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

The winner of our February featured book is Barbara Burnham of Ellicott City, Maryland, who says “We can never have too much appliqué.” Hear, hear! Congratulations Barbara, and enjoy the book.

The first show of the year that I did was in Modesto, California, a couple of weeks back. The guild was so excited that they had been chosen to host a Ricky Tims Super Seminar! It’s next year, February 6-8, 2014.

I talked with one of my vendor buddies, who attended one of these seminars in the past. She said that you don’t do a lick of stitching, that’s not the idea, and you come away greatly inspired with ideas, concepts, lessons, and information. She loved it.

Watch for full details on Ricky’s website rickytims.com and the guild website, Country Crossroads Quilters.

Fast forward one week to Ontario, California. A super-nice gal, Gina Darlington, stopped by my booth and mentioned that she was the organizer for Celebrate! Quilt Camp & Show this June 12-15 in Flagstaff, Arizona. I smiled when I saw that the keynote speaker is my pal Annie Smith. There are some extremely appealing appliqué classes in there, so be sure to check it out if you’re in the area or will be in the market for a trip to the “cool mountains of Flagstaff” this June.

I met another nice Arizona quilter, Vanessa Fromm (there were several busses from Arizona for the show) who told me about her new designing adventure, Fabric Confetti. These are fun projects that involve raw edges and bits of colorful fabrics to make darling appliqués.

Very high on the cute!

Last tidbit for today: the Martingale blog Stitch This! has seven easy, quick, and free downloadable patterns for Valentine’s Day!


Until next time,
Kay
By Kay Mackenzie

A new Olympic sport!

Yeah, not really. A couple months ago I received notice from Digital River that the shopping-cart and credit-card processing platform that I had been using on my website for 10 years, CCNow, is going away. Like gone, poof, at the end of the year.

Oy vey. After considering a few different options, I decided to go with PayPal, especially since they now have a weight-based shipping option, something I strongly believe in since it’s the closest to actual you can get.

I’ve spent some time converting my website to PayPal checkout, and gulp, I uploaded the new pages today. May the overlords of HTML smile down on me.

Also new on the website: a brand-new pattern, Flying Fan Kites.


As I was working on Scrap-Appliqué Playground, which whacks together scraps and cuts appliqués out of them, I jotted down ideas for taking the idea on a tangent and using traditional pieced blocks.

Flying Fan Kites is the first pattern from that list! You piece a fan and then cut a kite and kite-tails out of it! It’s fun! This is a little guy, 12″ x 16″.

The kites are paper-pieced. Do not groan. Do not fear the paper-piecing. I made it so systematic, so no-brainer, you will not get confused or sew a piece into place that won’t cover when flipped. The full-size foundations are included and ready to use.

Once the fans are pieced, I use paper-backed fusible web for the machine-appliquéd kites and kite-tails. I’ve now started to offer SoftFuse in the 10-pack, and that’s up on my website too, on the Notions page.


I’ve set the shipping to zero on these two new items, through November 22. That’s right, free shipping on Flying Fan Kites and SoftFuse, just in time for a post-turkey-coma Black Friday project!

Fingers crossed that I’ve coded everything correctly, please let me know if you have trouble with anything!

Cheers,
Kay

Our featured book this month is by none other than Nancy Mahoney, my current technical editor at Martingale!

Nancy has been publishing with Martingale for a long time. Today, thanks to Martingale, we get to explore her Fast, Fusible Flower Quilts.

fast-flower

Like many quilters, Nancy loves to garden as well as quilt. She has created this special collection of 11 quilts that combine a patchwork garden backdrop with beautiful flowers in bloom.

Precious Peonies

Precious Peonies

Like all Martingale books, this one includes quiltmaking basics, and also goes into detail on two ways to prepare your appliqué motifs. Starch-and-template produces a turned edge, and fusible-web results in raw-edge appliqué. Nancy gives detailed, illustrated information about both.

A-Tisket A-Tasket

A-Tisket A-Tasket

Star-Flower Baskets

Star-Flower Baskets

The quilts are so very appealing, aren’t they? As you can see, they’re beautifully photographed in a garden setting. The book includes full flat shots of each quilt as well, along with complete instructions for making them.

Congratulations, Nancy one another great one!

