Courtesy of AQS Publishing, we have an exquisite book this month by award-winning art-to-wear and quilter Rami Kim.


Elegant Cotton • Wool • Silk Quilts is an exciting departure from the books I usually have the privilege of featuring. Quoting from the preface, “The designs here put special emphasis on the ancient cultures of Korea. …This book will serve as an introduction to and a window into ‘The Land of Morning Calm.’ …Though many of the designs are actually more than a few thousand years old, this will be the first glimpse through the eyes of the Western viewer.”

It was exciting to turn the pages of this book and discover shapes and designs I’d never seen before.

How about these Asian interpretations of flowers, leaves, clouds, and mountains done up penny-rug style… gorgeous!

I was captivated by the section on Chopkey — a Korean folding technique. Rami give step-by-step instructions for making a traditional costume coat.

As the titles implies, there are projects done in cotton, wool, and silk, and you can certainly use any of these materials for the design of your choice.

The books jumps right into the projects, so basic skills in hand blanket-stitch embroidery will be needed. Also, the designs need to be enlarged 200%.

If you’d like a chance to win this book that translates Korean architectural elements into American quilts, please leave a comment here on the blog by 7:00 p.m. California time on Friday, May 9.

Open to U.S. mailing addresses only, and remember… don’t try to enter by email. If you’re reading this in an email, you’ll need to click over to the blog itself on the internet.

Best of luck!!
Kay
By Kay Mackenzie

My current favorite brand of paper-backed fusible web is SoftFuse.

I carry it on my website and I take it with me to shows.

Yesterday I made a new little visual demo of how to use the product, to lay on the table for those who are unfamiliar with raw-edge fusible appliqué.

I thought, aha! I can take photos as I go and stick them up on the blog!

First trace the shape onto the paper side and roughly cut out, leaving a small margin outside the drawn line.

Cut right through the line and trim away the center of the template, leaving a ring of fusible in the shape of the motif.

Put the cut-away part with your stash of fusible scraps, for future use on a smaller motif.

Fuse the floppy shape to the back of your appliqué fabric, meeting the cut ends together.

Now cut out the shape on the drawn line, through the template and the fabric together.

Remove the paper backing, fuse to the background fabric, and stitch.

The flip side. I used a small blanket stitch and buried the thread tails under the line of stitching.

That’s the basics!

Until next time,
Kay

Every couple of years, my small quilt group the Nite Needlers collaborates on a project that we donate as a fundraiser to our guild or another worthy cause. This year we hit on a red-and-white basket quilt.

I drafted some basic traditional-looking baskets in my trusty Illustrator program and handed them out with the finished dimensions to all the gals. We’re each making five blocks, and our ground rules are that we’re using turkey-reddish fabrics for the baskets and white-to-cream-with-red for the background. Sticking to the basic basket shape, we can do whatever we like as far as sub-piecing the body, adding appliqué, etc.

OF COURSE I had to do some appliqué. Here’s what I came up with.

Okay imagine for now that there’s some red print on the white.

I had my plan. Now for the execution part. I was presented with some conundrums.

IMO, raw-edge appliqué is for decorative purposes, like wall quilts. This project is going to be bed-sized, so I really felt that my appliqué should be turned-edge. “Hand appliqué!” you might be saying. As well you might, knowing me.

But there were other factors to consider. I knew that Janet, who never does anything by hand being the mistress of the machine that she is, would make her handles using turned-edge machine appliqué. Plus, I wanted to delineate the edges of the appliqué motifs to distinguish between the flower and the leaves a little better, and the machine blanket stitch in the dark red color would work well for that.

So there it was. Turned-edge appliqué with a machine blanket stitch. Hmm….

I reached deep into my appliqué bag of tricks, and even ended up inventing a new trick that I threw back in with the rest when I was done!

First, the handles. I used Holly Mabutas’ glue-stick turned-edge preparation method, where the turning allowance is glued back onto itself using a freezer-paper template on the front as a guide. All went well.

Then the flowers. Another conundrum, factor, wrinkle, challenge, or whatever you consider it to be. These were white flowers on a red background. Can you say “shadow-through?” I wanted to line them.

Thinking cap, thinking cap. I could have used faced appliqué, but I was in the glue-stick groove. Got it! A hybrid fusing/glue-stick method!

I hauled out scraps of my favorite paper-backed fusible web SoftFuse, and made some templates with the centers cut out.

I fused them to some white scrap fabric and cut them out actual size.

I removed the paper backing and fused them onto the back of the red-and-white print for the flowers, and cut them out leaving a small turning allowance.

Back to Holly’s method, except this time I glued the turning allowance over onto the white lining, using it as my template. It worked!

Then I turned to Karen Kay Buckley’s Perfect Circles™ templates to make turned-edge flower centers.

Stick them all together and you’ve got a motif ready to pop onto a basket and stitch.

Here are my five baskets, ready to turn in at the next Nite Needlers meeting, and another thing off my list! Thanks Holly and Karen Kay!

