A Little Crazy! IQA Donation Quilt

Some of you may know that crazy quilts are not my favorite thing to make. In fact, they are way down¬†near the bottom of my list of favorite things to make! I like symmetry, especially radial symmetry. And I like to make things from a picture in my head; I know what it’s going to look like before I make it. But with crazy quilts, things are a little random. You add one piece, then another, then another, and it’s impossible to predict exactly how it will end up.

Soooo… I decided to make a little lace crazy patch quilt for my donation to the Celebrity Quilt Auction at Houston Quilt Festival, which benefits the IQA. Why? I had been working on a crazy patch segment for a series of articles I was writing, and I had pulled out LOTS of lace and ribbons and pretty things. I had a stack of ivory and light blue, which I used for the article. But I had a stack of ivory and burgundy, too, that I really liked, so I thought I’d make two lace crazy patch squares simultaneously, with the idea that I’d finish the burgundy one into this donation quilt. Kinda crazy!

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It is 23 inches square. I don’t have any process photos, just photos of the finished project. The way I made this was to assemble and stitch the lace crazy patch block on water-soluble stabilizer, soak the stabilizer away, stitch the lace block to the base fabric, embroider the motifs in the corners, layer and quilt it, bind it, and then add beads, buttons and a little hand embroidery.

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Many of the pieces are vintage. This little Swiss embroidered motif has been in my stash for perhaps 20 years. I shaped 3/8 inch insertion around it, then stitched that to a small piece of batiste and cut away the batiste from behind the lace. The paisley fabric at the top right is a piece of necktie silk.

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A gorgeous French jacquard ribbon, some vintage laces, pearl buttons, and little beads.

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The edging I used looks like it has tiny spider webs near the outer edge, so my crazy patch has the traditional spider webs (although no spiders!) You can also see the hand feather stitch with doubled metallic embroidery thread (ugh!) that I did in several places after the quilting was finished.

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This is a wide, light peachy-colored galloon lace, to which I added a very small ivory Swiss embroidered motif, and of course beads.

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More gorgeous jacquard ribbon, more necktie fabric, more beads.

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This was a small crocheted doily, which, except for the very edge, is secured only with beads. I also added a few small machine embroidered free-standing lace motifs in various places.

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The embroidery designs in the corners are from John Deer Adorable Designs. I added little shank pearl buttons in different colors to the designs.

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The base fabric is a red/tan shot Thai silk. I tried to get a photo that showed the dimension that gives the quilting. It’s hard to show in a photo!

I used tiny ivory cotton rickrack instead of piping. The binding is less than 1/4 inch wide, and is a burgundy cotton. Quilting threads are Superior Monopoly, Kimono silk, and Bottom Line. Batting is Hobbs wool over 80/20, and the backing is cotton.

So this is my (drove me) crazy quilt! ūüôā I named it “Bits and Pieces,” because that’s what it’s made from. If you happen to be at Quilt Festival, think about bidding on this baby!

 

 

 

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Another Friendly Challenge

I haven’t written a blog post in ages, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy with lots of different projects! Let me get you caught up with this particular one.

My sweet friend Kimberly Einmo and I have been working on a Friendly Challenge, in which we both make “parts” of a quilt with the same Cherrywood fabric pack, then exchange “parts” and finish the quilt. It really is a challenge, because we have very different styles, and it stretches both of us. But it’s fun! We don’t have deadlines, and the “rules” are pretty simple – start out with the same pack of fat quarters from Cherrywood; choose two extra fabrics, and some accent fabrics, if desired; make our agreed-upon part; exchange parts, and finish the quilt to 54″ square.

You can read about our first exchange here. I think the resulting quilts are pretty fantastic!

Trop A full

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Next, we decided to forego the 54″ size and make quilts for last year’s Cherrywood¬† Lion King challenge. You can read about those quilts here and here.

Kim challenge 2

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Now we get to our most recent challenge. It was my turn to choose the fabric pack, and the purple-y blues in this pack called to me.