I have a copy of the book to give away in a drawing. If you’d like to win Fast, Fusible Flower Quilts, please leave a comment here on the blog before 7:00 p.m. California time on Monday, April 9.

The fine print: Drawing open to U.S. and Canada mailing addresses only. Don’t reply to your email feed; instead, click over to the blog itself and leave your comment at the bottom of this post. Good luck to you!

Until then,
Kay
By Kay Mackenzie

Cheryl Lynch, well known for her charming Judaic quilt designs, took a trip to Mexico to go deep-sea fishing and whale-watching. While she was there she became enchanted with the colors and patterns of hand-painted Mexican folk art. On a return trip south of the border she traveled to Puebla, known as “The City of Tiles,” and steeped herself in the world of Talavera tilemaking. It is these little pieces of Mexican folk art, where “perfection is not a goal,” and “at their heart is the simple joy of creation,” that serve as the inspiration for the designs in Cheryl’s book Quilt Fiesta!

quilt-fiesta

The books starts out by with beautiful photographs of Mexican pottery and architecture. As Cheryl says, “Inspiration for quilt designs can be found everywhere,” and what a great idea to translate these into quilt patterns, especially since some of the tiles have corner motifs that result in a secondary design when blocks are put together. Very quilty!

Cheryl shares information about the appliqué method that she used for the motifs in the book, raw-edge fusible appliqué sewn by machine. There’s also a bit of foundation paper piecing instruction for when that’s needed, then a whole section on quilt construction and finishing. Then we’re on to 10 glorious decorative projects reflecting the beauty of Talavera ceramic tiles. There are quilts, placemats, a bed runner, and more. Here are just a few.

Frida's Flowers

Frida's Flowers

Puebla Posies

Puebla Posies

Floral Fiesta place mat. So cute!

Floral Fiesta place mat. So cute!

So vibrant! I love folk art. Cheryl helps you translate the solid colors of tilework into lively quilt designs using the array of fabrics at our disposal today.

Courtesy of That Patchwork Place, I have a copy to give away in a drawing. If you’d like a chance to win Quilt Fiesta, leave a comment on this post before 7:00 p.m. California time on Friday, February 10.

The fine print: Open to U.S. and Canada mailing addresses only. Do not reply to your email feed; instead, click over the blog itself and leave your comment at the bottom of the post. Good luck!

Cheers,
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

My pal Cathy sent me a link to one of Bonnie McCaffery’s vidcasts. The Tentmakers of Cairo are artists I had not heard of. Their story is fascinating and the work they do incredible. And so fast! Check it out. It’s a big wide world, and it isn’t really tents any more.

Over at The Quilt Show, Sharon Pederson has been giving a series of lessons. There’s one on easy padded machine appliqué that’s really cool. You do not have to be a TQS member to watch the video.

Until next time, enjoy the show!
Kay
By Kay Mackenzie

I want to thank Kay for inviting me to her blog today. I had the opportunity to be a guest on her blog once before and enjoyed the experience very much.

CATFor those of you who don’t know me, I’m Cheryl Almgren Taylor, a quilter and designer who specializes in fusible-web appliqué. In certain quilting circles, making this admission is like admitting you feed your kids hot dogs and goldfish crackers for dinner every night! However, I find this method to be very user-friendly and it enables me to create fabulous, intricate shapes with ease. It also incorporates thread as a design element which gives me the opportunity to add more color and texture.

I have a brand-new book just released by Martingale & Company / That Patchwork Place: Inspirational Applique: Reflections of Faith, Hope, & Love.

inspirational-applique

The book is a collection of scripture-inspired quilts, wallhangings, and small projects. I am a pastor’s wife and as a person of faith, I enjoyed being able to create tangible objects that express my beliefs through my quilting. That is one of my favorite things about quilting—our ability as quilters to convey our thoughts and beliefs through the medium of fabric and thread and color.

As I worked on the book, I felt a connection to the quilters of past generations who also used their quilting skills to express their beliefs and dreams. If you study the Baltimore Albums of the 19th century, most of those beautiful creations give us glimpses into the lives of their makers. Even the plainer, patchwork quilts from the past sometimes include tantalizing personal insights left by the quilter. And one of the common practices in historic quilts was to include a deliberate mistake to express their religious faith, the belief that nothing is perfect except God. I’ve never had to create a deliberate mistake in a quilt—I’m quite proficient at providing numerous mistakes without any extra effort, but I enjoy this tradition and the significance it held for the quilters who did this.

