Sunday, June 28, 2009

Fuss Free Hand Quilting

This is the quilt that you saw a peek of in a recent post. It was hanging on the back of the baby crib that Roscoe the cat was sleeping in. I have received several questions regarding this quilt - so here is some info. First of all, I made 2 of these quilts. Same pattern, same fabrics. The pattern is not one of ours - it is a copy of an antique quilt that was published in American Patchwork & Quilting in the spring of 2006. I loved the antique quilt when I saw it and thought it would look great in our fabrics. At the time we had done 2 fabric collections with Moda - Nantucket and Coming Home. This quilt, and it's twin were made with the scraps of these 2 collections. Polly has one and I have one. Secondly, no I don't have any more copies of that issue (April 2006), but I bet you do. Don't we all have several years of these issues squirrelled away?
Here is a little closer view of the hand quilting.This quilting design is kind of a free form fan design. The fan design is most commonly known as "Baptist Fan" or "Methodist Fan" because it is a very common utilitarian quilting design that was often used for quilting bees in the basement of churches - hence the name. These utilitarian quilts from the last half of the 19th century and early 20th century were quickly quilted by the church ladies for fund raisers. Those sweeping fans, you see, are easy to quilt when you are sitting around a quilt frame. They follow the natural movement of your arm. Each person did the section in front of them, then the quilt was rolled and a new section appeared before you to be quilted. This design is seen over and over again in antique quilts. It is a favorite of mine. It works over everything and more importantly, it is still easy to hand quilt today - even outside of a quilt frame. I have many quilting stencils with varying fan designs. I use them all. I even developed my own - the one you see above. This quirky and free form fan design is easy to mark and to quilt.
To start, lay the basted quilt out on the floor or a large table. Being right handed, I start at the bottom right hand side of the quilt. I mark concentric arcs on the top - about 18"to 20" tall and wide. I use either a Hera marker or a chalk wheel marker.
The Hera marker is a Japanese tool that is much like a bone folder used in book making and scrap booking. I'm sure the originals were made of bone - but this is a hard plastic. It marks by making a sharp crease in the fabric when you press down. It is a great tool for marking a top. The chalk wheel pencil works by putting down a chalk line with a ratchet wheel tip. Both are favorite tools of mine and I use one or both in marking. All tops are different - basically what shows up better. When marking against all colors and shades of fabric like this top - the chalk is probably your best bet. Try a yellow or the light blue. When I mark I just make big sweeping arcs and I am not trying to be particularly accurate. I like the randomness of it and the quirkiness of it. It won't take long for you to get the hang of it. I mark one section at a time (and quilt one set of concentric arcs at a time) and then mark the next one. It goes very quickly. You can hand quilt a queen size quilt using this method in less than 2 weeks. I have been known to hand quilt a twin size quilt using this method in a long weekend. Your antique reproduction quilt will look even more "antique" using the church lady technique.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Behind The Scenes

It has been about as exciting here today as, well, a fabric delivery day. No fabric - just lots of photos and smiles. Today, Jennifer Keltner of American Patchwork & Quilting was here as well as photographer Beth and her assistant Ted. They spent the day taking pictures of my studio. As some of you know, "my studio" means pretty much the whole house. It was a joy. It wasn't the traumatic and painful day I envisioned the 5 weeks I have known about it. What's it like? Well, once you CLEAN your house - it pretty much a snap. There are some tricks. I have been on photo shoots before - just not in my house. Polly used to work as a photo stylist for Country Home and Coastal Living magazines. I went along on some of them as a "gopher". We also were present when they took the photos for our books. Most of those pictures were taken at Polly's home. So, I did know some things. Like t.v.'s are not good. We all have them, but they aren't particularly attractive in a photo - so out they go. Same with other ubiquitous things that have cords - telephones, printers, etc. Not pretty. Here are some other things that didn't make the cut for the photo (my decision - not the magazine's. I wasn't thrilled about them being in the picture)Here is a fan, some extra books culled from my bookcase, a sewing cabinet, and a basket hidden behind the couch. Glamorous, eh? Here is the love seat pushed out of sight so a better angle could be taken of the family room. Doesn't everyone have a love seat in the kitchen?Here are Beth and Ted getting ready to take a picture of a quilt.You would not believe the equipment they have to bring with them. Of course, my photo of the equipment didn't turn out : (
Beth and Ted and Jennifer (the stylist for this shoot and editor of AP&Q) made my studio/house look terrific. Oh, it's going to be a long wait until it hits the new stands next April.
Polly will have her turn next month as the story will focus on both our studios and the fact that we work long distance. Whew, glad my part is done.


Friday, June 19, 2009

Upcoming Events

Thanks again everyone for those great tips in using the Flag Day Farm twill tape. Sometime tonight it will be listed on our website for purchase. (After midnight June 19th. Our crackerjack website gal works nights). I will of course bind some quilts with it - but I sure like the idea of hemming sheets and pillowcases with it too. Very nice.

