Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Ocean Dreams

Today I got to write a pattern for an Ocean Waves quilt designed by Lissa Alexander of Moda. The fabric collection featured in the quilt is Hearty Good Wishes by Janet Clare, and it gave me beach longings so badly. My favorite print in the group comes in 4 colors, all absolutely wonderful. Here's a sneak peek!



This fabric doesn't deliver to quilt shops until February 2014 (though some may have it sooner), but we have to write the pattern super-early so we can order fabric for McCall's Quilting kits. It made my morning a little bit like a beach vacation! I love my job.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A Cut Above

Martingale/That Patchwork Place, 2013
Look what came in the mail today...a copy of Gerri Robinson's book, A Cut Above! Disclaimer: Gerri is a dear if distant friend, and frequent contributor to McCall's Quilting and McCall's Quick Quilts. But I'll try to be objective in my review, promise!

If you like sewing with precut fabric packs, you are going to love this book. Gerri's trademark traditional through feminine designs are achievable for quilters of all skill levels, and her use of fabric is can learn a lot just by browsing through the book, let alone trying the patterns. And as a bonus, there are several examples of framed patchwork and pillows and cushions, all beautifully made and displayed. Great photography!

Look for this book at your local quilt store, or visit Gerri's website at I give this one a big thumbs up!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Puppy Quilt Love

The December 2013/January 2014 issue of McCall's Quick Quilts is now available on newsstands and online at Quilt and Sew Shop, and it has a pattern inside that's dear to my heart. Here it is... Zuzu's Car Quilt!

This project was great fun to make, and it's really quick and easy. Wouldn't your favorite dog like a version of this design as a holiday or birthday or anyday gift? There's also a completely free pattern for the coordinating tote bag on the Quick Quilts website:

Toys not included!

I'll tell you a little secret. Although the quilting pattern of interlocking dog biscuit shapes is included in the pattern, and I did use it on the tote front and back, on the sides of the tote I quilted Zuzu's name over and over. I'm afraid I have a serious case of puppy love  :)  Hope you enjoy these designs as much as I enjoyed creating them!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Breaking in the New Sewing Space

I finally got to sew in my new space, and it worked amazingly well. I definitely need a larger cutting space, but other than that, everything was very efficient and comfortable. And here's what I worked on this weekend:

This design will be for a McCall's Quilting Block Builders Workshop on partial seam construction.

And I'm pretty sure this will be for a Block Builders Workshop on string piecing on a foundation. This was made with random string piecing on a quarter-arc. Four arcs were sewn together, and then raw-edge circle was appliqued to the white square with machine buttonhole stitch. What a fun way to use up strippy scraps!

I also got a lot of hand quilting done on the mini Bonham Beauty this weekend. It's nearly to come!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Quilt Storage

I've been looking for a place to store and possibly display completed quilts, and I think I have a solution. This wooden rack used to hold VHS movies. We just got rid of a bunch of them and now the rack needs a new purpose. Ta dah! It could hold like 20 quilts, though it would probably get overstuffed before that. But I think it looks pretty good. Quilt storage for $0...yay!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

New Block Builders Workshop

Time to start making samples for the next two Block Builders Workshop patterns and videos. I'm thinking partial seam construction tips for one of them, and string piecing for the other. We try to do 12" blocks for all these patterns, so this star would include 8 string-pieced squares that each finish 3" square. Could use up a lot of strippy scraps making a few of those babies! Sample making this weekend in my new sewing space...yeah!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

World's Best Job

Guess what came in my work mail today? A Sizzix Fabi fabric die cutting machine, along with a bunch  of adorable die shapes. Now I need to play with it and see what it can's a tough job, but someone has to do it. I'm so lucky! World's best job, for sure.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

What Day Is It?

That's's National Color Day! To celebrate, you may want to try taking the Pantone color accuracy test. It takes a few minutes, but it's fun to do and gives interesting results. I scored a 19 (zero is best). If you take the test, leave a comment with your score. I'd love to know how you do!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Stitch a Sampler with Us!