I am happy, though, that I have access to the wonderful world of quilting that we live in now, with rotary cutters and electric irons and fabulous computerized sewing machines. I own several sewing machines and like a man and his car, I am bonded with my machines.

As I mentioned before, my favorite technique is fusible-web appliqué. I always recommend using a lightweight fusible web and the “doughnut” method of construction, which has you cut out the center portion of the web from large pieces before fusing it to the back of your motif fabric. This makes the quilt soft and pliable rather than stiff, which is a common complaint about quilts made with fusible web. However, when using a lightweight fusible web, you must sew a finishing stitch around each unfinished edge in the appliqué design. I prefer a very small blanket stitch, but it is possible to use a satin stitch or zigzag—it just gives a slightly different look to the finished piece.

In creating the quilts for the book, I discovered a new technique that I think a lot of people would enjoy knowing about. One of the designs in the book, “Daily Bread,” features a neg done in gold and blue tones.

dail-wall

A neg is a bundle of wheat that is set out in wintertime in Scandinavian countries for the animals. Because the design featured a number of strands of wheat bundled together, there are a large number of overlapping wheat kernels to be appliquéd. All of them needed to be finished with a blanket stitch. If you are a fusible appliquér, you know that sometimes as you sew around overlapping pieces, you do not end up in the right spot for the next shape. Then you have to stop, trim your threads, move the fabric, and start over again. By accident, I discovered a traveling technique that makes it easy to move from piece to piece.

I discovered that after finishing the blanket stitch on a piece, I could change the machine setting from the blanket stitch to a straight stitch and travel to the next piece along the edge of the pattern pieces. (The pieces do have to be overlapping.) This can be done before or after using the blanket stitch on the design. If I traveled before finishing the edge, the blanket stitch laid over the top of the straight stitching and couldn’t be seen. If the blanket stitch was already sewn along the edge, the straight stitch went on top of the edge stitch and still couldn’t be seen. Of course, you must be using the same color of thread on the next piece, but for my overlapping wheat kernels, it was an outstanding technique.

I used traditional bias strips for the border vine in “Birds of the Air.”

birds-of-air

But, in two other projects I used another trick — cutting fusible web-backed fabric pieces rather than creating bias strips for vines. For the tablecloth “I Am the Vine,” I traced the vine shapes onto fusible backing, fused the vines to the background, and finished the edges with a blanket stitch. It looks great and was much easier than fussing with bias strips.

i-am-vine

I hope these tips will help you in your quilting journey and, for those of you who have never tried fusing, I hope you will become inspired to try this wonderful and easy technique!

Happy quilting!~Cheryl

Kay here — Thanks a million Cheryl for those two fabulous appliqué tips! The traveling straight stitch to another shape is something I been playing with myself. Thank you for legitimizing it!

Courtesy of the publisher, we have a copy of Inspirational Appliqué to give away to a reader. If you’d like to enter the drawing for the book, leave a comment by 7:00 p.m. California time on Sunday, November 5. U.S. and Canada addresses only, and remember to resist the temptation to hit “reply” to your email subscription. Instead, click over to the blog itself.

Until next time,
Kay
By Kay Mackenzie

The Heat-n-Bond fusible samples are going off to Jen Martin. The cool thing is, Jen had been thinking of doing a thorough investigation of fusibles, and has agreed to let us in on her results! Thank you Jen, we’ll really be looking forward to your comprehensive review of different brands.

On the last post, a few questions came up in the comments about fusibles.

Dolores wrote:

It might be quite interesting. I used (horrors) the Heat and Bond heavyweight and it really turned out stiff. It was the only one I had on hand but I would love to try others.

Dolores, the heavyweight (Ultra Hold) is not meant to be sewn through. It’s more for projects like fusing something onto a totebag.

Debbie wrote:

I use several types myself, it all depends on the type of projects that I am working on. I find some too stiff, but great for machine quilting and the lighter weight is hard to peel the backing. Then there is wash away, haven’t tried washing it yet, since I use that on wall projects.

Is the lighter weight with the hard-to-peel paper, by, chance, Wonder Under? I started having that problem with it myself. That’s why my current favorite is Shades SoftFuse. I’m sending some of that to Jen along with the Heat n Bond, to be included in her comparison.

