The Sewing Room

TGI Thursday

What to do This Weekend #4

Cnva - This Way to the Weekend

Once again it’s Thursday and with the weekend barely around the corner, you know what that means! A front row seat to view five of my favorite ideas and inspirations collected throughout the week – and in plenty of time to ensure you have the Best Weekend Ever.

So let’s get started:


1) My Sewing Room:

Making a Machine Stitch Bible. This is something I’ve wanted to do for quite a while and discovered it’s usefulness when I was making a baby blanket using machine applique. Knowing exactly how a decorative stitch – especially a blanket stitch – appears when using different stitch widths and lengths. This saves time having to reset these settings each time you turn off your machine or change from a decorative stitch to a straight stitch and back.

Blueprint - Stitch Bible

Of course, another option would be to invest in a machine with a stitch setting memory but until that happens, I plan to create a stitch bible.

I also see this as a great “filler” project for those says when I want to sew something but I don’t have the time or motivation to start a big project.

Need more reasons to sew a stitch bible? Five more can be found here.


2) Flipping Out:

Here is an update on the “stitch-and-flip” applique technique I talked about last week. It took a while to get a few shapes with edges that would easily turn and maintain the appearance of a flower.

Stitch & Flip Applique Flower

The blue background is one solid piece – I went ahead and did a blanket stitch all the way around. The yellow and gold petals are separate units – each sewn using the stitch-and-flip technique as well. Before adhering to the blue base I did a few quick embroidery stitches and finished off the embellishing with a button.

Here is a close up:

Stitch and Flip Applique flower

My plan is to make this into a small pillow – the checkered fabric will be used for the back, a white front with an applique flower and blue piping around the perimeter.

Stay tuned for the finished product!


3) What’s Happening in Hamilton:

Today’s Daily Deal: The “Deal” is for today (8/15/19) only but even without the discount, this is still a very good deal for any day of the week. Perfect for the little ones in your life. When I see such fun projects like this it makes me sad my “little ones” are too old for these cute guys however, I may go ahead and sew up a couple of these for Christmas.

Mickey Moose Plush Toy

Returning to the subject of applique – a topic I can’t seem to get too far away from these days – you must check this out! I’ve renamed it, “applique-all-the-way” and a great way to get through a small basket of scraps!


4) Planning Ahead:

” The Quilting Tool that Makes You Smarter” ~ Stephanie Palmer.

2020 Quilter's Planner - Aqua

Taking a closer look, I certainly agree however…this new (and improved) 2020 Quilting Planner offers so many more benefits! Not that being ‘smarter’ isn’t great…it is! But this “quilting tool” is just as functional, informative and inspirational as it is educational. That’s packing quite a punch between covers of a spiral bound stack of paper!

Just for starters, this planner will help you become more organized which translates into better time management which leads to improved creativity. An elevated level of creativity then leads to higher quality products which in turn not only makes you a happier (and smarter) person but increases the level of happiness your followers and the recipients of your handmade treasures will experience as well!

I cannot think of one reason not to go here and pre-order yours today but, if you do need a reason, maybe this will help!


5) Kristi’s Sewing Room:

Simple DIY Curtains: It’s been a long while since I’ve attempted making my own window treatments. It is a project that requires a lot of space – tabletop / counter top space and LOTS of fabric. Sure, the interior designer in me prefers the quality of designer drapes ( you can read why here and here) but at the same time, the logical left side of my brain finds it hard to resist a great bargain on ready-made off the shelf drapes.

DIY Drapes - Addicted 2 Decorating

Kristi at Addicted 2 Decorating has found a solution that is nothing short of pure genius. For her particular space I think it is a very logical solution that checks off many boxes: 1) Softens the hard lines and finishes within the space, 2) absorbs sound, 3) visually provides a line of continuity between the trim height discrepancy between the french doors and the solid doors on either side and 4) creates a design detail that helps to establish the french doors as a focal point.

The image above gives only a sneak peek of the room but does give a good illustration of the drape’s effect.

Going back to give greater attention to that trim detail in the image above (and she has blogged about it as well in a previous post), I’m wondering if there is another way to camouflage that height discrepancy. It would involve some deconstruction and re-construction…something like this maybe?

Door Trim Options

I believe, continuing with the current drapery panels on either side of the doors, the trim height discrepancy would not be noticed at all.


Anyone with a DIY project on their To-Do list this weekend? Feel free to post comments or any images you would like to share in the comments section below.

Happy Thursday and as always….

Have the Best Weekend Ever!

Susan

TGI Thursday

What to do This Weekend #3

Canva - this Way to the Weekend

Here we are again… Thursday has arrived and Friday just called to announce she will be arriving bright and early in the morning!

I’m glad you have arrived – the perfect place to gather all the ideas and inspiration you’ll need to carry you through and have the Best Weekend Ever!


So, let’s get started:

Missouri Star Quilt Co

1. Let’s Have Some Cake.

It’s Layer Cake week at the Missouri Star Quilt Co. Head over and take a look at the great deals on layer cakes and while you’re there, take a look at the multitude of and eye-catching and layer cake friendly quilt patterns! Each one is available as an instant download (my favorite) or for purchase in paper. The layer cake special end tomorrow (8/9/19) and if you’re looking for an excuse – reason to take a road trip to Hamilton, MO, this Friday would be the day!


