Monday, September 18, 2017

On The Road Again

Just can't wait to get on the road again! Soon I'll be heading to Panama City, FL to give a trunk show and teach a two-day workshop. It will be wonderful to BE there, doing what I dearly love, but the GETTING there, ah, there is the rub.

First, since my lecture is a trunk show, I had to decide which quilts to take, which have good stories, or make a strong visual statement about me and my work. Having decided that, I make written Notes so I have the correct information: dates made, pattern if not my original design, who quilted it if not me, etc. Fortunately, I am diligent in putting printed labels on all my quilts to provide that information. You may think you won't forget, but I'm  here to tell you, you will.

Now, how many suitcases do I need and will they all fit? As I'm driving that's not quite as big a deal as it is when flying. A really BIG suitcase and a smaller one will do it if I squish them down flat. I'm sorry quilts, to have to squish you so, I'll make it up to you by laying you out flat when I get you back home. And one of you will get the honor of going on my hotel bed:

See, they all made it, about a dozen bed size quilts and a couple smaller ones:

Just when I think I'm done, I look around a see a few more--surely, it won't hurt to throw these small ones in too, they're little, they'll fit:

Then there is the paperwork, invoice, receipts, handouts, and my personal handwork I never leave home without:

In prepping for every class I teach, I review in detail my handout and all the various steps to the process so I sound like I know what I'm talking about. This always gets me excited and eager to get in front the students and get them going. We DO have fun in my classes. I've been teaching for 30 years so I'm not an overnight success.

Now, what am I forgetting? Oh, yes, my clothes and personal items. They go in another suitcase, after I figure out exactly what I'm wearing and make sure every outfit is clean and ready to go.

Sorry to say I forgot to take any photos at the first session of Long Time Gone that started this past Saturday. There are 13 happy students on this 6-month adventure. In class, I do the demo sewing and explain how to make that month's assigned blocks, they bring fabric to cut and prep in class and sew at home. It worked very well and I kept to the exact 3 hour schedule, getting in everything I wanted to explain. Sometimes you find you need more time so things get a bit rushed, but this seemed to be just enough time. Next month I'll be sure to take photos of their "homework".  Here's my finished sample:

Long Time Gone, a pattern by Jen Kingwell Designs

And I am making a second one of these as part  of this 6 month class:

I hope you are making something that makes you happy--let's quilt!


Sunday, September 10, 2017

Halo Sunday Sew and Sews

This is Month 9 of the Block of the Month from The quilt is called the Halo Star Medallion and is a free pattern for members of the The Quilt Show:  the Block of the Month 2017. It is not too late to start or at least gather the patterns, they remain free until December 31, 2017. After that the rights go back to the designer's company, Sue Garman of You will have to buy the pattern after 2017. There is also a beautiful Batik kit available if you like:
Batik Kit.

Last January I offered to teach this to a small group at my home, once a month, on Sunday afternoon. I wasn't sure if anyone in my guild would be interested--at 15 people I had to say "no more". I call them the Halo Sunday Sew and Sews. Nine of them were here today. I left my design wall empty on purpose, so I could show you how they are doing. Ready?

Sheila, so dramatic and vibrant

Janet, I told her she has to have this ready for 2019, the Sapphire Celebration at Houston

Brenda, ready to attach flying geese

Pam, despite breaking both wrists in February, she's back on track
Donna, her geese are almost done and ready to add
JoAnne, checkerboard, no pinwheels for her, geese up next
I am so proud of how well they are doing--only a few of these women call themselves "experienced quilters". They are having a good time, learning a lot, and even with busy lives, managing to stay pretty much up to date. As I tell them, it's not a race, just do what you can, as you can, and enjoy the process.  The other members of the group had to miss today or didn't bring their quilt with them.

In December we'll have a little party to celebrate--I bet a few of these are completely done then and I'll be delighted to share them with you.

Let's Quilt!


Antique Rose Star--A Top Class for Everyone

I recently had the opportunity to teach one of my FAVORITE classes--Antique Rose Star by Machine.

