Saturday Morning Quilt Break: Of Rabbits, Rain and Log Cabins

Sometimes I don’t get to sew on Saturday morning. Sometimes I instead have to take one of my daughters to an urgent care appointment at our doctors’ office because of a double ear infection and then wait for her prescription to be filled at the pharmacy. Sometimes that’s just the way Saturday goes, which was the case last week.

of rabbits rain and log cabins jelly rolls 300x300 Saturday Morning Quilt Break: Of Rabbits, Rain and Log CabinsBut once my daughter started feeling better by Sunday morning, I was able to make some time to sew. I’m working on a Log Cabin throw quilt in red, taupe and ivory that I’m making with a couple of jelly rolls of the Project Red collection, Sweetwater’s upcoming line for Moda (look for it in stores starting in December).

I had started it the week before while participating in National Sew a Jelly Roll Day with an eye toward making a 60” x 60” throw quilt as a Christmas gift for someone on my list. Seeing as how I had made one 20” x 20” block out of the nine I need and the strips were still laid out on the guest bed I use as a design surface, I figured I might as well just keep trucking with it and return to the free-motion quilting I’d been working on later.

of rabbits rain and log cabins log cabin in progress Saturday Morning Quilt Break: Of Rabbits, Rain and Log Cabins

Log cabin blocks in progress. I estimate I’m about 3 hours away from a finished 60” x 60” quilt top at this point.

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I always feel like somebody’s watching me… but who’s watching whom?

The autumn weather we’d been promised moved in right on schedule and stayed all week. Sunday was a rather drizzly day, but I opened the window in the guest/sewing room anyway for some air. As I described in my first Saturday Morning Quilt Break blog post, the windows on the lower floor of our split-level house are just a few inches above ground level, so when I opened the curtains I found myself almost nose to nose with a neighborhood rabbit that was apparently seeking shelter from the rain by huddling next to my lavender plant. It was there for a few hours, barely moving a muscle, especially when it knew someone was looking at it. I felt very … surveilled, but my daughters got a kick out of it.

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20” x 20” Log Cabin block

I don’t normally post photos of works-in-progress on my Facebook timeline, but I had posted a photo of the first completed Log Cabin block the week prior with the caption, “I started my first ever log cabin quilt this weekend using some Moda jelly rolls I got for National Sew a Jelly Roll Day. [Husband] has already declared it his favorite thing I’ve made so far based on this one block—too bad this quilt isn’t intended for him.”

The photo got a lot of likes and a handful of comments from people saying they loved the colors and the fabrics. I mean, it’s just a Log Cabin block, but Log Cabins are inherently awesome, so it’s understandable that people would respond positively to a single block.

Here’s some professional advice: you can never go wrong with a Log Cabin quilt. I mean, yes, some fabric placement choices are better than others (hint: pay more attention to value than to color), but as a basic design, you can make a Log Cabin quilt to suit any style, from super-traditional to completely modern. They’re also really easy to make and are great for beginners.

In retrospect, I think I may have spent almost as much time deliberating fabric choice and color placement as I’ve spent cutting and sewing. I’m making this with particular recipients in mind, and naturally I want to make something I think they’ll like. Based on having been to their home and some photos they’ve posted on Facebook, I decided to aim for a look that’s more contemporary than traditional and to stick with a largely monochromatic red color palette (hence why I chose the Project Red jelly rolls).

I started planning my placement by folding some strips and auditioning them in a rough layout to get an idea of what a block might look like.

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auditioning fabric

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auditioning fabric

But before I started cutting, I wanted to have a better idea of where I was headed. So I cut 9 small squares of fabric (although some were not so square), colored them with crayons and started playing with different arrangements.

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arrangement #1

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arrangement #2

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arrangement #3

I liked the asymmetry of arrangement #3, but felt like I wanted more color. So the next day I did some more coloring and arranging.

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arrangement #4

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arrangement #5

There were actually more variations than what I’m showing here, but these are a good sample of how I played around with my little pieces of paper. Arrangement #5 is what I decided to make.

Once I had completed and photographed that first block, I was able to copy the image into a Word document and rotate the blocks to get an even better idea of what different arrangements might look like.

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Word document mock-up of Log Cabin quilt

I’ll be done making the blocks soon—like I said, this is a fast and easy quilt pattern—and may play with their arrangement in real life before stitching them together. But I won’t be surprised if I stick with my planned asymmetric setting.

I’m still experiencing some twinges of doubt as to whether the recipients will really feel as if this quilt is at home in their home. But once a gift is given, you just have to let go of your own expectations and move on to the next project I suppose. This may be my first Log Cabin, but I bet it won’t be my last.