Until next time,
Kay
By Kay Mackenzie

And we have a great book as our featured selection to start things off right!

Pennies From Heaven: Celebrated Quilt and Companion Projects by Gretchen Gibbons.

pennies-heaven

The title of the book and cover quilt comes from the old term “penny rug,” so called because of the circles, usually wool, that are blanket-stitched onto a base in decorative patterns. As Gretchen says, this style is “primitive, colorful, and funky all at the same time.”

Gretchen enjoys working with wool, and calls it the easiest appliqué technique, for several reasons:

• There are no edges to turn.
• There’s no right or wrong side, so you don’t have to reverse patterns.
• You don’t have to use fusible web (though you can if you want to).
• Cutting on the straight of grain or on the bias works equally well.
• The blanket stitching can be done by hand or machine.
• Hand-dyed wools come in yummy colors.

The book starts out with instructions for felting wool, which is the process that shrinks it, mats the fibers together, and eliminates raveling. Then there are complete instructions for wool appliqué, a color guide for the motifs used in the book’s projects, and information on needles, threads, and beads, and embroidery. There’s good advice on batting, mixing cottons and wools within a project, quilting considerations, and attaching a hanging sleeve.

Besides the cover quilt with its 10 beautiful blocks, there are instructions for eight more smaller projects, each one cuter than the last.

Enchanted Pennies

Enchanted Pennies

Joyful Pillow

Joyful Pillow

Pennies Window Valance

Pennies Window Valance

Circle of Life Table Mat

Circle of Life Table Mat

I just love their primitive, folksy look. If you admire it too, and would like a chance to win this book, please leave a comment here on this post before 7:00 p.m. California time on Thursday, January 5. Contest open to U.S. and Canada mailing addresses only, and remember to click over to the blog itself instead of replying to your email feed.

Thank you, That Patchwork Place, for providing the book!

Until next time,
Kay
By Kay Mackenzie

I am in awe. The ingenious Darcy Ashton has done it again! You have got to go and see her fabulous new design for making an appliquéd clock!!!

Sewing Room Clocks

Who knew?

Cheers,
Kay
By Kay Mackenzie

I’m delighted today to turn the blog over to appliqué author, designer, and teacher Cheryl Almgren Taylor.

Cheryl Almgren Taylor

Cheryl Almgren Taylor


Cheryl: I am excited to be a guest on Kay’s site today and want to thank her for the invitation to be a part of her blog.

I have loved quilts since I was a small child but never ventured into quilting until 2000. I had been sewing since I was 13 so I had some basic skills down. But I discovered, like many of us, that quilting is a whole new world.

I got into designing because of my grandson Michael and my love of storybooks. I spent 14 years teaching in the elementary grades and loved “read aloud” time with the kids. Several years ago I wanted to make Michael a quilt that would go with his favorite story Going On a Bear Hunt, and this led to the creation of a whole series of quilts that coordinate with childrens’ books. I was surprised and delighted when Martingale & Company (That Patchwork Place) chose to publish my designs in a pattern series entitled Storybook Snugglers.

There were six patterns in this original pattern series from 2007, with two quilt designs in each pattern–one easier version and one more detailed. There are still some patterns available from Martingale.

Monkey Business by Cheryl Almgren Taylor

Monkey Business by Cheryl Almgren Taylor

deck-halls

Last summer my first book Deck the Halls was published featuring a collection of Christmas quilts.

Editor’s note: If you haven’t seen it, check out the post from last November, when Deck the Halls was our featured appliqué book.



Cheryl:
Although I love pieced quilts, I am especially drawn to appliqué. Applique enables us to make shapes that are just not possible with piecing, and you don’t have to worry about your quarter inch or matching points! I especially love using batiks and fussy cutting shapes so that the design has shading provided by the fabric. I also like to use a variety of fabrics in the same tonal range when repeating a shape, rather than making everything match. I think it gives more interest to the design. When I’m designing I am almost always telling a story (at least in my head) and my favorite technique is fusible-web appliqué finished with machine blanket stitching.

Wrapped Up in Love from Deck the HallsWrapped Up in Love from Deck the Halls

I know that in certain quilting circles, admitting to a love of fusible web can be the equivalent of admitting you only shower once a week or you let your children eat cereal out of the box while watching Saturday morning cartoons so that you can sleep in late. But I really do love the technique. And although the jury is out on how long my quilts will last into eternity, I know that I can finish more quilts in my lifetime.

An event early in my quilting career also solidified my feeling that there is a time and place for fast techniques. When my first grandchild Taylor was born, of course I wanted to make him a quilt. I envisioned this as an heirloom quilt that would be lovingly treasured, perhaps hung at the foot of the crib as part of the décor and eventually stored away for future generations. I spent nearly a year completing the quilt (it had two ruffles and piping, as well) and I was extremely proud that Taylor received it before starting Kindergarten.