It all started with a project to help my niece Lara learn to quilt. She made her version of this sampler last summer as part of her internship at McCall's. Now the project is being patterned in 6 parts, beginning in the December 2013/January 2014 issue of McCall's Quick Quilts. Here's my version, the one that appears in the magazine:

Studio Stash fabrics by Jennifer Sampou for Robert Kaufman
We named it Studio Sampler; click on the link for more details. Each installment of the pattern will also have special how-to photos for a piecing technique. This first part focuses on half-square triangle units, and includes patterns for 3 of the blocks.

I hope you'll give this project a look. I had a lot of fun making the quilt, and samplers are always exciting, don't you think? The magazine is just reaching subscribers and newsstands now, and you will also be able to buy digital and print copies here beginning October 29. Check it out!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Sewing Space Progress

Today I got the rudiments of a sewing space set up in the little room at the top of the stairs! As in any home project, I learned a few things the hard way today, like the router for the entire house is connected to that ugly thing on the wall behind my sewing machine, and the cord is only about a yard long. Solution: tuck a tiny table under the sewing table and put the computer gizmo on there (if you look at the photo carefully you can see its lights glowing kind of evilly). Lesson two was that there's really nowhere else to put the printer but in this room. Solution: put the end piece of an Ikea bookcase set in the corner, put the printer on top, and store all the paper supplies, ink cartridges, etc. on the shelves.

My plan is for this to be only the beginning of the transformation of this space. Still to come:

  • Empty all the bookcases to make space for stash fabric
  • Move the roll-top desk to the bedroom and bring the big library table in here instead
  • Set the library table on risers to get it to a good height to be a cutting table
  • Mount flannel or felt to the wall where the desk is now for a design wall
  • Bring in my Grandma Saylor's old wooden ironing board
  • Pretty things up a little bit
But, for now, it's a minimally functional space and it's off to the shower for me!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Where I Am, Where I'm Not

I've been hand quilting today, as well as working on emptying the little room I want to use as a sewing space, so no visuals to share right now. My family, on the other hand, is arriving on the Outer Banks of North Carolina today for a week's vacation. To get on the island, they'll cross Oregon Inlet on the bridge shown in the photo. I wish I was there with them! Maybe next year...

Friday, October 18, 2013

Got a Guild!

I've never belonged to a quilting guild, but today that changed! I joined the York PA Quilters Guild in anticipation of moving back to PA sometime in 2014. I'm really excited about it and looking forward to meetings, challenges, retreats, and new friendships. Somehow I feel like a more "official" quilter already!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Project Runway Spoiler Alert

And we have a Season 12 winner....Dom Streater of Philadelphia, PA! Go, home girl. Congratulations on a great runway show and fabulous win!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

(Maybe) Baby Quilt Design

Well, I'm far enough along with the baby quilt design to have ordered fabric. There may be changes to come, but I'm liking this so far. Fabric should arrive in a few days; then the real design work begins. All comments are welcome!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Baby Quilt on the Way

I found out recently that my niece Alysia and her husband Matt are expecting their first exciting! A baby quilt is definitely in order, but what style? What colors? Theme? The choices are endless. I did a little browsing on eQuilter tonight, and here's what caught my eye:

I don't know the sex of the baby, and Alysia and Matt are intrepid travelers, so somehow these prints seem appropriate. On to EQ7 to work on a design!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Happy National Dessert Day!

Chocolate Praline fabric from the Confections collection by Robert Kaufman
Today is National Dessert Day...hope you had your very own sweet celebration!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Best Metallic Thread Tip

I tried out a lot of tips for easier stitching with metallic threads today, but this one thing made way more difference for me than anything else. Thread lubricant works! I applied it to the thread itself by squirting a couple of drops on a scrap of fabric and then running the free end of the thread through it, picking up a light coating of lubricant as it went. I then threaded the top of my machine with the lubricated end of the thread, and I couldn't believe the difference.

