Sunday, May 23, 2010

Quilt Book Picks

As I work through my library of quilting books, I have found a renewed interest in exploring the techniques they offer. These projects will wait for our discovery of them, but for how long... before they become old?

Quilting Books

Some techniques are challenging,
some become favourites,
and some may not seem suitable for our skill level,
but do deserve a good attempt.

at the beginning of a project,
I feel it will not turn out to be a positive experience,
but am surprised
when I change my mind and
seriously consider attempting another project,
at some later time.

Questions to Ponder??

Are there any quilting books that I own and still haven’t used
yet, but consider trying soon?
Do I know anyone that has published their own quilting book?

Have I seen an interesting technique lately, and know about
a quilt book that is available?

Next time...
I will be taking two weeks off from posting. See you back here in June. If you wish to see what books are being featured you can also check out my website for more details. 

Enjoy your quilting journey... for 2010!!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Four Seasons

Four Seasons of Quilts/ by Cori Derken and Myra Harder

I had picked an autumn project and got the quilt top sewn together. However, I just couldn’t get myself to work on the appliqué portion of it.

Background Setting For:
“Pumpkin Patch Baby Quilt”

I know this may sound odd because I love to do appliqué but the design and the size of the quilt caused me to stall. After some time trying to motivate myself to continue, I realized it was not going to happen. I made the decision to choose another project from the book and found that my eagerness did return.


Time to reveal my next project… my second choice was: "Holly and Berries Table Runner" on page 80.

Combining these two different techniques looked like a great challenge especially since - one was one that I love (appliqué) and one that I cannot find love for (paper piecing). I knew I’d finish this one, because of the way I felt about it.

Book, Fabrics


Do you find some paper pieced block designs you’d love to make but hate using this technique? Then, check out my way to paper piece described below with photos. Generally, I find it works for me. As there are paper pieced design blocks that I have, on occasion, wanted to incorporate into a quilt top.

My Own Method:

1.) Print out the paper pieced pattern. (regular paper will do)

2.) Cut it out on the lines. 3.) Use these pieces as your paper templates.

4.) Cut out the fabric with seam allowances automatically added by using rotary cutting tools. (Place the one-quarter inch mark at the edge of the paper template.)

5.) Then follow the numbering on the pattern pieces to assemble the block. 6.) Press each seam open before adding another piece. 7.) And with this process that difficult block is completed!

The reason for paper piecing is to get those perfect points in the design. This I accomplished, even doing it my way.

The only problem was that my finished blocks were not square, mainly I think because of the small pieces and working with bias edges. You can see that the points in the design still are perfectly matched. So, I just squared them up and continued with the block assembly.

I’d suggest two ways – to square up your blocks, to the correct size:

1.) If your blocks end up smaller then the pattern requirements, like mine did, adjust your other blocks to fit. This is what I did for this project.

2.) Or… to make them the size the pattern requires to fit the other blocks in the quilt, add a narrow border around the block so that is ends up the size the project needs.

Okay, so this process worked relatively well. The quilt project that I had done several years ago used very large blocks and using my paper templates and the assembly process of the fabric pieces ended up perfectly matched up and square. It was my foundation paper pieced block that wasn’t so perfect.


Then, there is appliqué… for some people this is a technique that rivals my feelings towards paper piecing. And, there I would agree with you if you are referring to the needle-turned method. I tried to include a project with this method, but could not get myself to commit to it, so I know I found the technique I’ll stay with when it comes to appliquéd designs.

I love doing raw edge appliqué when it is done with fusible web and a machine buttonhole stitch. For me, this is the best way to have fun with appliqué designs.

Holly and Berries

I used red thread for the zigzag satin stitch for the berries and green thread for the stems and buttonhole stitch on the holly.

I considered doing hand embroidery for the stems, but changed my mind and used the sewing machine to stitch a double line along my pencil marks. They were done before the appliqué pieces were added.

Here is the back side of the appliqué section to show you how cool this side looks.


To finish the quilt layers, I stitched the paper pieced blocks with an “X” and the applique design is done with a shadow stitch all around the stems and berries; then separately around the leaves and single berries.

Showing the green backing fabric and the finished binding both done in Christmas fabrics. Seasonal fabrics come in so many wonderful patterns. When I found this project, I knew the holly and berries fabric would look great on the end borders on this table runner.

Then, a final note: I hope to come back sometime to do the applique on the other quilt. And, the book also has four small projects (14” x 9”) that would be really fun to make.

My Quilt
Finished Size: 15 3/4” x 34 1/2”

Next time...
Come back next week, for an invitation to share your favourite quilting technique. And if you wish to see what books are being featured you can also check out my website for more details.

Happy stitching!!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Paper Piecing... another way!