Artisan Collection - Creative Market

2. Vintage Finds

Looking for a fresh Vintage font, or, even better, a fresh, Vintage font bundle? Rather than release just one product, the Artisan Collection bundle is being released to include 6 different products: 11 fonts, 16 premium logo templates ( for use only with Adobe Illustrator) and 20 vintage shapes. If your brand is calling for some vintage style you can also save a bundle on this bundle but you’ll need to move fast – it is only for a limited time.


Black & White Neighborhood Mini Quilt - Flamingo Toes

3. In the Neighborhood

Nothing does a better job of catching my eye than the contrast of black and white or, as in the image above, black and white with little pops of color and this great find has certainly caught my eye! I’ve been saving (hoarding) fabrics that would be perfect for this project. This is also THE project for when you cannot or do not want to invest in time-consuming tasks such as perfect cutting, perfect piecing or perfect anything and yet you want the finished product to have a perfectly neat and polished appearance. I also feel these particular geometric shapes lend themselves to this applique technique – something I’m – once again – putting on my to-do list for this weekend!


4. Just Beachy

Anyone ready for the beach? Already at the beach? Or anyone, like me, who would love to be at the beach but a beach vacation is simply not on the itinerary for this summer?

I was scrolling through of the images I captured while on vacation 5 years ago: (The “Good Pictures” are on another PC)

Atlantis Lodge and Beach Atlantic Lodge and Beach

These still do the job to convey as sense of nostalgia – I so love the sound of ocean waves and the feel of sand beneath my feet!

Ironically, my next great find is not found anywhere along the east coast or even on a beach for that matter but rather in a Bake Shop, the Moda Bake Shop to be exact. So where is this leading? To another sea shore. This link will take you to the latest block of the At the Seashore Quilt Along – a QAL I didn’t have time to start when it began June 3rd. However, the blocks are available by scrolling through the blog roll and the QAL itself continues through August 26th.

Here are few of the beach – seashore inspired blocks:

Moda At the Seashore Quilt Blocks

Need more inspiration from Moda? Check out their Cutting Table here.


Interior Design Magazine Cover

5. Good Design

This final item for this Thursday’s round-up still has us enjoying the great outdoors. A short trip inside a major retailer will quickly remind you that fall and winter are in the not-too-distant future and now is the time to take full advantage of all the fresh air, warm sunshine, and cool water summer has to offer!

A visit to one of my favorite monthly publications has all the outdoor inspiration you’ll ever need to help you soak up every last bit of summer in the most stylish way possible.

Here is a slideshow that showcases the best in terms of architecture and design. It is a home that was designed and built to take full advantage of lake views and demonstrates one the most efficient uses of land resources I’ve observed in a long time.


Whether it’s a short road trip to Hamilton, MO, a medium-sized road trip to Austin, TX, a long road trip to the Atlantic beaches of North Carolina or no road trip at all – we’ve got you covered and ready to have the Best Weekend Ever!

What inspired you this weekend?

TGI Thursday

What to do This Weekend #2

Canva - This Way to the Weekend

Hello!

And, welcome back to “Thank Goodness It’s Thursday”, or (TGIT) !

The day when Friday calls to announce she will be arriving tomorrow, but have no fear! My Quilting Space has been busy this past week collecting a few fun ideas and inspirations all designed to have you prepared and ready for you to have the Best Weekend Ever!

August Calendar

For the first time in a really long time I’ve taken the time to observe summer’s transition from July to August – a pastime I typically save for the fall when the change in seasons, weather, etc. is more noticeable and much more anticipated.

However, this year, I seem to have a new perspective on life and I feel I have this blog, my quilting hobby and my website to thank.

I am also thankful for This past week has been chocked full of useful information and inspirations culminating into this one serendipitous event and the result of pure coincidence (I don’t think I could pull this off if I intentionally tried)but, all Four of my Favorite Finds this week revolve around the letter “K” – Kansas City, Kristi and Kori or the “K” soundChristy!

Special 'K'

So, lets get started with this super Special “K” Weekend!


FLW Home Roanoke, KCMO

1. Calling All Architecture Aficionados! In particular, those, like me, who love the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright. If you want to own a FLW home, it just so happens one of two FLW homes in the Kansas City area will be put up for auction in August. I’m looking for my checkbook now!


Kristy of COASD - Before Headboard

2. DIY of the Week – Christy of Confessions of a Serial DIY’er has a great solution for that pesky headboard (Shown above), or in my case a foot board, just lying around in your basement collecting dust. While I don’t have power tools or access to power tools needed to make this same transformation, I do have a couple of ideas that I can do. A) Attach the foot board to the back of a ready-made bench. Or, B) Re purpose it into a rack to hang quilts!

Gail at My Repurposed Life has at least 50 different solutions for that headboard or foot board just sitting around doing nothing!


Bathroom Make Over - A2D

3. On the Subject of DIY – If you’ve never heard of Kristi at Addicted 2 Decorating, now is a fine time to get to know her! In addition to totally remodeling and renovating the home she shares with her husband, Matt, she is blogging about every aspect of every project she does. The image above is from one of my absolute favorites!

Her latest project can be found here.

If ever you needed color inspiration, project instruction or just want to see what happens when you make a decision, create a plan and stick with it, this is the place where you will find all this and MORE. This girl is amazing!


Stitch and Flip Applique Bed Runner

4. It’s OK to Applique. And this video by Kori will have you saying it’s not only OK to applique, it’s Thursday…and what better way to spend the day than doing a little applique? The video is short and sweet but the technique is a huge game changer!