A few short months later, I called my daughter and discovered that Taylor had been sick and thrown up on the quilt. I was horrified and wondered why he was anywhere near the quilt at the time. My daughter, who doesn’t quilt or sew, explained that she believed children should play with their quilts and enjoy them, not save them as heirlooms. Well, there’s certainly something to be said for that philosophy, but as a quilt maker it made me realize that recipients are not always aware of how much time goes into making a quilt and that fusible web fills a need in those circumstances. It’s quick(er), it’s user friendly, and it gives beautiful results.

Christmas Kisses from Deck the Halls

Christmas Kisses from Deck the Halls

For those of you who have never ventured into the world of fusing, here is some advice I think you might find helpful.

First off, purchasing fusible web can be overwhelming if you don’t know what you are looking for. There is everything out there in fusible land, from fusible interfacing to fusible batting. If you have never ventured into this department before, you can become overwhelmed and confused. And depending upon where you are shopping, the store clerk may not know a piece of fusible web from a French fry. The item you want to purchase is paper-backed fusible web. Brands that may be familiar are Heat ‘n Bond, Wonder Under, and Steam a Seam (as well as many others) and I highly recommend a lightweight product.

When using fusible, remember that if your design is asymmetrical you must trace the pattern in reverse on the paper backing of the fusible product. Also remember to trace each piece separately. If you have a large pattern piece, cutting the center portion out of the fusible will create less stiffness in the finished design. My books and patterns all have a section that gives detailed information on this process.

Another important thing you should know about lightweight fusible web is, that it’s a temporary bond. It must be stitched down around the edges or it will eventually float away. This is not true for all fusible webs—only the lightweight type. However, using a heavier fusible makes a stiffer quilt and I don’t recommend using them.

And now we get to the fun part of fusing—finishing the edges! There is such a choice of fabulous threads out there in different weights, colors, and fibers. It’s awesome! So the first thing you have to decide is what element you want the threads to play in the finished product. Do you want them to recede into the background or pop out as a design element? Do you want them to add some pizzazz or blend in? This is an important design element in your quilt and you will be happier with the finished quilt if you decide how this element should look just the same as you select your color choices.

I have developed some personal choices that work for me, but please bear in mind that I don’t work for these companies, receive compensation from them, or guarantee their products. I’m just sharing my personal experiences with you. My “go-to” thread for finishing appliqué edges is Mettler 50 wt. Silk Finish cotton thread in a matching or coordinating color. The thread is thick enough to make it viewable, but it doesn’t distract from the design. If you want your thread to recede a little more, consider using a 60 wt. Mettler or a 50 wt. Aurifil, again in a matching color. Using YLI silk threads in a 50 wt. can give a beautiful, subtle sheen to edges but since the thread is a finer consistency, you may want to be selective in its usage. If you want your thread to pop out and become a design feature, try a slightly darker hue or be bold with a darker thread choice. Using a thicker 40 wt. thread will also make the stitching a dominant part of the design and some people even use a 25 wt. thread, which will be very thick. It will give you a primitive, country feel. Finally, when you want a little glitz, consider a Sulky rayon/polyester or metallic thread. These threads can bring glamour and pizzazz to your work.

I hope this advice is helpful and has inspired you to launch into a new appliqué project. I can only say that if you’ve been afraid to try fusible web before, give it a try. It’s a very user-friendly technique.

Happy quilting!
Cheryl

Kay: Thank you Cheryl! It was a treat learning more about you, and your appliqué wisdom is much appreciated. We’re “like this” in so many ways. Can’t wait to see what you do next!

Until next time,
Kay
By Kay Mackenzie

Sarah answered the call! Recently, when I put out a call for contributions to the blog, regular reader Sarah Vee of Ontario, Canada, got in touch right away. I’d delighted to turn the blog over to her today for a terrific guest post about blanket-stitch appliqué. Go Sarah!

sarah-veeSarah Vee of Sew Joy, whose motto is “I have found happiness in making quilts – and joy in sharing my quilt making.”

Sarah: I have been a patchworker for most of the time I have been quilting. Almost 14 years now! I shied away from the “A” word for many years, even though some of the first quilts I fell in love with were in the Baltimore Album style.

Eventually I started to try it a block at a time. I made a wedding wallhanging with one large appliqué block –- no one could really tell if I had left anything out — and I did, almost half of the leaves!

When Kay’s book Easy Appliqué Blocks: 50 Designs in 5 Sizes came out, I was lucky enough to win a copy. Who could resist the possibilities! Around the same time, my sister sent my daughter a container that held all of her embroidery floss from doing cross stitch for many years. She was putting it aside to focus on quilting.

embroidery floss

My daughter never had a chance! I claimed the box of thread like it was my first box of 64 crayons! I was no longer daunted by the delicacy of appliqué – I had colour on my side.

I put my first blocks from Kay’s appliqué book into a larger pieced quilt for one of my nieces. Instead of having my stitches blend in with my fabrics, I outlined them in black like a colouring book.

picnic quilt

I use the blanket stitch because it’s easy (once you get the hang of it). You can change the size of the stitch to work on any piece, and you can work it by hand or machine. You can use it to secure pieces that are fused and also ones that are not.

