About zippyquilts

I quilt for pleasure but I also teach and write about quilting.

Three Bag Patterns That Were Worth Paying For

Just as there are lots of great free bag patterns, there are many excellent patterns for sale on the internet. Here are 3 of my favorites.

1. Divided Basket.  This is another pattern from Noodlehead, who also designed one of my favorite free patterns.  The instructions are excellent and the divided basket is cute.  It was just right for a diaper basket for the changing table for my grandson.  It is available here.

fabric basket

Divided basket made from pattern by Noodlehead

2. Clothesline bag/basket.  This pattern is from Indygo Junction and was much easier to do than I had anticipated.  You can read my review of it here, or buy it here.

3. Sweetpea Pods, by Lazy Girl Designs..  This little bag was so.much.fun that I made more than a few!  Once you learn the zipper trick it is easy, quick, and so satisfying.  I’ve given away many of them and I keep a couple on hand for when I need a little gift for someone.  (Of course it should contain chocolate!).  I even gave one to a male friend, and rather than ask “what the heck” he said he’d use it to carry his guitar picks!  The pattern is available here.

And so you know I’m not just blowing sunshine, here’s one I thought was more trouble than it was worth, even though it is very, very cute (and was all over the internet for a while):

Which bag patterns do you recommend?

Linda Hahn: New York Beauty Expert (from Florida)

Linda Hahn is best know for her simplified method of making the New York Beauty block, one of quilting’s more elaborate and spectacular-looking designs.  She describes her New York Beauty method as, “one pin, no puckers, no cussing, and they come out perfect.”  Gotta love that!

Linda’s First New York Beauty Book

Linda also has a number of lovely individual patterns, including some that have nothing to do with New York Beauty. (Her patterns are available through QuiltWoman.com)  I have enjoyed making and teaching her Bermuda Sunrise pattern, so I looked her up while at the North Carolina Quilt Symposium, and she graciously agreed to an interview.

Bermuda Sunrise, one of Linda’s earlier designs that I enjoyed making and teaching

Linda’s workshops now focus mostly on her New York Beauty techniques, since this is a challenging block that many quilters would like to make.  Currently her most popular workshop is called “Feeling Crabby”.

Linda has written multiple books published by AQS. Her latest, New York Beauty Electrified, is due out this month.

When I interviewed her, Linda took the unusual step of leaving the room for a few minutes so I could ask students in her workshop to give their honest opinions!  They were enthusiastic about her teaching and seemed to be enjoying “Feeling Crabby”.  They described Linda as an even-tempered instructor who “lets you do it your way but comes right away if you need help.”

Image from Linda’s iquilt class

Linda teaches all over the country as well as on cruises, but if you want her workshop and can’t find a convenient location, I noticed her New York Beauty instruction is also available through iquilt, the AQS online class site.

Now that I’ve seen more of her beautiful work and met her, I want to take a New York Beauty class with Linda.  I went to her site, and she really, really, does have classes in a variety of locations!  You can find her schedule on her website.  I have enjoyed her patterns (yes, I’ve made more than just the Bermuda Sunrise!) and look forward to trying those elaborate spiky blocks.

Have you made New York Beauty blocks yet?

Three Great Free Bag Patterns

There are so many free patterns on the internet that it can be overwhelming. Therefore, I’m here to tell you about 3 of my favorite free bag patterns.

1. Pyramid bag, I adore this pattern, and it is so easy that I’ve made a few many.  Available with an excellent tutorial at Loganberry Handmade.  After you’ve made one per her instructions, experiment with different sizes.  So cute and so fun!

2. Tote bag.   The instructions for this “market tote bag” at Bijou Lovely are very clear, with great photos.  I’ve made several of these because they are an excellent, practical size. Of course, I’ve modified this pattern, but it is great just the way it is on her site.

