A New Toy!

Photo courtesy of Electric Quilt

I’m a fan of Electric Quilt (EQ) software, having used it for many years. It allows me to design my own blocks and quilts, try out layouts and color combinations, and print yardage requirements. And star blocks of all sorts are just about my favorites, so when I saw recently that EQ has a new add-on featuring star quilts, I was sold!

The “Star Power” add-on is based on an out-of-print book by Judy Martin. I’m not sure how I missed this book, but I do not own it. (Are you hearing another excuse to buy the add-on?) The add-on includes all the blocks AND quilt designs from the book. Once the add-on is part of your own EQ you can edit the blocks and quilt designs or make your own quilt designs using Judy’s blocks.

The add-on includes many beautiful star blocks.  (In fairness, the basic EQ program has a lot of star blocks as well.)  I gravitated immediately to Judy’s collection of “simple stars” because I’ve never made stars like this!  Here’s an example, exported from EQ (with a few color changes by me, of course).

Block by Judy Martin, modified in EQ8 by me

And once I’d seen those blocks, I integrated them with a chain block that came standard with my EQ8 software, changed colors a few times, added some borders, and generally fooled around with it until I had this:

Quilt design in EQ8 by me; star blocks designed by Judy Martin; chain block is part of EQ8 block library

The add-on includes a number of stunning designs by Judy, most of them more dramatic than my simple design. Here’s an example:

Example courtesy of Electric Quilt

I’m looking forward to making more star designs in EQ8 and then some quilts from those designs! 

Do you use EQ?  Other design software?  I’d be interested to know.

Please note:  This post is NOT sponsored by EQ; I choose products to review for this blog based solely on my own opinion.

 

Bad*ss Women!

One of the fun books I’ve received from C&T recently contains transfers to be used for either embroidery or painting.  The title is Bad*ss Women and it includes a variety of prominent women both contemporary and historical.  Here are a few of them (photos courtesy of C&T).  You can click on each one to see it better.

A friend and her granddaughter are making a quilt from these transfers, painting the pictures with fabric pens. I love this idea and would be doing the same if I had a granddaughter.  I was very pleased to see Nancy Pelosi included.  I would have included Mother Theresa, but perhaps the author (or editor) thought calling her a Badass Woman would have been disrespectful.  Anyway, I just love the idea of traditionally female fiber arts celebrating prominent women.

C&T has similar books with transfers of pets (Domestic Divas) and plants (Urban Jungle) as well, but the Bad*ss Women are my favorite!

10 Fun Items (that aren’t quilt books)

You probably know that I have loved getting to review quilt books for C&T this past year. What you may not know is that C&T has so much more than quilt books. Here are 10 of my favorites:

10. Diamond Star Quilts by Barbara H. Cline. It may look like a quilt book, but it’s actually a whole method for making those extremely elaborate-looking star quilts that most of us drool over. If you’ve been wanting to make one of those, this may be the tool for you.

9. Zakka Wool Applique by Minki Kim is full of very cute projects including baskets, bags, and home dec.  If you want to craft with “woolies” as my friends call them, this book has a number of cute and useful projects.

8. Kim Schaefer’s Calendar Candle Mats is a packet with full-size patterns for cute little mats made with fusible applique and embroidery.  She calls them candle mats, but I think they would be good mug rugs, too.  Presents for school teachers come to mind, and teachers certainly deserve gifts this year!

7. Who knew there was a puzzle book for quilters?!?  Yep, More Happy Quilter Variety Puzzles, Volume 3, is just such a book.  There are crosswords, logic puzzles, and more.

6. Everyday Embroidery for Modern Stitchers makes me want to take up embroidery again.  The book has iron-on transfer patterns included (I remember those from back in the day!).  The designs are intended to appeal to young people, but some of us “older” folks like them, too!

5.Botanical Embroidery, by Brian Haggard, is a packet with instructions and iron-on transfers for more traditional motifs.  The designs are gorgeous and would go especially well with heirloom projects. 

