Saturday, April 9, 2011

All my Favourite Things...

Ahhh... i am so excited to visit all of you at Stash Manicure today.
 Let me introduce myself, I am Rebecca from Chasing Cottons. I'm a mum who has a serious addiction to Fabric (and mmm stashing fabric), Sewing and Designing Quilts.
Its getting a little cold and grey here in Australia, so i was wrapped when Madame Samm asked me to be apart of her SPRING Month!!
I love Spring.  I Absolutely LOVE flowers... I'm the type of Gal who as soon as a flower opens up somewhere in the garden, I'm out there with my scissors, to snip and bring it inside, so we can admire its beauty. This passion extends into my quilts. I'm drawn to florals.. if you were to look at my stash, you would find most of them are florals...mmm and a few dots. So, being as though its Spring, Florals and Flowers... I'm delighted to share my Eden's Garden Quilt with you.

Named after my little sister Eden, Eden's Garden is made up of 12 flower blocks. All machine pieced but they have an applique look. I know what your thinking... all those curves!!!... Please i beg of you... Don't be put off by a little curve.. I cant express to you enough.. how easy they are! All you need is your magic weapon...PINS!! I have a tutorial here that includes a section on sewing this same curve. Easy Peasy!
I have used 12 fat quarters for each of these flowers.... BUT ... there is no stopping you from using up your stash.
For each Flower block you need : -
8 - 3 1/2" x 3 1/2" blocks of one colour
8 - 3 1/2" x 3 1/2" blocks of another colour
12 - 3 1/2" x 3 1/2" blocks of your background fabric..i used Kona snow.
I think these flowers would look spectacular used in vintage fabric scraps just cut to size. Or any sort of scraps from you stash.... Who needs to follow rules!!
Perhaps you may want to give one block a try??? You could make it into a Pillow?? You could even sew a decorative button in the centre?? For Stash Manicure Readers, You can download the Template HERE and if you would like the whole complete Pattern to make this Quilt.. you can get it from HERE.
Because I absolutely LOVE sewing...and Making Quilts... I'm hosting a 12 week FREE Online Sewing Class from my blog Chasing Cottons...

 ... It may help you get the courage to tackle your first quilt?? Or those curves? Or maybe you have something you can share?? There is a link at the bottom of each class you can post your own tutorials to help teach 'YOUR' way of doing something... You will find the course outline HERE and the first class just started with a great Giveaway HERE.

Thank you, Thank you, Madame Samm for letting me come visit today and share with you ALL of my favourite things.... Flowers, Fabrics, Sewing and Quilts!! xx

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Easy Basket Handles from Bias Strips

I love blogging and reading others' blogs too and this is a very inspiring site for me. Some of you already know me - I'm Kathleen Tracy from A Sentimental Quilter and Madame Samm has kindly asked me to blog for all of you again.

It's Spring here in the Midwest where I'm from and if there's one quilty thing that always reminds me of Spring it's basket quilts. I  think everybody loves basket quilts, and in my opinion every quilter should have a basket quilt or two in her collection, don't you agree?

I have an easy technique to tell you about today that I hope will get you started making a basket quilt soon.

My front garden last year. This year, nothing green yet.

I've made several small basket quilts (see a brand new one on my blog) and I especially had fun using some of my reproduction fabric scraps making this one that's in Remembering Adelia, my third book. 

It's called Civil War Baskets and if you're inclined to use '30s fabrics or brights or batiks instead of reproduction prints like I did, guess what? It will turn out great. The nice thing about traditional patterns from long ago, like basket blocks, is that they are time-tested. They've been around for a very long time and are still being used today in contemporary quilts. So don't feel you have to be limited by my fabric choices. Make it your own way with your own lovely fabrics.

Some of you already have this book with the Civil War Baskets pattern and have e-mailed me asking for a tutorial. So, if you're hesitant about making those handles for your baskets, either for this quilt or another (especially if you're just beginning to make quilts) never fear - here's an easy method that takes away a lot of the stress. It's very simple once you get the hang of it and you can use the same technique for vines and stems on other applique projects.

Here's how I made the curved handles for my baskets quilt.