I’m by no means an technical expert on supplies or technique. I use what I have, look at lots of pictures – and try stuff. Just take a quick look at these photos I took while working on my latest quilt. You’ll see how I made the colours and blanket stitch work for me to create my Bunny Lady quilt.

closeup of carrot top

The basics: I’m using DMC embroidery thread. I use two strands because that seems to give the thickness I need to cover the edge of the fabric. I use a needle that works for me — not sure if it’s the ‘right’ one. The eye isn’t so small I can’t see to thread it, but not so big that it leaves a hole when going through my quilt top. It’s a medium-length needle so that the thread doesn’t glide out of it too easily.

Tip: Use a fairly long strand of thread. You don’t want to re-thread the needle any more times than you need to – just don’t make it so long that it tangles after every stitch (this isn’t quicker – trust me).

To start: Bring your thread up from the back right at the edge of your piece to appliqué. The length of the next stitch determines the length of your blanket stitch – how far it goes into your appliqué. Put your thread into the fabric and bring it back up almost right on top of where you started.

On the leaves I used smaller stitches closer together because I had to turn a lot of corners, and the leaves are fairly small. On the carrots, I took larger stitches because there was more open space in the middle of the appliqué pieces.

You work this stitch counterclockwise (at least I do because I’m right handed). Hold your thread across the edge of the piece working to the left.

carrot closeup

From where your needle just came up, take a stitch down and to the right that lines up with your first stitch into the appliqué. Bring your needle up at the edge of your appliqué and go over the thread you are holding in place. Pull the stitch snug (but don’t make the piece pucker).

This space defines how close together your stitches will be. On smaller pieces, or going around a corner, you probably want them closer together.

green-tail

Keep going until you’re done, or almost out of thread! Make sure you leave a long enough tail so you can make a knot on the back.

two-carrots

You can see how I had fun with colour. I used different shades of orange on my carrots. Changing the colours made it more fun to go around so many carrots –- and also gives the up-close viewer a visual treat. The carrots in the border were not fused down, just pinned in place until I secured them with the blanket stitch.

bunny-lady

The bunnies and carrots in the quilt top were fused, then stitched. I used bright, fun colours on them too. I used a fairly large stitch on the bunnies so it would be more visible.

I hope this was helpful and encouraging. I stared at many magazine diagrams and pictures of beautiful quilts before I finally tried my hand at appliqué and the blanket stitch. You’ll never know the possibilities until you try. Thanks Kay for providing so many possibilities with your designs and inspiration-packed blog. I’m looking forward to including appliqué on many more quilts.

With Joy,
Sarah Vee
www.sewjoy.blogspot.com

Kay: Thanks a million, Sarah, for your article sharing the joy of appliqué! You’ve gone from “A” word avoider to appliqué enthusiast, because you found your method! I love those patched bunnies… reminds me that I have some randomly pieced hunks of patchwork sitting in the UFO pile awaiting their final destiny! Hmm…

FYI, Sarah is hosting a Placemat Party Blog Hop from Monday, June 28, to Friday, July 2. Visit her blog to find a new hostess each day celebrating the release of Sarah’s first pattern, “Eat with JOY! Placemats”. There will be prizes, fun, refreshments, and hostess-gift ideas for summer parties. Sounds like summer fun!

Until next time,
Kay
By Kay Mackenzie

The ever-zany daily blogger Pat Sloan has started a new, free BOM. Check it out at Pat Sloan’s Corner. A very cute block and great closeup photography of her fusible appliqué and thread choice.

Until next time,
Kay
By Kay Mackenzie

Yesterday I had the chance to try out the Superior windfall.

This is an old block originally called Wandering Foot. That name was thought to bring on the wandering foot to youths who slept under it, so a new name was given to it… Turkey Tracks. Much more attractive, don’t you think? :) It’s also called Iris Leaf when it’s green on white.

Fused and unstitched.

Fused and unstitched.

After some investigation on the Superior website, I discovered that the Holy SuperBobs are Bottom Line, a line of thread developed by Libby Lehman. It’s 60-weight polyester. I perused the rainbow and picked out the color that matched the best.

iris-thread

Wow, you can hardly make it out! It really is whisper-fine.

I fired up my Bernina and adjusted the blanket stitch down a few ticks, reasoning that a very fine thread should be given a pretty small stitch. A few minutes later, and voila! The block was stitched, and looked great! My machine liked the thread, which I used in both the top and the bottom, and Mother Superior says it’s not linty like cotton.

stitched-iris

How’s that for blending in? From a short distance you can’t see the stitching at all. This thread might be a nice choice when you really want to mimic hand appliqué while still using your machine, or when using the turned-edge blind-hem stitch method of machine appliqué (which BTW I am not adept at).

stitched-detail

One thing I did note is that the edges of the appliqués feel a little “crispy” compared to when I use cotton thread.

