Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Tips for Paper Piecing

Paper piecing is one of my favorite techniques — both because of the accuracy it gives and because it allows me to easily piece blocks that wouldn't be possible using any other method.

I have found that there is no need to use vellum, newsprint, or other "fancy" papers for my patterns. In my opinion, plain ol' copy paper from the copy shop works just fine.

This week I got a call from Evelyn McKim in Bend, Oregon, who also uses regular copy paper — with an added twist. When the stitching is done, Evelyn sprays her finished piece with Mary Ellen's Best Press to make the paper pull away easily. Whodathunk?

Here's what Evelyn had to say:

"A great way to save money for more fabric and my new found LOVE Texture Magic is to use regular copy paper when piecing. It is a lot cheaper than newsprint or foundation paper.

First set your machine stitch length to stitch 18-20 stitches to the inch (1.5) so that your paper pulls apart with ease.

Next, to ensure that you keep a clean and crisp seam, spray a little Best Press starch from the opposite side of the paper (completed fabric side). Give it one final press if needed and you will be amazed that your seams stay nice and straight . . . and the paper pulls apart with no fuss.

Side note: I have never had an issue with bleeding but would suggest that one always tests on scraps first.

Happy Piecing!

Evelyn McKim

Some of my favorite paper-pieced patterns are Air Show, Chinese New Year, Feeling Crabby, and Spiragyra.

I made a version of my Feeling Crabby quilt for E. E. Schenck using just two fabrics from their Gelato collection — one fabric that gradates from light to dark red and another that gradates from light to dark blue. The pattern and a kit containing the fabrics is featured in the current Keepsake Quilting catalog.

The quilt was quilted by Sharon Rawlings and Jana Jammet at 2Quilting Bees. Great job, ladies!

Happy stitching,


Thursday, February 3, 2011

Set a SUPER BOWL table!

Ryan and Yeimy, the Superior Threads show team, are always a big help to me and I wanted to do something to let them know how much I appreciate them.

Since they are big Steelers fans, I decided to help them show some team spirit by making them a set of placemats for the big day on Sunday.

I used my Set A Pretty Table placemats pattern and some great Steelers fabric that I found at J & O Fabrics.

Using the same pattern and a selection of fruit and vegetable fabrics from her stash, my friend, Ricci, made this fun set of placemats for a dinner party that she held last month.

I love the basket fabric that she used for the back and self-binding. It makes it look like her fruits and vegetables are sitting in a basket, doesn't it?

A modified quilt-as-you-go technique and foldover self binding make assembly quick and easy. In fact, Ricci got up on Saturday morning, decided she wanted something fun for the dinner that night — and made a set of eight placemats in time for the party!

Using ByAnnie's Soft and Stable™ in place of batting makes beautiful, sturdy placemats that are extra easy to make and that will wear beautifully.

It's easy to mark lines on the Soft and Stable™ using a chalk marker. This helps align the pieces for the flip and sew assembly.

And, because Soft and Stable™ is polyester and not a fusible product, it's easy to press the pieces with an iron as you go.

Once the mats are assembled, a 20½" ruler makes trimming them to size easy.

Next, center the mat on the backing and stitch the layers together. Finally, bring the backing around to the front to make a self-binding.

In no time at all, you've got a beautiful placemat that can be machine washed and dried.

The Set A Pretty Table placemat pattern is designed to be made using precut 2½" strips (such as a Jelly Roll™) or fabrics from your stash. One Jelly Roll™ is usually enough to make eight placemat fronts. A 36" x 58" package of Soft and Stable™ is also enough for eight placemats.

Happy stitching,


Chinese New Year and a FREE 12" ruler

The Chinese New Year, which begins today (February 3, 2011), is considered the most important social and economic holiday in China, according to History.com.

The 15-day New Year festivities are celebrated with a week of vacation in metropolitan areas of China. Similar to New Year's Eve in the West, the biggest celebration of the Chinese New Year holiday is on its eve.

The Chinese New Year is celebrated as the symbol of spring's celebration. In fact, in China it is still called the Spring festival. It is celebrated after the fall harvest and before the spring planting season. The date of the Chinese New Year is always changing and is dependent on the Chinese calendar.

With much of our country buried in snow, I'm all for celebrating spring, too! So, for two days only (and while supplies last), I'm offering a free 12" ruler (my favorite style used just for paper piecing) with the purchase of one of my Chinese New Year patterns.

That's a savings of $3.50! Be sure to put BOTH the 12" ruler and the pattern in your shopping cart. Then enter the code RULER in the discount box at checkout. This offer will be good only while supplies last or through February 5 (whichever comes first), so don't delay!

These dynamic quilts are easy to make using foundation paper piecing techniques.

The pattern includes foundation piecing patterns (which must be enlarged and copied) plus step-by-step instructions for paper piecing and assembling the quilt in two sizes:

* A 54" X 54" throw
* A 70" x 84" twin-sized comforter

As always, the proper tools make the task much easier! I use the thin, flexible 12" rulers to fold my pattern along the lines before I begin. This makes aligning all the pieces SO easy! Then I use an Add-A-Quarter ruler to trim my fabric as I sew.

Foundation paper piecing makes these quilts easy enough for intermediate quilters but fun for experienced quilters as well.

It's always fun to see how other quilters interpret the pattern.

The Courthouse Quilters puts on a show every other year at the Prallsville Mills on Rt 29 in Stockton, NJ. Stockton is a beautiful little town nestled on the Delaware River in historic Hunterdon County, NJ.

In 2010, the group's raffle quilt was made (with my permission) using the Chinese New Year pattern. I love the colors that they used in their version of the quilt. Great job ladies!

Read more about the group and the quilt at their blog.

April Sproule of Sproule Studios sent images of a Chinese New Year quilt that she quilted for Kate Whitson of Redding, California.

All I can say is WOW! Amazing quilting, April. Thanks so much for sharing.

Happy stitching,


Loves Me!

I always like to see how other quilters have interpreted my quilt patterns. And, just in time for Valentine's Day, I've got some fun quilts to share.

Linda Huntsman recently sent pictures of a version of my Loves Me! pattern that she made for her granddaughter as a special quilt for her 13th birthday.

Linda used EQ7 to enlarge the quilts. (I offer special prices every day on EQ software and books. And, if you'd like to learn to use EQ, be sure to check out the upcoming classes that I will be teaching in March. EQ is an amazing program!)

Linda wrote:

I appreciated your quilting suggestions. I did some freehand embroidery for the words around the edge. It's been awhile since I've done any of that.

Its finished size is about 70 x 80. She wanted it for her bed. She got coordinating bedding for her birthday present. It took me awhile to finish it because (with three new grandbabies this year) I've been working on a lot of baby quilts.

Great job on the quilt, Linda! Thanks for sending pictures.

Another quilter, Linda Sidlow, made the Loves Me wall hanging for her granddaughter. Here's a picture of this Linda's quilt:

Linda says: "I have a hard time envisioning anything other than what the picture on pattern covers look like so I make duplicates! Picking out colors is not my thing! If the picture isn't appealing, then I usually don't buy the pattern. Crazy I know."

No, Linda, not crazy at all. I'm flattered!

To make the applique really easy on these quilts, I used my favorite mock needle-turn method. It's a great way to get the look of hand applique without all the effort. Read more and see pictures of the steps at my website.

To say Happy Valentine's Day to all of you, I am offering a 10% discount on Water Soluble Applique Foundation through the end of this month. Just use the discount code WSAF when you check out.

Note, too, that I've added a new link for Coupons and Discounts on left hand side of my website, so you can easily find all the current discounts and coupons offered.

Happy stitching,