With that, I want to wish you a good week!
Mary Kate

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Freeform Quilt Block of the Month: Introduction

Freeform Quilt Block of the Month LQK17094 Freeform Quilt Block of the Month: Introduction

Freeform, designed by Jean Nolte

Freeform Quilt Block of the Month Paintbrush Studio Logo 2017 300x104 Freeform Quilt Block of the Month: IntroductionHave you ever participated in a Block of the Month program? I’d always been intrigued to try one, and I like the ‘assignment’ aspect of them, but I’d never actually signed up for one until I saw the most recent offering from Fons & Porter. The Freeform quilt is just so pretty, and I want to make it. It uses these gorgeous tone-on-tones from the Freeform collection by Paintbrush Studio in greens, blues and purple. Take a look and see for yourself!

Freeform Quilt Block of the Month LQN1702 150x150 Freeform Quilt Block of the Month: IntroductionI’m really looking forward to it, but also I’m getting a little nervous now that it’s almost time for the first installment. What if I cut something wrong? What if I fall behind? I broke my habit of avoiding curved seams for this project; what if I end up liking them? There are just so many unknowns.

To soothe my anxiety, I asked my colleagues who have done BOMs what advice they might have for me.

Anissa had some great advice:

  1. I like to create a binder with a pic of the completed quilt on the front and then add a tab for each month and keep all info for each month all in one place
  2. Don’t fall behind if you want to finish on schedule. It’s really hard to catch up once you fall behind.

Carolyn’s words of wisdom were along the same lines:

Speaking from the voice of experience, I would say do your best to stay current and not wait until the last minute to make each part. That’s the fastest way to burn out and lose interest in the project.

So I guess my fears of falling behind are justified, and I’d better not do that. I’ll plan to set aside some evenings for cutting patches when I receive the bundles of fabric, and sew whenever I get a chance, with the bulk of the sewing work happening on weekends. I’m hoping it will be a chain-piecing-friendly pattern because I can really get into a rhythm with chain-piecing.

Lori had some great advice for me too:

I think my advice would be to have fun with it. You may be able to play with the color placement since they are sending fabric every month. Sometimes they send the fabric for the whole quilt at once. Then you have to be more careful about following directions exactly because you don’t know if you’ll need more of a fabric later in the project. But since they are sending it every month if you want to switch the colors for the A’s and F’s in a particular month’s block and there is enough of both of the fabrics, you can.

I do like to make patterns my own, so this advice is right up my alley. But I’m not sure I want to get too creative with it and lose track of things, so I’ll probably be considering her advice up until the point I start cutting fabric. So we’ll see. I’ll be documenting my progress each month on this blog, so please return to see how it goes!

If you’re interested in making this beautiful quilt with me, you can check out the project details and sign up here. Will you join me? And do you have any advice for a BOM newbie that you’d care to share? Thanks!


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Curved Piecing with the 9 Blade Fan Template

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Lemon Pickles designed by Lori Baker | Quiltmaker May/June ‘17

I have been quilting for a few years and finally worked up the courage to try curved piecing. I enjoy the graceful shapes curves create in quilts, such as in Lori Baker’s, traditional-made-modern design, Lemon Pickles, however I’m not quite ready to be piecing AND hand appliqueing curved shapes.

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Hocus Pocus designed by Carolyn Beam | Quiltmaker Sept/Oct ‘17

When Quiltmaker Content Editor, Carolyn Beam started designing the scrappy Halloween quilt Hocus Pocus, I was inspired to try out the Fons & Porter 9 Blade Fan Template set. My goal was to successfully make at least one block and depending on how fond I become of this piecing technique, I would go from there. When experimenting with new things, I like to stay on the scrappy side of fabric choices, making fabric placement more flexible.

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Fons & Porter 9 Blade Fan Template

I don’t always have the patience or the greatest means of finesse when it comes to cutting, what can sometimes feel like a never-ending amount of pieces, from paper or plastic templates. I usually end up getting a bit sloppy at some point or another, accidently trimming a little too much here or there. I’m still working on the practice makes perfect mentality, however using this template set did help significantly increase the consistency of my cutting.

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Hoffman Fabrics, Indah Batiks.

The fabrics I used in this block are from Hoffman Fabrics line of Indah Batiks. These are a few of my favorite colors left over from a previous project, so I had to get a little fancy with my cutting. I did get a little caught up in my creative cutting from the scraps and managed to forget to cut the outer curve template on the fold of the fabric.

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Miscut template piece

This wouldn’t have been an issue if a.) I had enough fabric to recut the pieces, or b.) I wasn’t so picky about swapping the fabric for a different print. However neither option would do, so I improvised by piecing a cream print 1½” (½” finished) strip between the two miscut pieces. Now the corner unit was properly fit to be attached to the blades.