On to MasterPiece. MasterPiece thread is 2-ply 50-weight cotton, favored by the Piece o’ Cake gals and by Alex Anderson.

A simple forget-me-not.

Fused and unstitched.

Fused and unstitched.

My choices from the rainbow.

forget-thread

I adjusted the blanket stitch to my usual setting, just a couple ticks down in width and length. Away I went!

forget-stitched

I like it, my machine likes it. I wound a bobbin for the green, but for the dabs of yellow and blue I used bobbins I already had wound with DMC. Worked great! They really are equivalent in weight so that’s a plus for me that I can mix and match at this stage of evolution in my thread stash.

forget-detail

Now on to hand appliqué. I just happened to have a block in the queue that I needed to stitch up twice, to use as an example in the new book I’m working on for Martingale.

Here are the threads I chose.

Poly on the left and cotton on the right.

Poly on the left and cotton on the right.

I started with the polyester first. I was really excited about trying out this thread for hand appliqué. In the past, when I’ve tried other brands of poly thread, it went around in circles, kinked up, and raveled at the end. I’m delighted to report that Bottom Line stays straight. It sinks right into the turned edge of the appliqué and hides itself really well, and I was not plagued with knots or kinks. Yay! The one thing I did notice is that since it’s more slippery than cotton thread, my thread tail kept shortening up on me and I lost the thread out of the needle a couple times. I guess this just takes getting used to coming from the fabric of our lives.

poly-dogwood

I was on a roll watching the chocolate challenges on Food Network, so I plunged on ahead to the second version, using MasterPiece cotton. Excellent on all counts.

cotton-dogwood

Can you tell the difference in the completed piece? Neither can I, so I’ve been keeping sticky notes on them :) .

These pink dogwood blocks may seem kinda pale, and that’s on purpose. I’m going to embroider around the edges of one of them to illustrate how you can better define the edges of your appliqués when you want to use low-contrast fabrics.

Well, thanks guys! I got a lot done yesterday!

Chime in! I’d like to hear from others who use Bottom Line or MasterPiece. How do you use it, why do you like it?

Until next time,
Kay
By Kay Mackenzie

Got home on Monday afternoon from Road to California, tired but happy. The show was beyond fabulous. I met many amazing folks, got some new products to try out, and will write about everything in the fullness of time.

horsing-around
In the meantime, head over to Darcy Ashton’s blog, where you’ll see all the projects from her new book of appliqué patterns Horsing Around, which is just about to come out!

Sigh. I love horses.

Until next time,
Kay
By Kay Mackenzie

Writer Dawn Goldsmith invited me to do a guest post on her blog, Subversive Stitchers: Women Armed with Needles.

sm-needlesOf course I wanted to do that! What a great name, and an admirable spirit! I’m not all that subversive actually, but I am totally armed with needles. I wrote a post about the three main sharp implements in my life, showing a few examples of what I’ve done with them.

Be sure to check out Subversive Stitchers, a blog about the abounding creativity of women who wield all sorts of needles.

Thank you, Dawn, one writer to another. What a treat for me.

Until next time,
Kay
By Kay Mackenzie

As I was roaming the aisles of Spring Quilt Market with my eye attuned to everything appliqué, I was stopped by a display wall of product. “Fusible Web” jumped out at me. This was the Bosal Foam and Fiber booth and the nice gentleman there gifted me with a package of their paper-backed product for me to try.

bosal1.gif

Here’s what the fusible side looks like.

bosal2.gif

I used it to stitch up a new block.

bosal3.gifI’m happy to report that the product worked quite nicely for me. It’s a bit heftier that the Wonder Under that I normally use, but since I cut out the centers of my templates, the finished block was not any stiffer at all.

On a couple of the pieces, the edges of the fusible were wanting to separate from the template, but with careful handling I didn’t have to redo anything. Once fused and cut out, the edges of the motifs were crisp, with almost no fraying. Yay! (Note: this may have more to do with fabric choice than with fusible web choice. I’m just sayin’.)

bosal4.gif

One thing I like is the really good explanation on the back of the package about the variables involved in getting a successful bond. “Time, heat, and pressure are the three key elements,” it begins, and goes on from there with some very good information about these variables. Note: it refers to ‘interfacing’ throughout, which to my mind is a different product from ‘fusible web.’ Maybe they use the same info on their interfacing packages, or maybe the company refers to fusible web as interfacing? In any case, it’s good information for either.

I contacted the Bosal company to learn more about the product, and received a prompt and comprehensive reply. I’ll just quote most of what Drew Serbin, Director of Operations, wrote me.

“Bosal is pronounced Beau-suhl. Our website is www.bosalonline.com and it is quite comprehensive, including information about all interfacings produced by Bosal Foam and Fiber as well as the myriad other craft products we produce, including urethane foam, bonded polyester battings, polyester fiber fill, and vellux craft kits.

If quilters go to our website and go to the “Where to Buy” section, they will see a list of distributors and high-volume retailers. If they click on the “Map” link they will actually see a map of the United States and can click on individual states to find a retailer.”

