The PayPal shopping cart that I use for my website doesn’t have the capability to issue coupons (argh). BUT, I can set the shipping to zero on individual items, and that represents a good amount of savings.


So that’s what I’ve done for my book A Merry Little Christmas to Appliqué, through the month of August 2013. Free shipping on this collection of Christmas-time designs in a variety of sizes that play nicely together! My tips for hand appliqué using freezer-paper templates are included, but of course you can use your own favorite method.


Just for good measure, Growing Hearts to Appliqué is also included in the special! Free shipping as well on this collection of 16 flowering heart blocks and the sampler quilt pattern.

Adding to the bargain-ness of it all, the current web special is that any book purchase gets you a free copy of the pattern book for Home: A Heartfelt Nap Quilt. You don’t even put it in the shopping cart; it’ll just come right along when you order any other book!


Also worth mentioning is that there’s free shipping all the time on hand and machine needles.

That’s a lot of free shipping goodness!

This is an unadvertised special, just for you blog readers. You won’t see mention of it on the website. The special goes through August 31, 2013.

Happy Christmas in August!
Kay
By Kay Mackenzie

Remember this photo, of me and Annie Smith holding each other’s books?

annie-n-kay-april-2011

The Ultimate Appliqué Guidebook from C&T Publishing is our featured book this month.

applique-guidebook

Full disclosure: Annie is a buddy of mine. For years we’ve followed one another’s progression as we strove for and attained career goals. A goal that we each held dear was the publication of an appliqué book. I’m so thrilled for Annie that her wish came true last fall when this gorgeous book came to life.

I’ll start by telling you that this is not the ultimate guide to every method of appliqué that’s out there. It’ something very important, a sourcebook of appliqué design elements and a gentle guide through the process of finding inspiration, encouraging it, recording it when it strikes, and translating it into your own unique appliqué quilts.

Starting with the basics, Annie goes through choosing fabrics, playing with fabrics, employing a focus fabric, and determining value. There’s a comprehensive section on tools and supplies for appliqué.

Wow.

Wow.

Then she moves on to detailed instructions for her own favored appliqué methods: raw-edge fusible machine appliqué and Holly Mabutas‘s prepared-edge method for hand appliqué, where freezer-paper templates are ironed to the front and the turning allowance is glued to the back. All through the book there are specific, detailed photographs to help you see exactly what Annie’s talking about.

Then comes a section on the basics of design for blocks and quilts. These are important concepts that in my experience are not covered all the time. A beautiful gallery of quilts follows, to give you even more inspiration. Check out an earlier blog post of mine that shows Annie’s gorgeous coat and accompanying quilt, both of which are pictured in the book.

Following that are several lovely quilt projects to get you started, with pull-out patterns in the back Then comes a whole long catalog of appliqué design elements! A 50 page appliqué shape-a-palooza! Mix and match these as you like!

elements

Many of the elements are given in a variety of sizes, and you can always enlarge or reduce on a photocopy machine. And, you can use any method of appliqué that you like. Another great thing about this book is that it has a lay-flat binding, so you can smooth it out flat for tracing without worrying about breaking the spine. Very cool!

Annie gave me an autographed copy of her book to give away to one of my readers in a drawing. Thank you Annie! If you’d like a chance to win, leave a comment by 7:00 p.m. California time on Saturday, June 4. Contest open to U.S. and Canada addresses only. Good luck!

Until then,
Kay
By Kay Mackenzie

P.S. In case you might not know, Annie does a podcast for quilters. Check it out at Simple Arts.

First of all, thank you so much to everyone who visited during the recent blog hop and left nice comments about my Party Frock. Several people suggested that the block would look nice done up in multiples, with different dresses. Great idea! That may just to be something that I need to revisit in the future!

A couple designing buddies of mine have just come out with new patterns that are extremely high on the cuteness scale.

Last fall I blogged about the Tokay Stitchers show, where I had the good fortune to be next-door-neighbors with Rita and Debbie of Lady Bug Lace.

The gals just put out a new pattern called No More Monkeys.

no-more-monkeys-quiltIs that fun or what??