The image above is just one example of a “stitch and flip” applique project from Kori Turner-Goodhart’s amazing new book.

I DO have to try this technique THIS weekend – and I promise to post my finished project here so, stay tuned!


I hope you were able to find at least a little inspiration to get you motivated for the weekend. If you went with item #1, then you could potentially do items #2- #4 in your new address!

Leave a comment and share how this was Your Best Weekend Ever!

Susan

TGI Thursday

What to do This Weekend – #1

Canva - This Way to the Weekend


CONGRATULATIONS!

You did your part – survived the climb up and over hump day! Now it’s my turn to deliver a road map that leads you to the weekend.

As of today, Thursday’s are no longer considered “Friday Wannabe’s”.

Thursday now has it’s own special significance. It is the day when Friday calls to give you a head’s up that, ready or not, she will be here tomorrow! But before she arrives, you need to be prepared and there is no better place than My Quilting Space to get started.

This is the place where, each Thursday, I offer a variety of ideas and inspirations I’ve collected throughout the week, all wrapped up and ready for you to enjoy just in time for A Best Weekend Ever!

So let’s get started!

1. Christmas in July.

Christmas Ornament

Approaching this final weekend in July it seems fitting to squeeze in at least one more ‘Christmas in July’ project. OK, so I already have 3 Christmas projects going but when I came across this “Pine Tree Strip” quilt pattern in my stash by Deb Eggers of “The Cottage Rose” I knew I had to begin a search for the perfect fabric – as a jelly roll precut. I may have found it here . I will likely purchase this online but if I had the time, I would much rather make that 1.5 hour drive to what I consider to be the most wonderful road trip “quilt fabric or bust” destination in the entire Midwest!

2. Barn Quilts.

Etsy Listing - Barn Quilt

Continuing on the subject of quilts – barn quilts to be exact, I’ve had my eye on these. A Google or Pinterest search will locate several articles and videos however, I found this short, sweet and to the point instructable to be a great place to start for those who seriously want to give this a try. I know I do…and will…eventually!

So, you like the idea of a barn quilt but not ready to take the DIY route take a look here – you’ll find so much inspiration you’ll be adding another day to your weekend!

3. Cutting Edge Design.

Cricut.com - Cricut Maker

Another item I’ve kept my eye on for sometime. When I first learned that this and similar cutting machines could cut fabric for quilting I have been all eyes and ears. I’ve been reading reviews mainly to find a reason NOT to buy one these…no such luck – at least not yet. However, now through the end of July you can get a substantial savings on all Cricut machines and accessories.

4. Creativity Part 1.

anva - Creativity

Each Monday a set of unique fonts and templates are available as a FREE download for a limited time. Re-discovering the powers of power point, I found this template to be as interesting as timely. Follow their TOS and while you’re there take a look around…the level of creativity showcased on this site is truly awe-inspiring.

5. Creativity Part 2.

Canva - Make Something

I’ll finish this round-up of goodies with a visit to my go-to platform for all things graphic: blog banners, Pinterest pins and Twitter posts, etc. I continue to use the FREE service and pay for individual elements as I go but I also recognize that at some point it will be to my benefit to go Pro. It’s FREE for 30 days!

Thank you for stopping by! I hope you found at least a little inspiration and a few ideas to carry you through the weekend.
I’ll see you again next Thursday with another collection of ideas and inspiration designed to fill your weekend with discovery and creativity.

As always, I look forward to hearing your thoughts and comments about any of the topics listed above and…

Have the Best Weekend Ever!

Susan

Blog

Christmas in July

How Did This All Get Started?

The phrase “Christmas in July” likely has its origins dating back to an 1872 French opera, “Werther”, where a group of children are overheard rehearsing a Christmas carol in July. The English translation of a character’s responds is as follows: “When you sing Christmas in July, you rush the season”.

My own personal response: July carries its own bitter-sweet perspective. To some, the word July produces a restless cry of impatience…” Christmas is still 6-long-months away!!!” However, for those of us who craft, sew and quilt, that 6 month mark can instill a frenzied sense of fear and panic. “What? Only 6 months to finish _____ and _____and_____and_____?!?”

X nay on the Arolcay

That’s right – we don’t need to sing Christmas carols to “rush the season”. We’re already doing our part by allowing the fear of not “getting it all done” before Christmas carry the same proportion of responsibility for hastening the season as those children rehearsing a carol in July.

Whether the calendar reads a short or long 6 month duration between now and Christmas, we can embrace this timeline with joy and enthusiasm. Save the fear and anguish for another day…a rainy day maybe?

So, how do we accomplish that?

By choosing a project that is: 1) quick and easy; 2) offers guaranteed success using no-fail techniques and, as a bonus, 3) looks complicated but is actually very easy to do. In this heat, the last thing you want is a project that causes even 1° of heat to slip under your collar!

Keeping Your Cool

Today it was 95° in the shade with a current heat index of 107° – it seems this is the new norm for a Mid-west day in July. So how does one begin to even think about Christmas…in July? This July? Below are a few ideas to help you get one foot moving in front of the other:

1) Pour a frosty glass of strawberry lemonade or if you really want to divert your attention from the weather try this!

2) Dig into your stash of cool Christmas projects, patterns and fabrics.

3) Adjust the thermostat so your sewing room is as cool as a meat locker and,

4) Get the air moving with a few Pinwheels!

