teaching

I didn’t finish my quilt, but got very, very far in putting it all together…

eleanor and me

On Thursday, I had lectures. The morning lecture was with Nancy Zieman who came to us via live satellite feed. Isn’t technology awesome?

Nancy Zieman Lecture

My afternoon class was with the twin quilting phenoms from Logan, UT. Kim from Kimberbell Designs and Kris from My Girlfriend’s Quilt Shoppe. Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures of that class, where they talked about all kinds of fun ways to transform precuts into quilts!

I do have a couple pictures of what meals looked like. In case you have ever wondered, this is what 300 hungry quilters look like:

fabric fest meal

And this is what all their bags look like… machines and rulers and more!

sewing machines all lined up

Thursday there was a dual keynote, Jenni from Missouri Quilt Co gave an awesome impromptu talk about how her choices as a quilter have changed her life. I really love hearing quilters who really get it. She understands quilting, other quilters, and what it is really all about.

Jenny from missouri quilt co

I was able to snag a quick photo with her after the conference.

jenny and me

And since I started this post with a quote, I’ll end it with another great one that helps describe this whole experience:

Brian Andrews Quote

 

Riley Blake Fabric Fest!

It is here! Riley Blake Fabric Fest!! Four days of hanging out with other quilters, sewing, teaching, learning… and shopping! Oh… the fabric!

I don’t have much time, but thought I’d share with you a few of my impressions from the first day… no classes, just registration, shopping, and chatting with other quilters…

 

This is what it looked like when the doors opened onto Fabric Fest. All the ladies looking forward to the fabric awesomeness behind the doors…

walking into fabric fest

Riley Blake and Quiltique did a great job of setting up all the displays and the fabric…

quilts at fabric fest

I love all the seasonal fabrics – Halloween, Christmas… yay!

Halloween Riley Blake Fabrics

I’ve got a quilt at the quilter right now that I made with Dresdens… I love this colorful version (and I can’t wait to share mine with you next week!)

dresden bursts

Pinwheels go very modern, and very colorful in this quilt.

colorful pinwheels

I always have hexies on the brain lately, and I love what adding a chevron print did for these hexagons!

chevron hexagons

More coming soon… I promise!

New Laser-Cut Fusible Applique Wall Hanging Tutorial

Applique Wall Hanging

I’m sure you’re wondering what a Laser Cut Fusible Applique is! A Laser Cut machine is like a printer, but instead of printing, it uses a laser to cut shapes out of different objects, including fabric. It is doing amazing things in the fabric world – including allowing us to laser cut intricate applique shapes with the fusible already adhered to the back! Nancy Zieman has created a whole line of these appliques with fun words on them. When she approached me to share them with you, I jumped up and down and said YES! There are quite a few Laser Cut Appliques to choose from, I chose the “Fabric Stitch Sew Create” with the buttons. The “Sew” with the tomato pincushion outline was a really close second, though!

The applique looks like this in the package. They are made of black fabric, and the back has the fusible attached, and a paper backing.

 

Before removing the paper backing, I unfolded the applique and gave it a light press to get out the creases. This helps it lie flat when I place it later.

Then I started auditioning different fabrics from my stash. I ended up choosing these fun prints and solid from Art Gallery Fabrics.

Auditioning fabrics for the wall hanging

To make your own laser cut fusible applique wall hanging, you’ll need:
Laser Cut Fusible Applique from Nancy Zieman
Scissors
3 Fat Quarters for the front
Rotary Cutter, Ruler, and Mat
1/2 yard fabric for the back
505 or your favorite basting spray
#5 Pearl Cotton in coordinating colors (or Embroidery Floss)
Needle

Before taking off the paper backing and fusing the applique, I cut the support pieces from the applique. Look carefully! There are three. Once you fuse the applique down it will be permanent, so you want to make sure you cut them all out.

Cut out support pieces

I carefully removed the backing paper and fused the applique to my solid background fabric. The applique is fairly detailed, so as I auditioned fabrics, I found that it looked best on a solid color or a small print.

After fusing the applique to my fat quarter, I trimmed it down. Trimming my fabric after pressing down the applique helped me get the perfect positioning, and I didn’t have to worry about the applique shifting as I secured it.