4. Bags!  C&T makes bags!  There’s everything from pouches to this large tote, all made from recycled water bottles.  They are water resistant and suitable for carrying things like pens and knitting needles that might poke through other bags.  Here’s the large holiday tote:

3.  The perfect hand applique paper, at last!  Oh, yes, it has every feature I want!  It is fusible on one side and, best of all, it is water soluble!  Yes!  Just iron it on, applique as usual, and the paper goes away when you wash your item.  This is some of the best news of the year for those of us who don’t like picking paper out of projects! 

2. The Foolproof Color Workbook is mostly a coloring book for adults with beautiful mandala-like designs to use for experimenting with color combinations.  It’s nice, but my very favorite color tool is the #1 item on this list.

And my #1: The Foolproof Color Wheel Set created by Katie Fowler is the best single tool I’ve seen for working with color.  There are 10 disks demonstrating the various ways in which colors can be combined (analogous, complementary, etc).  I like this because it simply cuts through all the color-related vocabulary that bogs people down (tints, shades, color triad, blah, blah) and provides concrete, visible examples. It is my favorite tool of the year.  If you struggle with choosing colors, I recommend it.

What is your favorite tool of the year?

Perfect! A Book Review

If you have something but can’t find it, do you really have it?                              –Lilo Bowman

Love Your Creative Space, by Lino Bowman, turned out to be the perfect book at the perfect time for me.. When I read the sentence quoted above, it struck a nerve!

Photo courtesy of C&T

Here’s my stash of backing fabric before:

The fabric was folded and stacked, which made it hard to see.

I’m pretty sure some of that fabric hadn’t been touched in several years because I couldn’t see it and therefore didn’t know it was there.

And here’s the after:Fabrics are rolled so I can see and pull them out easily, and they are tagged with the size!  Woo!

Lilo’s book is about both studio design and organization.  I loved every part of it, but here are some favorites:

There are ideas on organization and storage for many types of creative supplies, not just quilting things.  She has many photos from real studios to give the reader ideas.

Photo courtesy of C&T

Some of the studio photos look to me like they were done by a decorator, which I am not!  And some were very realistic-looking in my opinion!

Photo courtesy of C&T

The book also addresses ergonomic studio design, including sewing machine set-up, which I found especially helpful.

Photo courtesy of C&T

.In addition to studio ideas for “most people”, Lilo discusses adaptations that many of us will need as we age, or simply as a result of our physical limitations.  There is one especially nice chapter on how one woman adapted to being partially paralyzed after a stroke.  

This is not just a book for quilters, though I found it very helpful in my quilting studio.  There is an emphasis on making the creative space attractive “without breaking the bank”, as the subtitle says.  You can learn more about the book here.

Note:  C&T sends me lots of books and I review my favorites so you don’t have to hunt around to find the best books.  Of course, “best” is my personal opinion 😀

Guest Blogger: Linda Reviews Rulerwork Quilting!

This is a guest post by my blogging friend Linda Hungerford (flourishingpalms.blogspot.com).Linda at her machine; photo courtesy of Linda Hungerford

 

This post is to review a new book published by C&T: The Ultimate Guide to Rulerwork Quilting by Amanda Murphy.

Photo courtesy of C&T

Mary invited me to review the book knowing I’m an avid domestic machine quilter who began quilting in 2000, and started quilting with rulers in 2011.

Here’s one of my first rulerwork attempts – doing a no-no by using a regular free motion quilting foot against a Fine Line brand quilting ruler.

Ruler work quilting with the WRONG machine foot!

And here’s a picture showing how it should be done 🙂

This is the Bernina #72 foot.

For ruler work quilting, a quilter should use a ruler work quilting foot with a quarter-inch heel.

Two overall observations about the book:

  • Because Amanda quilts on a Bernina (both a domestic machine and a longarm machine) the book focuses on how to rulerwork quilt on a Bernina. One page is devoted to: “What if you don’t own a Bernina?”
  • Pages 29 to 102 of the 127 pages having photos of rulers being used on a Bernina longarm.

Amanda states: 

“As a Bernina expert I am very familiar with the machines in the Bernina line, so that is what is shown here.  There are obviously a lot of other machines on the market, too.  If you have questions about any of them and their suitability for ruler work, please consult your local dealer.”

For me, currently using a Bernina 770QE for quilting, (I do not own a longarm), I was able to apply much of the information to my own Bernina experiences. She references using a stitch regulator, but those of us who quilt on a domestic machine with a stitch regulator, are unable to use the stitch regulator and a ruler work foot at the same time.