The blades are simple to assemble, however if you are trying to keep fabrics in a particular order, it helps to lay the pieces out before piecing them together. Attaching the center quarter circle to the inner curve of the blades was a bit tricky at first. Pinning each edge in place, then the center and finally filling in the sides will help keep the seam. Pins are your friend in this case. The outer curve was much smoother to sew, due to its size however after completing the first two quadrants of this block I felt pretty confident as long as I didn’t rush through the process and made sure to keep the ¼” seam allowance consistent. Missing the seam allowance by a small bit will make a big difference in the end.

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Border #1 band set

This block is 16” finished. I decided to add two borders and make it into a mini quilt. The 1” pieced border uses the same red, green, yellow and cream fabrics from the block. To help keep the smaller scale of the pieced border accurate, I made band set from 1 ½” strips and cut strips from it, adding single squares where necessary to keep the color pattern in place. The second border is 1½” (finished), making this mini quilt 21 ¾”.

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Finished block

Perfecting curved piecing will definitely take some time and practice, however I feel confident that I am off to a good start. The next time around I may use a more overall scrappy design, so that I can focus more on the piecing technique itself, rather than getting caught up with fabric placement right away. I have enjoyed using these templates and they made quite a difference in the accuracy of my cutting. I may just go ahead and cut more scraps to practice with. Now I need to do some quilting on this and finish it up, stay tuned for the final reveal!

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Saturday Morning Quilt Break: News from the Quiltosphere

DPQMP171008 Saturday Morning Quilt Break: News from the Quiltosphere

Punkin’ Patch by Bonnie Hunter, from Quiltmaker’s September/October 2017 issue

Welcome to the Saturday Morning Quilt Break! I know the weather can vary wildly, or sometimes not at all, with the change in seasons, and here in Colorado it feels as if the seasons are changing right on cue. The past week was warm and dry, but starting today things are getting cooler, cloudier and wetter—a definite return of Quilting Weather.

Today, let’s take a look at some stories about or relating to quilts that have been in the news lately; click on the links in each paragraph to read more.

Earlier this month, “Sewing with Nancy” host and sewing industry icon Nancy Zieman announced her retirement in a blog post, saying that the cancer she was initially diagnosed with in 2015 has returned and metastasized, and is considered untreatable by her doctors. “It was a devastating day, realizing that my life and my career, as I had known it, would end,” she wrote. Within a few hours after her blog post was first shared on social media, her website crashed due to the high traffic but was restored later in the day. All of us here send Nancy and her family our love and support and hope for the best possible outcome. Click here to read Nancy’s message and leave her a comment if you wish.

Barn quilts are not only getting more popular, they’re starting to get a little competitive. The town of Hopkins, Missouri, has dubbed itself “Barn Quilt City, U.S.A.” and just hosted its third annual Barn Quilt City Festival to help promote its trail of more than 100 painted quilt designs hung on buildings throughout the area.

Meanwhile, the makers of what’s being touted as Oklahoma’s Largest Barn Quilt are looking for a home for their creation. The 20-by-20-foot painted barn quilt is composed of 56 2-foot blocks surrounding a center medallion.

With International Quilt Market and Quilt Festival approaching in late October and early November, the quilt industry’s focus is firmly on Houston at this time of year. The George R. Brown Convention Center, where both events are held, served as a shelter in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, hosting up to 10,000 evacuees at one point. This past week the hurricane shelter closed and the remaining evacuees have been relocated to other long-term shelters.

Houston quilter Carolyn Bennett was featured in a local news story about hurricane victims and what they found when they were allowed to return to their flood-ravaged homes. Bennett managed to save three quilts out of the hundreds she’s made (and mostly given away) before she and her husband evacuated.

She mourned the loss of several of the hundreds of quilts she’s crafted over the years, for relatives and charities and herself. Her niece said every November Bennett drags family members to Houston’s big quilt show. It’s clearly not just a hobby, but part of her identity and the way she cares for others.

When the water started covering the neighborhood’s roads, she and her husband, David, prepared to evacuate.

“I got as many quilts as David would let me take,” she said, hoisting a clear plastic bag with three queen-sized comforters. Like so much else, the other quilts at her home were lost to Harvey.

The city of Paducah, Kentucky—home of the National Quilt Museum and American Quilter’s Society—sits at the confluence of the Ohio and Tennessee rivers and has been protected by a floodwall since being devastated by a 1937 flood. For the first time a mural depicting a quilt, Caryl Bryer Fallert-Gentry’s Corona II: Solar Eclipse, has been added to the floodwall. The mural was painted by artist Char Downs onto parachute material and applied to the floodwall “like wallpaper.”

A South Dakota man has been left with more questions than answers after learning of a World War II-era quilt that contains the embroidered signatures of female relatives and other women of his community he knew when he was growing up. He has a theory that the quilt was made for his father but was never sent to him, as he was serving overseas in the 109th Engineer Battalion during the war. “I just wish I had known about it 10 years ago,” he said. “There were still some alive then who could have answered the question.”