I clicked on the Bay area on the map and came up with Beverly’s, which we have right here in Santa Cruz. I’ll have to check it out next time I go.

I asked whether polyamide is the same fusible that’s used on other brands, and Drew told me that yes, it’s the same adhesive that’s used on nearly all fusible web, including Wonder Under. My needle didn’t gum up or anything like that, worked fine.

Drew also sent me some great information about other types of Bosal products. These things are beyond my personal ken but they may be of interest to all you crafty people, so I include the info here. Over to you, Drew.

“I would also add that Bosal has one of the most extensive lines of quilters’ fleeces in the market, including two weights of sew-in, scrim supported fleeces, the heaviest-weight fusible fleece in the industry, plus cotton/wool, Bamboo, Bamboo/Cotton and Soy Silk/Cotton fleece.

In addition to the fleeces, your readers might also be interested in our extensive line of embroidery stabilizers, which are available rolled on board or slit rolls in popular hoop sizes. The embroidery stabilizer line includes three water solubles, two tearaways, two cutaways, and a flame-retardant perforated for childrens’ wear.”

Here’s something that sounds interesting for those of you who make your own garment or handbag patterns.

“About eight months ago we launched Bosal Create-A-Pattern, it is a nonwoven tracing material that is is packed in a 46″ wide by either 5 or 10
yard roll. The beauty of Create-A-Pattern versus Swedish tracing paper or the like, is that it is a nonwoven, therefore you can crunch it up into a
ball and it lays right back down flat. Additionally, unlike traditional pattern papers and tracing papers, these goods will not tear and can be pinned. Thus it can be used over and over again without damaging the pattern.”

Thank you Drew for all of the info. If you are a machine appliquér and you see Bosal Fusible Web, you might want to pick up a package and give it a try for yourself. Another one for your appliqué bag of tricks!

Until next time,
Kay
Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs

There’s a new photo tutorial on the Cottons n’ Wool blog about how the author, Anne, works with wool for appliqué. She takes you through it step-by-step, with lots of great photos. Thanks Anne!

Until next time,
Kay
Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs

Before Elly’s lecture began (see the November 6 post), I was looking around the shop when I heard my name called. I turned around and, happy day! it was the podcaster extraordinaire Annie Smith, whom I hardly ever get to see due to her incredibly active traveling, teaching, and speaking schedule.

Annie was teaching a class next door to our lecture and had just a minute before her class was going to start. “Did you see my coat at PIQF?” she asked me with excitement. I had to confess that although I had admired the garments, I missed entirely the fact that one of them was hers and also that the special exhibit “Off the Bed — On the Back” had been curated by one of my own guild members, Rachel Clark.

Annie sent me pictures of the coat and the accompanying quilt, along with the story of how they were made (which reads a little like The Perils of Pauline). Here’s the sometimes harrowing account:

“Rachel asked me to be a part of the exhibit when she saw my West of Baltimore quilt.

Each of the pieces in the exhibit was to be a specific technique of quilt making, (i.e.: log cabin, paper piecing, Hawaiian quilting, Baltimore appliqué — which was mine).

gardencoat4web.jpg
coatback4web.jpg

My quilter, Melodee Wade, quilted each of the coat pieces first, then the appliqué was designed and stitched to the coat. The hard part was that I was working like crazy to get the coat finished and Rachel asked me what the name of my quilt was.

Quilt?!

Oh yeah, I remember now… after a conversation LAST October…. little quilts, the quilt design is put on the coat… yeah, right. So I stopped working on the coat design — I was having quilter’s block anyway after being seized with ultimate stress of doing a quilt too — and began the quilt. The vase in the center of the quilt is on the back of the coat, and then I wanted to do some simple vines for the border. Or at least, what I thought was simple. I have to remember that the quilt will always tell you what it wants, and the quilt just grew on my design wall. I knew when to stop and that it was perfect — when I added all of the little yellow dots as detail.

My friend Aneda Phillips, who made the West of Baltimore pattern cover quilt, stitched all of the appliqué while I went back to finishing the coat. When she returned the pieces of the quilt so I could assemble it, I mis-cut the center [Ed. note: GASP] and had to make another one from scratch and do all of the stitching on it, as Aneda was finishing up her quilts for her Market booth.

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Then back to the coat. It had to be done in panels, appliqué then sew the seams together, then connect the design. The hardest part was the two flowers that are on the side seams of the coat. At that point, the coat was wearing me while I stitched them down! I do fusible, fine machine appliqué where I use a tiny blanket stitch and match all of the threads to the appliqué fabrics. There is some hand embroidery on the quilt and coat. I even made covered buttons with little appliqué flowers on them.

The name of the quilt is “Midnight in the Garden” and the coat is “A Rose Tree in a Baltimore Garden”. A Rose Tree is a traditional Baltimore appliqué pattern which I used for the shawl collar of the coat.