My Sample Quilt hanging in HQH Quilt Show 2015

Although this is an old pattern, I first discovered it 7 years ago when an English friend, Barbara Chainey, showed her hand-pieced blocks on Instagram. Wow--I loved her blocks and the wonderful design. I contacted her and found out the template was available from Material Obsession, a shop in Australia. I ordered 10 of them, knowing this would be a great class to develop and teach. I was off and running and haven't looked back since.
Barbara Chainey's blocks that got me started

I developed a way to organize the 72 pieces for each block that really helps and created a handout for students to assist them. Over time, new ideas for machine piecing this 60 degree angle have been explained and now I incorporate those new ideas too. It is always my goal in all my classes that each student learns more than they expected to and learns tips and tricks that will improve all their quiltmaking. 

After my quilt was done I discovered the quilt pattern in the book Material Obsession 2, by Kathy Doughty of the shop in Australia. It shows this block with two different layouts and there are additional layouts I also explain to my students. The layout I used was a bit difficult because I sewed the blocks completely together while making them. If left in two halves, assembly of the quilt top can be much easier than I did mine. More lessons to teach students.
Dianne's block in two halves

There are 72 "kite" shapes in each block. It can be assembled with several techniques:

hand-piecing with a running stitch, needle and thread
machine piecing, all by machine, or both hand and machine piecing in the same block
English Paper Piecing--cut or buy paper shapes and wrap fabric around the shapes, then whipstitch the pieces together.

You can use Reproduction fabrics, Modern fabrics, 30's fabrics, Batiks, whatever you like will look fabulous in this pattern. There are now templates available in several sizes, making it easier than ever to get started on this quilt.

I have taught this class at least a dozen times locally and am now teaching it nationally--it's one of my classes at Road to California 2018--there are still a few spots left in it.  This is one of those classes I am known for and love to teach.  The wonderful women of the Needle Chasers Guild in Iuka, MS brought me in to teach this to them, as a pre-retreat class. I've been with them 4 times in the last 12 years and truly enjoy my time with them. And the location they retreat to: J P Coleman State Park on Pickwick Lake--absolutely a fantastic location and a huge room for classes.

The 18 students had a good time and everyone made excellent progress. Here are a few shots:

Spectacular Views of Pickwick Lake
I saw water birds and boats throughout the day--a beautiful spot!

Nelda thought she'd hand piece but was intrigued by my machine piecing instructions 

Nelda--her half block done

Rita with her half block

Madge has a half block

Connie made great progress

Sharon use a collection of charm packs to make her first block

Adrienne, the only one who hand pieced hers, cutting out and staying organized

Miss Mississippi (I think), bright and happy

Diane, likes to be very organized so she carefully cut most of the day

Barbara, her second block of the retreat
President Doris, getting her wedges together

Polly?, I think, soft and lovely block, two halves

Nancy did some fussy cutting and has a great plan in mind for her quilt

I would LOVE to teach this to you or your group. If you are local, it will be on the Spring 2018 schedule at Patches & Stitches. If you aren't local, we can make a plan. It is just one of those "Dorito quilts"--hard to make only one. I am working on my second, using very bright fabrics.

Let's Quilt!


Saturday, September 2, 2017

Happy Halloween?

This project has consumed me for a week. The top is done, now to baste and machine quilt it.

What you need to know: I am not much of a Halloween fan. It was always a challenge to create costumes for my boys when they were little then we were surrounded with candy for weeks after. Ugh.

BUT. My son, Andy, LOVES Halloween and always has. He and Lauren start decorating their home October 1, watch at least one horror movie a day for all 31 days, and can't wait for October 31. When he met Lauren and she agreed to go to Zombie Prom with him, where everyone dresses up as Zombies with incredibly ghoulish makeup I told him he'd better keep her. A woman with an education and a job, who loves that kind of thing too? She's a keeper.

SO, when I had Lauren and Andy go into Market in St. Louis last May I should not be surprised they spotted this pattern and took photos and got booth numbers. I wanted them to see all the different kind of quilts, garments, accessories, and other things at Quilt Market, different from the kind of quilts I make. They sure did. Later I bought the pattern, and got glow-in-the dark thread as the pattern suggests for the satin stitching around all those pieces.