New Zealand doctor Sanet Cloete has a passion for repurposed textiles, turning men’s ties into skirts, her husband’s wool trousers into patchwork, and silk and velvet scraps into a hand-embroidered crazy bed quilt. A general practitioner by day, Cloete is a prolific artist in her free time. “There is very little time for negative thoughts while quilting or sewing — instead fabric, colour, cutting, piecing, arranging and rearranging fills the space, and National Radio keeps me company,” she says. Sounds pretty familiar, doesn’t it? Click the link to see some of the things she’s made.

 Saturday Morning Quilt Break: News from the QuiltosphereHave you entered for your chance to win Fabric for Life from Keepsake Quilting today? If not, don’t wait any longer! And be sure to do it again tomorrow and every day until December 31, 2017. One lucky winner will win 52 yards of fabric every year for 20 years; other prizes include a Bernina sewing machine and a Reliable iron. Click here to enter for your chance to win, and bookmark the webpage to revisit every day for the rest of the year. Contest open to U.S. and Canadian residents (void in Quebec).

Wishing you a productive week,
Mary Kate

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First-Timer Tips for Longarm Quilting (Everyone Can Longarm Quilt!)

When I started putting the Snowbirds quilt, designed by Wendy Sheppard, together for my soon-to-be-born daughter, I never dreamt it would take me three years to finish. Talk about a UFO (or PIG, as Lori Baker would call it). I suppose that’s not really a long time for some people, but I’m not one to let projects marinate, so for me, this was far overdue.

Longarm Quilting CSisk Snowbirds My Fabrics First Timer Tips for Longarm Quilting (Everyone Can Longarm Quilt!)

A couple more things I didn’t foresee when I set out to make this quilt:

  1. turning this quilt (meant to finish at 40″ x 49″) into a toddler-worthy quilt (I added an extra border) and
  2. quilting it on a longarm quilting machine

Once I finished piecing the quilt top (whew!), our office had already received a Q’nique 14+ Quilter. I was excited to try it but hesitant to possibly ruin my now eldest daughter’s quilt with shoddy quilting by yours truly. But, after taking it for a test drive, I was hooked. I had to quilt it on this glorious machine.

And, quilt it, I did! I thought I’d share some beginner tips with you since I learned a lot on my adventure. Nothing beats the actual experience, of course (you can rent time on a longarm quilting machine—check with your local dealers and quilt shops!), but it doesn’t hurt to go in armed with a little friendly advice.

Plan your design or motifs before jumping in.

Just as you would when preparing to design your quilt tops, I recommend laying your finished quilt top out and studying it. You can search for quilting designs and motifs with a browser image search, on Pinterest, in books like 501 Quilting Motifs, on quilting websites… anywhere! I didn’t refer to my quilt top in its entirety before quilting it, just contemplated each row as a stand-alone quilting project, and later realized I would have quilted the smaller triangles across each row as one unit instead of separate units. Live and learn.

Longarm Quilting CSisk Quilting Units First Timer Tips for Longarm Quilting (Everyone Can Longarm Quilt!)

Had I studied my quilt top before quilting, I would have quilted these units as one.

Practice your designs on paper first.

Before you put needle to fabric, try putting pen (or marker) to paper.

Draw as you would quilt. Meaning, position your paper how you will be framing your quilt. If it’s loaded on the quilt frame horizontally, draw your design as if you’re quilting across your quilt, side-to-side. This way, you get a feel for how you’ll be moving through your quilting. Loop-de-loops are a whole different animal when drawing them side-to-side instead of up and down. You’ll also notice the mistakes you’re inclined to make. My loops? They don’t always go in the same direction—I decided to practice those a bit more.

Longarm Quilting CSisk Muscle Memory First Timer Tips for Longarm Quilting (Everyone Can Longarm Quilt!)

Draw out your designs to increase muscle memory.

Drawing out your designs beforehand builds muscle memory—your brain becomes accustomed to that specific motor task through repetition. You’ll notice that it’s as if your muscles “remember” your designs once you start quilting. And, finally, practicing answers the following questions: 1) How will I continuously quilt so as not to break thread? 2) In what order and direction will I quilt my motifs? 3) Do I like how my motifs work together?

Heed the extra 8″ rule.

I thought I could get away with 6″ because… I’m unique? There’s a reason expert quilters recommend certain things. And, there’s a reason they’re the experts. So, when ZJ Humbach tells you to allow an extra 4″ on each side of your quilt backing and batting, you listen. It’s amazing how much your quilt backing and batting will start to disappear as you quilt. I got lucky and had just enough that everything worked out, but I don’t recommend living on the edge when it comes to finishing your quilts.

Start with free-motion quilting.