3. Noodlehead’s Open Wide Zippered Pouch.  Anna Graham is the queen of bags of all kinds, and there are some great free tutorials on her site, Noodlehead.  Of course, she has excellent patterns for sale, and I’ve bought some of those, too.  Anyway, go try her free zippered pouch tutorial if you’ve had doubts about zippers.  Her instructions and illustrations are clear and easy, and you CAN do that zipper!

I’ve made a bunch of these in different sizes, as well.

Please tell me if there are free online patterns or tutorials that you love!

Augusta Cole: Variety is the Spice of Life

Augusta Cole’s motto is “Variety is the spice of life” and she travels with a lovely quilted wall hanging bearing that motto.  You can see the wall hanging and a good picture of her on the front page of her website.

Augusta designs and teaches beautiful scrap quilts that I’ve admired for years, and certainly scrap quilts have plenty of variety!.  She was one of the instructors at the North Carolina Quilt Symposium, so I took the opportunity to interview her.  I’ve been following her online ever since I found her Snappy, Scrappy Stars quilt pattern many years ago.  Here is one of the multiple versions I’ve made of that quilt (her version has a much fancier border):

I was unable to lift pictures from her site–which usually is how people want me to get pictures to go with my interviews–due to the format. These pictures of some of her quilts are those I took at the quilt symposium. 

Augusta says she has a lifelong history of crafting and keeping her hands busy.  She took up quilting after her second child was born, and “it came very naturally.”  A class with Karen Pervier was especially influential, and Karen remains a good friend.

After living in New York state and North Carolina, Augusta now lives in the Richmond (Virginia) area.  Since retiring from her career as a physical education teacher, she travels to teach quilting.  Her husband is supportive and even keeps the books for her!

I was unable to fit in a class with Augusta, but a friend who took her class really enjoyed it.  She reports Augusta is a lively and engaging teacher.  Augusta’s patterns are  available on her website.  (Go look at her pretty quilts even if you don’t need a pattern!).  I continue to be inspired by her many variations on scrap quilts.

Addendum: Here is a picture from Augusta’s Cutting Bee class, kindly provided by Chris Crouch:

 

Kraft-Tex Appliqué ! Woo!

Appliqué and I have a love-hate relationship.  I love the look of appliqué sometimes, and I’ve tried several methods, from needle turn to fusible and most things in between.  No method is perfect.

And just to show that I really have tried, here are some samples:

Machine appliqué of these circles was done after the quilting, so the backing and batting acted as stabilizer

The petals were fused on with Heat’n’Bond, and then I buttonhole stitched around them after doing the rest of the quilting, again eliminating the need for stabilizer

The snowmen and noses were a combination of fusible appliqué and Eleanor Burns’s appliqué with fusible interfacing.  I have washed this and it held up fine.

Sunbonnet Sue

Sunbonnet Sue Visits Quilt in a Day was done with Eleanor Burns’s method using fusible interfacing to produce turned edges

So, when I wanted a space alien to go on a quilt recently, I gave the appliqué process some serious thought.  This fabric is part of the background for a wonky star quilt I’m making, and I wanted one block to be a space alien to go with the theme.

Unfortunately, I have not saved the selvage from this fabric, so I don’t know who made it

Then I had an idea (drum roll, please).  The folks at C&T recently asked me to be an ambassador for Kraft-Tex, and since I was already a Kraft-Tex user and had blogged about it 3 times, I agreed.  They sent me some free Kraft-Tex!

I chose Marsala, Denim (hand dyed and prewashed), and natural prewashed for my free Kraft-Tex

Actually, I had already bought this black Kraft-Tex for another project, but I just want you to know that, for the first time ever, I have accepted a donated product for use in my blog.

I’ll have a tutorial on this whole quilt when it’s finished, but here’s an overview of how I used Kraft-Tex to avoid traditional appliqué .  I cut out the alien’s head using one of my circle cutters and attached it to the block with washable glue stick. Then I cut the outline from black Kraft-Tex and put it over the raw edge, with the raw edge kind of centered underneath.