Trim down fabric

I added a 4 ” strip of my large print to the top and a 6″ strip to the bottom of my wall hanging.

add borders

I prefer to spray baste (rather than pin baste), especially on small projects like this one, so I used my basting spray to put together my quilt sandwich – backing fabric on the bottom, right side down, then batting, then the applique top. I trimmed it down, leaving a few inches on all sides, and added some quilting.

spray baste

I wanted to add a little more fun, so I ironed on a few of the applique button shapes that came with the applique, and quilted around them. I picked out Pearl Cotton that coordinated with my print, and added stitching to the buttons.

number 5 pearl cotton

The thread was tied off on the back of the wall hanging. I tried tying it on the front, but it looked to messy for me, tying it on the back looked cleaner

stitch through button holes

All that was left was to bind the quilted wall hanging, and I was all done! I used 2″ binding that I applied by machine, but you can bind your wall hanging in whatever way you’re most comfortable.

These laser cut appliques are so simple to use, and since I put mine on a wall hanging that isn’t going to get washed or see much wear, I didn’t have to worry about stitching it down. The applique will stay permanently after fusing it with the heat from my iron!

I’m just one of the bloggers sharing fun projects made with these appliques – check out Nancy Zieman’s Blog all week for more fun ideas!

 

Should I Press My Quilt Seams Open or to One Side?

Should I press my seams open or to one side

 

The quilting question “Should I press my quilt seams open or to one side?” comes up very often in my quilting classes. When my students ask me, I think they’re looking for a single, definitive answer. A quilting rule that they can follow or flaunt. The problem is that I believe in very few quilting rules.

I believe that when quilting, you should press your seams. But how you press your quilt seams depends on a variety of factors. You should take these factors into account when you decide if you’re going to press your seams open, or to one side.

press seam open

How are you going to quilt your finished quilt?
If you plan on doing a “stitch in the ditch” on your quilt blocks, your decision has been made – you must press your seams to the side. The quilting technique “stitch in the ditch” is so named because of where the stitching falls. Pressing the quilt seams to the side created a slight raise on one side of the seam – which results in a slight ditch on the other. This is easy enough for a newbie quilter to find and aim at when quilting.
If you try to “Stitch in the Ditch” on a quilt where the quilt seams have been pressed open, you will be quilting along the seam line right between the pieces of the quilt top, and instead of securing the backing, batting, and top, you’ll be securing the backing and batting while tacking the top in place.
If you plan to do an all-over or a stitching pattern that does not closely follow the piecing of the blocks, you can press your seams however you like.

 

How flat do you want your finished quilt top to be?
Pressing quilt seams open results in flatter piecing. This is because instead of pressing all the bulk of the seam to one side, the bulk is divided in half and spread equally over two sides. Your finished quilt blocks are much flatter than a block with the seams pressed to the side. Once your quilt top is quilted together with the batting and backing, much of the flatness created by pressing seams open is lost into the batting, and a quilt with the seams pressed to the side is no more lumpy than one with the seams pressed open.

press seam to the side

What piecing techniques are you using?
Depending on the techniques you are using when piecing your top, you may prefer one pressing method over another. If you are piecing many small pieces together, you may want to press the quilt seams open to reduce the bulk at the individual seams. However, if you are doing intricate piecing where you want to match your seams, pressing the quilt seams to the side may actually help you. If you press one seam up and one seam down before laying two pieces with their right sides together, the ditches of the two seams will “lock” together, helping line up the piecing, and resulting in more crisp lines and points.

 

How do you press best?
What is most important in pressing is that you do it, and do it as well as possible. I have seen new quilters who did not press properly, and lost as much as 1/2″ of fabric in each seam because of poor pressing. So, if there is one way that you prefer pressing because it makes you happier, go ahead and use that method. Because staying happy while you quilt is what it is all about anyway, right?

In From the Cold Quilt Blocks progress

I’m working on the “In From the Cold” quilt by Kate Spain as a class sample for the quilt shop I teach at. My goal was to have the whole top pieced by last night… so far I’ve gotten the blocks done, and all is left is sashing and borders. Which I should be able to get done in one night. Here are the blocks, they are not placed in any order here.