There is no better way to cool things off than revisiting one of my favorite Christmas projects. These pinwheels are quick, easy and so much fun to make. If time isn’t on your side right now, check out this short video I created which allows you to quickly view, in less than 3 minutes, the entire process from beginning to end.

However, if you feel more inspired by the summer sunshine than Christmas cheer, raid your stash of bright, colorful charm squares and make something fun like these:

Pinwheels in Summer Fabric

Pairing a citrus solid with a petite print – these would look stunning appliqued on a solid quilted top and maybe used as a wall hanging to brighten up a neglected space on a wall. (Oops! I may have just added another item on my To-Do list!)

If pinwheels just aren’t your thing no worries! Below you will find another cool project perfect for a hot afternoon!

From Pinwheels to Paper Piecing

A new-to-me technique that has become my new favorite is paper piecing. I happened upon a paper piecing block pattern here . This star has a Nordic appearance that I felt would be a perfect match for the pretty Christmas themed fabric (Scandi 5 fabric collection by Andover) I had on hand.

The specifics of paper piecing are somewhat complicated so I will not attempt to go into great detail here but show you my condensed version. These first two images illustrate the basics of paper piecing: sew thee foundation paper onto the fabric then tear it away.

Paper Piecing a Star Block

These next images show what I really love about paper piecing – the ease in getting seams to match! This is the most frustrating part of sewing triangles.

Paper pieced star block unit

Another bonus – the neat appearance of each unit. Having a consistent seam and cut lines makes piecing each unit together a cinch!

Below are my first two finished blocks.

Paper pieced quilt block

Paper pieced star block

My next decision: make each into a hot pad or try to find more of the same fabric and complete 25 or 30 blocks and make into a throw or bed sized quilt.

Want more Christmas in July?

Quilter's Digest

The “hot” little gems pictured above are from Quilting Digest and just happen to be the perfect inspiration to start singing your own Christmas carol in July.

Stay tuned…more Christmas in July projects are in the works!

Blog

How to Purchase a Sewing / Quilting Machine with NO REGRETS

Which one to choose

Choices…a coin with two sides. The Up Side where the opportunity to make a choice is a good thing. It allows us to be in control – allows us to pick what we want, not what another deems to be the best choice for us.

The other side of the coin or, the Downside, where often there are too many options to choose from which strips the joy of being able to make that choice.  When too many choices are available, it is fear that sets in.  The last thing we want to do is make the wrong choice – we want to avoid regret at all costs!

And, for some reason, this is what happens whenever a quilter/sewest is faced with the need to purchase new or upgrade to a new machine.  The fear of making the wrong choice stifles our pursuit of happiness.

Before a major purchase, in particular a new sewing machine is made, there seems to exist an undercurrent fear of regret collectively shared by those of us in the market for a new machine.

It’s something I have yet to explain. It took me only 30 minutes into a home showing to decide to make an offer to purchase an item easily 200X the purchase price of most any sewing machine I have seriously considered! Yet here I am, 2 years later and STILL in search of “THE” machine!

However, these past couple of years have allowed me time to develop a more focused sense of direction and more a specific answer to the question, “What do I want this new machine to do?”.

If you too are at this point in your search for the machine that is right for you and want to make that purchase with “No Regrets” then you have arrived at the right place!

“Must-Haves” vs “Considerations”

I previously published a post listing the Top 5 Things to Consider When Buying a Sewing Machine. True, that information remains valid however, it doesn’t really get into nitty gritty of what decisions need to be made before making such an important purchase. As the title implies, it is a list of things to “consider” and was based primarily on what I had read and not enough on experience.

Here, my goal is to do much more than just offer “considerations” – the goal is to give you a definitive list of “Must-Haves” if you want to purchase a machine with NO REGRETS.

For those of you who follow my blog, you may remember a review I posted a few months back on what I considered to be my “Dream Machine“. Initially, my research was in response to a concern regarding my current machine (a Janome DC 2014) and its growing list of annoying noises and quirky habits – tell-tale signs that retirement, or at the very least, an extended vacation on a warm, sunny beach with a cold beverage in one hand a book in the other was looming on the horizon.

And if retirement or an extended vacation was the case and I woke up one morning to find a note on the refrigerator that my Janome had indeed packed its bags and headed for the beach I would then be forced to answer a second question, “If I were to buy a new machine, which one would I buy?”

Taking a Test Drive

I recently had the opportunity to attend the Kansas City Regional Quilt Festival (KCRQF) in Overland Park, Kansas. In addition to “oohing” and “ahhhing” hundreds of quilts on display and visiting with vendors that allow me to spend oodles of money on must-have fabrics, patterns and anything else my mind deems necessary to joyfully pursue my quilting hobby, this festival also gave me an opportunity to try out a few high end sewing machines.

My first encounter with a much coveted machine was during a class where each of us were set up with a Janome Memory Craft 9450 QCP.

Janome Quilt Class

This is the exact machine I used:

Janome MC 9450 QCP

A Little Housekeeping

Before I go any further I want to clarify that this article is not an endorsement of this or any Janome product. In my limited experience I have had only positive experiences with Janome machines but there are many other makes and models with their own brand of greatness.

I’m choosing this particular Janome machine because it is from using this machine for several hours that I was able to determine exactly which “bells and whistles” I want/need and those that I don’t. I have spent more time using this machine than any other I’ve “test-driven” and feel I can give a more authentic description of each of my must-have items using just one machine.