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The appliqué fabrics and coat lining were generously donated by Robert Kaufman Fabrics. I used Peggy Toole’s “Florentine II” fabric as the lining and focus fabric for all of the appliqué. You can a little bit of the gorgeous lining fabric in the front collar picture. The fabric is amazing.

All in all, I worked on the quilt and coat for three weeks, 12 to 18 hours a day to get it done in time for PIQF. And then, I didn’t even get to attend the show, as I was teaching in Canada!

Melodee is an incredible quilter. I just gave her the pieces and let her do her thing. She did some neat swirled feathers in places that aren’t covered by appliqué — and that’s the thing, she had no idea where the appliqué was going. She just quilted as if they were separate whole cloth quilts. I was amazed when I sewed the panels together — the quilting from one dovetailed into the other and in some places it’s hard to see the seam line. I know that it was totally random, but I love when magic happens like that.

I use Melodee exclusively to do the quilting for me. She always enhances everything I do, making my pieces better. Mel does it all free-motion on a non-computerized Gammill.”

Kay here… I’ll add that in addition to her quilting talents, Melodee is one of the nicest, most gracious people you could ever hope to meet. Her contact is melodeewade@aol.com if you’re interested in contacting her for your longarm quilting needs.

On her latest podcast,(11/10/08), Annie tells more about the creation of the coat and jacket, describing how they grew on her design wall and what a wonderful experience it was for her to let go and let that happen. Go give a listen, and you’ll also hear a hilarious story of how dedicated a quilter can be when it comes to acquiring an industrial Bernina for $100.

Until next time,
Kay
Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs

Darcy Ashton of Ashton Publications has put up a couple of fantastic posts on her blog recently. This one shows her process of marking and constructing her appliqués (and at the same time we get to see her new two-color bunnies), and this one shows how to achieve those soulful eyes that her animals have.

Thanks Darcy!

Until next time,
Kay
Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs

I found the most fabulous photo tutorial on designer Barbara Brandeburg’s blog. She has posted a wonderful step-by-step visual guide to creating raw-edge fusible appliqué. Hurry over to her blog and look on the righthand sidebar for “Easy Appliqué Tutorial” and have it all laid out before your eyes.

While you’re there, read her posts answering questions about appliqué. It’s a treasure trove over there. Thank you Barbara! You can also shop for her highly attractive patterns.

Barbara’s blog

Until next time,
Kay
Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs

Designer Darcy Ashton has devised a darling way to use raw-edge hand appliqué to make raggedy bunnies. I would never have thought of it!

Here’s a picture of one of Darcy’s bunnies, after appliquéing and before quilting and fluffifying.

bunny-by-darcy-ashton.jpgPhoto courtesy of Darcy Ashton.

Now go to Darcy’s blog to see the finished quilt with the bunnies fluffed up. Adorable!

Until next time,
Kay
Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs

Look at this cute thing I just stitched up to hang in my booth at quilt shows!

A Spot of Tea by Kay Mackenzie

I made this version of “A Little More Tea” smaller than the sampler pattern in Teapots 2 to Appliqué…it has 9 of the 16 designs. I call this one “A Spot of Tea.”

The appliqué notes in Teapots 2 are all about the back-basting, or no-template prep method for hand appliqué. For this cheery sample I used fusible appliqué with a small machine blanket stitch.

Sometimes I pull fabrics and make blocks, then go hunting for a border that will work with them. In this case I started with the border fabric and pulled the teapot fabrics from there.

Cheerio,
Kay
Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs

Ever since I started this blog I wanted to do a feature on fellow designer Darcy Ashton. Darcy lives in Oklahoma and even though we’ve never had the chance to meet in person, she’s been an inspiration, a mentor, and a friend. Darcy runs a one-woman publishing company, as do I, and has been a great help to me with the benefit of her experience.

A Darling Little DogIf you’ve been a quilter on this planet, you’ve seen Darcy’s distinctive and highly successful books featuring remarkably realistic-looking animals done up with buttonhole stitching. Amazingly, most of them are made up of only one piece of fabric.

Her resume includes such titles as Grandma’s Bunnies, Claire’s Cats, Butterfly Dance, Aquatic Creatures, Darling Little Dogs, and Beautiful Big Dogs.

Darling Little Dogs coverAquatic Creatures coverButterfly Dance cover

When I asked Darcy how she managed to balance running her very busy design and publishing company with family life, she replied, “My one-woman business came about because of my family life.”

Darcy had worked in graphics at several companies until the time her two small children came around. Then she learned that her current employer was closing and she’d be out of a job. Admitting that it was “actually a bit of a relief,” Darcy purchased her computer workstation from her former employer and settled at home to raise her kids.

Darcy came from a family of quilters, so it’s something she’s been doing for a long time. At a family reunion, her dad was given an unfinished quilt top to bring home to Darcy. It was started by Grandma, and as Darcy puts it, “One of the blocks had a rusted needle still parked in the block where she had put it down and never picked it back up. It had been set aside in the bottom drawer in her sister’s house and there it had waited patiently for nearly 60 years for her to get back to work on it.”