 

In from the cold quilt blocks

A few of these blocks are fairly simple, but most have very small parts. The bottom left mug has pinwheels – each of the half-square triangles on the pinwheels finishes at just 1″ across! There are quite a few 1″ finished HSTs in this project… but it sure does look cute when it is all finished! I’m looking forward to getting the sashing and borders on so that I can send it off to be quilted.

1 inch finished half square triangles

Here is a close-up of the 1 inch HSTs that I posted on Instagram. It only takes a couple threads to be pretty far off on these little suckers, so I was pretty impressed with my own work here. Sure, it isn’t perfect … but neither am I!

Lately, I’m very into the quilting of quilts. I don’t actually like doing the quilting, but it is interesting how much the quilting affects the finished look of a quilt. It helps to enhance certain areas, or to draw the eye in. Quilting can add a lot of interest… and while I’m a solid quilter when it comes to piecing a quilt, adding that top layer of stitching, the quilting on top, is not a skill that I’ve mastered (yet). I am signed up for a class that promises to teach me more about the process, so I’m looking forward to getting better at it.

I think that one of the frustrating parts of getting better at quilting is that it takes practice. And learning from your mistakes. Which means making mistakes. And making mistakes when quilting a quilt that took hours (or days, or weeks) to put together… that’s just painful! Ugh!

In other news, I’m also making progress on my paper pieced hexagons… hopefully I’ll have something to share with you soon… ish!

 

Hexagon Fabric Bracelet

Do you have some favorite pieces of fabric you’d like to turn into wearable accessories? Or maybe you love hexagons and want to show it in your wardrobe. Maybe you want to try out some of this hexagon madness without committing to a big project. These hexagon fabric bracelets are perfect for you! They make a great gift for a fabric-loving friend, or to mail in a swap package with a fellow quilter. Simple to make with just hand stitching, you’ll get addicted to these fun hexie bracelets!

Fabric bracelet stitched out of hexagons

Supplies:
1″ Hexagon Template
Pellon 71F
Pencil
Scissors
Fabric (I used 4 Charm Squares for each bracelet)
Needle and thread

Start by tracing your 1″ hexagon onto the Pellon. You’ll need 12 hexagons for each bracelet. For reference, a 1″ hexagon has sides that are 1″ across.

trace hexies onto pellon

Cut out all your hexagons.

hexies all cut out

Fuse the hexagons to your fabric, and trim the fabric. You’ll want to give yourself a generous 1/4″ of fabric all the way around each hexagon.

Fold over one edge of the fabric and tack down with a few stitches.

stitch down corner

Fold down each side, and put two stitches in each corner to hold down the sides.

stitch down hexie corners

Add a few extra stitches on the final corner to secure, and cut the thread. Repeat for all 12 hexagons.

finished hexie

Put two hexagons right sides together, and stitch along one edge. You can whip stitch them together, or you can use a ladder stitch to secure the edges. Repeat with all the hexagons to make 6 pairs.

The ladder stitch, I found, is less visible than whip stitching the pieces together. Start by making a stitch on one edge. Where the needle comes up, start a stitch on the opposite side. Keep making stitches on alternating sides all the way across. Your stitches will look like a series of straight lines up and down across the edge of the hexagons.

stitch together pieces

When you unfold the hexagons, and make them flat, you’ll see the stitches. Pull on your thread to tighten the pieces together, then secure with a few stitches.

stitched together hexies

Once you have your 6 pairs, use the same stitch to stitch them together.

stitch into a chain

You’ll want 6 hexagons down the middle, with the extra hexagon for each hanging off of either side.

chain of hexies

Fold over the matching pairs, one at a time, and stitch down around each edge. making a sandwich with the right sides out. This hides all the backs of your hexagons, and leaves just the pretty side.

stitch together front and back pieces

Repeat this with each hexagon, all the way around. When you get to the end, match up the two ends and stitch them together. Line the two pieces up, and stitch the two inside edges together first.

stitch into a bracelet loop

Then go back across, stitching together the two outside edges. Secure the thread with several stitches, and adjust the hexagons to form the shape of your hexagon bangle bracelet.

Hexagon Fabric Bracelet Tutorial

They’re pretty addictive… you’ll find yourself making a whole armful!

Hexaon fabric bracelets tutorial