Rita and Debbie told me that since some of the appliqué pieces in the pattern are large, they decided to print one large copy of the design, thinking this would be easier for the quilter than taping several smaller pieces together. The drawing can be taped up onto a sliding glass door or a large window to trace the appliqué pieces, and you can also use the whole drawing to place under the background fabric for placement of the appliqué pieces.

That is certainly an added convenience for the quilter! No More Monkeys is available from their Etsy store.

Neeext… Holly Mabutas of Eat Cake Graphics is at it again! She has just released a darling new quilt pattern called To The World.

to-the-world

This pattern started out life as a rubber stamp, like many of Holly’s do, and is now available for quilters. The very cool thing about Holly’s patterns (besides their adorability) is that Holy includes instructions for her freezer-paper-on-top-glue-to-the-back method of preparation for hand appliqué.

To The World is available over on the quilt pattern page at Eat Cake Graphics.

I’m off to Salt Lake City tomorrow for International Quilt Market, Spring Edition. My publisher has lined up a couple book signings for me, which are so much fun and quite a heady experience. See you after I get home!

Until then,
Kay
By Kay Mackenzie

Seasons Greetings!

Admin note: the previous drawing for a year’s subscription to the new Quilt Pattern Magazine in still underway. The winner will be chosen the first week of January.

Now on to today’s post. Last year at this time I did a special double giveaway to celebrate my birthday on the 17th (not to mention the other holidays). It was so much fun and made me feel like my birthday lasted for a week! So we’re doing it again this year.

When the nephews were kids, Dana and I used to travel to Minneapolis for Christmas. Now that the boys are all tall and college-y, we stay home and enjoy the comforts of our own living room at Christmastime. Much as I loved seeing the boys dive through their presents, now I love our quiet celebration at home.

And so, in keeping with that theme, I’ve selected two titles that play on the theme of Comfort.

First we have ‘Tis the Season: Quilts and Other Comforts.

Tis-the-Season-B1030

As the authors Jeanne Large and Shelley Wicks say, “Adding just a few accents to a room can change the feel of that space from everyday to holiday.” In that spirit, the book offers simple and charming quilts and projects to “keep your home well dressed for winter!”

Screen shot 2010-12-14 at 9.21.40 AM

Jeanne and Shelley should be experts in the field, since they live in Saskatchewan, Canada.

Brrr!

The book starts out with basic information on fabric selection and preparation, then moves on the the authors’ favorite special techniques. Included here are fusible-web appliqué, fusible-interfacing appliqué, working with wool, hand-embroidering, making vines, and finishing basics.

Then, on to the projects! There are detailed instructions for very cute pillows and wall quilts to welcome Santa and the season (you can see one on the cover), cozy lap quilts, cheery welcoming table toppers, a whimsical primitive wool runner, and tons of inspirational decorating ideas.

joy-pillow

wool-runner

What I really like about these projects is all the words! Plus, the templates given in the book are full-size and already reversed for your ease of use in fusible-web appliqué.

Our second offering is Country Comforts: Quilts for Casual Living.

B1038-Country-Comforts

Country Comforts by Cheryl Wall is full of that comfy old-fashioned primitive style that I appreciate so well.

The author’s introduction is an inspiration unto itself. “I’m drawn to the primitive style of quilting and crafting because of the freedom it allows me to make projects that are less than perfect but still beautiful,” says Cheryl. “I believe that the creative process should be fun and soul satisfying.” Right on sister! Worrying about stuff only robs us of the enjoyment of quiltmaking.

The books starts out with the basics of quiltmaking, including supplies you’ll need and some info on the types of fabrics that work well for this style, also rotary cutting, chain piecing, pressing, freezer-paper-on-top hand appliqué, wool appliqué, and hand-embroidery stitches. Finishing your quilt is covered too.

Most of the warm and inviting projects in the book are a combination of patchwork and appliqué, a combo platter that just always works. You’ll find quilts for laps, beds, tables, walls, or just plain draping over something. All of them will lend your home that air of casual comfort and relaxation.

mountains-meadows

baskets-blooms

If you’d like to enter the drawing to win these two titles courtesy of That Patchwork Place, leave a comment by 7:00 p.m. California time on Saturday, December 18.