Pantographs and rulers are fun, but they take a bit more know-how than free-motion. My first experience with a longarm was amazing—I got to watch the lovely and talented Dawn Cavanaugh film her online Craft U class, APQS Longarm Certification, and then take her machine for a quick spin. BUT, it was also daunting because it involved quilting with a laser, from behind the machine, following a pantograph design. That was enough to turn me off of longarm quilting (I recklessly admitted defeat—bad quilter!) until I finally recovered enough to discover that free-motion quilting was heads and tails easier. And, now I’m hooked!

Try curves first.

I know, I know… quilters often refer to “curves” as if it’s a dirty word. Well, not in free-motion longarm quilting. I decided to quilt a straight braid around the outer border and quickly realized that retracing my stitches is easier said than done. When I revisit straight lines in my longarming, I’ll be using a ruler (specially made for quilting on a longarm machine).

Longarm Quilting CSisk Full Quilt First Timer Tips for Longarm Quilting (Everyone Can Longarm Quilt!)

Straight edges are tricky. Try quilting curves to start!

Solid fabrics showcase your quilting.

So, if you’re not sure you want your quilting to be front and center, consider working with prints or batiks for your first round of longarm quilting. You’d think this would be common quilting sense, but this thought didn’t even cross my mind before I began. It was a bit of shock when I whoopsied across my solid piecing. Like I said, front and center.

Longarm Quilting CSisk Close Up First Timer Tips for Longarm Quilting (Everyone Can Longarm Quilt!)

Notice how the quilting is more apparent on the solid fabrics.

Reframing your quilt mid-quilting is tricky.

Yes, I did this. I wanted to approach my borders from the side, so once I had the side borders and Flying Geese units quilted, I took the quilt off the frame, turned it 90°, and quilted the remaining borders. Finding the center of your quilt top after it’s been quilted is challenging. I had excess quilt backing and batting to contend with, so finding the center was more of a ready, fire, aim approach. When the name of the game is keeping things square, this might not be the way to go.

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes!

This is where I fall short. I want everything to be perfect before I even know what I’m doing. I ended up ripping out an entire row of stitches—I knew I would only focus on that row of quilting since I had decided to change my design for the remaining rows. For my own sanity, it had to be done. Stay calm and grab the seam ripper. A word of caution, however: ripping quilting is a bit more labor-intensive than ripping seams. It takes a while.

Relax your body. Your muscles and your quilt will thank you.

I channeled the great longarm quilter, Angela Huffman (she offers excellent online classes, including Longarm Fundamentals) while I was quilting, recalling her advice to relax the body when quilting. It is incredibly easy to tense up when you’re super focused and attempting to stay on track. But, tense quilting is hard on every part of your body and you’ll pay for it later. It also means that you probably won’t be longarm quilting very often because your body can’t withstand the aches and pains. Plus, your quilting pays the price. If you’re relaxed and calm (drawing out your designs prior to quilting helps here, too—it builds confidence), it will be reflected in your designs. If you could use a little help loosening up, we have great Quilting Ergonomics and No More Backaches webinars with Michael Engman (certified personal trainer and orthopedic exercise specialist).

And, the best piece of advice I can give…

Have tons of fun! It’s just the beginning…

There’s certainly more quilting to be done. A tremendously helpful resource, as you move forward in longarm quilting, is a series of articles called “Longarm Quilting Demystified with ZJ Humbach” in Quiltmaker Magazine. This informative series began with the May/June 2017 issue and has appeared in every Quiltmaker issue since. Keep an eye out for an upcoming article from this series in the December/January 2018 issue, soon to hit newsstands! You can also find issues of Quiltmaker Magazine in the Quilt and Sew Shop.

Quilt Happy!
Carrie Sig First Timer Tips for Longarm Quilting (Everyone Can Longarm Quilt!)


If you’re interested in making the Snowbirds quilt and would like to use the same fabrics that Wendy used, the Snowbirds quilt kit is available for purchase!

Posted in Machine Quilting | Tagged , | 5 Comments

Appliqué: Some Thoughts on Thread

applique some thoughts on thread Appliqué: Some Thoughts on Thread

Three of my favorite applique threads

Before I get to into my method for appliqué I thought I would share my 3 favorite threads with you. When I am choosing a thread for appliqué I look for thin cotton threads in the right color. Mettler 60 weight embroidery thread comes in a really nice range of colors. These are the threads that have green labeling on the spools. Aurifil 50 weight (orange spools) also come in an extensive variety of colors as well. Both these threads are great!

I have recently discovered Aurifil 80 weight threads. These threads are really thin and almost completely disappear into you appliqué, which is wonderful. Using a thin thread took some getting used to but once I stopped unthreading my needle I was fine. I found that I didn’t have to match the color with the 80 weight thread quite as closely since it is so thin.

Stay tuned for more appliqué tips!