Let's see, what's new....... I did make a quilt this week. I am really liking this one. Can you believe I can't show it to you yet? I am rotten. I will show you a sneak peak of it.Yellow and red pinwheels make me happy. This will be a new pattern for us this fall. It will feature our new fabric collection that doesn't even exist yet. I made this prototype from my scrap basket. Yes, that infamous scrap basket - every piece was taken from there and that bad boy is still full to the brim. I. Give. Up.

What else is new...... There use to be a comic strip in the local paper that featured a character called "The woman who does everything more beautifully than you." I can't remember the comic strip, but that character sure stuck in my head. That phrase reminds me of Alma from Blackbird Designs. Check it out. Everyday on her blog there is something amazing and she is photographing it like she was Margaret Bourke-White or Annie Leibovitz. In the comic strip, "the woman who does everything more beautifully than you" isn't very likable. Alma is. I can't take my eyes off her lavender photo. I want to be Alma when I grow up. Camille is obviously her apprentice.

There are big doings going on here next week. I have been one anxious and difficult person. Really, I have. Go ahead and ask Bill or Polly. American Patchwork & Quilting is coming here next week to take pictures. Of My Studio. (Which means my house!!!!) Yes, that explains the whole "refinishing the floor" adventure. There have been some other things too. New blinds for the kitchen windows, house cleaning. Oy. I am not a good housekeeper. I can cook, I can sew, but cleaning is not high on my list. Well, things are kind of clean now. They will take pictures of Polly's studio next month. Polly is a good housekeeper. She got the clean gene. The clean gene is weirdly dominant in our family. There are stories of our Grandmother and aunts that will make you shake your head in wonder. I didn't get this affliction. Can't have everything. So, to all my friends and family who have listened to me about the housecleaning - "Thanks for being there." The house will be back to a shambles in no time. One comment has been repeating in my head for the last month. Sandy Gervais shared it with me at market when I told her the news about the photo shoot. She could tell I was anxious. She said "Remember, a nice coating of dust takes the glare off the pictures." Thanks Sandy. I think I will embroider that on a pillow.


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Another Day, Another Winner

Thanks everyone for all the great tips. I think I need to stock up on the flag twill tape - there are loads of things to do with it! The winner of the spool is Nancyz - Nancy email me here and we will get a new spool out to you pronto. Check back later for more when the the caffeine kicks in.


Monday, June 15, 2009

Happy Flag Day (One Day Late)!

Happy Belated Flag Day everyone! I kind of dropped the ball not getting this up this weekend, didn't I? Well, July 4th is coming up soon, so I'm still early for that. This photo is of our Flag Day Farm twill tape. It is much like our red, white and blue "measuring tape" twill tape that has been so popular. Same great quality and Minick and Simpson look. What would you do with this tape if you had it? I have bound quilts with the measuring tape twill tape and Polly has bound rugs with it. I expect to do the same with this once I get it into my hot little hands. (Polly is sharing these photos of her spool). Comment on this post and tell us what you would do with it - and be eligible to win a whole spool!!!! Yes, 25 yards. Comment before midnight June 17th - Wednesday and we will pick a winner with the random number generator at
Good luck everyone!


Friday, June 12, 2009

Tickle File

Do you have a Tickle File? If you google "tickler file" you will see that is a business management term for a file system that is organized by dates. You basically file all things under the date you need to do them. Makes sense. I should probably set one up for myself to pay bills, do maintenance, chores, etc. But a tickle file is a little different - or at least how it was explained to me. An artist acquaintance once grabbed a paper napkin from our lunch meeting and explained that is was going into her tickle file. She said she liked the geometric pattern embossed on it. Being ignorant of a tickle file - I asked. She explained it is a file, box, storage compartment of things to remind her. Inspirations. I said I guess I kind of had one too. You know, stuff saved to be re-invented later. I find it is always needed to go through at least some of my tickle file stash when a new project is being planned. Here are some pictures I have stored on my computer that are in my tickle file. Here is a photo I kept because of the colors.It is a photo of an antique Amish quilt. I love this color combination. We did try to use this color combination once. Polly and I collaborated on a hooked/penny rug. It was okay, but not as good as the original. Isn't that always the case.
This is a photo I saved from a furniture auction. It is an Art Deco chair. I'm not sure how or why, or when I will use the inspiration of this chair - but I love it and when I look at it it makes me smile. There is something there that talks to me.I saved this picture of an antique quilt not because of the pattern, or the colors, but because it reminds me to think outside the box. Unexpected. Making do. Again, I love this quilt because of that.No, I didn't save this for religious reasons. This photo from a long ago folk art auction on Ebay was saved because of that FRAME. THAT will be a a great quilt border someday - once it is reinvented into fabric.

My tickle file is all over the place - literally and physically. There is my computer tickle file, my several boxes of stashed "things" and my bulletin board with things stuck to it. Tell me about your tickle file.