Those subscribed by email or feed reader, remember that you’re not actually on the blog when you read the posts. You’ll need to click the title of the post to be taken to All About Appliqué on the internet, where you’ll be able to leave a comment at the bottom of the post and enter the drawing. U.S. and Canada only due to the cost of shipping.

Good luck everyone and I hope you are having a happy holiday season!

Until next time,
Kay, Dana, and Willie!
By Kay Mackenzie

willie-mys-val2

I wrote this article awhile ago. I couldn’t get a magazine interested in it, so
I publish it for you here, because I think it’s quite an interesting proposition. This was before I learned back-basting.

Hand vs. Machine Appliqué: A Timed Experiment
by Kay Mackenzie

For quite a long time I was a hand appliquér only. But when I started designing appliqué patterns for publication, I turned to machine appliqué as a speedier way of creating second and third examples of the designs. After all, machine appliqué is a lot faster, right?

Somewhere along the way I became curious about how much time I was actually saving. I decided to conduct a personal timed study to compare a hand method and a machine method. I used a block from A Spin in the Garden, a pattern I was designing.

spin.jpg
The spinning vine block in the middle
is the one I used.

I’ll begin by briefly describing the two methods I compared:

HAND
Traditional needle-turn using bias tape maker, freezer-paper templates, and a tracing-paper placement overlay.
MACHINE
Raw edge, small machine blanket stitch using paper-backed fusible web and a tracing-paper placement overlay.

I used the same block and the same fabrics for both methods. I did not time the initial steps that were common to both methods, including selecting fabrics, cutting background squares, finding my glasses, gathering all materials, supplies, and notions, numbering the shapes in placement sequence, and assigning the colors on the pattern.

After organizing my thoughts and the projects, I set to work, watching the clock and recording the time for each step. I did one method all the way through, then the other. Here are my results.

HAND Minutes MACHINE Minutes
Trace pattern quickly onto tracing paper to make placement overlay. 2 Trace pattern carefully onto tracing paper with a heavy marker to make placement overlay, also serves as reversed pattern. 5
Using front of pattern, trace a freezer-paper template for each shape except vine. Cut out templates precisely on drawn lines. 8 Using reversed pattern, trace a fusible-web template for each shape, including vine. Cut out templates roughly outside drawn lines. Cut away centers of flower and leaf templates. 14
Iron templates onto right side of assigned fabrics. 4 Iron templates onto wrong side of assigned fabrics. 7
Cut out shapes, leaving a turn-under margin outside template. Clip notches. 6 Cut out shapes on drawn line. 8
Make vine using bias tape maker. Apply thin strip of fusible to back of vine. Trace vine placement onto background fabric. 6
Clean and oil sewing machine, change presser foot, insert new needle. Wind bobbin for each thread color. Adjust blanket-stitch setting, test stitching. 8
PREPARATION SUBTOTAL 26 42
Fuse vine in place. Stitch vine. Then, one shape at a time, using placement overlay, remove templates and place, baste, stitch using thread to match each shape. 160 All at once, using placement overlay, remove paper backing and place, fuse, stitch using thread to match each shape (all of one color is stitched before changing thread). Pull thread tails to the back, knot, and bury. 91
TOTAL 3 hours 6 min 2 hours 13 min

hand-spin.gif

Hand

machine-spin.gif

Machine

Click either block for a close-up.

It was interesting to note that the pre-stitching phase took longer for machine appliqué than for hand appliqué. Cutting out the centers of the fusible web templates is not applicable for freezer-paper templates, and ironing time for fusible web templates is longer than for freezer-paper templates. For hand appliqué, I didn’t need to set up my machine, and I could trace the overlay quickly and with less care, since it was for placement purposes only.

The time savings for machine appliqué showed up in the last stage, where the shapes were placed, secured, and stitched. The grand total difference in time represented about a 30% overall time savings for machine appliqué.