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Saturday Morning Quilt Break: What I Quilted on My Summer Vacation

We may still be a week away from the meteorological beginning of autumn, but we both know that Summer 2017 has essentially ended. Sometimes the end of summer leaves me with an immediate sense of nostalgia, a feeling that I didn’t make the most of the season, and a reluctance to accept that fall is coming.

I don’t feel that way this year, though. I mean, sure, I never made that peach-blueberry pie recipe I had my eye on, I certainly didn’t get a tan (although I got sunburned), and I didn’t see a concert at Red Rocks Amphitheatre (not for lack of trying—grrrrr…).

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Outer Banks selfie

But I did go on a wonderful vacation in June to North Carolina’s Outer Banks with family; getting to dig my toes in wet sand for a few days in a row does my heart good. When we were planning the trip I actually thought about trying to bring a hand-quilting project with me to “keep me occupied.” I’m sure it comes as no surprise to hear that I kept myself occupied just fine while relaxing on the beach, by the pool or on the screened-in porch, sometimes with an adult beverage and often with a book at hand.

I did a good amount of reading this summer, and I managed to keep my quilt mojo working, neither of which have always been the case in summers past. I attribute both to setting some goals for myself, as well as to counting audiobooks toward my reading goal.

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The view from the pool at our Outer Banks rental house, where I did some reading and absolutely no sewing.

For quilting, at the beginning of the year I set a goal to finish an average of one project per month, whether UFOs that were started prior to 2017 or new projects. We’re eight-and-a-half months into the year and I have six finishes to show for it, so I’m a little off my pace but I think I can still meet my goal.

As for reading, I’m part of a loosely organized reading group on Facebook. For the summer, the challenge is simple:

  1. Set a personal goal of how many books you want to read between May 15 and September 15. You are encouraged to read books of any genre or length that you’ve never read before (to avoid the group turning into the Harry Potter/Pride and Prejudice Re-Read Club).
  2. Read books.
  3. Post your progress in the group if you want to; if not, it’s no big deal. You’re only accountable to yourself.
  4. If you meet your goal, feel free to get yourself a little reward. (For many people, their reward is a new book.)

And that’s it. This year I doubled my goal from previous summers from five to 10 books, and not only did I meet it but I exceeded it by one book read and an audiobook still in progress. Before the summer started I pored through my local library’s catalog of streaming audiobooks and created a wish list of almost 100 titles. Enough were available at any given time for me to be able to choose something interesting and borrow it via my cell phone while sitting at my sewing machine. Oh, this modern age we live in!

Combining sewing with listening to audiobooks had a synergistic effect: having an audiobook in progress made me more inclined to sew, and making time to sew gave me more time to listen to some good stories.

Here’s a rundown of what I made this summer and what I was listening to when I made it.

IMG 3738 249x300 Saturday Morning Quilt Break: What I Quilted on My Summer Vacation

Sweet Home Colorado

Sweet Home Colorado: In early June I bound this Delectable Mountains quilt, making it my 5th finish for the year. I started piecing it about 12 years ago and longarm quilted it in May. I didn’t really listen to any books while I was finishing this up, but it counts toward summer sewing.






IMG 3959 300x289 Saturday Morning Quilt Break: What I Quilted on My Summer Vacation

This Land Is Your Land pillow

This Land Is Your Land pillow: I started this in mid-June, before our vacation, and finished it the 4th of July, my 6th finish for 2017. It’s based on Homeland by Candy Hargrove, a large throw that was in McCall’s Quilting June/July 2017.

Audiobooks: Antigone by Jean Anouilh, a play performed by L.A. Theatre Works that I want to listen to again, and the beginning of The Royal We by Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan, which is a lighthearted novel about a young heir to the British throne who falls in love while at Oxford with an American student on her junior year abroad. I ended up borrowing the hardcover so I could finish it on vacation, and it made for good poolside reading.

IMG 4059 300x296 Saturday Morning Quilt Break: What I Quilted on My Summer Vacation

Geese in My Kitchen remake

Geese in My Kitchen: I worked in earnest on piecing this top from July to mid-August, although I’d started planning and cutting it in April.

Audiobooks: Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris, a collection of essays read by the author; Fresh Off the Boat by Eddie Huang, a memoir read by the author (note that this rated-R-for-language memoir almost certainly has very little in common with the family sitcom based on it); Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes, read by the author, which was great for a “you can do it!” pick-me-up as I neared completion of the quilt top.

IMG 4057 150x150 Saturday Morning Quilt Break: What I Quilted on My Summer Vacation

triangle-squares for upcoming McCall’s pattern

Project to be named later: in mid-August I pieced a queen-sized quilt top from someone else’s design for an upcoming issue of McCall’s Quilting. I can’t show you the whole thing, only a few in-progress shots, but it’s a very cool and easy-to-piece design that I know a lot of people will want to make.