Spending a good 6 hours with this machine on day one and another 3 hours on day 2 (in addition to the “test drives” on other brands on the vendor floor) I have to say I am so grateful that I did not give in to impulse and purchase a new machine before now.

Do’s and Don’ts of Researching a Sewing Machine

Read

Relying on written product reviews simply cannot compare to a hands-on test-drive. So many of the reviews I’ve read provide information is that is too general. Once you read three or four of these you begin to see a pattern of repetitious and generic content. While these “reviews” serve a purpose, the absence of specific experiential details is a clue the review was not submitted by an actual user. That’s not what I need to make this type of decision. Sure, I will continue to read reviews but only as spring board to propel me to my next level of research – the “test drive”.

Test Drive

DO visit a local deal/retail business and try out as many machines as you fell necessary. It is often through this process that you learn about options you never knew existed. And of those options you read about and thought, “yes, that’s what I want” you may also learn that option is more hype than function.

As much as I love learning a new technique and networking with others who share my interests, the main reason I attended the festival and enrolled in a couple of classes was to have the experience of trying out a new sewing machine.

While the Janome Memory Craft 9450 QCP may not be “the” machine for me however, using it for several hours has taught me what I do want and need in my next sewing machine. And, as my search continues, I will be asking about the following items listed below and the moment I encounter a “no”, that will be my signal to move on.

Good Stuff

So here we are – the “good stuff” – the top five items, I have so far, identified as items my next sewing machine must have:

1)  Box Design Feed Dog – this could easily be the ONLY item on my list. Other manufactures have a similar design, the Janome system is called the “Acu-Feed Flex”. Every other bell and whistle can go straight to the recycle bin but this Acu-Feed Flex system is a must! When it comes to piecing and quilting I cannot over – emphasize importance of an accurate fabric feed system.

Janome Acu-Feed Flex System

2) Automatic Thread Cutter – At the push of a button thread is cut at the end of a stitch which means less thread waste and no more long thread tails to trim later.

3) Auto Presser Foot Lift – Can be set to automatically raise when pressure is removed from the foot pedal or after cutting the thread. Doing this when the needle is down is perfect for sewing corners or curves.

Janome Thread Cutter & Foot Lift

4) Quarter Inch Presser Foot without Guide – FINALLY – a presser foot designed to accurately place a seam exactly 1/4″ from the edge. The eliminates the use of the inaccurate ‘1/4″ presser foot with seam guide’ that DOES NOT measure 1/4″.

Janome Quarter Inch Foot

5) 11″ Sewing Bed. A wonderful thing if you do your own quilting but do not have or use a long arm quilting machine. An 11″ sewing bed (or throat) is considered a mid-arm and in my opinion, the optimal size for quilting on a domestic machine. Many manufacturers boast about their “large” work space which is actually in the 8.5″ – 9″ range. This will do and if you fall in love with a machine that has a 9″ sewing bed that’s really not too much of a compromise. (I did a test drive on Juki with a 9″ sewing bed and I found it to be more than adequate). However, if you have the opportunity to choose a machine with an 11″ sewing bed by all means do!  I’ve yet to hear anyone complain of having too much sewing space!

Janome 11' Sewing Bed

Final Thoughts

While at the KCRQF I also had a chance to try out a Bernina, Husquavarna-Viking and Juki each an outstanding machine.  Interestingly, each of the five items listed above are things my current machine does not have so, in reality, most any other sewing machine would be a good choice!

I still have some additional test-driving to do but I feel so much more informed and more confident my decision will be based on function vs. name and appearance – a purchase made with no regrets!

I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comment section below. Tell us what sewing machine you use and how you made that choice. Were there ever any regrets?

Blog

Countdown to the Kansas City Regional Quilt Festival

Yes, the official count down has begun…

and the preparatory jitters – making lists, ordering fabric, getting organized and making sure when the day arrives I have everything I need.

In just over 3 weeks the convention Center in Overland Park, KS will open its doors to thousands of “quilters” as well as quilting/sewing vendors and instructors making their third bi-annual pilgrimage to the Kansas City Regional Quilt Festival (KCQRF).

Last year, I feel I was probably too filled with wild eyed wonder and somewhat overwhelmed to fully appreciate all this festival had to offer. So many quilts to judge – so many fabrics – so many sponsors with their wares for sale and demonstration. Too much to take in on one day. You really need two – three if you plan to take a class or two.

However, this year I will approach it with an entirely new perspective and a mission – or two.

Mission #1 – Learn Something New

To accomplish my first mission, I’ve taken advantage of the class offerings from professional quilters and signed up for two classes.

Thursday Class

The first is a 6-hour class taught by Trisch Price where we will be making a variation of clam she’ll quilt entitled, “Fruit Stand”. A couple of the new techniques I hope to learn to include curved piecing and inserting a circle in a circle. This will also be a good opportunity for me to improve my paper piecing and applique skills.

Below is an example of Trisch’s quilt we will be making in the class:

Fruit Stand Quilt by Trisch Price

Friday Class

The second class is a 3-hour Machine Applique class taught by Mary Honas. I’m really looking forward to this. After discovering the versatility and design opportunities using applique to embellish a quilt I have wanted to learn and do more of it. Right now, the process is somewhat time-consuming for me but I feel that will change once I learn firsthand, from a professional, all the tips, tricks and techniques that make applique such an eye-catching embellishment to any fabric project.