Image of Thistle

Unfortunately, I seem to have missed seeing the taupe-y tans and grays also in the pack. And the actual fabrics are more gray and less purple than this photo. Not my favorite colors! Not Kim’s favorite colors, either! Now this was a challenge! We had decided to each make a 24″ block for our exchange. I pulled some fabrics, and fortunately had this lovely print that worked beautifully with the hand-dyed fabric. I also added an ivory almost-solid, and a couple more Cherrywoods (in the end, I did not use the marigold-colored Cherrywood, replacing it with a rose-colored fabric.) I had a Zundt lily embroidery design that I knew would work well with the print fabric, so chose machine embroidery threads, as well.

Thistle supplies 600

I had never drafted nor sewn a mariner’s compass before, but had wanted to try my hand at one for a while. This was the perfect opportunity! So I got out my protractor and compass and freezer paper, and drew my first mariner’s compass! The points are paper-pieced. The center blue circle is machine-appliqued, as are the rose and blue bias strips near the outer edge. I was very pleased with how it turned out!

Thistle center 600

Next, I embroidered the lily in the center. Because the petals of the embroidery flow over the piecing, the embroidery must be done after the entire piece is put together. There is no room for error in placement or embroidery!

Thistle lily detail 600

If you read the post about our first challenge, you’ve seen a photo of the quilt up to this point, as well as Kimberly’s Lone Star center block. We were so happy to be able to make this exchange in person!

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I took Kimberly’s Lone Star home, and she took my mariner’s compass. I had an idea fairly soon, and it involved making some partial Lone Star blocks. I left lots of open space in the quilt top for embroidery, of course!

Thistle top 600

The acid green swirls (stitched to hide some of those yucky gray-tans!) are from Lindee Goodall, and the rest of the swirl embroideries are from emblibrary. (Please don’t ask me the design names and numbers – I just don’t remember!)

Here is the quilt after quilting!

Thistle 600

Thistle detail 1 600

I had to add some Zundt machine-embroidered lace to the edge, of course.

Thistle detail 2 600

My quilt has been done for a while, but Kimberly (who is a VERY busy, and much-loved quilt teacher) was stuck on those grays. You can read about her challenges with this quilt on her blog.

A few days ago, she sent me a photo of her finished quilt top! Isn’t it fantastic?!

Kim's Thistle 600

I can’t wait to see it quilted!

The colors for our next set of quilts has been chosen, and I’ve been trying to find just the right color of light green… And the challenge goes on!

Blue Plate Special

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Blue Plate Special is at her final show! Most major shows require that quilts entered into competition be no more than two years old, and BPS will be aged out in a couple of weeks. But it’s been a good ride! Let me tell you about this quilt…

BPS was really made almost entirely from leftovers! It all started with the narrow blue border stripe. This was left over from a quilt I cut out for my Mom to make a few years ago. I liked the colors, so I saved the strips. You can see the print here.

BPS2

I had some Cherrywood hand-dyed fabric left over from years ago that just happened to be in the same range of blues and turquoise. The white sateen background fabric was left over from a big custom job I was considering, but fortunately declined. Some of the threads were left over (but of course I ended up having to order more! I always have to order more thread.) Even the free-standing lace border design was left over – it’s a Zundt design that I’ve used many times over the years.

The first competition in which I entered BPS was Houston in 2015. Master Award for Thread Artistry! Not a bad way to start!

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(You can read about my Red Dress here and here!)

Then I entered it into the full line-up of AQS shows for 2016. Here it is at Paducah, with and Honorable Mention

BPS Paducah

and at Daytona Beach, with a category 1st place.

Blue Plate at Daytona Beach

Here is some of the bling she has won!

BPS ribbons

At AQS shows, she got a total of three firsts, one third, and two honorable mentions.

And now, at her final show at Machine Quilters’ Expo in Manchester, NH, there are another three ribbons to add to my bulletin board: 2nd in the Solo Artist Category, the winner of Embroidery At Its Best, and Best Machine Quilting – Sit Down (instead of a cash award, the prize for this is a Janome sewing machine!) That show is still going on, so I don’t yet have the ribbons to show you.

Update: Cricket Lomicka just sent me a photo! Thanks!

BPS MQX 2

Except for that blue print fabric strip, all of the color is machine embroidery. The designs in the interior of the quilt are from the Contour Applique collection by OESD. The large swirls in the outer border are from the Yukata Art Set by Zundt, and the lace border is Lace Set 10, also by Zundt.