Some of those pieces are really tiny. First, I had to trace all the patterns onto fusible web. Then fuse and cut them out of white fabric. Next, I fused the pieces to black backgrounds. Stitching around all those  pieces took a few days.

THEN, there were hundreds of threads to be pulled to the back and tied off. I got my husband  AKA PopPop, involved in this step. His first, and probably last, quilt project. Such sighing and fussing you've never heard:

What you should know about glow-in-the-dark thread: it MELTS when touched with a HOT iron, as I learned when pressing the sashing in place. The pattern warned of this, I learned the hard way. The other thing is the Superior Glow-in-the-Dark thread has 80 yards on the spool--I bought 2 spools thinking that would be plenty--there was about 36" of thread left on the second spool when I finished. Glad I didn't melt more than a few spiderwebs that had to be restitched.

The border fabric is also Glow in the Dark spiderwebs--I found it online in an Etsy shop.  It really does glow in the dark though I can't get a photo to prove it:

The final part of quilting and binding and shipping it off to St. Louis will be the fun part of this project. I hope to have that done in a few days. That might be wishful thinking as I have 2 out of state teaching jobs this month and start several local classes too.

If you are interested in a slightly-used copy of the pattern at a great price, let me know. There will not be another one of these in my future. I will say the directions were excellent:

Happy Halloween!

Let's Quilt,


Friday, September 1, 2017

Halo Star Medallion--Month 9

Let's make more geese and add them to the quilt:

The right side border is made exactly as we made the left side last month, 43 geese in all.

The top and bottom borders are made the same but have 47 geese each. WATCH OUT when adding the the first two geese to the top and bottom borders--they go on in a different direction so they turn the corner nicely. PLEASE NOTE: MY TOP BORDER IS WRONG! (The two geese on the far left should face down--OOPS!)  I discovered this after the entire top was completed so it is staying this way. So, do as the pattern says, not as I did, if you want your top border to look like the pattern.

After you have all four borders made, use the chart on page 3 to calculate the size "floater" you need to join the flying geese borders to your quilt center. I needed a .5" finished floater so mine were cut 1" wide by the required length.

It's no more difficult to add a tiny border than a wide one. Here are my steps whenever I add a border to a quilt, no matter how wide or narrow:

1. Carefully cut the borders exactly the required size based on your calculations--don't fudge

2. Mark the center of the border and the center of the quilt--I fold and press both, the border right sides out, the quilt rights sides in, use a mechanical pencil to make a mark on those folds

3. Pin the two outside edges and the center of quilt and borders. I sew with the pieced border on top

4. Carefully pin one side from the outer edge to the center. Use as many pins as you need--I place pins about 3" apart. Repeat pinning from the other side to the center. The more pins I use, the easier it is to sew straight and it slows me down, which also helps me sew straight

5. Sew as straight as you can, slow down. With the pieced border on top, you can see the seam allowances and won't get them flipped in the wrong direction

6. After sewing on the floater, carefully press it, seam allowance pressed in to the floater. Try not to distort that tiny floater--steam is not your friend during this step--a hot, dry iron is best

Once the four floaters were in place, I added the four flying geese borders. These I also pressed in toward the tiny floater--my floater is 1/2" finished--that is just enough space to hold the two seam allowances and it helps give just a bit of definition to that floater, almost like trapunto.

That's it for now. Next month it's on to Delectable Mountains--unless you do a completely different border like I did. Stay tuned...

Let's Quilt!


Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Upcoming Classes

It is almost September when class schedules at local quilt shops ramp back up. I have several new classes and several "back by popular demand" classes to offer this Fall locally.

At Patches & Stitches in addition to two sessions of my long-running Quiltmaking 101 5 week Beginners class, I am teaching:

Super Southern Star:  my "go-to" gift quilt because I can make the top in a weekend. In this all-day class students finish about a third of the top and know how to complete it. Many love it and make more than one. From Calico Carriage Quilt Designs:

About 76" square

Little Handful of Scraps: a variation of a quilt from Edyta Sitar's book. Emphasis on careful piecing and design work will be the focus:

About 12" x 14" 

Creative Log Cabin: who doesn't love a Log Cabin quilt? I've made several with different techniques and rulers. At Quilt Market this Spring I saw a demo on the Creative Grids 8" Trim Tool for Log Cabin blocks and wanted to try it. It worked well, everyone will get perfect blocks:

About 58" square
Another local store I will be teaching at is Huntsville Sew and Vac.