The first step is to cut your strip on the bias--which means that it's cut on the diagonal of the grain.

I also like to use pressing bars, which are 12" long, heat-resistant plastic bars for making applique vines and stems. They come in a package with several bars of varying widths.

Cut your strip the correct width--for the basket handles in Remembering Adelia it's 1 1/4".  Fold the strip in half WRONG sides together, press and sew a 1/4" seam along the raw edge to make a tube.

Cut the ends of the strip to the correct length--for my quilt  it's 1 1/4" x 6". Trim the seam allowance a little to about 1/8".

Slide the rounded end of the pressing bar into the tube and press as you roll the seam to the middle of the tube. Press the seam in one direction. When you turn it over, the seam will be hidden on the back. Remove the bar CAREFULLY as it gets very hot and finish pressing the tube flat.

Now you're ready to shape the handle into the curved shape and pin it to the background fabric. Since the fabric was cut on the bias it will stretch easily into a curve. Find the center and pin that first, gently stretching the rest of the strip into shape. Using a blind stitch, sew in place. Voila! Easy bias-strip basket handles.

Piece the rest of the basket according to directions in whatever pattern you're using and sew the two units together, catching the ends of the handles in the seam allowance.

Thanks so much for dropping by and if you feel like leaving a comment, I'll be happy to give away a copy of my book Remembering Adelia to one lucky person. The book gives a glimpse into the world of a young woman living in a small town in Illinois in 1861 at the beginning of the Civil War through the diary she kept. It contains 14 quilts and projects to inspire you and make the past almost seem to come alive. I had a lot of fun writing it and doing some research on the Civil War too. Adelia lived in a town that is not too far from where I live now and visiting the site where she wrote in her diary 150 years ago was a thrilling experience for me. I knew her story had to be told.

Visit me and check out my other books and patterns at Country Lane Quilts (including some free patterns for doll quilts) or contact me at with any questions. Thanks for sharing time with me today!

congrats to Sandi.#8...she won this book...
she has been notified and she is sewwwwwwwwwwwww excited...
Book is on its way....
to everyone else...well we will have to Kathy back....x

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A Window On My Quilt Retreat

Hello quilters.  This is Jill from Jillily Studio.  I am happy to join you here on Stash Manicure again. 
I just got home from my family quilt retreat last night.  Four days of laughing, sewing, sharing, eating, and very little sleep.  We do this every year, and it was even the subject of my last book, Stitched Together.  Twenty Eight of us met at a cabin from all over the country to spend this weekend together.   Here's a glimpse of the mess we made.  (And the fun we had!)
You can see more about the retreat on my blog in the coming days.  (I still need to unpack and get organized, but I will be posting more soon.)  So I am home just in time to post this for you.  Since it is fresh in my mind from retreat, I am going to share a project we did together.  My sister Susan made the sample, a pillow made with cathedral windows blocks.  Isn't it so cute?
Now I know that there are several ways to make a cathedral window block, and usually they are stitched by hand, but we did ours by machine and I am going to describe the method we used. 
Here goes. 
We'll make the window panes first.  On Susan's pillow above, the window panes are in the green fabric.  In the following photos, I used a different fabric (which happens to be the one she used for the "stained glass" so don't get confused.)

First, cut nine 14.5" squares from your window pane fabric.  Cut a template from poster board 13" square.  Center the template on the wrong side of your fabric square.  Use a hot steam iron to press the corners up over the template, and each long edge as well.

 Remove the template.
 Fold the square in half with the wrong sides together.  Press.
Fold in half again making a square, press.

 Now open the square back up and use the pressed quarter lines as a guide to fold each corner in to meet in the middle.  Press.
 Again fold the corners in to meet in the middle, making a smaller square. 

Fold and press all nine of your fabric squares that way.  (Stack them up so you can enjoy how cute they are together.  I added this step because that is about all I got done!) 

Take two of the prep-ed squares and put them next to each other with the folded side up.  Unfold one folded flap from each square and align the creases.  Pin these squares together along that crease.
 Sew right along the crease line.  (I am pointing to it.)  Backstitch at the beginning and ending of your seam. 
 Sew three folded squares together like that to make a row, then sew the rows together.  Now all your squares are attached, but the folded triangles remain free. 

