Monday, August 18, 2014

Scaredy Cats and String Stars

Writing new patterns kept me busy for the better part of July and early August, but, Yay!, they're finished!  I had so many requests to publish my pattern, "Scaredy Cats", that I finally got it done!

Scaredy Cats quilt pattern
It's now up on the website!

I have always had a fascination with string piecing, and have done quite a bit of it. One thing I had been wanting to try for many years, was to make a giant size string star. I was also thinking it might help to make a dent in my fabric stash. I finally drafted and cut out the foundation diamonds last Fall.

As I was moving back and forth in my studio writing my patterns, those foundation papers kept getting in my way. I finally decided to just take a break, and make the big string star, just to get those papers out of my way, at least!

It went very quickly, and I was so happy that my math was correct. The setting squares and triangles fit just perfectly! I'm really happy with how it turned out. I can report, however, that it did very little to reduce my fabric stash, although the background squares and triangles did take almost 2 yards.  I'm hoping to teach how to make the giant string star to fellow string star lovers in the future!

String Star
 
With the 4 1/2" borders added, the quilt top is approximately 73" square.

I'll have more new patterns to post soon!

Until next time,

Martha

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Machine Applique Versus Hand Applique

I've been using my strike-offs to get a start on making my Sentimental Stitches quilt in both colorways (free pattern download).


Sentimental Stitches Quilt - Green Version




Sentimental Stitches Quilt - Red Version

I love both colorways, so my plan is to try to make both after I receive more fabric. Each quilt is about 56" square with 6" appliqued blocks, so I'm hoping I can get both done.

Here are the blocks I've completed so far. Three blocks for the red version and one block for the green version:




Just for fun, I decided to have a little competition between machine applique and hand applique while making the blocks. I timed how long it would take to make one by machine with turned under edges, and how long it would take to make one with the needle turn hand applique methodI held out a little hope that needle turn by hand would reign supreme, but unfortunately, it really lost big time. Of course, I have to admit, I was watching a movie part of the time, but during the parts when I had my nose to the grindstone, I would have already finished one by machine.

Why did I want needle turn to win out? Most importantly, I find it so relaxing, and love working with a needle and thread. Second, the preparation of needle turn is a breeze. But, I added the preparation time into the total time, so unfortunately, it didn't make up for the difference in how fast a machine can stitch around the shape versus my hand!

Luckily, they all look nice in the end. Can you tell which one I stitched by hand?

Until next time,

Martha

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

My Do-it-yourself Pressing Station

I have long yearned for a larger pressing area to press my quilt tops in the making. I had never seen anything that quite fit my needs, until recently.

In the new August 2014 issue of American Patchwork and Quilting Magazine, fellow Henry Glass designer, Jill Finley, is featured, and she shares her tips for studio storage. One of her wonderful ideas is a fabric-and-batting covered board atop a bookcase on wheels.

Her moveable pressing station was perfect for my needs. I have a small studio, and storage is a must for any new additions - my ironing board had a lot of unused space underneath, so a bookcase was perfect! And to have a pressing station on wheels, so that I could move it out of the way if need be, was another plus!

The first step was to find a bookcase that would work - the right height and on casters if possible. After much hunting on-line I never really found anything I was happy with.  I decided to go to the local antique mall to see if I could find a second hand bookcase that fit all of my parameters.

I was in luck! I found a beautiful solid maple cabinet that was perfect. And I liked the fact that it had doors, because I prefer to have everything behind closed doors to keep my studio calm and uncluttered. And it has two drawers, too! Here is the cabinet after the casters were added to the bottom:

The cabinet after casters were added


A look inside
Next, I needed to create the pressing surface. I purchased a 24" x 48" piece of poplar at the hardware store that was 1/2" thick. First, I sealed the wood on one side to make it waterproof for steam pressing. Then, I glued two pieces of 16 1/2" long pieces of wood (the depth of the cabinet top) to the bottom of the wood, so that the pressing surface would be more secure on top of the cabinet (actually there are 3 pieces because I made a mistake, but I only needed 2). The pieces are spaced the width of cabinet apart.


I bought 1 1/2 yards of cotton flannel for the padding, and 1 1/2 yards of lightweight cotton twill for the cover. I used a staple gun to stretch and staple the two pieces around the wood separately.

Bottom of the pressing surface after the flannel and fabric was stretched and stapled around the wood




The pressing surface can be removed at anytime, such as when not being used and I need the extra space, or if I ever want to revert the cabinet to being a piece of furniture.

Here is a view of the top of the pressing station. One of the first things I pressed after it was all put together was some recently pre-washed yardage. What a difference it made!


I'm so excited to put it to further use in my quilt making this week! And I haven't even loaded the shelves yet ... it won't take long, I'm afraid.