Also, I’ve never heard of wash-away fusible web. Could you by chance be talking about some type of stabilizer or interfacing instead? What product are you talking about? Inquiring minds and so forth. :)

Marcia wrote:

Would you like to have the opinion of a newbie trying to work with them? If so, I could do that for you. I have my Rose of Sharon die from Accuquilt, but have not tried it. I would be happy to test the differences in these, using that die.

Marcia, I haven’t used any of the Accuquilt cutters, but just a word to the wise… my understanding is that you have to prefuse the fabric first, before running it through the cutter. If you cut the shapes first, there’s no way you can get the fusible on them! Also, prefusing means that you can’t cut out the center of the fusible.

My pal Kim Jamieson-Hirst loves her Accuquilt and has played with it a lot, so go check out her blog at Chatterbox Quilts Chitchat.

Angie wrote,

Would you believe I inherited a bolt of the Ultra Hold? It does leave a stiff applique piece, but if one cuts out just the outline of the template and uses only that for your applique piece it won’t be so stiff. I use a 90/14 needle when finishing and the blind hem stitch.

Angie, are you saying that you successfully sewed through the Ultra Hold? I tried it once and had to stop every few seconds to clean the gunk off the needle. Tell us more!

Suzanne wrote,

I am a new appliquer and so far have only done raw edge applique (cuz I’m intimidated by the sewn edge kind!), but I would love to try these. I used another brand that didn’t have a paper backing and ended up pressing the gluey side to my iron! Not smart, not fun. So I’m really taken with the idea of having a paper backing.

Suzanne, first of all, do not fear the appliqué! For the raw edge method that you used, I think you are talking about MistyFuse or something similar. You mention the gluey side… well, it’s all gluey! Myself I prefer having a paper backing. But lots of people happily use unsupported fusibles. The wonderful Sarah Vee has a MistyFuse tutorial posted on her blog. Go check it out!

StrayStitches wrote,

I haven’t tried any of those products before. Have you tried them before and if so, do you like them?

Stray, I’ve tried them all. Read my post on fusible web that was written in response to the Call for Topics. What I’ve landed on is SoftFuse.

Okay, I take that back. I’ve never tried Heat n Bond nFeather Lite. It may the most comparable Heat n Bond product. I’ll be interested to hear what Jen has to report.

Laurel Anderson, author of Appliqué Workshop, wrote,

I do two classes called Survey of Fusibles where we try a wide variety of fusible webs and rate them.

What a great class! Laurel’s teaching information is on her website, Whisper Color.

Susan wrote,

I would love to try this am working on my first appliqued quilt and evidently not using the correct fusible (breaking needles). Would definitely like to try this product.

My goodness Susan, what product are you using that breaks the needle? Do tell.

Remember to go to the blog itself to respond to any of this. Replying to your email subscription sends your comment only to me, and everybody wants in on this very important discussion!

Until next time, lots of fun stuff coming down the pike,
Kay
By Kay Mackenzie

Random.org has declared that the winner of Annie Smith’s Ultimate Appliqué Guidebook is… Barbara! Congratulations! Barbara reports that she is a beginner and has been enjoying the blog for introducing her to different ideas and artists. She says, “I wish I had discovered appliqué earlier in life. It is so relaxing.” Barbara, I know you will enjoy the book.

I wanted to let you know that I just added a couple of items to my website. First off, if you haven’t had a chance to get Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks, Volume 3, I have it available now on my Patterns page.

And, I’ve created special intro packs of SoftFuse paper-backed fusible web, so that you can try out the product. This is my favorite kind of fusible web for raw-edge fused machine appliqué. The intro packs are on the Kits & Notions page.

Which leads me back to the recent Call for Topics, in which Paulette C. asked:

“I would like to see a review of the different fusibles available for appliqué. On the blogs many quilters have given reasons why they have their favorites. But a real time review of the 3 major brands with pros and cons and photo examples would be interesting.”

In the November 2010 issue of American Quilter, fuser extraordinaire Frieda Anderson presented an article called Choosing and Using Fusible Web. If you can get your hands on this issue, you will find a comprehensive comparison of 11 different types of fusibles in varying weights.