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Patriotic Things

July 4th is coming on quick. I think some folks are planning on doing a little Patriotic decorating since there was a run on our Nantucket bunting and it is now sold out : (
As for our decorating, Polly's house is pretty much ready to go for July 4th - EVERY DAY. I will just put out some red, white, and blue quilts. I seem to have a stack of them : )

We received these in the mail yesterday. These were made by customers of the Calico Horse Quilt Shop in Redlands California. They are made with the free download - "Freedom is our Strength" pattern. It is available on our website and on Moda's website under the free patterns. These will be donated to Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund. This is Polly's favorite charity. Of course, these could also be made and donated to Quilts of Valor or your local veteran charity. Thanks everyone at the Calico Horse!!
Remember there is a contest this month at All you have to do is use any Minick and Simpson fabric in your quilt and use the word "Freedom" in the name. Good luck!

Some of the dust has settled here and I found I could actually sew yesterday. Here is my block in progress.I will finish it today and send it along to Quiltmaker magazine. Look for it and lots of other blocks in a special issue that will be on the newsstands this fall.

And finally, I got an email yesterday from my sister-in-law Carolyn. Carolyn retired a couple of years ago and took up quilting. She said she is working on several projects this summer in the hopes of depleting her stash. Ummmmm..... should we tell her? "Carolyn, your stash might swell and shrink, but it will never be depleted." Welcome to the world of fabric hoarders.


Sunday, June 7, 2009

Cat Beds "R" Us

There has been little quilting here lately. Many chores and long delayed jobs have been attempted and finished. I still have a few more of these chores to do, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I think I can actually start designing and make a quilt soon. Really. I am pretty excited.

You remember the adorable doll bed I have here that we used at Quilt Market - and the fact that Roscoe coveted it.
Basically, Roscoe's main purpose in life is to find a comfy spot and spend time in it. This has been his "crib" the last few days.
It is an antique "make-do" baby crib. We also used it in Pittsburgh to style our booth. It was made by some genius who took old screens and put them on wheels. We think that the lucky baby, once inside the crib, was put outside in the summer breeze. The sides hinge so it can have short sides or tall sides. Bill and I have come to the conclusion that our purpose in life is to make sure we have comfy beds for critters. There are worse things to aspire to.

Make sure to have a peek over at La Vie en Rosie. Carrie has posted pictures of a couple of her new patterns and "Summer Rental" is calling out to me. That is one GORGEOUS quilt!

Tomorrow is Bill's and my anniversary. Fourteen years and counting. He made a "joke" on our honeymoon that if I really loved him I would make sure the Red Wings won the Stanley Cup. At the time they were playing and we watched on a snowy old black and white tv in Elkhart Indiana. Don't ask. We were en route to a Lake Michigan B & B. They lost in 95. Since that fateful remark the Red Wings have won the cup 4 times. They could win a 5th this week. I have more than made up my end of the deal. I told him I expect a Detroit Tiger World Series victory very soon. Go Wings!Another annual event always happens around our anniversary. The Tony Awards. They will be on tv tonight. Yes, not only am I a quilt geek, a Detroit sports geek, I am a Broadway geek. "Billy Elliot" looks like a show I would love and I predict some statues tonight.


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Patterns, Patterns, and More Patterns!

Well, Amy R.... we did go to Zingerman's. We are going back tonight for dinner. We need nourishment to do our next job. Our patterns just got delivered from the printer! Tonight Polly and I will stuff plastic bags full of patterns and get them shipped - pronto. I think I can talk Bill into helping also. If he wants to get into the family room, anyway. And Amy, I think we will stop by Washtenaw Dairy for an ice cream cone for dessert.


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Happenings for June 2nd

I have been out of town for a couple of days and I am wading through emails and snail mail. It really does collect quickly, doesn't it? I had a great 2 days in Muskegon Michigan at the Patchers of the Lakeshore Quilt Guild. I did my little dog and pony show at the guild meeting (6 suitcases and a duffel full of quilts) and headed up a class on String Pieced LeMoyne Stars. I don't say "teach" because that is not respectful of people who actually DO teach. I just sort of "suggest" and try to keep conversation moving. Here is what we accomplished yesterday.Thanks to Darlene, Pat, Kathy, Kay, Sarah, Deb, and Cheryl. I had a great time!

There was a voicemail waiting when I got home. Bill's niece Karen and her husband Florent had twin girls today! Sophie and Julia. Aren't those lovely, sophisticated names for lovely sophisticated French/American baby girls? Can't wait to see the photos!

Hey, Polly is actually in town. We are within driving distance. We will actually get to spend part of the day together tomorrow doing all sorts of "Minick and Simpson" type things like hanging quilts and test driving my new vacuum cleaner. We aren't as sophisticated as Sophie and Julia, but we are a close second.

But, the big news today is Moda is having a contest! Go to and enter. You have the entire month of June to design one or many quilts using Minick and Simpson fabric. Info is here.....
You can double click on it to enlarge.

Good luck everyone - we can't wait to see the entries!


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