Mission #2 – Research the Perfect Quilting Machine

One of the greatest aspects of a festival like this is the opportunity to “test drive” sewing and quilting machines. In a previous post I described my Dream Machine and this festival will be a perfect opportunity to help decide my next big sewing machine purchase.

Getting Prepared

So, here’s what I’ve accomplished so far:

1) Choose and Purchase Fabric for the “Fruit Stand Quilt class.

Right now I’m going with the solids shown below from Bella Solids Collection by Moda fabrics. However, anyone who knows me knows how often I can change my mind and “when” I do, you will find my updated choice(s) here!

The prints will be pulled from the Robert Kauffman (Studio RK) collection “On the Lighter Side”. I feel these low volume prints will coordinate nicely with the solids. The citrus colors will be used to depict the orange, lemon and lime shapes as well as the appliqued fruit slices.

Fruit Stand Quilt Fabrics

I can’t think of a better way to celebrate summer’s arrival the following week than with fresh and fun citrus inspired quilt! Stay tuned for the finished product – Can’t wait to show it off!

2) Getting Organized

Being obsessed with bags and totes and anything “organization” can only mean one thing – I may need another bag to hold-and-organize-everything. Currently, I have my eye on this, the Maker Bag by Noodlehead. Sure, I could use the Beetle Bag I wrote about a few months back but I made unnecessary and unflattering changes to the pattern and want to do a do-over before presenting it to the public.

The problem with this idea, as always, is time. The festival is only a month away and since there a few other things on my plate (housework, yard work, “work” work, finishing another quilt, sleep, etc.) it will be a challenge to fit this in but I do intend to give it a solid try.

Should I by some miracle finish this before the festival I will definitely post it so stay tuned!

All other listed tools and notions for each class I already have. For photographic purposes I have these items neatly organized in a clear tray from my large and bulky sewing basket – and this could work in a pinch. However, I need these easy-to-loose items in a bag or organizer that makes each item easy to access and the blade, snips (and anything else sharp) needs a safer storage option.

Quilting Notions

All Aboard!

Anyone else ready to climb aboard the quilt festival train?

At this time of year there are many festivals and markets in a variety of locations to choose from. If you do attend one these great events do tell us about your experience and post a picture or two if you like!

Blog

The Braid Template Goes Above the Treeline

Braid Fabric Block

Finally, I can say I’m on the home stretch of Kate Colleran and Tammy Silver’s (aka KatenTammy) Adventure Quilt Along – A Road Trip. I’m beginning to see familiar landmarks and hopefully within the week I will be pulling into my driveway (finish piecing to top).

No doubt many others also on this same trip have already made it home (pieced the top), have unpacked their luggage ( quilted the top to a fabulous backing fabric) and are stretched out in their favorite recliner with a cup of tea in one hand and the TV remote in the other (finished the quilt with an eye-catching binding).

This particular quilt along provides its subscribers with a new block each week to be downloaded which equals 12 blocks over a 12-week period and block 12 was introduced a couple of weeks ago on April 17th.

Looking Back

When I first began this “Adventure” I knew I would learn a thing or two. What I did not know – or anticipate, that I would learn way more than just a thing or two. I now have a much better understanding of why so many of us become thoroughly addicted to quilting. I’ve been introduced to many new techniques as well as new quilting notions and rulers and each with a common purpose – to make the whole quilting process as easy, efficient and as mistake -proof as possible.

Although I still have a couple of blocks to go and after changing my color choices, a block re-do or two, I can honestly say over the course of these past 12+ weeks my quilting skills and confidence has significantly improved.

On the Road

The following list is just three (of at least a 100 things) I’m loving about this quilt along.

1) I no longer fly away from flying geese block units and I now know how to use a “Wing Clipper” ruler.

2) Thanks to the “Perfect Seams Product Combo” I have finally achieved a perfect 1/4″ seam allowance.

3) Paper piecing has become my new go-to technique. The “Add-A-Quarter-Inch-Plus” ruler made this possible.

Above the Treeline

From the wide variety of tools, tips and techniques made available in this quilt along, the Braid Template and techniques used to create the trees in the “Treeline” block is my absolute favorite. This technique alone put the entire project “above the treeline”! It’s a block that comes together fairly quick and easy.

Using the braid template makes cutting the fabric strips quick, easy and accurate. Where you will spend a majority of your time is choosing which seven shades of green fabric to use and in what order.

Here are a couple of pics to illustrate that process:

Fabric Strips with Braid Template

This is how the block looks at the very beginning – a pile of green fabric strips, white squares and the braid template. Of course, you could use a ruler with 45° markings on the diagonal but the braid template is quicker, easier and there is no math involved! Just place the template to line up the dimensions needed (for example, 1/ 1/2″ width X 7″ length).

Complete instructions are included with the template.

After using the template to cut the ends diagonally, I began placing the pieces to determine the best mix of color and help stay organized while I added each strip to the set.

Fabric Strips Using a Braid Template

And another image giving a better idea of how the fabric pieces would look when arranged into a “tree” shape.

Fabric Strips for Tree Line Quilt Block

You will notice I did a little rearranging of the fabric strip – funny how a simple change in direction can change your perception. In fact, I actually rearranged the pieces during the sewing process as I deemed necessary to prevent placing too many common shades too close together.