I used Hobbs 80/20 bleached, because I needed a white-white batting so as not to get a yellowish cast from my favorite wool batting. The back is white sateen, just like the front. All of the quilting is hand-guided free-motion, without a stitch regulator. Here are a few close-ups:

BPS1

BPS2

BPS4

BPS3

Blue Plate Special has had a busy couple of years. I hope she enjoys retirement!

 

 

The Making of a Miniature

In the summer of 2013, I decided to try making a miniature quilt. “Distraction II” was the result.

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It is 16″ x 16″ and made from white silk/cotton Radiance fabric. The feathers are from 1/8″ to 3/8″¬†long. The parallel background lines were not done with a ruler, and ended up about 14 per inch. While I was making it I took a photo with a dime for reference!

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You might recognize the embroidery design if you’ve been reading my blog for long. It’s a Zundt design that I’ve used on a number of things, including this dress. This little quilt ended up winning first place in the Miniature category at Houston in 2013!

I liked the miniature I entered in the contest so much that I decided to make another, using the center design and similar quilting, for my donation quilt for the Houston IQA auction. With yellow Texas roses, of course!

Days 1 – 5: Make a really cute little quilt, only to realize that the black and white dotted fabric I used for the backing shadows through ¬†( I had checked, and even used an underlining to prevent shadowing and to keep the cream-colored wool batt from making the white fabric look ivory instead of bright white. Didn’t work. Live and learn!

On to Day 6: Embroider a second piece of white silk/cotton Radiance fabric, soak to remove water-soluble stabilizer, press, and mark for quilting.

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Day 7: Sammy helps with quilting. I have quilted-in-the-ditch of every bit of the embroidery with YLI monofilament, and am trying to quilt the flowers with bright yellow Superior Threads Kimono silk thread.

PS – Cats are no longer allowed in my sewing room. Not long after I made this, Stella, an older kitty, got a hand sewing needle lodged under her tongue and nearly died before the vet discovered the problem!

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Day 8: Completed the quilting, all the rest of which was done with white Kimono silk thread. Soak to remove the blue marks, and lay out to dry overnight.

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Day 9: I always like seeing a project with all the blue marks removed! Here is a ruler to show you the scale. I discovered that I really like making teeny, tiny feathers! The straight parallel lines are about 16 per inch.
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I wanted to make tiny double piping to bring out the colors of the embroidery. I covered gimp cord to make the piping. Gimp is about 1mm in diameter! I stitched on the piping and binding, then soaked again to remove more blue marks and glue, then dried overnight.
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Day 10: I added a hanging sleeve and label to the back.
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Before I show you the finished quilt, here is the “dotty” one. You can see the black dots shadowing through.
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Here it is! “Yellow Roses.” Just about the only thing I did differently for this quilt (besides using white cotton sateen backing – solid white!) was adding a row of yellow echo quilting around the flowers to bring out the color just a bit more. The size is just 12-3/4″ x 12-3/4″
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Heirloom Dreams

I followed quilting for years before I actually tried it. I was a subscriber to Quilters Newsletter Magazine for decades, and enjoyed the artistry of Caryl Fallert and the detailed precision of Diane Gaudynski. In about 2000, I visited the National Quilt Museum in Paducah, KY for the first time, and was blown away! Wow! Yet for a number of years after that, I said that I couldn’t start quilting in earnest¬†because I wouldn’t have time to do anything else. Oh, I had done several special quilts (see Our Whole Life, My Texas Star,¬†and David’s 21st Birthday Quilt, plus a few others) so I wasn’t starting from scratch. Finally, though, the idea of making a quilt for competition grew irresistible to me. And Heirloom Dreams was born!

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56‚ÄĚ x 55‚ÄĚ 2004

I had seen those quilts in the museum, and later, had attended the AQS show in Paducah, so I knew what kind of quality was required to be competitive. Because I had spent many years working for Martha Pullen Co., heirloom techniques were in my blood, and I also knew this was something different that had not been brought into the world of quilts in a big way. So I got out my batiste and lace and my thinking cap! ūüôā

I wanted a quilt that would have the overall look of delicate lace. It is actually four layers Рa backing, batting, and two top layers of fabric. The top is white Swiss batiste, embellished with shaped French Val lace, shaped lace/rickrack bridging, shaped puffing, shaped bias linen strips, pinstitching, entredeux stitching, and machine embroidery from an old Husqvarna Viking embroidery card. The outer edge is a shaped linen applique. This was layered over light blue Swiss batiste to create the quilt top.