There’s a lot to think about when looking at these time results. You may be faster or slower at any of these steps than I am. There are many ways to appliqué, and you may use differing techniques that are slower or faster within either hand or machine methods.

Also worth noting is that when I first took up machine appliqué, I don’t think I saved any time at all, because I made a lot of mistakes. Forgetting to reverse the pattern, neglecting to remove the centers of the templates, having the fusible come apart from the paper backing before I had a chance to use it, fusing to the right side of the fabric (force of habit from hand appliqué), and probably a few other embarrassing ways to get things wrong — mistakes in machine appliqué are not a time saver! Now I am comfortable and practiced at both methods, and the times noted in this experiment refer to a “clean run.”

Time, of course, is not the only factor for choosing one method over another. Personal enjoyment, skill level, preference for appearance, portability, appropriateness for the chosen project, type of sewing machine, these things and more can come into play when choosing an appliqué method.

I’m so glad I decided to conduct this personal timed study. Now I have learned that when either method is equally appropriate for my project, and time is the deciding factor, I’ll be saving almost a third by using machine appliqué.

-the end-

I’d love to hear what you think about this! Did I save as much time as you thought I would?

Kay
Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs

Today I’m writing about my favorite quilt as part of the Bloggers Quilt Festival put on by Amy of
Park City Girl.

My favorite quilt is usually the one I just started :) but if I had to pick just one, I’d have to say that it’s my Sixteen Baskets.

16baskets.gif

Here are the reasons why:

In many ways I think this is my best work. It’s hand appliquéd, back during the time that I favored the freezer-paper-template-on-top method (before I learned back-basting). The tiniest motifs are machine appliquéd or hand embroidered.

Each of the blocks is my original design… they’re published in my book Baskets to Appliqué. It was an exciting, emotional, fulfilling process developing the concept for each basket, and I still remember that time…. the mischevious kitty, the fat quarters rolled up, the nod to Baltimore, the pastel eggs inspired by Janet’s chickens who gave us eggs exactly those colors.

This quilt is also hand quilted. I took a picture that’s unevenly lit on purpose to try to get the quilting to show up. I love hand quilting and don’t get the chance to do it as much as I used to.

16baskets-detail.gif

I love the soldier blue and the dogtooth border. (Also that it’s called a dogtooth border, because I love dogs.)

So that’s my favorite quilt. Thanks for visiting to see my entry in the Bloggers’ Quilt Festival! Visit Park City Girl every day through April 24 and get a ringside seat for other bloggers’ favorite quilts! It’s quite a show!

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

Being the ever-curious appliquér, I picked up a package of Ricky’s version of freezer paper.

package.gif

Here’s what the package says:

  • Large, ready-to-use sheet — more than twice as wide as standard freezer paper rolls
  • No cutting or taping needed to fit a full width of quilting fabric
  • Softer and more flexible than other brands
  • Lies flat, reusable
  • Use for piecing, appliqué, or ANY freezer-paper technique

  • Here’s what it looks like when you take it out of the package. This is only a portion of it.

    unfolded1.gif

    I cut out a hunk of the regular supermarket freezer paper and a piece of Ricky’s. Ricky’s does feel softer, thinner, and more flexible. I hope you can see a difference in this photo.

    compare.gif

    Personally I end up chopping my freezer paper into little pieces for the type of appliqué that I do, but I can see where this product would come in mighty handy if you’ve been taping together sections of freezer paper to use with large patterns in other techniques. For instance, what comes to mind is designing and marking swag borders, where you use a piece of freezer paper that’s the same dimensions as your border, then fold it into sections for the swags.

    I went ahead and tested it out for the freezer-paper-on-top type of appliqué that I know.

    cardboard.gif

    Note the cardboard underneath. The firm surface helps create a better bond when ironing the template onto the fabric.

    sewing.gif
    I’m a baster… can’t abide pins when I’m trying to stitch.

    done.gif
    Works great!

    It strikes me as amusing that Ricky would need to call this product by a name that’s not what it’s intended for (wrapping meat for the freezer) so that it will be familiar for quilters!

    C’mon gang, chime in. What use would you make out of extra-wide freezer paper?