Below is my first “Tree Line” block. I like the variety of green shades but I think the next time I do a block like this I will choose colors that are either all warm or all cool tones. I’m funny that way and maybe I’m making more of a deal about color coordinating that I should but generally speaking I feel it a bit tricky to successfully mix warm and cool tones.

Tree Line Quilt Block

Looking Ahead

It is with great hope that my next post about the Adventure Quilt Along – A Road Trip, I will at least have the top pieced and ready for quilting.

Once finished, should my quilt look anything like Kate’s (she used Bella Solids by Moda) – so fresh and playful!

Kate Colleran Adventure Quilt

Or Tammy’s quilt – isn’t her Island Batik fabric line fabulous?

Tamarinis Batik Adventure Quilt

I can say this quilt adventure was definitely a trip worth taking!

Blog

Flying Geese – The End of Winter & A New Quilt Block

Here we are, mid- April and it appears (I say cautiously) that winter weather has finally come to an end. Predictions for snow for this past weekend veered north, I have tulips and daffodils in full bloom so there – I declare winter is officially over!

Another end-of-winter event is also occurring – the Canadian geese are in full flight headed North in search of food and shelter. Their V-shaped flocks are a classic sign of migration – a sight I find both majestic and mesmerizing.

Taking Flight

As I continue onward and upward with my Adventure Quilt, I am returning to block 8 which largely consist of a classic pattern aptly named Flying Geese. Like birds during migration I have seen many, many images of “Flying Geese” fabric units but until embarking on this quilt adventure, I had not attempted to piece this eye-catching pattern.

So, after spending a couple of hours learning how to make a Flying Geese unit, I can say my Adventure Quilt is “migrating” right along!

The image below shows a majority of the quilt blocks I’ve completed. I made an attempt to arrange them to look like the finished quilt on the right.

There is LOT going on here, in terms of color and shape so I’ve indicated the actual Flying Geese units with a black oval-shaped circle to allow you to better see where and how this block unit fits into the grand scheme of this quilt. And as a bonus, I’ve placed an image of the finished quilt so we can all see the end goal of this quilt project!

Adventure Quilt

While piecing these units, I became curious about other methods to create this block or pieced unit. A quick Google search query: “How to make a flying geese fabric unit for quilting” returned many results in various formats including written tutorials and videos. From the first page of results there were three or four methods shown most often – each with its own list of Pros and Cons. What follows is a short summary of my findings:

Traditional

This method is likely the oldest, but it is tricky. Each triangle is cut – on the bias – which means a great deal of care needs to be taken to prevent the pieces from stretching while stitching. I am assuming the sheer frustration among early quilters trying to keep all those triangles from stretching reached a boiling point resulting the methods listed below. It is easy to see how the evolution of this technique has made the Traditional method almost, if not entirely, obsolete.

Corner Triangle

To me, this method looks like the easiest. It consists of one rectangle, (the “goose”) and two squares, (the “sky”). The diagonal stitches are made and then the excess is cut away. No cutting or stitching on the bias = no stretching of any piece and the desired size and shape is maintained. There is more about this method in the second tutorial below.

Paper or Foundation Piecing

Of all the methods listed, this one has the greatest potential to create the most perfect flying geese units. The downside, if you are not familiar with paper or foundation piecing then you will need to learn this process first. This, is a good place to start.

If you are an absolute perfectionist, then this is the method for you!

No-Waste

This is the method I used as it was the method illustrated in the Adventure Quilt Along. And believe me, there is no waste!

Fabric Trimmings

See what I mean! What you see above is pretty much the only waste after piecing FOUR flying geese units which measured approx. 2 1/2″ x 4 1/2″.

The downside: no wiggle room for an inaccurate seam or cut. You need to start with accurate cuts and sew a consistent scant 1/4″ seam. The result is a unit that only requires a quick trim of the extending points so the “Wing Clipper” ruler is not needed.

I like the No-Waste process and appreciate the fact that such a minimal amount of fabric is wasted but I was curious about the Coner Triangle method and decided to give it a try. This way I could compare the two methods to determine the advantage of using one method over another.

No-Waste Method:

This method involves several steps so in an attempt to simplify the instructions I’ve compiled a few images into a quick tutorial:

Flying Geese No Waste Tutorial

Flying Geese No-Waste Tutorial

Finished Flying Geese Units

Corner Triangle Method:

Same as above except the unit is squared using the Wing Clipper Ruler. Cutting the fabric pieces a bit larger than instructed gives you the extra fabric needed to use the Wing Clipper ruler to get the flying geese unit the perfect size.

Flying Geese Corner Triangle Tutorial

Finished Flying Geese Unit

My Take-Away Comparing the No-Waste and Corner Triangle Methods

When you have a pattern calling for several flying geese units of the same size and at least four of those units are to be the same color, the no-waste method is the way to go. Once you are comfortable with the technique and develop a piecing rhythm the result are four units, pieced at once and in a relatively short period of time.

The corner triangle method is faster (from start to finish) however, you can generally only make one unit at a time. I haven’t attempted to time these two methods however, I am thinking you could churn out four flying geese units using the corner method in about the same amount of time as it takes to create four units using the no-waste method.

Challenge Anyone?

For fun, has anyone ever set a stop watch and timed to compare these two methods?

Although I am curious, I lack a sufficient level of curiosity to take on this challenge myself so for anyone who reads this and is also curious and has the motivation to do a timed comparison please feel free to post your result in the comments below.