Here is the alien on my design wall

The eye stalks and eyes were cut from Kraft-Tex and all the Kraft-Tex was glued down with the same washable glue.  That all worked well.  I then machine-stitched near the edges of the Kraft-Tex using a size 70 needle and matching thread.  Voila!  I didn’t have to fool with fusibles, bias strips, or much of anything at all.

Kraft-Tex is washable, and I’ll be interested to see how it does in this quilt.  It is stiffer than fabric, but I think that will be OK given the small amount I used on this twin-size quilt.

I can especially see using Kraft-Tex this way in art quilts very soon!

I’ll let you know how this all turns out!

Meet Cheryl Brickey of Meadow Mist Designs

You already know that I took an excellent class with Cheryl Brickey at the North Carolina Quilt Symposium recently.  She kindly agreed to an interview, as well.

Cheryl and me with the partially completed quilt I designed and made in class

Cheryl has written a book and numerous patterns; all are available on her website.    She is an engineer and works 3 days a week writing patent applications for high-tech textiles used in things like tires and military applications.  On top of all that, she has two children and a very busy life, so I asked for her top time management tip.  Her answer: “Don’t have any [time].”  She explained that, because her time is so limited, she knows exactly what she needs to do when she enters her studio and gets right to it.

Cheryl’s book, which she wrote with her friend Paige Alexander

Cheryl started quilting when her children were small.  She had always been involved in crafts, but started making quilts because it was something that “stayed done”, unlike the dishes, the laundry, etc.  I think we can all understand that!  She says she read somewhere that a woman should do something every day that can’t be undone.  Both she and I have searched extensively for that quotation without finding it, so I think we’ll just attribute it to Cheryl!  Anyway, quilting meets that need for her.

Cheryl identifies “modern traditional” as her style of quilting, and you can see what she means from the pictures below of some of her designs.

Samples for Cheryl’s class on minimalism in design

She blogs at Meadow Mist Designs, where she has just announced her next free mystery quilt.

Click here to be taken to Cheryl’s blog, where you can read about her mystery quilt

This mystery quilt will start in July of this year and run through April of 2020.  She will post a new set of directions the first Thursday of each month.

Cheryl says there is a non-mystery option, and about 25% of those who sign up for the mystery quilt elect to get a picture of the finished product from the outset!  (This meets her “engineer need”, she says.)  The only caveat is that those who elect to see the design from the beginning have to keep the secret so as not to ruin it for others.

Cheryl was a delight to meet and interview.  Her workshop and lecture were very well organized and presented.

Here are two of my favorite patterns from Cheryl, because who can resist pretty pictures?

You can check her out here.

North Carolina Quilt Symposium

I recently spent 2 weeks mostly doing quilty things rather than cooking, doing laundry, hanging on the internet, etc. The time ended with the North Carolina Quilt Symposium at Lake Junaluska, NC.

View from the hotel at Lake Junaluska

This was one of the best events I have ever attended in terms of the quality of instruction. The friends who went with me agree, so it wasn’t just me in my little bubble 🙂

I took a class with Cheryl Brickey (see her website here), who was a wonderful instructor and showed us her personal method of designing modern-traditional quilts using EQ8 (Electric Quilt).  I have used EQ for ages (OK, since EQ5, and they are now up to EQ8) but she showed me some cool new tools I had never discovered.

Cheryl and me with the partially completed quilt I designed and made in class

My second class was with Lyric Kinard.  (Her website is here.)  I learned a lot about creating portraits in fabric.  Here is one that was done for practice at the beginning of the class.  It’s supposed to be the woman who was sitting across from me, but I did not take a photo of her for comparison 😀

This was just a quick practice piece; I promise the woman didn’t really have blue skin!

Lyric went on to teach a much more elaborate and realistic way to do a portrait in fabric, but mine isn’t even far enough along to show.  The whole class was useful and Lyric is an encouraging instructor.

The details of next year’s NC Quilt Symposium are not finalized, but if you want to know more about the symposium and what was available this year, visit the website at NCQSI.org.  I hope to see you there next year, especially, because I have agreed to help recruit teachers!  Come join the fun!