IMG 4093 150x150 Saturday Morning Quilt Break: What I Quilted on My Summer Vacation

center block of upcoming McCall’s pattern

Audiobook: Kitchens of the Great Midwest, a novel by J. Ryan Stradal, read by Amy Ryan and Michael Stuhlbarg. I really enjoyed this, particularly the narration; note that it also has R-rated language in places, but it is also warm and funny, and a little heartbreaking in the way it examines how children take care of their parents as much as parents take care of their children.


IMG 4135 225x300 Saturday Morning Quilt Break: What I Quilted on My Summer Vacation

Wild Ducklings color option, getting ready for free-motion quilting

Wild Ducklings: this is a 29″ x 29″ color option I made based on a pattern by Nancy Mahoney from the current issue of McCall’s Quilting, and I’m in the process of using it for free-motion quilting practice before I move on to more challenging projects.

Audiobook: Summer by Edith Wharton, still in progress.

I spent most of my sewing time over the summer working on piecing and more lighthearted stories and memoirs. Now that it’s fall, I’m ready to do a lot of quilting and dig into some more serious reading material—can you believe I’ve never read To Kill a Mockingbird? I know, neither can I, and it’s time to rectify that.

Before that, though, I’m spending some time today celebrating National Sew a Jelly Roll Day. I have two jelly rolls of Sweetwater’s upcoming Project Red collection for Moda and I have plans for them … stay tuned!

Have a great week,

Mary Kate

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Charmed, I’m Sure – Easy Triangles – Free pattern

Hi, welcome back! I hope you had fun with the Stacked Bricks Halloween quilt from last time. Did you make one? Did you use the pattern with different fabrics? I’d love to see your charm square quilt creations! Please send pictures of charm square quilts that you’ve made to, and I’ll share some of them in future posts. You can also post them on Instagram using the hashtag #charmsquarefun.

The last few posts have focused on using squares and rectangles cut from charms in blocks. This week, I’m going to focus on triangles. There are several ways to use charm squares to make triangles, and I’m just going to share one with you now. This simple triangle-square is made from the uncut 5” charm square.

Draw a diagonal line on the wrong side of a 5” background square. With right sides together, layer a background and charm square together. Sew ¼” out from both sides of the drawn line. Cut on the drawn line. Open out each triangle-square and press toward the dark. One background square and one charm square will yield two triangle-squares (click each image for a larger version).

charmed im sure easy triangles 1b 150x150 Charmed, I’m Sure – Easy Triangles – Free pattern charmed im sure easy triangles 2 150x150 Charmed, I’m Sure – Easy Triangles – Free pattern charmed im sure easy triangles 4 150x150 Charmed, I’m Sure – Easy Triangles – Free pattern

charmed im sure easy triangles 3 300x225 Charmed, I’m Sure – Easy Triangles – Free patternAnother method, and my personal favorite method for making triangle-squares, is with the Fons & Porter ¼” seam marker. If using this tool, position on the wrong side of a background square. Draw a line on either side of the tool. Sew on the drawn lines; cut on the diagonal. Open out each triangle-square and press toward the dark.

Either method will yield 2 triangle-squares that finish at 4 1/8”.

charmed im sure easy triangles quiltb 225x300 Charmed, I’m Sure – Easy Triangles – Free patternThe quilt I made is 8 triangle-squares x 10 triangle-squares or 33” x 41¼” and uses 40 charm squares, ½ yard of background fabric and ½ yard for the binding. This is a perfect size for a quick baby gift or charity quilt. Or it can easily be enlarged to a size that works for you.

There are so many ways to arrange these units in quilts. My quilt is sewn in zigzag rows. Here are some other ways these units can be arranged. To see the design easier, I colored them all red and white.

charmed im sure easy triangles Diamonds 241x300 Charmed, I’m Sure – Easy Triangles – Free pattern


charmed im sure easy triangles Flying Geese 242x300 Charmed, I’m Sure – Easy Triangles – Free pattern

Flying Geese

charmed im sure easy triangles Pinwheels 150x150 Charmed, I’m Sure – Easy Triangles – Free pattern


charmed im sure easy triangles Triangles 150x150 Charmed, I’m Sure – Easy Triangles – Free pattern


charmed im sure easy triangles Pyramids 150x150 Charmed, I’m Sure – Easy Triangles – Free pattern


I hope these ideas have inspired you to work with charm squares and that you find them as addicting as I do! See you next time.

You can find more charm square inspiration here.

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Decorating For Halloween with Table and Wall Quilts

I love the end of summer when the nights start becoming cooler and the leaves just begin to turn. Now don’t get me wrong – I love summer with its warm nights and long days…messing around in the garden, tending to the flowers and watching the wildlife go about life. However, fall is my favorite time of year for home decorating. The rich, deep colors of fall bring about a sense of coziness, warmth and sanctuary. Golden yellows, rusty oranges, robust burgundies and lush purples bring about a feeling of warm coziness inside your home just when things outside are beginning to get cold and dark.