That UFO changed Darcy’s life. Guess what was on it? Bunnies! Adorable appliquéd bunnies with embroidered details. Darcy finished Grandma’s bunnies and put it up on her wall. Then, she says, every time she looked at it, she wondered why they didn’t have any tails, and why their whiskers were so long. Pretty soon she was re-drawing the bunnies and making her own quilt.

Without Darcy’s income, the family started to run on a tight shoestring. And, having worked for years, Darcy also started to feel the desire to have something to think about and work on in addition to taking care of her children. She got the idea that she could start teaching appliqué. When she went down to her local quilt shop with her bunny quilt to ask the owners if she could teach a class, they kept getting interrupted by quilters wanting the patterns!

That was a light-bulb moment for Darcy. With all of her experience working in graphic arts and publishing, she was very well prepared to put out a book of patterns, and published a limited number of Grandma’s Bunnies. The first printing didn’t last long. Word of mouth spread so fast and so far that before she knew it, Darcy was reprinting and selling far and wide.

Then quilters wanted cats. So Darcy published Claire’s Cats (named for her daughter) and hasn’t stopped producing amazing books since!

cc2_cover.jpgThe original Claire’s Cats has been so popular that when Darcy recently came out with Claire’s Cats Volume 2, there was such an overwhelming demand for the first volume to go with it that Darcy decided to reprint it once again. If only I could get into such a predicament!

Darcy sent me Beautiful Big Dogs (I am a dog person, you know) and Claire’s Cats Volume 2 (okay, I also have three cats) to take a look at. Besides the incredible patterns, these books are just jam-packed with information, tips, and options for making the critters and dressing them up in different ways. I especially liked the section on different ways of making the eyes. And, now I know how she does her appliqué! (You can use either hand or machine techniques.)

Darcy prefers to support our wonderful independent quilt shops, so ask for her books at your favorite shop. She also sells her books and patterns from her website, Ashton Publications if that’s a better option for you.

Darcy recently started a blog at www.DarcyAshton.vox.com, and take it from me, she’s quite the photographer as well.

To top things off, Darcy has graciously permitted me to post one of her free patterns for download! Here’s the bonus pattern from CC V 2. Enjoy!

Last thoughts: Darcy says, “You should not be ashamed of your UFOs. Leave something behind to inspire the next generation. If one of your unfinished projects lands in the lap of a young girl years after you are gone, you could be spreading the seeds of the next generation of quilters.”

Until next time,
Kay
Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs

Here’s a fabulous guest post by Diane Dixon of Metro Quiltworks about how your choice of thread can work a little magic on the look of your machine appliqué. Thank you, Diane, for this wonderful article!

Let’s Have Some Fun with Thread Color!

Thoughts about thread choices by Diane Dixon of Metro Quiltworks

The color of thread can be a very important feature for you to consider with your next appliqué project. The way the thread color interacts with the fabric can make the stitching either stand out in a bold contrast, or it can create subtle outlining of the appliqué piece without much contrast at all.

Some basic points to consider:

Matching thread color to fabric color:
Do you want the thread color to match the color of the fabric? This will create a subtle look that blends well with the appliqué pieces and may emphasize the overall look of the project since the thread color blends much more into the background.

Here’s an example of a lily flower having the thread in the same color family as the fabric. By using the blue thread in the center, the flower is more formal and contained. Notice the use of yellow thread on the yellow petals. Although both fabric and thread are in the same color family, there is still a subtle contrast because the fabric is lighter in some places than in others. Subtle, but not dull! Also, the lily pads are sewn with green or brown stitches to keep the pieces from getting too “busy” since the batiks used here are quite wild.

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Contrasting thread color to fabric color:
Do you want the thread color to contrast with color of the fabric? Using contrast can create a wonderful visual look that can define edges and give excitement to individual appliqué pieces.

Here is an example of two pears on a plate. The purple stitching in different shades really defines the green pear from the green plate. Notice the yellow stitching on the green leaf, the outside plate stitching, and the effective purple on the stem as well.

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In the close-up of the red floral appliqué example, there’s a combination of techniques to make this flower sing! Notice the center has a bright red center that uses the same thread color on both the center, and on the interior petals. By using the same thread color on different fabrics, another subtlety comes out. The bright blue stitching on the outside petals, and the red on the green leaf brings all of the colors to another level!

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I sometimes enjoy using this technique specifically with smaller projects such as miniature wall hangings, pillows, or table runners because the thread choices really stand out in a more intimate piece – but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try this out with larger pieces as well!

Thread colors play important roles and can change the look of any project. Don’t be afraid to go for it and have lots of fun!

Diane Dixon

Kay here again — be sure to visit Diane’s website to check out her colorful contemporary patterns for quilts, table runners, and wall hangings at Metro Quiltworks – A fresh look at quilt design. Thanks again Diane! I’ve been a “matcher” so far but now I’m inspired to try mixing it up!

Until next time,
Kay
Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs

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