Frieda does share on her blog, in this post called Fusing that her favorite is Wonder Under regular weight. Be sure to go read her post, and while you’re there on her blog, type “fusible” or some variant into the search box and you will come up a bunch of other good information. Note: I believe that Frieda, like other members of the Chicago School of Fusing, pre-fuses large pieces of fabric, whereas I use fusible web to make templates for individual shapes.

A few years ago I embarked on a whole determined expedition to try out every kind of paper-backed fusible I could get my hands on. I tried them all. Some of the reasons I was not satisfied included the following:

• Too thick, like gauze
• Didn’t work as advertised (supposed to stick without fusing, didn’t)
• Too many types within brand, some on a bolt, some in a package, similar names, way confusing
• Separated from the backing paper before I had a chance to use it

I finally zeroed in on Wonder Under #805, regular weight. It became my go-to fusible web. Back in 2009 I wrote a blog post giving my tips for fusible web management.

Continuing my fusible web saga, at some point after that I started having trouble with the Wonder Under. After I fused it onto the back of my appliqué fabrics, the backing paper would not come off. I had to wait until the following day to peel the paper off and continue with my project.

At a quilt show, I bought a pack of SoftFuse from the Shades Textiles booth. What a relief! It’s very very lightweight, it doesn’t separate from the paper, it fuses to the fabric like lightning, and the paper comes off immediately! So that’s why it’s my current favorite. It acts the way this type of product is supposed to act! What a concept.

Here are some other articles that you may find of interest:

Hand Vs. Machine Appliqué: A Timed Experiment

Ink Jet Printable Fusible Web

Trying a New Fusible Web

Hope this helps!
Until next time,
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.

Our featured book this month is from author Sarah M. Bisel, courtesy of That Patchwork Place.

fff

So cute!!!

See the feedsack-repro look of the fabrics on the cover quilt? Yet a fresh, modern sensibility? The whole book breathes fresh air into quiltmaking, combining striking fabrics, simple patchwork, and a touch of whimsical appliqué. These are projects that anyone would love to have around their house.

charming-garden

This is Charming Garden, which can be made using precut 5″ charm squares for even speedier results. How simple, and how charming! I love the rickrack piping and the bias striped binding. Sarah provides coaching on how to use the values within the charm pack.

bday-cake

How about this cute Birthday Bash? You can hang it whenever there’s a birthday at your house.

Fast, Flirty, and Fun
starts out with sections on “Color and Value” and “All About Fabric.” As the author says, ‘Nothing will do more to make or break a quilt than these artistic qualities.” Her quilts certainly demonstrate her savvy with both! Then we move on to cutting and piecing principles. My favorite one is, “Don’t use your rotary cutter when you’re tired.”

The section on Appliqué Basics includes information on fusible-interfacing, raw-edge, and wool appliqué. All on the easier side and very good methods to have in your appliqué bag of tricks.

There’s a section on quilting and finishing, and 11 darling projects ranging from wall quilts to table toppers to nap quilts. They all have that fresh, modern sensibility that is so in tune with today.

Sarah Bisel

Sarah Bisel

A fresh young face as well! Sarah blogs at Milk and Honey Designs.

If you’d like to win a copy of the book, leave a comment here on this post before 7:00 p.m. on Friday, February 4. Drawing open to U.S. and Canada only please.

Good luck!
Until next time,
Kay
By Kay Mackenzie

Last night Brown came and delivered the most beautiful book. I’m holding it in my hands, I see my name on the cover, and I can hardly believe it’s mine!

kays-inspired-by-tradition

It’s been just over a year since I was given the green light from That Patchwork Place for this new book. I’ve blogged about the process a little bit from time to time. (If you look at the Categories in the left-hand sidebar you can click on ‘A story of another book’ to read those posts if you like.)

Inspired by Tradition: 50 Appliqué Blocks in 5 Sizes is presented in the same format as Easy Appliqué Blocks, my first book from TPP… 50 blocks shown in a thumbnail library so you can choose your block, and a CD that you stick into your computer, choose any one of 5 sizes, and print right at home! No figuring of percentages or folding, copying, and matching back up crooked sections! We even give reversed versions of each pattern, since you need that for some forms of appliqué.

The designs in this new book are all vintage and old-timey in look and feel, hence the name Inspired by Tradition. The publishers did an amazing job on the pages within… graceful, colorful, and pretty, and so well suited for showing off these blocks with traditional appeal. I couldn’t be happier with how it looks.