Until next time,

Martha

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

How to Make Perfect Circles and Berries for Hand Applique

Last month, at International Quilt Market in Pittsburgh, I offered two demonstrations for quilt shop owners in the Henry Glass Fabrics booth. The first demo was how to make skinny stems for hand applique. The second demo was how to make perfect circles and berries for hand applique. We recorded the second demo to share with you!

Turn up the volume, I need a microphone!



This is the method I have used to make hundreds of circles and berries for a multitude of projects, and which gives the very best results!

Until next time,

Martha

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Mission Accomplished - International Quilt Market Pittsburgh Spring 2014

It was three weeks before I was scheduled to leave for International Quilt Market in Pittsburgh. My challenge was to design and construct a small quilt using fabric from my new new line, Sentimental Stitches, to display in the Henry Glass Fabrics booth. The strike-offs (samples of fabric to test the printing) I had just received, were small, all of them around 11" x 13" in size. It would have to be a mostly appliqued quilt, given the amount of fabric I had to work with.

Here is the design I came up with:


Unfortunately, I didn't have enough of the golden beige seed print for the background, nor the olive tonal lacy bouquet for the stems, so I had to substitute a similar solid for those two fabrics.

I was in such a rush, when I put together the center motif, I didn't pay attention to the placement of the inner green wedges. Darn! I would have to make another one!





Here is the second and better attempt placed onto the solid stems and background. The flowers are in the process of being stitched down.


I finished the quilt top on Tuesday night. Now to quilt it! I pieced together a backing, basted the quilt and began machine quilting. First I outlined each shape, then I finely stippled the background. The dogtooth border I quilted in continuous curves. Finished at 5 pm, Mission Accomplished. Time to pack and leave in the morning.

Here it is displayed in the Henry Glass Fabrics booth:


I also prepared a little sample piece for my demo on how to make skinny stems and perfect appliqued circles:


In between demos at the Henry Glass Fabrics booth, I had a chance to visit the booths of some fellow Arizona designers at quilt market.

Angie Steveson, of Lunch Box Quilts, specializes in machine embroidered applique. Here we are with her newest pattern, Mixed Mutts, behind us:


Nancy Shamy, whose pattern company is Kenzie Mac & Co., designs patterns for quilts, totes, aprons, and home dec., many using jute upholstery webbing:


And last, here I am with Cindy Oates, of Taylor Made Designs. Cindy is a thirty year veteran in the industry, and this year her focus for quilt market was the beginner sewer, with a revamped Pajama Pant and skirt pattern as her latest pattern additions.


Be sure to ask your local quilt shop to bring in Sentimental Stitches!!!



Until next time,

Martha

Monday, May 5, 2014

Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks Volume 9 Blog Tour winners

Good Morning!

Thank you for joining me last week for the Blog Tour. It was fun for me to read about the types of projects you like to make. Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks Volume 9 will be on newsstands this week!

The winner of the blog giveaway of a copy of Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks, Volume 9 is Susan. The winner of the Facebook giveaway of Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks, Volume 9 and the fabric bundle is Grace. Congratulations!


Have a great week of sewing!

Until next time,

Martha

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks from today's top designers Volume 9 - Welcome to the Blog Tour!



It was almost 5 years ago at Spring International Quilt Market, that I was given the opportunity to submit a block for the first Volume of Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks from today's top designers. And here we are celebrating Volume 9!

My block for Volume 9 is titled "Hearts and Stars", and it's #813 in the blue-tabbed applique section of the magazine. I hand appliqued my pieces using fabrics from my Elementary line for Studio e Fabrics. I was so excited to find it on the cover!

Hearts and Stars

Here is a quilt I designed using the block, with the same block fabrics. This would be a good quilt for the more ambitious quilter!

Hearts and Stars Quilt

And here is another idea for using the Hearts and Stars block, this time a table runner. The color combination of black, red, green and gold reminds me of Christmas.

Hearts and Stars Table Runner

Click here for a tutorial on one way I make bias vines, from one of my previous Quiltmaker Blog Tour posts.

I'm giving away one copy of Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks Volume 9 here from my blog. For a chance to win, just comment below and tell me whether you like to make bed quilts, lap quilts, wall quilts, or small projects like table runners. OR, all of the above! If you are posting anonymously, just be sure to include your email address in your comment, so that I will have a way to contact you if you are a winner.

I have a second giveaway for my Facebook friends. I will giveaway one copy of Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks Volume 9 and all of the fabric needed to make the block from Elementary. Just head over to Facebook and leave a comment under my post featuring my Hearts and Stars Block.

Facebook Giveaway!
To go to my Wagons West Designs Facebook page click here.

Post your comments between now and Saturday, May 3rd. I will announce the winners on Monday, May 5th.

Thank you so much for visiting! After commenting below, click here go back to the Quilty Pleasures blog tour list to continue the tour!

Happy touring!

Martha