    Kay
    Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs

    As promised, today I’m learning a method of hand appliqué preparation that’s new to me. Holly Mabutas of Eat Cake Graphics gave me her pattern insert with instructions for what she calls “glue stick turned edge appliqué” and I’m trying it out! What intrigues me about this method is that the margin of the fabric is glued back on itself. I’ve tried the other kind of glue-stick appliqué, where the margin is turned and glued over freezer paper, then after stitching you soak the block, slit the back, and get the freezer paper out. That method never ‘stuck’ with me, no pun intended. Now I’m going to try it this way, where the freezer paper is on the front of the fabric.

    The first thing I did was to go out and get a brand-new glue stick. I happened to know that the ones I had were a mite dried out — moral of the story, don’t buy them too far in advance, or try keeping them in the fridge as a friend of mine told me.

    As it happens, we’re having a heat wave in Santa Cruz. There are just a few days a year when we roast… yesterday it was 102º and I was sweating just sitting upstairs in my studio. So today I gathered up everything that I needed and put up my handy-dandy little table from Costco downstairs in the living room to work in cooler conditions.

    bunny1.jpgFreezer-paper templates traced and cut out.

    I used the bunny block from my Spin in the Garden pattern.

    I had to run upstairs to iron the templates onto the right sides of the fabrics. I used a piece of cardboard underneath, which helps create a better bond.

    The next step is to trim the motifs, leaving a scant ¼” turn-under margin. Here are the pieces, trimmed and clipped. There’s a dashed line on areas that are going to be overlapped by another piece.

    bunny3.jpg

    bunny4.jpgGluing the margin back onto itself on the wrong side. Holly says to use an awl… I didn’t have one so I used a stylus with a tiny, sharp tip. The moist sponge is for cleaning off the glue stick when it gets thready. I’m working on top of an plastic sheet protector.

    bunny5.jpgHere are all the pieces glued and with templates removed.

    I wasn’t a whiz at the previously unused fine motor skills required to turn the margin with the implement, but I’m thinking I can smooth things out as I stitch. And, as Holly says, “Don’t be too hard on yourself if things aren’t perfect the first time or even the second. With a little patience and practice you’ll do just fine. :)

    bunny6.jpgAgain using the sheet protector, I’m positioning the pieces to join them together into units. No background fabric involved at this point! Holly advises using little dots of Roxanne’s basting glue for this step. I didn’t have any so I hauled out some really ancient stuff called Border Patrol. Turns out this was a misstep on my part, and I’ll tell you why later. Anyway, I used it on the edges of the tail and ears that were going under the body piece, and glued the bunny together.

    bunny7.jpgHere’s a whole bunny, separate unto itself, edges turned and ready to hop onto different background fabrics until it finds its favorite one.

    bunny8.jpgHere I’ve positioned all of the elements on the background fabric and have used the liquid glue to secure them in place. Still hoping I can work out those pokies.

    bunny9.jpgAll stitched… and it worked! I was able to manipulate out the little bumps. For the more serious ones, I dipped a cotton swab in water and soaked the edge of the motif. The glue released immediately and I was then able to smooth out the curve with my needle.

    bunny10.jpgOkay so here’s why the liquid basting glue I used was not a good choice. Turns out, unlike Roxanne’s, it’s a permanent glue, and I used it in some injudicious places. See the little spot on the bunny’s paw? It’s confusing, but when you look at glue labels, you want it to say “water soluble” or “washes out.” “Washable” means it doesn’t wash out!

    Anyway, aside from that little “learning experience,” I’d say this is the best method of turned-edge glue stick appliqué I’ve tried. For one thing, you don’t need a reversed pattern… what you see is what you get. Plus, you don’t have any freezer paper to remove once you’ve finished stitching. Holly appliqués these by hand, and so did I. If the templates were on the inside you’d have a crinkly, crunchy time of it, but here, where they’re gone already, it was a pleasant stitching experience. And a big thundercloud came along and cooled things down considerably.