In addition to the blocks, there’s a Little Gallery of Ideas to get you thinking. We’ve included the dimensions of all the blocks, sashing, borders, etc. in case you’d like to make something similar. There are also extensive illustrated instructions for back-basting hand appliqué and raw-edge fusible machine appliqué, and a section of appliqué questions and answers compiled from what quilters talk about when they come into my booth at shows.

What I have right now is my advance copy. The book ships to quilt shops March 7. It’s available for pre-order on Amazon now, and at a great price too. And, if you go look at it on Amazon and click on ‘see all product images,’ you can see all 50 of the blocks! That’s right, the publisher uploaded beautiful images of all 50 blocks, stitched by moi!

If you’d like to wait for a copy signed by me, I’ll have it on my website March 7 as well.

Thank you for taking a look at my new baby. I’m just a little bit excited. :)

Until next time,
Kay
By Kay Mackenzie

I’ve long been an advocate of finding your own method of appliqué, one that’s right for you and gives you results you like. That’s not the same for everyone, and I believe there’s no right and no wrong way, only what pleases you. When quilters stop by my booth at shows and make faces at the “A” word, I tell them they just haven’t found their method.

So I was delighted to take note of a new book by Laurel Anderson called Appliqué Workshop: Mix and Match 10 Techniques to Unlock Your Creativity!

applique-workshop

Here’s some information straight from the author herself.

Laurel Anderson:

I wrote this book with the idea that everyone has different design needs and different technique requirements.

The quilter who wants to occupy her time while on a fishing boat or in a doctor’s waiting room will be more interested in hand appliqué or cutting out fused shapes for three-dimensional or fused appliqué. The mother of four with limited time may be delighted with the speed of machine appliqué or the raw-edge technique. The artist who wants creative freedom may mix many methods into one piece of fiber art.

The techniques in the book are grouped into turned-edge, raw-edge and needle-turn appliqué. Each technique has a summery of its best uses. For instance: the Turned Edge with Starch or Glue makes very sharp points on leaves or petals. The 3D Broderie Perse method makes fast and easy daisy petal shapes for wall hangings. It is easier to be creative if you have your choice of many design tools.

Coneflowers by Laurel Anderson

Coneflowers by Laurel Anderson

The book offers ten appliqué methods, two edge-finishing facings, and several different template ideas. As a bonus, there’s a section on color and a chapter on dying fabric for flower quilts. The pullout section gives six full-size, ready-to-use patterns. The instructions teach several techniques for each pattern. If you make them all you will have tried all the techniques!

The book is available from Laurel’s website, Whisper Color. Laurel says to be sure to send her a message in an email telling her who to sign to book to. (There’s a Contact button on the website.) And while you’re on the site, check out the 100% bamboo batting and Laurel’s latest stand-alone pattern, Winter Amaryllis.

Winter Amaryllis pattern

Winter Amaryllis pattern

Isn’t this gorgeous?

Thank you, Laurel, for telling us about your exciting new book. I’ll be directing those face-makers to it!!

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

Melinda Bula, author of Candy Cane Lane (our featured appliqué book from last August) is a master of fusing realism into her fabulous floral art quilts.

cutting-garden

In this visually rich book, the author shares her process for creating colorful, shaded, detailed, realistic flowers in fabric and thread, and encourages us to start with our own photos of the flowers we’d like to render. “I want you to experience the same thrill I get when I create,” she says. “Everything you need to know about making Cutting-Garden quilts is in this book, and even if you don’t feel like you have an ounce of creativity in you, I assure you that anyone can make these quilts with amazing results.”

For those who’d rather start with some training wheels, Melinda includes five patterns to get you going, with easy-to-follow steps and a fabric key to help with color selection.

The book starts out with a gorgeous gallery for your inspiration. The gallery also serves to show the author’s progression through the development of her techniques and understanding of color and depth.

afternoon-glory

Then Melinda writes about the creative process (stop stomping on your own creativity!) and emphasizes the need for a place to work. Then, on to fabulous fusible appliqué, going through supplies, subject matter, making an outline drawing, enlarging it, creating a color palette, finding just the right fabrics, using the fusible web, making the appliqués, and putting it all together!

shasta-daisies

Look at all those different subtle colors that went into making white flowers!