Making a great top is only half (or even less!) of making a good quilt. The quilting is what brings it to life, what transforms it from a flat, two-dimensional piece of fabric into a sculpted, three-dimensional work. And quilting was the challenge (and still continues to be.) I free-motion quilted around every bit of embellishment with monofilament thread – the lace, the applique, the embroidery. This is still the first step of quilting for every quilt I make. I created trapunto floral designs in opposite corners around the center medallion that repeat the machine embroidery shapes. The 3/8″ crosshatch was done with the feed dogs up… lots of tie-offs, and lots of turning! Shell-stitched piping outlines the scalloped bound edges.

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So, my quilt was finished and photographed. Instead of starting with a small, local show, what did I do? I entered it in the World of Beauty contest at the Houston International Quilt Festival 2004! I was delighted when it won first place in the Computer-Aided Machine Embroidery category, was juried into American Quilter’s Society judged show in 2005, and was featured in Jenny Haskins Creative Expressions magazine, Issue 7.

It’s hard to believe that this was over 16 years ago! I still like many of the same things. I often use soft colors, and lean toward analogous color schemes. I still love fine details, and I regularly use medallion settings. Almost every quilt I make includes lace, either the fine cotton kind, or machine-embroidered free-standing lace that I make. I like symmetry. Intricate edges are interesting. And, I’ve learned a lot about quilting since then. Here are some of the things I’ve learned…

  • Quilts have to be visually appealing from a distance as well as close up. With heirloom garments, almost everything is about the tiny details. But quilts need to pack a “wow” from across the room as well as from a foot away.
  • The difference between expensive Swiss batiste and much less expensive cotton batiste is significant in a Christening gown; it makes much less difference in a quilt. Now, I’m not saying you should not use quality fabrics, but in this particular comparison, Swiss batiste is not worth the cost.
  • Those tiny stitches we love in heirloom sewing – pinstitch and entredeux – just don’t show up in the finished quilt. The little “holes” get lost in the texture. If you’re going to add lace to a quilt, a zigzag is just fine, and takes far less time.
  • As important as I¬†knew quilting was, it’s even more important than I thought! It doesn’t have to be done on a longarm. All of my quilts were quilted on sit-down machines. This one was done on a regular domestic. The only way to be good at it is to do a lot of it!

Go ahead and try your hand at something you’ve wanted to do for a long time. Who knows where it might take you!?

To Quilt or Not To Quilt?

I don’t travel and teach much these days. I live about two-and-a-half hours from a medium-sized airport, so besides the normal hassles of air travel, I have the added long commute before and after a trip. Besides, I’m basically a hermit, most happy when I am at home with my hubby and my cats and my fabrics! But when I was asked to teach for a wonderful group of stitchers in Florida, I couldn’t say no. You see, back when I¬†coordinated Project First Day for the school kids of Joplin after the devastating tornado five years ago, this group sent not just a few garments, but hundreds! They have ongoing charity sewing projects. They’re good people. So, I’m going to Florida soon!

One of the projects I’m going to teach is this “To Quilt or Not To Quilt” table topper. Lots of heirloom techniques! It’s pretty without quilting.

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But I wanted to demonstrate how quilting can add an extra dimension to a project like this! So here is the same project (well, some of the laces are different, and the crazy patch center block is different) layered over taupe silk dupioni and quilted!

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I know quilting is not for everyone, and it takes a lot of practice to be able to do free-motion quilting smoothly (I quilt on a sit-down machine, not a longarm; in other words, I move the fabric, not the machine,) but it really is pretty! ūüôā

Here are the techniques included, in both the unquilted and quilted versions:

Puffing with entredeux and lace insertionIMG_5804_2IMG_5815_2

Lace and Rickrack Bridging…(Sorry, I didn’t get a photo of the full unquilted block. But this lets you see the technique close up.)IMG_5806_2IMG_5819_2

Bias Linen AppliqueIMG_5803_2IMG_5814_2

Transparent Reverse AppliqueIMG_5802_2IMG_5821_2

Machine FaggotingIMG_5801_2IMG_5816_2

Lace Crazy Patch…IMG_5800_2IMG_5823_2

Many of these techniques are covered in detail in my class “Heirloom Sewing: More Classic Techniques,” which you can get for just just $24.99 here.