Interestingly, she mentions that rulerwork quilting is better for distributing quilting evenly across the surface because of being able to quilt in all directions:

“When you quilt with a ruler, you naturally change directions more easily than you would with a walking foot, and quilting in many directions generally ensures a squarer top than quilting in just one.”

This made me smile because Jacqui Gering, a renowned walking foot quilter with two quilting books under her belt, says precisely the opposite! According to Jacqui, there’s no need to change directions when quilting. Is it any surprise that two quilters have differing views? And doesn’t that make you feel better about how you quilt?

Amanda covers these important topics:

  • thicknesses and shapes of rulers
  • ruler work quilting table set-up
  • sewing machine settings
  • needles

I concur with these points covered in the book:

Ruler thickness is important, and which thickness ruler to buy depends on whether your machine’s ruler foot is high shank or low shank

Each sewing machine brand needs its appropriate high shank or low shank ruler work foot.

Buy a ruler you will use most often

Though Amanda mentions that different ruler brands are available, she definitely focuses on and uses her own line of Good Measure rulers made by Bernina.

Photo from the book showing one of Amanda’s rulers. Photo courtesy of C&T

Just as a quiltmaker invests in one or two most-used rotary cutting rulers, a rulerwork quilter need only invest in one or two rulers. Begin rulerwork quilting with a straight edge and/or gentle curve ruler and you’re good to go – like the Good Measure straight edge/curved edge ruler (shown in the book), or Westalee straight edge/curved edge ruler (shown below).

These are some of the brands of rulers I’ve accumulated in the past nine years, with Fine Line rulers being the ones I use most often… probably because that’s the brand I started with. I don’t own any Good Measure brand rulers.

Photo by Linda Hungerford

My ruler photo includes a picture of a roll of skateboard grip – a sort of sandpaper that’s grittier than sandpaper with an adhesive back. It’s the best product I’ve found for the bottom of the ruler, to make it “stick” to fabric while quilting. Amanda suggests putting blue painter’s tape or Stable Tape (by Westalee) on the bottom of the ruler.

A bit about Fine Line rulers… They’re different – made with two vertical posts to “hang onto” when quilting (see first blog picture). However, after buying a sewing machine with the dual feed feature, I quickly learned that these ruler posts bump into the dual feed! I can’t use the ruler on the back of the ruler foot, so that’s something to keep in mind when considering a Fine Line brand ruler.

Fine Line ruler posts bump into dual feed mechanism

Amanda mentions Bernina’s echo clips, something I frequently use, though the brand I own is made by Westalee. Each slips on/off the ruler foot, and has different spacing, so you can choose how far away to quilt from the previous line of quilting. It’s well worth $10 for the Westalee set!

Westalee Echo Clips

Set-up is important: have a flat work surface with a means for easy quilt gliding

Amanda recommends the Sew Steady table, and that’s exactly what I have. Top it with a Supreme Slider (or a Queen Supreme if you have a large machine harp), and you’re good.

Here’s my quilting set-up contrived by placing two hollow-core doors across four IKEA adjustable-height Finnvard trestles.Amanda mentions wearing quilting gloves for rulerwork quilting. Personally, I prefer rubbing Neutrogena original formula hand cream on my hands, and then donning a pair of Marcia Baraldi Quilting Grip Gloves. It’s the perfect combo because my fingertips are  “grippy” and yet free to grab threads, tie knots, and even change a bobbin! (Neutrogena hand cream won’t harm your quilt.)

Although I have my favorite methods for rulerwork quilting, I also learned a thing or two in the book. The tip that meant the most to me is this one…

“Machine baste all the way around the sandwich through all layers, about 1/8″ from the edge of the quilt top.”

I’ve heard of taking a final “lap” around the outside of a quilt top, but I’d never heard of stitching around the perimeter of a basted quilt sandwich. I tried this on my latest quilt finish, my “Hole Punch Ribbon” quilt, and it worked to help keep my quilt “on the square!”  I blogged about this quilt here.

Amanda concludes the book with 31 pages of colorful quilt examples, showing different quilting designs on real quilts including quilt-as-you-go; followed by 14 pages about domestic machine quilting and troubleshooting; and 10 pages on longarm quilting and troubleshooting.