See the looped, loose stitches on the back of this sample? It's the second line of stitching from the top. That's BEFORE tread lubricant. The rest of the stitching was done AFTER thread lubricant. Wowser. Here's the front view, all done after the lubrication:

MUCH better. Sorry about the photo quality...we'll get much better shots in the studio Wednesday for the February/March issue of McCall's Quick Quilts.

You can buy thread lubricant at any quilt shop or fabric store. The one I used was a Collins product, available on and lots of other places. If you're planning to stitch with metallic thread, this is definitely something you want to have by your machine!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Bonham Beauty Hand Quilting Begins

Today I've been working on the hand quilting for my mini Bonham Beauty. After all that hand appliqué, it only seemed right to hand quilt, and it's something I love to do but seldom take the time for.  I'm making up the quilting plan as I go, and I'm really excited about it so far. No marking on this quilt...I'm using 1/4" masking tape to mark lines:

Lots more to go, but the effect is good, I think. Back to work!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Not So Heavy Metal

Threads courtesy of Brother, Presencia, and Sulky

Lots of quilters shy away from stitching with metallic threads. They've heard the stories. The thread breaks every 10 stitches, there's no way to get a nice-looking stitch, they're just not worth the trouble. It's all kind of...heavy. But stitching with metallics doesn't have to be a drag. It can be downright fun, and nothing else can give your quilts so much sparkle and shine so easily.

I'm getting notes together for a tip column on this subject for the February/March 2014 issue of McCall's Quick Quilts, so I've been doing my research. Here are some things that I'm finding out really matter when sewing metallics:

  • Type of sewing machine needle 
  • Thread lubricants
  • The direction the thread is mounted on the machine 
  • Thread tension
  • Stitch length
  • Sewing speed
I've got samples to make this weekend, so if I come up with anything else I'll let you know!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Low Volume Love

I fell in love today with these low volume floral shirtings. Low volume fabrics are prints that "read" as quiet backgrounds when used in a quilt, and they are really trending right now with modern quilters. Of course, "quiet" is a relative thing, but these would definitely work as backgrounds to many other fabrics.

Here's the entire fat quarter pack...isn't it pretty?

And here's the collection name and designer. This collection is just starting to hit quilt shops, so there's still time to save your quilting allowance and get ready to treat yourself!

If you'd like to see the fabrics individually, check out the Moda web page for the collection. Great job, Primitive Gatherings and Moda! I hope I get a chance to work with these prints soon!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Zuzu's Photo Shoot

Photo by Mellisa Karlin Mahoney, courtesy of McCall's Quick Quilts magazine
Awhile back, Zuzu posed in the McCall's Quilting photo studio with her car quilt and tote bag ensemble. The quilt pattern is in the December 2013/January 2014 issue of McCall's Quick Quilts, and we just got our preview copies today. This isn't the exact photo used in the magazine, and it hasn't been cropped or anything, but isn't she cute? She loves to pose, especially when her Aunt Mellisa, textile photographer extraordinaire, is behind the camera. So, consider this a teaser. Once the issue has shipped to subscribers and newsstands, I'll blog about the project once more.

Did I mention she's cute?  :)

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Bonham Beauty Update

I got the center circle of tiny ovals stitched down last night, and all the edge ovals glue-basted in place. So, this is pretty much how the top will look when finished. I've started thinking about quilting plans. The original bed size quilt had stuffed work, but I don't plan to attempt that at such a small scale. But I may try to replicate some of the motifs at smaller size. Flower shapes could be good in the small circles, and I'm leaning towards echo-quilting the larger cream areas...I think they'd look star-like. Lots of appliqué still to do first, though!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Appliqué Tip

I've been appliquéing circles of 8 oval shapes on my Bonham Beauty mini, and thought I'd show you how I'm keeping the circles...circular. I made a template with an opening the size of the circle I am aiming for, and I pin it, centered, on the area where I need to place the ovals.

The little black hash marks line up with seams, so it's easy to keep things centered. When I glue-baste the ovals so their outer edges are just touching the template, the circle formed looks pretty good.