Another thing that Melinda is fantastic at is threadwork as part of developing the fabric art. She tells you everything about it, from batting to presser feet (foots?) to thread choices to tension. There’s information on tacking down the edges of the appliqués, then moving on to adding shadows, highlights, and other thread details. (I can testify that this is a gorgeous part of the process, as I was lucky enough to be a quilt holder when Melinda came to speak at my guild, and oooh.)

social-climber

Visit the author’s blog, Melinda’s Cutting Garden.

I have a copy of Cutting Garden Quilts to give away, courtesy of That Patchwork Place. Leave a comment by 7:00 p.m. on Sunday, June 6, to enter the drawing. U.S. and Canada only please (unless you’d be willing to pay the shipping).

To those of you who are subscribed by email, click over to the blog itself and scroll to the bottom of the post to leave your comment there.

Until next time,
Kay
By Kay Mackenzie

At the Pacific International Quilt Festival last fall, I was delighted to see that a fellow PVQA guild member had won a big whopping prize!

meri-ribbon

Best of World! It’s a big world, and I was so impressed!

You can click on the photo to get a larger view.

I asked Meri to tell us something about herself and her work.

Meri ~

I was born just outside New York City in 1945 to a family which, on my father’s side, has had literally generations upon generations of artists (I have never met a Henriques who wasn’t one sort of artist or another!). I received a BA in Fine Art from the University of California at Berkeley, which wasn’t terribly useful when it came to making a living! Fortunately, my husband does that for us, so I’ve been able to live the life of a housewife and non-starving artist.

Meri

Meri


In past years, I’ve worked on building costumes for the San Francisco Lamplighters under the guidance of the brilliant designer Melissa Wortman, and I’ve costumed shows for the now-extinct Bay Shore Lyric Opera Company in Capitola.

In 2006, I took my first trip to Guatemala on one of Priscilla Bianchi‘s wonderful Guatemalan tours, and fell in love with what I’ve come to think of as the ‘Rainbow Country’. My first Guatemalan quilt, ‘Las Mujeres Azules de Guatemala (the Blue Ladies of Guatemala)”, a result of that trip, was just published in Lark Books 500 Art Quilts.

Las Mujeres Azules de Guatemala by Meri Henriques Vahl

Las Mujeres Azules de Guatemala by Meri Henriques Vahl

I made a return trip with Priscilla in the fall of 2008, and the ‘Flower Market’ (the first quilt shown here) was the result. Here’s a description of my process. I began by putting the quilt back face-down on my worktable. Over this, I spread a layer of natural cotton batting, and then took out my scissors: I was ready to start creating…

The main central picture in the ‘Flower Market’ quilt is a fabric collage using recycled Guatemalan belts and huipiles (woven blouses), Guatemalan fabric, some cotton batiks, and a few flower prints that were cut into very small units. Because I couldn’t find all the flower prints I needed, for example chrysanthemums, I fused cotton fabrics onto Wonder Under and then cut them into narrow strips and ironed them down (just in case I sneezed or the cats got into them!). I also included short lengths of yarn in several places for flower stems, and layers of dark blue tulle (in the flower buckets, for example) to create shadows. Note: there are no seams in this area – it’s all raw edges.

For the faces, I took the photographs I was working from to Kinko’s and blew them up in black and white to the size I wanted, then traced the outlines onto tracing paper, which I then reversed, drawing the image onto freezer paper. Now I had a reversed image.

Next, I ironed fine off-white cotton onto the freezer paper and drew the faces with Aquarelle Caran d’Ache colored pencils using a very interesting layering technique that dates from Medieval times: I first drew the outlines in dark blue pencil, then shaded in the shadows; then came more pencil over-layers of tan, rose, brown, yellow, and black around the eyes. Once I had achieved the effects I was after, I used Sharpie permanent pens to add accents to the eyes, eyebrows, mouths, etc. I also used this same coloring procedure to draw the small baskets and any flowers and fruits I didn’t have store-bought fabric for.

Once my picture was complete, I carefully spread a single layer of black (yes, black!) tulle over the entire surface, added lots of pins to hold the pieces in place, and then spent hours and hours free-motion quilting over the whole thing, to ‘trap’ everything in place. The stitching (finally!) completed, I squared up the picture and then added the borders, using the usual traditional piecing techniques.