Paper pieced designs are complex. And to get those perfect corners this technique allows them to be stitched with perfection. Or, so it should...

Do you love to do paper piecing?
Or... do you hate it?

I took a class to try paper piecing when I first started quilting. I wished to see what quilting techniques would intrigue me. Would this be one of them?

Five Paper-Pieced Hearts
This little quilt is loved and today hangs in my sister's house.

However, as I did not enjoy this technique enough to embrace it... I was determined to never try it again!! So when one comes across those beautiful blocks in quilt designs, what should we do with them?

A few years ago, I came across this technique again. There was a block that I had included in a quilt design and figured I could do it in paper piecing, as there were only four corner blocks to make. I did try one, but seriously... to do it four times, not possible, I said! I found it was still just as frustrating to do, as it was the first time.

So, that time, I did it my way! I got the design to turn out perfectly using my own method... and no one would ever know that it wasn't paper pieced.

When one cannot create something like it was intended, then one discovers another way... so it becomes possible to still do it.

Not everyone is as challenged by the same techniques, so when you hear words, such as, "I'll be easy...!" you still can give it a try, even though you don't believe those words. As with quilting, it should always be up to us whether we continue with a new technique or not. I believe that is why we have such a wide range of techniques to create beautiful quilts. Our GOAL should always be to have fun in whatever ways - fit us best!!


The Method:
1.) Print out the paper pieced pattern. (regular paper will do)
2.) Cut it out on the lines.
3.) Use these pieces as your paper templates*. (see link below)
4.) Cut out the fabric with seam allowances automatically added. (using rotary cutting tools)
5.) Then follow the numbering on the pattern pieces to assemble the block.
6.) Press each seam before adding another piece.
7.) And with this process that difficult block is completed!**

More Details:
1.) See this entry for more information on using paper templates.*
2.) Next week's entry will have photos of this process.**

It is not my intent to ever take paper piecing seriously, so when I do come to a quilt that uses this technique, I decide how to proceed. I still take the view that quilting should be fun. Sometimes the learning curve is too difficult to overcome.... but sometimes, it just needs a change in attitude, that changes that too difficult technique into one that is enjoyable. So, you decide, love it or don't do it!! 


My ninth project will be shared next week...

Four Seasons of Quilts/
Cori Derksen & Myra Harder

Enjoy your quilting adventure for... 2010!!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Bargello Quilts

The Bargello Quilt Book/ by Piecemakers

Time to reveal my next project... I choose: "Mini-Bargello" on page 12.  

Book, Fabrics

There are other great Bargello books that vary in design and complexity and would be fun to try. However, my goal is to dig through my own library of books that I haven't used yet and explore those possibilities first before I buy or borrow more.

My other goal, is to use my own fabrics and therefore the fabric colors are either matched as closely as possible or it allows me to do something totally different.

And, then…  as I usually gravitate to the smallest projects first, I was delighted that they included a “mini” version, just for someone like me. 


There are two main tips and then the rest is up to you.

1.  Use either prints or solids or a combination of them. The main rule is to shade fabrics from light to dark.  
2.  Choose a few fabrics you love and continue to expand from them.

There were some fat quarter fabrics that I would have chosen but wasn’t sure if I’d have enough yardage for the mini version. So now, I’d say, yes! It just means you’ll cut more strips, but sewing them together still works fine. 

I couldn’t decide from the larger pieces that I had… so, when I finally decided upon one print fabric, I chose all solid colors for the rest. I also went with only seven fabrics, instead of the ten used in this pattern.

What I loved, was the little black and white sketch of a quilt on the first page. It only used six colors, but it was so cute. If I had a few more blacks and whites, I would have tried making it.

Now, even though I don’t think I’d make another Bargello quilt, one can never be too sure. There are more interesting variations available in other books, that just may need further exploration.

As always, buying new fabrics in all the correct yardages, with the help of the quilt shop staff makes the fabric selection go very smoothly. But here I am talking about using the fabrics you already own, and that means allowing new choices to be tried. Try shopping in your own fabric corner for great color choices!!


After the fabric colors have been cut into strips, they are sewn together. Then from this, they are cut into the widths required, as shown below. I used a white label to mark the sizes as some of them really look similar when the process is ongoing.

Fabric Strips Marked by Size

A Pile of Strips

Sewing the Strips Together

Quilt Top Complete

Quilting the Layers

The Quilt Binding

Just remember, if you feel good about it, then enjoy the process as it unfolds. Who really knows… maybe you’ll come up with a unique design of your own, that others will enjoy making, too!!

My Bargello Quilt
Finished Size: 29” x 25 3/4”

Next week...
My next book choice and then a reveal the following week. If you wish to see what books are being featured you can also check out my website for more details.

Happy stitching!!