I was able to interview 3 of the teachers at NCQS, so look for posts about them coming up in the next few weeks.

One Mistake Makes Two Quilts!

A while ago one of my blogging friends posted a picture of her “red rails” quilt.  She makes these quilts to use up 1.5″ x 3.5″ scraps, so it seemed perfect for me.  I cut my scraps into strips varying from 1.5″ to 4.5″ in width and store them in drawers, sorted by size in 0.5″ increments.  Here are some of those (stuffed) drawers:

Since I had a lot of 1.5″ strips and wanted to make another donation quilt, I got started.  Her quilt is “red rails” because the center strip of every block is red.  I have a lot of blues, so mine became “blue rails”.  I drew it with EQ8 to start with, to be sure I knew what I was doing:

Blue Rails, drawn in EQ8 based on a quilt by Nann at withstringsattached.blogspot.com

I got busy sewing 1.5″ strips together in sets of 3 and cutting the sets into 3.5″ squares.  Then I started making the blocks.  Before I knew it, the 1.5″ bin was almost empty and I had a lot of little 3.5″ blocks.

I joined them in groups of 4, and that’s where I went wrong.  It turns out there is a right way and a left way for the blocks to twirl in sets of 4, but I didn’t realize that at first!

Trust me, no matter how you rotate these two blocks (drawn with EQ8), they do not match up!

So, I will have TWO blue rails quilts, one rotating in each direction.  Here’s the first one, which I am donating this month.  Another doggone learning experience 😀

Blue Rails donation quilt, about 40″ square

What have you learned lately?

 

Clothesline Basket Fun

It’s been over a year since I purchased the Indygo Junction pattern for a basket made of covered clothesline, so I expect everybody else in America has tried this already. Anyway, it was fun.

The pattern gives basic instructions for starting the basket, shaping the bottom, and then shaping the sides.  Instructions are given for two types of handles, and for making the lining.  The basket itself was easier than I expected, then the lining was a little tricky.  Probably my fault because I changed the instructions 😀

My husband sometimes asks, “What is this one for?”  The answer is, “For making something I’ve never made before.”  Which means I have no idea of a use for this basket, but I do want to make at least one of (almost) everything just for the experience!  (Bonus: this used a lot of scraps!)

What about you?  Do you have a plan for everything you make?

I Dislike Quilt-As-You-Go

Quilt-as-you-go (QAYG) has been around at least since the 1970s, and I have tried it in several forms.  Back when I wanted to use high loft batting, I made this quilt in sections and joined them using Georgia Bonesteel’s method.  The backing seams were sewn by hand.  It worked out fine, but that was a lot of hand stitching.

Queen size quilt made by qultl-as-you-go method

Jewel Box, queen size, made in 2003

More recently I read about using thin batting so pieces can be joined with batting in the seam.  Unfortunately, this method suggests quilting the front pieces WITHOUT backing, then tacking on a back after assembling the front.  That means most of the quilting is hidden from the back; the only thing that shows is the stitching used to attach the back over the actual quilting!

I’ve also seen QAYG done by using batting rather than batiste as a base for string piecing.  This means no quilting shows on the front!

The more I read about QAYG methods, the more I didn’t care for any of the options.  I decided to re-visit it anyway because students had asked for a QAYG class.  I chose the string piecing on batting option, but made the blocks with the backing included so the quilting would show on the back.

Back of quilt, showing quilting lines

The quilting is meant to show on the back, though white thread on white fabric doesn’t show much!

I kind of liked the triangles arranged like this on the design wall, but decided to save this option for when I can make the whole thing look 3-D by careful placement of color.

Here is the front of the finished quilt:

After joining the triangles with seams that included front, batting, and back, I covered the seams in back with fabric strips.

The result was awfully bulky.  Next time I may just settle for the “new” method that doesn’t show much quilting on the back.

Well, another lesson 😀  The next attempt will be closer to perfection!