Each one of us who spends a significant amount of time in “Quilt World” is always on the look out for a more efficient way to use our time, money and resources!

Blog

The Best $14.95 I’ve Ever Spent

Spending Money Online

That’s Right – a Simple $14.95 Purchase Has Changed My Life!

It is not only a solid investment but one I should have made long, long, long ago and here’s why:

Achieving a consistent 1/4″ seam is THE foundation for accurately piecing most every quilt top you make.

The above statement is nothing new but what I have discovered – just today before beginning the strip piecing portion for Block 8 of my weekly Adventure Quilt Along – is that using my 1/4″ presser foot was NOT the ticket to achieving a consistent 1/4″ seam!

Wow…Really??? Really???

All this time…and yes, I did wonder now and then, if I am actually keeping my fabric against the metal “fence” of this presser foot, how and why were my seams ending up a smidgen wider than they should be. What was I doing wrong?

Turns out, the problem was not entirely me, but the presser foot I was using.

In my previous post I mentioned a potential purchase of the Perfect Piecing Seam Guide and the reusable vinyl Sewing Edge. At that time I wasn’t sure the benefits of such a purchase would outweigh the price since I already had that “wonderful” 1/4″ presser foot.

I also mentioned that I have a hard time walking past any quilting / sewing tool or notion that I feel I can’t live without and this was no exception! On a whim I made this purchase and let it sit on my sewing table for a few days. My thought: I’ll open it up and give it a try when I’m in the mood to try something new…someday.

Fast forward about a week – that day has arrived!

It was the following words on the label of the Perkins Perfect Piecing Seam Guide that caught my attention, “Check the accuracy of your 1/4″ piecing foot”.

Perkins Perfect Piecing Seam Guide

Hmmm…it never, ever occurred to me that my 1/4″ piecing foot was anything but accurate – after all, 1/4″ is in its name for gosh’s sake!

Now, I’m curious. I’ve got know if my 1/4″ piecing foot is accurate.

Following the instructions, (with the 1/4″ piecing foot in place) I placed the guide on the footplate and lowered the needle into the hole.

Whoa!!!

The edge of the seam guide doesn’t come anywhere near the fence on the 1/4: piecing foot!

OMG!

Perfect Piecing Seam Guide

In spite of poor lighting, the image above is my attempt to illustrate this distance between the ruler and the metal fence on the 1/4″ piecing foot. The purpose of the fence is to act as a guide, the idea being as long as your fabric ran against this fence you are assured of a perfect 1/4″ seam.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered what I consider a huge gap of empty space between the ruler’s edge and the fence!

I’ve placed the tip of one of my lint brushes to fill in this in the gap. If the 1/4″ presser foot was really 1/4″ from the needle there wouldn’t be any space whatsoever – nothing should be filling this gap between the right edge of the ruler and the metal fence.

The second half of this equation-

The vinyl strips.

I’ve tried painter’s tape, masking tape, etc., and I suppose they would do in a pinch but these sewing edge vinyl strips are WAY better! They are just the right amount of thickness and the adhesive is strong yet easy to lift off and re position as needed to get perfect alignment along the length of this strip.

Seam Guide and Vinyl Strips

Once the strip is in place, remove the ruler and begin sewing!

The images below illustrate how the vinyl strip is used to create the perfect 1/4″ seam

Perfect Quarter Inch Seam

The fabric strip set consisting of 1 red and 2 white strips when sewn together are to measure 6 1/2″ wide. I can’t remember the last time (if ever) that I was able to sew a consistent 1/4″ seam the full length of a 20″ or so strip set!

One More Lesson Learned

This purchase has also taught me what the term “scant” means – a word I’ve seen used here and there but I never really understood its meaning until now. Scant – as in just barely, almost 1/4″ – the width of the ink used to mark a line on a ruler. I have to admit I’ve never bothered too much about the “scant” thing as it has been my philosophy that whatever the seam allowance you choose just make sure it is consistent throughout your project and all should be fine. 🙂

Concluding Thoughts

1) Even if you feel sewing an accurate scant 1/4″ seam is no longer a problem or an issue of any kind, it may be beneficial to go ahead and at least use the Perfect Piecing Seam Guide to check and make sure the 1/4″ mark you are using is accurate. When you do check this, I hope you aren’t as surprised by the results as I was!

It’s much easier to create an accurate seam marking before you start a project than regret it later when seams don’t match up and you aren’t able to figure out why.

2) I’ll be tossing the 1/4″ piecing foot aside – way off to the side! From now on, I be using my walking or even feed foot (pretty much exclusively) and keeping that pretty purple strip in place!

As thankful as I am for these wonderful products, I can’t help but wonder why quilters have to bother with this in the first place. Every sewing machine I’ve ever used has a marking for pretty much every seam allowance imaginable but NONE have a marking indicating a 1/4″ seam – NOT ONE.

Is it fruitless to expect sewing machine manufacturers to wake up and realize the necessity of having a 1/4″ clearly indicated on the footplate? And let’s suppose they do wake up, is it unreasonable to expect them to take the next step and acknowledge this need by including this 1/4″ mark on all footplates? And why isn’t this marking there already?

So many unanswered questions however, one main question has been answered: Purchasing the Perfect Seam Guide and Sewing Edge Vinyl Strips is the best $14.95 I’ve ever spent!

What is the best purchase you’ve ever made?

What is the one quilting or sewing item you cannot live without?

To learn more about this product go here.