I spent days preparing the class kitsclass kit

In this nice little plastic bag are 11 pieces of pre-cut fabric, 3 pieces of pre-cut water-soluble stabilizer, an embroidered motif (which I made), 4 yds. of bias linen strips which I cut, rickrack, entredeux, and 3 kinds of lace (over 12 yds. total!)

I’m ready to head south!

 

 

“The Lion King” Challenge, part 2

A couple of days ago, I wrote about the Cherrywood fabrics challenge quilt I made with Kimberly Einmo (King of the Backyard Jungle.) I said I would show you our other quilt when Kimberly posted a photo of it. Well, here it is!

Kim challenge 2

For this quilt, Kimberly made the center block

Kim challenge 1

(sorry about the color on this – the finished quilt shows the correct colors), and I added the borders.

Kim challenge

The giraffes and crown are machine embroidered, and the symbols are appliqued. The symbols don’t mean anything, I just thought they looked right with the rest of the quilt! I sent the top back to her, and she quilted it. She used a Sashiko machine for most of the quilting, and it looks awesome! Kimberly also used a decorative stitch to embellish the narrow sashing and the binding. This quilt was accepted into the exhibit! Yay!

Kim challenge 2

 

King of the Backyard Jungle

I’ve been enjoying working on¬†collaborative quilts with my friend Kimberly Einmo. You can read about our ongoing projects in¬†my previous post A Friendly Challenge. So when Cherrywood Fabrics announced their current challenge (http://cherrywoodfabrics.bigcartel.com/king-of-the-jungle-challenge) inspired by The Lion King musical, we both jumped at the chance to do a “challenge within a challenge.” We¬†decided to make a 12″ block each, exchange blocks, complete the other’s quilt top to the specified 20″, then exchange again to complete the quilting and binding.

Because the original challenge was named the “King of the Jungle” challenge (before permission was given by Disney to use the name “The Lion King”) I knew right away what I wanted to try for my 12″ block. Four years ago, a couple of kittens were born in our back yard. One of them was an orange tabby, who we named Billy.

Baby Billy

Billy still lives here with us. He’s outside most of the time, but comes in when it’s cold or hot or he wants to check and see if any of our other cats have left any food behind. He’s our big bubba cat. But four years ago, he was a fuzzy, bouncy little kitty.

He was exactly the same colors as the colors included in the fabric pack for the challenge! A little baby lion – a King of the Backyard Jungle! Okay, a great idea… how do I turn this image into a quilt? I had done only one other pictorial-type quilt, David’s 21st Birthday Quilt. I’ve seen and admired photo-realistic quilts, but had never done that technique. What is so great about this collaboration is that it gives both of us the chance to try new techniques and ideas that we wouldn’t normally use. Quilts made for contests or classes or publications don’t offer that kind of playful freedom!

In the photo-editing options on my phone is an option called “cartoon.” It makes the photo kind of like a paint-by-number picture.

King cartoonized

This gave me lines of demarcation for the colors. I outlined each area with a fine-point marker, and numbered the colors.

King process 1

Then I traced this onto vellum, so I could see through it and trace the reverse side onto Steam-A-Seam Lite fusible web. I cut out the fabric pieces and arranged them on parchment paper. (I did some of this in the evenings while I was in Denver shooting my most recent Craftsy class.)

King process 2

As I went along, I changed a few shapes and colors, but basically stuck with my “cartoon” image. When all the teeny tiny pieces were cut and arranged, I fused¬†little Billy¬†to my block background. I used the Cherrywood black fabric, into which I had pieced narrow strips of green to suggest grass and plants,¬†and embroidered a few outlines of plant designs.

Then it was time to thread paint. I’d never done this before, either. But its basically free-motion work, so I stabilized my fabric, dropped the feed dogs, and stitched. It was actually far easier and more fun than I expected!

Here is the block I mailed to Kimberly (I’m sorry the photo isn’t more clear.)

King block

Kimberly decided to run with the “backyard jungle” theme, adding appliqued silhouettes of the animals a baby lion king might encounter in a backyard! She continued the pieced green strips in the background. I was thrilled with the results when she mailed it back to me! I quilted it using wool batting, and was very pleased with how much puff and dimension this gave the kitty and the animal silhouettes.