    Thanks a million, Holly, for sharing your preferred method with me, and allowing me to show it other appliqué fans. If you like an edge that’s already turned before you start stitching, this might become your favorite too! Get one of Holly’s adorable patterns and try it out for yourself.

    See A Spin in the Garden over at Quilt Puppy.

    Until next time,
    Kay
    Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs

    To clip or not to clip, that is today’s question.

    Quilting professionals have differing opinions on how to handle clipping. Here’s my personal best advice on the subject.

    clip-notch.gifNOTCHES
    V’s, valleys, inside points, crannies… they go by a lot of names. Whatever you call ‘em, some teachers advocate clipping all the way to the bottom. I clip almost to the bottom. The way I stitch notches, by taking a slightly bigger bite with the needle, then snugging the stitch down, it works out better to have a couple threads to grab.

    clip-no-clip.gifCURVES
    Inside curves: Again the divide… to the line, or almost to the line. I’m a fan of a series of shallow clips on inside curves. If you’re using a small 3/16″ turn-under margin, you shouldn’t have to clip deeply to get the fabric to turn under nicely.

    Outside curves: No, I say, no clip! Again, the scant margin allows the fabric to go under without wrinkling up on itself, causing “the pokies.” If you clip this outer curve, the fabric has a tendency to go loosey-goosey.

    In either case, notches or curves, a full 1/4″ turn-under margin may cause you to have to clip where you don’t really need to. Go for the scanter margin. This small margin makes some quilter nervous, but fine work is achieved through this closer trim.

    This information applies to hand appliqué. The machine appliqué method that uses freezer paper and glue is not among my skill set, so I’m not sure about best clipping protocols there. And of course, for raw-edge machine appliqué, there’s no clipping ever!

    Until next time,
    Kay
    Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs

    … just barely. The DH had a hectic day and got to the flower shop 20 minutes after its official closing time. But there was still a trail of men going out the door with bouquets, so though they were sweeping the floors, Dana was able to pick up the beautiful flower arrangement he had ordered. His record stands.

    flowers.jpg

    seedlings.jpg

    “Seedlings” — for next year!

    Until next time,
    Kay
    Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs

    Happy Valentine’s Day! The chocolate has been bestowed, and now I’m anticipating the bouquet. This has been a tradition throughout our 18 years of marriage, chocolate for him, flowers for her, and he hasn’t missed one yet. So although there aren’t any flowers yet, the day is young :) .

    Here’s another of my favorite blocks from Growing Heart to Appliqué.
    I call it “Fly Away.”

    fly-away.jpg

    Freezer paper on top, hand appliquéd, hand-embroidered stems.

    Until next time,
    Kay
    Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs

    Here’s another block from Growing Hearts to Appliqué. A fun one, yes?

    seed-packet.jpgWhen brainstorming on a theme,”growing hearts” or whatever, it’s so wonderful to let your imagination roam free and think up all sorts of notions about how to portray your ideas.

    For this crazy design, I used freezer-paper templates on top, and I hand-embroidered the letters. The little black heart seeds are inked on with a permanent fabric marker.

    And don’t faint, but maybe you can see that this quilt is hand-quilted. It still happens now and again.

    Until next time,
    Kay
    Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs

    Valentine’s Day is coming up. I’ve already got the heart-shaped box of chocolates for the DH stashed away. Like many quilters, hearts are a favorite motif of mine. I love them so much that I published a whole collection of heart designs, Growing Hearts to Appliqué. Here’s one of my favorite blocks, which I call “Cutwork.”

    cutwork.gifTo make this, I used freezer-paper templates on top. In this method, you trace the shapes onto the paper side of the freezer paper, cut them out on the drawn line, then iron the templates to the right side of the fabrics. Cut out the shapes, adding a 3/16″margin all the way around. Then you can baste them in place using a tracing-paper overlay as a placement guide, either leaving the templates on as stitching guides or taking them off for good old-fashioned needleturn. There’s been a lot of appliqué under the bridge since I made this, but I think I probably left the templates on for the straighter parts and removed them to work on the intricate parts.

    I’ll put up some more of my growing hearts blocks as the month goes along.

    Until next time,
    Kay
    Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs

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