 Now we will add the "stained glass" to the window panes.  Cut twenty four 4.25" squares.  You can pin them loosely in place, but I used Appli-Glue to baste them to the window panes.  In the following photo, I left some off so you can see where to place them on the panes.  The stained glass squares will hang off the edge on the outside windows.  We will trim those later.
 Just a drop of glue on each edge and in each corner.

 Now you will roll the "window frame" over the "stained glass" and pin in place.  The thickest part of the "frame" is in the middle creating an oval opening between windows.  Put a pin in the center of the roll to hold it while you sew.  We sewed ours by machine through all the layers.  Follow the curve of the window pane, stitching right along the edge.  Begin and end with a knot or backstitch.  Continue to stitch each side of the window frame until the "stained glass" is completely enclosed. 
Stitch each window frame around the "glass."  The windows on the edges will have only two stitched sides.  When all the windows are completed, trim off the extra "glass" fabric on the edges. 

(Note that I have no pictures showing the next few steps, because that is as far as I got!  My machine is still in the car, so you will have to trust me on this.)

Measure your pillow top and cut a pillow back the same size. Place the pillow front and back right sides together and stitch around leaving an opening to stuff.  Turn out to the right sides.  You can use a pillow form or loose stuffing.  Fill your pillow and hand stitch the opening closed.  Add buttons for embellishment if you want.
My daughter-in-law Erin did a smaller version.  Here is her finished block:
Wow, that is so cute!  Erin made hers with different "glass" in each block.  They are the same fabrics she used to make the large project we did at retreat.  Just for fun, here is a peek at her quilt top that matches the pillow.
Won't that pillow be so darling on the bed dressed in this sweet quilt? 
Another sister, Judy made her cathedral window pillow out of silks.  It is absolutely beautiful.  I will post a photo of it on my blog as soon as I get one.  If you use silk, make sure you use a lightweight fusible interfacing to make the silks easier to handle.

I would like to give away a prize to a few lucky readers of this post.  I will randomly choose a few winners to send a copy of my book, Stitched Together, my Appli-Glue, and my newest notion, Poke-A-Dots
Make a comment here and sign up to "follow" on my blog.  If you haven't heard of Poke-A-Dots, they just came out and will be showing up in quilt shops soon.  They are a sticky little thimble dot that you stick to your pushing finger for hand sewing, like bindings and buttons, etc.  Learn more about them here. 
(If you don't happen to be a winner, you can purchase all of these items on my website, along with all of my patterns and kits.)

I hope you have a fun time making a cathedral window pillow, or maybe even a whole quilt!
Happy Quilting-- I hope to see you on my blog!

Monday, April 4, 2011

sew... what is it with Quilters and Cats?

Hi there!  I'd like to thank Madame Samm for inviting me to share some stash busting info with you today.  My name is Thea McCurry - also known as Grannygoodstuff.  I don't design patterns or have a store or sell stuff.  I do make lots of charity quilts for Project Linus and Quilts for Kids as well as the following project.... Cat Snuggles!  I found this info while I was searching for a pet bed that I could make from supplies on hand... which in my case are embarrassingly extensive, but that's another topic...and one you might also suffer from enjoy?  hmmm?  no?  seriously??????

The website I found has all kinds of pet beds, and the organization that sponsors the website is "The Snuggles Project".  You can read all about it on their - here is the linky to the entire, and rather extensive, pattern library:

....there are lots more options on this website, and I can't honestly claim to have followed any instructions to the letter.  That's just not how I create.  How about you?  Do you read through the directions on things and then 'wing it'?  yup, that's me!  Just show me a picture and I'm off to do it!
front view of kitty snuggle

top view of kitty snuggle

I mean well, but I'm usually multi-tasking  between the computer, the TV and whatever is in my hands, so "I y'am w'ut I y'am", as Popeye used to say!   and what I'm not is a perfectionist!  I tried to make a cross-stitch sampler many years ago - it took me 14 years to finish - it says "Finished is Better Than Perfect"... and I really mean that!  and guess what else!  Kitties don't care!!  Maybe that's why I love my furry purry grandchildren so much!