I have taught this fabric collage technique in the past, and will be teaching it again at the Monterey Peninsula Quilters Guild on July 11, 2010, and also doing a presentation the next day for the Guild (I believe non-members are welcome to take their classes and attend the lectures). It’s a thrill to see my students take off on their own exciting explorations with this marvelous liberating and fun technique! Since there is no piecing involved, anything goes — and wonderful landscape can be achieved in just a brief couple of hours!

And, I can’t wait to go back to Guatemala and find out what else happens!

Kay here ~ thank you so much Meri for talking us through how your create your stunning quilts. I’ll also look forward to seeing what your next trip inspires!

Until next time,
Kay
By Kay Mackenzie

I had a few blocks left over that weren’t right for my new book for That Patchwork Place. It’s fun to have a pile of untapped potential!

Meet my newest little pattern, Sew Crazy.

sew-crazy-cover-356

Yes that’s right, it’s our favorite little sewing machine kept company by easy crazy-patch borders in a 15 x 15 mini-quilt. I used fusible machine appliqué on this one, but of course you can use whatever method you like.

I’m giving one away, but there’s a condition… if you win you have to make one in the next 6 months and send me a picture for the blog! :) Leave a comment before 7:00 p.m. California time on Friday, April 30, to enter the draw. U.S. and Canada only please.

Sew Crazy is available on the patterns page at By Kay Mackenzie.

until next time,
Kay
By Kay Mackenzie

On Sunday night I had a date with four men.

My husband, my father-in-law, my father-in-law’s brother, my nephew, and me! It was a rare occasion that all of us would be in the same part of the U.S. at the same time, and it was a total blast.

I wanted to send the older menfolk home with little quilty tokens for their ladies, both of whom I am quite fond, so on Saturday I set out to make a couple of mini-quilts.

Patsy-&-Mayna

These are about 7″ x 9″. Conceived of, fused, stitched, quilted, signed, and bound, and all done by 4:00 p.m.

The men were crazy about them (it’s funny to see the light bulbs go off over relatives’ heads when they finally gain some small inkling of what it is that you do) and I hope the gals like them too.

Until next time,
Kay
By Kay Mackenzie

Happy New Year appliqué enthusiasts!

Hey is anybody going to Road to California later this month? I got a call just a couple weeks ago offering me a spot as a vendor and I said yippee! If you’re going to be at this fabulous quilt show and conference in Ontario, California, in two weeks’ time, please come by and say hello! I’ll be in 806.

matqNow on to our January giveaway, sponsored by Martingale & Company / That Patchwork Place. Sharon Pederson is a Canadian quilter whom I’ve met a couple times, most recently when she came to give a talk at my guild. If you ever get the chance, be sure to go to one of her lectures because it is a highly amusing experience. Sharon’s book Machine Appliqué for the Terrified Quilter is intended for quilters who (like Sharon in a former life) “refer to appliqué as the A word.”

Sharon says that her book is for those who are attracted to appliqué but feel that life is too short to do hand work. Learning that she could appliqué by machine was what it took to make her a total convert! I’ll throw in my 2¢ worth and add that even if you like hand work, it’s great to throw more techniques into your appliqué bag of tricks.

rose-quiltLots of introductory information is given about fabrics, threads, needles, sewing machines, and stitches. Then Sharon takes you step-by-step through two methods: invisible machine appliqué, where the edges of the appliqué are turned and the stitches are unseen, and fusible appliqué, where the edges are raw and the stitches are visible. Reverse appliqué is also covered.

Sharon gives lessons on a variety of machine stitches, including the satin stitch, narrow zigzag, and decorative stitches, plus how to manipulate them in interesting ways. Great closeup photos accompany this information.

stained-glassThe projects in the book are mostly small and manageable, because after all, “you might be just a little bit terrified about the prospect of machine appliqué, so why further terrorize yourself by trying a queen-size project first?”

If you’re more of a visual learner, you might be interested in the DVD, a separate item. A sample lesson from it is available for viewing on the Martingale website.

Whether you’re terrified or not, this is one great resource for those interested in machine appliqué! Leave a comment by 7:00 p.m. California time on Wednesday, January 6, to enter the drawing for the book. U.S. and Canada only, unless you’d be willing to pay the shipping.

eab-cdThe winner gets my book Easy Appliqué Blocks too, with its companion CD that lets you print 50 designs in 5 sizes!

Until next time,
Kay
By Kay Mackenzie

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