Long Time Gone: a very popular Jen Kingwell pattern. This six month class will meet for 3 hours once a month. No sewing machines are needed in class. Students will bring their book and fabrics and cutting tools. I will demo the steps for the various blocks we'll be making that month and they can get help with fabric selection and cut their blocks out in class, sewing at home. At the last class we will audition various sashing fabrics to select the best.

Spellbound: a pattern from Calico Carriage Quilt Designs, this quilt uses your choice of two Jelly Rolls, both the same, one background and one fat quarter for the center. A great quilt to practice free motion quilting on when it's done:

Flip N Sew Throw: such an easy quilt that makes a fast gift. Start with a back fabric, add a cotton batt, cut a bunch of strips or use a Jelly roll and piece and quilt at the same time, through all layers, 3 hour class:

37" x 41", using a crib size batt
Mug Rugs: another 3 hour class for making fast quilted gifts. Enlarge the batt and back to make placemats:

If you are local, I hope you find something of interest. Sign up soon, spots fill quickly and we want to have all the supplies you will need on hand when class begins.

If you are not local, I have added my Teaching Calendar to the top bar so you can see where I will be. I would love to see you in class.

Let's Quilt! 


Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Batting and Basting

What do you do? When you come into a bunch of batting and you have tops that ought to get quilted?

You: 1. Do an archaeological dig to find those tops that need finishing.
         2.  Find some have backs and batts with them--Score!
         3. Dig through excess/discarded fabrics in deep storage to find backs that will work.
         4. Figure out how many batts you can cut from a Queen size batt for those tops
         5. Cut the backs and also sleeves from the back fabrics.
         6. Cut that Queen size batt into the needed sizes.
         7. Clear the Dining Room table and pin baste until you run out of pins.

I was pleased and surprised to find all the backs I needed in the closet where I am storing the stuff that didn't sell last summer--some of which needs to find it's way to my Etsy shop. No fabric had to come from my studio stash, AKA "the good stuff".

Here is the sketch for dividing up the Queen size batt:

It helps to have a plan before you open up and start cutting into that very big batt. Three of the quilt tops already had batting and backs stored with them so I only needed to cut 6 batts of various sizes from this batt and so there is leftover for the next small quilts I make.

Now I have 9 quilts ready to go, to practice and to finish.

How did I happen to have extra batt? The Quilters Dream Batting company had a little giveaway on Facebook a couple weeks ago. Now I love that batt, using it almost exclusively, in Request weight, their thinnest. In addition to batting they were throwing in a copy of Catherine Redford's new book Modern Machine Quilting. I have taken a machine quilting class with Catherine in Chicago and find her a delightful instructor. She will be teaching and lecturing at my guild next month but I will be teaching out of state myself so will miss her.  I rarely enter these giveaways but this was easy to do: "Like" their page and tell them what you were currently quilting. As I had "Long Time Gone" under the needle, with Quilters Dream Request batting in it, I took a couple seconds to post that.

Imagine my surprise a few days later when they announced I was the lucky winner, selected at random from 1350 entrants!  Maybe I need to buy a lottery ticket. Here is what they sent:

7 lbs.of greatness

Twin and Queen Request weight, Twin and Queen Select weight, Queen Deluxe weight, and about 50 8.5" x 11.5" samples of Select, perfect for using in upcoming classes. AND an autographed copy of the book, which I am reading carefully and enjoying. Thanks, Quilters Dream and Catherine!

I've got a use for the Deluxe Queen batt I hope to tell you about later...

Another shot of all 9 of the quilts, now ready for quilting magic. The small Amish quilts at the top were made more than 30 years ago, when I handquilted everything--which is why they never got done. And the first one at the bottom is waiting for more pins:

Let's Quilt!