Here’s a few kitties enjoying the comfort of this snuggle bed:
This is Gray – he was the first to take a nap in the new snuggle…isn’t he a handsome model?  a bit on the shy side, perhaps?  nope, just sleepy!

 ....notice the yarn scraps twisted in with the fabric scraps... adds a nice extra texture, don't you think?

And then Peaches had to try it on for size… she’s a bit on the dainty side… but isn’t she beautiful?  ...such a glamor girl!

….and although he probably stretched it beyond original expectations, Bully had to prove that he, too, could fit into the new bed!

My daughter rescues cats the way I quilt....
her rescue cats often have to visit the vet a good bit as she nurses them to fitness... or in some cases, just nurses them.  These snuggles are designed to comfort traumatized animals - but even the non-traumatized seem to like them, too!

You can take a peek at more pics of these and other rescue kitties here.  

Yardage & supplies for one Snuggle:  all the ‘OMG WWIT’ fabric from your stash….  Go ahead, pull it out and own up to it!   I also have a couple of boxes of “You quilt, here’s some fabric I found while cleaning out an attic/basement/whatever so I’m sure you can use it”   ... or the growing in popularity practice of dumping a large bag of unwanted fabric on a doorstep, ringing the bell, and running….  In some parts of the country, it’s called "pre-zucchini season training"…  this is also an option for a ‘round-robin’ quilt guild fabric exchange -  just leave a list of guild members in the bag, cross off your name when it gets to you, add your OMG WWIT’s to the bag and pass it onto the next sucker, unsuspecting, err, appreciative  guild member.
You’ll need the biggest crochet hook you can find – mine is size S - a huge plastic hook from JoAnns…. I also have a nice wooden hook that’s a size N-15 and it works well for ½” strips, but it’s slower than using the wider strips and the bigger hook, and does not use up the fabric fast enough.  
Now, if you are still with me, and you’d like to manicure your stash to make a kitty snuggle here is how it’s done.  You’ll need about 6-10 yards of fabric, depending on the size of snuggle you are making – and while you are digging around, if you come across any odds & ends of yarn, toss those into the pile too! ( ...while crocheting, if you come to a fabric strip that isn’t quite as hefty as the others, just tie a piece of yarn onto it and keep going…..)
1 1/2" strips ready for joining
Take all this fabric to your cutting table and reduce it to a nicely cut pile of 1 ½” strips – you can leave the yarn for later….… and I like using the June Tailor “Shape Cut” ruler similar to the one in this video for making strips – it goes sew fast, just be careful to keep your fingers away from those slits – the only thing that should be going through that slot is your rotary cutter!  Watch the video on the linky if you've never tried it!

Take one of your strips and your big fat crochet hook and make a ‘pretzel’ knot – make six crochet stitches into the pretzel, and join to make a circle…   

join the circle and continue working without turning....

when you get to the end of a strip, join another strip to it as follows (this is the only tricky part - HONEST!!)

hold the two ends together - leave about half an inch beyond your fingers - snip a 1/2" slit in the middle of the fold with a strong pair of scissors - wimpy scissors won't do the trick!  don't cut all the way through to the ends of the strips - the slit should be just big enough to pull the fabric strip through.

now, with the new strip on top of the working strip, pull far end of the new strip UP through the slit in BOTH of the slits at once....

and pull the new strip all the way through the hole.

now, pull the ends snug, and crochet some more - or you might want to add all the strips together at once so you don't have to stop and join every 5 or 6 stitches!

If you want a stretchy, soft bed, crochet into the back or front loops only.  If you want a firmer bed, crochet into both loops.
I increased every 2 or 3 stitches to keep the bowl shape until it was as big as my lap, then I stopped increasing and crocheted the sides until it was about 6 inches high... go ahead and make one... your kitty will love you for it!

Now I'll tell you a little secret... these 'beds' make wonderful stash baskets, too!
Great for sorting out the fabrics for a few charity quilts.