I usually decorate my house in 4 stages in the fall. Labor Day weekend is stage 1. I take down the summery décor and put up my fall décor. This consists of several things:

  1. decorating for halloween Fall Wreath 150x150 Decorating For Halloween with Table and Wall QuiltsTake the bright, summery DIY wreath off the front door and replace it with a fall wreath made of an abundance of fall-colored flowers and knick knacks

  2. decorating for halloween Pumpkins with Candle 150x150 Decorating For Halloween with Table and Wall QuiltsPut away summer scented candles and break out the yummy pumpkin candles

  3. decorating for halloween Sunflower Quilt 150x150 Decorating For Halloween with Table and Wall QuiltsChange out the brightly colored quilt hanging in my living room with a sunflower quilt that brings the warm fall colors into the living space

  4. Change the cushion cover on the front porch chair from a bright, colorful cover to a darker, earthier color scheme.

  5. Pull the dying summer flowers out of their pots and replacing them with mums in lovely golds, purples and oranges

Come the end of September, the fun REALLY begins with Stage 2. This stage is otherwise known as Halloween. Halloween is when we, as adults, have an excuse to act like kids for a few weeks. We get to decorate, dress up and party in fun and goofy ways that would be frowned upon at other times of the year. In addition to hanging spooky skeletons and cobwebs on your front porch you can add touches of Halloween inside your house as well:

  1. decorating for halloween Spook Out Decorating For Halloween with Table and Wall Quilts

    Spook Out!

    Replace the “fall” wreath on the front door with a Halloween wreath or a Halloween wall hanging. Both the wreath and wall hanging will give you plenty of opportunity to add “creepy” little embellishments that will be fun for everyone. Our Spook Out! Quilt Kit designed by Margie Ullery is the perfect size for a front door and comes with all fabrics needed as well as rick-rack and buttons for the spider. This panel could be further enhanced by adding small bat buttons to the sky and sparkling beads to the moon.

  2. decorating for halloween Midnight in the Pumpkin Patch Decorating For Halloween with Table and Wall Quilts

    Midnight in the Pumpkin Patch

    Find a wall in your home where you could hang a small Halloween themed quilt. Midnight in the Pumpkin Patch by Northcott is a perfect panel for this. It is a panel featuring sunflowers, pumpkins and stars that would be a quick and simple Halloween project. And for those more adventurous, the panel would be beautiful if it was embellished with some beadwork.

  3. decorating for halloween Hocus Pocus Table Runner 200x300 Decorating For Halloween with Table and Wall Quilts

    Hocus Pocus

    I like to put out a table runner underneath my candy bowl to spruce my entryway a bit more. I chose to use the Hocus Pocus Quilt Kit. This table runner is delightfully cute in its simplicity and looks wonderful with my cute candy bowl. I was able to whip it together in no-time and add to my Halloween décor quickly and easily as the kits comes with everything you need to make it – including backing fabric.

  4. decorating for halloween Boogeyman 300x281 Decorating For Halloween with Table and Wall Quilts


    Last but not least, I always like to throw a quilt over the back of the sofa. It adds warmth and coziness to the feel of your living room in such a simple way. To add just a bit of spookiness, try out of Boogeyman Quilt Kit. Not only would this quilt be a beautiful addition to your décor, but it doubles as entertainment for the kids a night time – Boogeyman is made using glow-in-the-dark fabrics! The quilt could also be used to keep the candy-givers warm on a cool Halloween night as all of the ghosts and goblins wander up to your house to trick-or-treat.

Stage 3 begins on November 1st but is quite simple. I sadly take down the Halloween décor and go back to my Stage 1 décor plus I put out a few cute turkey candleholders and call it good.

Of course, right after Thanksgiving, I move on to Stage 4 – Christmas! There is really TOO MUCH Christmas decorating to go into in this blog post but I go through the same process. Change the décor on the front door, hang a Christmas themed quilt in my living room, change out the table runner and pull out the mums and put Christmas greenery outside.

The fall season provides so many fun and beautiful things to inspire our home decorating. As the temperature drops, look around your house and see what you could do to bring the fall feeling and holiday spirit into your home.

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Hooray For Uncle Sam!

hooray for uncle sam uncle sam Hooray For Uncle Sam!

Uncle Sam

Did you know that Uncle Sam had his very own day? Well, it’s today! I know summer is almost over and we aren’t really thinking of patriotic quilts but this is the perfect time to get going on one for next summer. Plus, this Uncle Sam quilt is adorable!

If you are looking for some other patriotic quilt ideas check these out. It’s never too early!

hooray for uncle sam rockets 162x300 Hooray For Uncle Sam!

Red Rockets

hooray for uncle sam flying glory 300x204 Hooray For Uncle Sam!

Flying Glory

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