One of Amanda’s pretty examples from the book  Photo courtesy of C&T

All in all, this book is a good resource for a thorough introduction to rulerwork quilting, and is especially worthwhile if the quilter quilts on a Bernina. Then, it’s a must-buy!

Linda

 

 

Project Planner!

So, here’s the new Quilter’s Project Planner, which I’ve already started using!

Photo courtesy of C&T

I love paper planners generally and was already planning to do a post about this one, then my friends at C&T invited me to take part in this Social Media Tour.  Woo!  Be sure to check at the end of the post for other blogs on the tour and for a chance to win your own copy of the planner.

Yes, it’s formatted to start in January (holiday hint for someone?), but I don’t see why I can’t start in September and go through August of 2021.

Ha! Fixed to suit me!

I’ve decided to use the planner for my own designs.  And yes, I design at least one quilt a month, I just choose not to sell patterns.  You get to see all the quilts here eventually, and some of the patterns are done for Studio Stitch to give away, so there are sources if you want to make my quilts.

The planner includes the kind of features you’d expect but without the bulk of some of the other quilting planners I’ve tried.  There are pages for planning individual projects as well as pages for quiilting goals, etc.

Photo courtesy of C&T

I’ve already started the project for September and filled out part of the pages.  (The quilt shown isn’t the real thing, but my preliminary drawing from EQ8.)

Here are the other blogs on the tour for you to visit:

9/9 C&T Publishing kickoff ctpub.com/blog/
9/10 Terificreations- Teri Lucas terificreations.com
9/11 Quiltville- Bonnie Hunter quiltville.blogspot.com
9/12 Quilt Fabrication- Susan Arnold quiltfabrication.com
9/13 Zippy Quilts- Mary Puckett zippyquilts.blog/
9/14 Lilo Bowman lilobowman.com/
9/15 SewVeryEasy – Laura Coia youtube.com/sewveryeasy
9/16 Slice of Pi- Laura Piland sliceofpiquilts.com/
9/17 C&T Publishing ctpub.com/blog/

And if you’d like a chance to win a copy of the planner, leave a comment and include your email.  My husband will draw a winner after the blog hop ends on September 17, so you must enter before midnight on September 17 to be considered.  C&T will contact the winner by email to get an address for sending the planner. Sorry, but U.S. addresses only.

Image courtesy of C&T

As always, please note:  C&T provides books to me for review, but I only blog about my favorites.  Links in my blog are NOT affiliate links; they are for your convenience but do not provide income to me.

 

Serendipity Quilt

Due to a series of fortunate events, I made this quilt:

Here’s how it happened.  You may recall that C&T sends me quilt books and products to review, and if I really like them I write about them here.  So a while back I received this book:

Photo Courtesy of C&T

Then a couple of weeks later, I entered a contest sponsored by Pineapple Fabrics and my project was a runner up.  They sent a wonderful box of pre-cuts, including a jelly roll.  So the only question was which quilt to make!  The book had many attractive options, including these:

Photo courtesy of C&%

Photo courtesy of C&T

I eventually chose the lattice quilt because it looked so do-able.  And it was!  The instructions even suggested designing your own spacing for the border, and you know how I like doing my own thing, so that was great.

Here’s a picture of the pretty flowers quilted on it by Julia Madison:

If you are thinking of making this quilt, know that it was fast, easy, and fun.  I did flip some of the seams when joining the pieces so the seams would match up well at the intersections.

Quilt Stats

Name:  Serendipity

Pattern source:  Love Jelly Roll Quilts, pictured above

Finished size:  51″ x 61″

Quilted by:  Julia Madison

Candy Cubes

Remember this? I started on the quilt on page 34 soon after I got the book

I didn’t like the first background fabric I chose:

So I took the quilt all apart and put it together again, this time with the background fabric matching the centers so that the blocks look like square lifesavers.  I’m calling it “Candy Cubes”.

To be honest, I’m not sure I like the new background fabric any better–the value is too close to the value of the cubes, even though the color is different. But a done quilt is a good quilt, so I’m on to the next project. 

I still like the pattern and enjoyed making the quilt.  And I still think it would be a great “make your second quilt” class.