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King_1_sm

I was so happy with how the face looks!

King_2_sm

And, because edges just need special treatments, I used tiny piping. And because I’m a sucker for little precise details, I pieced the piping so it is green¬†along the light gold fabric, and light gold along the dark gold fabric.

I pieced the backing using up just about every spare scrap of the black and gold challenge fabrics.

King of the Backyard Jungle_back

Notifications went out on Friday, and “King of the Backyard Jungle” did not make it into the exhibit. Oh well, I had a great time making it and learned a lot! However, our other quilt – the one in which Kimberly made the 12″ block, and I made the borders, was juried into the exhibit! I’ll show that when she posts about it.

If you have the chance to do something like this, do it! It has been so much fun to work with a friend whose style is quite different from my own. It has given both of us the chance to stretch ourselves and try new things. Now, I’m off to work on finishing up another challenge…

 

Anyone Can Make A Quilt Like This!

I haven’t written a blog post for quite a while. I’ve been super busy getting ready for – and taping! – my new Craftsy class! It should be online within a few weeks. I’ll be sure to tell you more about it soon, and I’ll have a free class giveaway, too!

But, in the meantime, I thought I would share this little quilt with you. Anyone can make a memory quilt like this!

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Three of the blocks were obviously made by Annie, who was probably about 3 or 4 years old at the time. The clown applique block was from a book of applique which I used to make many bibs and t-shirts for the kids. It is fused, and not even stitched around the edges. My Mom put it together and did some very simple machine quilting.

Let’s look at those three “original” blocks!

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I have no idea if that is a swimming pool, or a yard, or… next to the house.

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This is obviously a Christmas tree. What I like best is that the blond, green-eyed girl has white teeth painted in her red smile!

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And here we have a pretty detailed bicycle, although I have no idea what those other objects are!

So folks, don’t always worry about coordinating fabrics, or consistent block sizes, or workmanship. While this quilt will never win any contests, it is still most decidedly a treasure!

Win $1000 for your Favorite Craft-Based Charity!

March is National Craft Month! I’m pretty sure every single person reading this blog is involved in crafting – most of you in sewing or quilting, but I’ll bet many of you do other things as well. Or would like to learn. Now is a great chance to learn, and also to have the chance to help others learn. How exciting would it be to be able to win $1000 to donate to the craft-based charity of your choice?! (Any art or craft focused charity or nonprofit (501(c)) will qualify.)

From Feb. 29 through March 13, use these links to shop my online Craftsy classes¬†(with 50% off) Heirloom Sewing Essential Techniques and The Machine Embroidery Inspired Quilt. Purchase any class,¬†and you’ll be automatically entered to win $1000 for the craft-focused charity of your choice. And you don’t have to buy just my classes through these links – any class you purchase through those links will count as your entry in the drawing. Just remember, it’s important to click the links provided in this email, because that’s how you’ll be entered to win!

Besides having this chance to win, what are the benefits of taking a Craftsy class? You get to learn from top teachers in very well-produced online classes, for a very reasonable price. You can watch the classes whenever you want, as often as you want (even in your pajamas!) You can ask questions and interact with the instructor and other students. Craftsy will even refund you in full if you don’t enjoy the class! What could be better than that?

You wouldn’t think that machine embroidered quilts and upholstery would have much to do with each other. But instructor Cynthia Bleskachek and I have been working on a fun collaboration.

I made this, using the embroidery designs and quilting tips from my machine embroidery class

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Cynthia found this beauty at a thrift shop!chair4

A new seat…

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…and a new coat of paint equals a vanity chair fit for a princess!chair2chair3

You can learn Cynthia’s easy techniques for re-upholstering your own chair seats in Getting Started With Upholstery with my affiliate link!

Maybe you’d like to try your hand at cake decorating with The Perfect Birthday CakeThe Perfect Birthday Cake

Maybe you’d like to improve your garment-making skills with Janet Pray’s Sew Better, Sew Faster Advanced Industry Techniquesunspecified1

Or maybe you’d like to quilt up some of those quilt tops, and don’t want to do free-motion quilting – try Creative Quilting With Your Walking Footunspecified

When you purchase a class through one of my links, I get a percentage of the class fee. Thank you for helping me make money to buy more fabric! ūüėČ

Happy Leap Day!