Now on to more stitching!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Cutest Sewing Machine EVER

Sewmaster toy sewing machine, made in Germany

I've been working today on making more small applique ovals for my mini Bonham Beauty, so nothing new to show there. But I DO have something new to show you! My roommate Lisa was visiting her family in Texas this past week, and her stepfather sent this adorable little antique toy sewing machine home with her for me. And it actually sews when you crank the handle...makes a very respectable chain stitch. It's the perfect confluence of my loves of sewing and tiny things. A new obsession may have been born here. So cute! Thank you Richard!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Introducing Zuzu's Studio

I've been trying very hard to keep my blog contents focused on quilting, which is actually not too hard since a lot of my life is focused on quilting. But some days, the dog is way cuter than anything else I could photograph. So today I'm starting a new page here called Zuzu's Studio, where you can catch up on puppy pics!

How many blocks did you need again? You know if I was a kid, this would be child labor...

I'm not sure I'm ready for rotary cutting. Could I gnaw you a strip?

Friday, October 4, 2013

Supersize It!

I got an email from a Simply Quick Quilts reader today saying she'd like to make a California king size version of my Modern Links quilt from the fun! I love it when someone makes their own version of one of my quilts!

After a little calculating, here was the advice I came up with for her:

If you enlarge the blocks to 11 ¼” square, you can get a quilt that’s 111” square with the same look as the original, just bigger. Here would be your revised yardage and cutting:

Navy/blue star print       10 ½ yds.
Silver/gray mottle            3 ¼ yds.
Backing/facing fabric      11 yds.
Batting size         120” x 120”

Cut (in order listed)
Navy/blue star print
                5 strips 6 ¾” x width of fabric (WOF)
                5 squares 18” x 18”, cut in half twice diagonally
                51 squares 11 ¾” x 11 ¾”
                2 squares 9” x 9”, cut in half diagonally
                2 strips 4 ¼” x 26”
                63 strips 1 ¾” x 11 ¾”
                152 squares 3” x 3”
Silver/gray mottle
                10 strips 3” x WOF
                1 strip 4 ¼” x 26”
                76 strips 3” x 11 ¾”
Backing/facing fabric
                3 strips WOF x 119”
                4 strips 1 ½” x 116”, pieced from 12 WOF strips (facing)

In Diagram I, you’d use navy 3” squares and silver 3” x 11 ¾” strips.
In Diagram II, silver 3” x WOF strips and navy 6 ¾” x WOF strips. Make 5. Cut 38 segments 4 ¼” wide.
Diagram III, navy and silver 4 ¼” x 26” strips. Make 1. Cut 13 segments 1 ¾” wide.
Diagram IV, navy 1 ¾” x 11 ¾” strips go on top and bottom.

So there you have it...directions for changing the Modern Links pattern from queen size to California king. And if you ever make a version of one of my quilts, please let me know. It will make my day!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Metallic Thread Research

I've been surfing the web for tips on machine stitching with metallic threads. In an article on the Quilting Daily website, Pokey Bolton lists favorite tips by Liz Kettle that I am definitely going to try out. There's also a lot of information out there about the relation between how the thread is wound onto the spool at the factory and how the thread should come off the spool at your machine. The Presencia thread in this photo is cross-wound, but there are also stacked varieties, and each should be handled differently. I have a lot to learn here...looking forward to time this weekend to experiment.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Pretty, Shiny, Yummy

Finca metallic threads by Presencia

How lucky am I? My next how-to assignment is to come up with photos of tips for stitching with metallic threads. That means I get to play with lots of pretty, shiny, yummy threads, including these from Presencia. I've always loved glittery things, so this is right up my quilting alley. I'll post more once the experiments progress.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013


Do you pin? My pinning activities tend to be sporadic, but I love to just log on and look at pretty things. Quilts, home dec ideas, flowers, you name it. Pinterest is FULL of great images and ideas. If you'd like to see what I'm pinning you can check out my boards here.