Quilt Stats:

Name: Candy Cubes

Pattern SourceNew Patchwork & Quilting Basics by Jo Avery

Finished size: 53″ x 77″

Fabric:  Cubes are Moda Grunge.  I don’t know what the background fabric is.

Quilted by: Julia Madison

What I might do different next time: Change the cube fabric rather than the background fabric.

I love the fabric on the quilt back, too!

More Fun Books for Learning

C&T recently sent me two books I especially like, so here’s a little overview of each of them.

Photo courtesy of C&T

First, Sew Very Easy Quilt Favorites has a number of unique but easy quilts that could be made by a confident beginner.  Or by the likes of me because sometimes I just want a quick quilt that looks harder than it is 😉  For example:

Photo courtesy of C&T

As with other C&T books I’ve read, Sew Very Easy has clear instructions and illustrations.  I’m thinking C&T must have some good editors, because I see that their books are consistently easy to use.

In this book, I especially like the clear illustrations showing how to join strips end-to-end with a diagonal seam. Does anybody else remember how hard that was to figure out initially?  Similarly, there are clear illustrations wherever seam intersections might “look funny” to a less-experienced quilter.  I’m impressed that someone who obviously has a lot of quilting experience is still aware of how confusing some of these things can be for others.  For example, there’s an excellent explanation of how to do partial seams on this otherwise-simple quilt:

Photo courtesy of C&T

Also, the book has both modern and traditional quilts, which broadens its appeal.  Here’s my favorite traditional-appearing quilt from the book:

Photo courtesy of C&T

I’ll be making some of the quilts from this book, and I expect I’ll learn a thing or several–that always enhances the fun!

The other book that I love is called Paper Piecing. It’s the cutest little book and, despite its size, has complete instructions for paper piecing, including more than one method!  That said, this is not really a “beginner” book, because the blocks are relatively complex.

Photo courtesy of C&T

This book would make a great little gift for a friend, or for one of those “infamous” Dirty Santa swaps at a guild Christmas party 😀

Please note: C&T provides books to me without charge, but I choose to review only those that I really like.  All links are for your convenience; they are not affiliate links that provide income to me.

2020–Yikes!

My blogging friend Velda at Freckled Fox Quiltery  posted a while back that she is making a temperature quilt for 2020 because–what a year!  I liked that idea. I certainly feel that this year deserves to be memorialized in a quilt, but I do not want to paper piece a picture of the COVID virus, or make the quilt I designed to represent the ICU, or quilt anything else directly COVID related.  Making and wearing masks is a sufficient reminder, thanks!

In addition, Velda linked to a free pattern that I liked the looks of.

Here’s a link to the free pattern.

Any temperature quilt will require a lot of research (high and low temps for every day of the year for your location) and organization.  Here are a couple of things I learned along the way.  This pattern is clearly written and she has some good suggestions regarding fabric choice.

First, of course, I pulled fabric from my stash.  I was happy to see that I had everything I needed, since quilt shops were closed for browsing and I thought it might be difficult to order by phone. 

The colored blocks in the pattern are cut 2″ square (yikes!) so I decided to try something new to cut down on fraying.  I recently purchased a product called “Terial Magic” at A Stitch in Time.  It is a “fabric stabilizer” and has several uses.  It kind of glues the fibers in the fabric together to decrease fraying and also makes the fabric stiff.

After talking with the lady at the shop, I mixed the Terial Magic 1:3 with water and put it in a spray bottle. I will say that I was happy to have to prepare only fat quarters of the fabric, as the process was kind of time intensive.  However, the fabric came out very crisp and wrinkle free and did not fray at all when I cut it.  Actually it was easier to cut than usual.  The stuff is supposed to wash right out once the quilt is finished, and I’m trusting that it will 🙂

When I got the squares all cut and started sewing, I discovered that I had somehow tricked myself into believing there was enough contrast between these two shades of green!

Luckily there was an adequate substitute in the stash!  Here are the strips for the first quarter.  Each strip is sewn together, but I have not joined them yet.

One final hint: I cut up the January calendar page and pinned the numbers on the blocks to keep them in order until they were sewn together. 🙂

Are you making a temperature quilt?  Another quilt to commemorate 2020?