Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Just A Hint of Life

Over the last several months I have been noticeably quiet. My absence in blogging has not been due to any illness, depression, secret projects, or lack of desire or motivation, but quite simply... lack of time. When your daily schedule has been so completely turned upside down (like I suppose the rest of the world) one is forced to prioritize, re-think and re-structure how those very few, but precious moments are spent. Tasks and goals become question of "what is an absolute necessity, and what things can stay on the backburner?"

My re-emergence post will be notably absent of promises of doing better, posting more often, or anything that sounds remotely close to a New's Resolution, peppered with good intentions... BUT, with things moving in the direction of "normal", I wanted to revisit this space. 

Since pattern writing has become the epitome of a challenge with homeschooling, and has been shoved into the long-term parking garage, I wanted to have something that I could work on where I could simply sit down and sew without thinking, planning, proofreading, editing, and the such.

I was thrilled to stumble onto a block-of-the-month project from @ruthdevosart at just the right time. I have been a long-time admirer of her work - really a true artist! Since I am smitten with the colors that she already used, it was simply just picking the right shades of Basic Grey grunge.

Ruth has a very interesting technique where she uses a light interfacing on the individual fabric pieces, and as she explains, puts it all back together like a puzzle. I've enjoyed diving into this new technique, and it really has my brain ticking.

Since the BOM is a 12-month program, there are some months where we sew two blocks in a month. The first month she started us out one of her eucalyptus flowers, and then for the second moved onto stitching two different leaf blocks.

To say that there is a good bit of pinning involved is quite the understatement, but I have to admit that the end result is SO worth the effort!

The only challenge with a block of the month program, is being patient enough to wait for the next month....

If you want some real inspiration, be sure to check out Ruth's website... her childhood art is absolutely awe-inspiring!

Thursday, March 4, 2021

Bye, Bye, Butterfly Pattern Release + 20% SALE

Just this week I was sharing with my youngest son why spring is my favorite time of year. It’s always been thrilling for me to discover those first bulbs, bursting up through the dormant soil…the perfect shade of spring green that adorns foliage with the promise of new life – tender and delicate…the much-craved light and warmth from a sun that now lingers longer than in the previous winter months. More than anything, I think my love of spring has more to do with the feeling that it ushers in… a feeling of hopefulness that hovers thick. Winter is coming to an end.

With this in mind, it feels like it is perfect timing for the release of my latest pattern, “Bye, Bye Butterfly”. A butterfly is symbolic of change and transformation, and I hope that it invokes feelings of renewal, hope, and courage.

Starting today, save 20% off my latest quilt pattern, Bye, Bye Butterfly, as well as all my patterns in my entire shop! Just  enter the Sale Code: byebye. Sale ends Monday, March 8th, 2021!

"Bye, Bye Butterfly" is for the intermediate quilter, and combines applique, XXL applique, and reverse applique with simple paper piecing techniques. The oversized shapes are a good starting point, even for the experienced quilter who wants to try their hand at applique

Reverse applique is a fantastic way to eliminate bulk in an applique project, plus it's a fun way to incorporate accent fabrics.

... and with so many of my patterns, circle accents add just the right touch, don't you think? With the help of my video, "how to make the perfect circle using the starch applique technique", you'll be making circles like a pro in no time.

I love combining piecing techniques with applique, and a fun little row of flying geese, adds to the organic applique shapes.

The PDF pattern includes the full size templates, and a coloring page. There are plenty of illustrations, and even a brief explnaion of the starch applique method. Find all my patterns in my shop and get started on your "Bye, Bye Butterfly" quilt today!

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Partridge In A Pear Tree - Today's Quilter Magazine

Are you looking for an applique project to warm up those cold winter months? Then my "Partridge In A Pear Tree" applique found in the latest issue of Today's Quilter magazine might be just what you're looking for - such a soft and subtle palette is perfect for almost any season!

Combining applique and reverse applique can be a satisfying way to highlight focal point design elements. Showcase them for holiday artwork or make a pillow ready to adorn any sofa.

Soft orange and salmon colored berries add just a hint of warmth to any wintery project.

Simple leaf details add interest to this soft-winged snow bird.

The "Perfect Pears & Branches" blocks can be used either by themselves, or in a larger project. Three layout options are included to turn these blocks into a whole quilt!

Find my Partridge in A Pear Tree project in issue 69 of Today's Quilter Magazine, out now!

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

HOW-TO: Stitching Applique BEFORE or AFTER Quilting?

At various times, people have been taken aback that I don’t applique per hand… ever. If we are laying it all out on the table, then you should know that I don’t even hand bind any of my quilts. In spite of my lack of affection for hand sewing, I am glad to have seen a revival of the slow stitching movement. I will never cease to be awed with the amazing work needle turn appliquers and English paper-piecing enthusiasts create… but when it’s all said and done, it’s simply not for me.

No matter what applique technique you prefer, let me tell you why the starch applique technique (turned edge) has become my method of choice, and one that I am obviously super excited about: because it allows me to make quilts that have the look of hand applique, without sewing by hand.

For me the applique is the fun part, but with the next challenge and big hurdle looming just around the corner: Umm... How do I quilt it now?!?

There are different approaches to quilting an applique project, so I thought it might be helpful to make a comparison, and share the pros & cons of stitching applique BEFORE or AFTER quilting. Be sure to read to the end where I share the How-To for stitching applique to an already quilted piece.

So, let's start out with the more commonly used approach, and look at what are the advantages and considerations to:

Stitching applique BEFORE quilting:

  • It's much easier to stitch and turn smaller, individual blocks under the machine, or even for that matter an un-quilted quilt top.
  • Since shapes are appliqued before quilting, a walking foot, or free motion foot can be used for quilting
  • Quilting around shapes adds loft to applique shapes.
  • Custom quilting highlights and showcases applique. 
  • Stitches are hidden inside the quilt, and cannot be seen from the back of the quilt.


  • It can be a challenge to mark a continuous quilting design around the applique shapes.
  • It can also be a challenge to quilt around the shapes, especially if you are using straight line quilting or a uniform design.
  • Quilting over applique may not be desirable, which would be the only option if working with an edge to edge design.
  • If you are using custom quilting services, it is more expensive to have custom work from a free motion longarm quilter.

So, how does this compare to:

Stitching applique AFTER quilting

  • Quilting designs can be more easily marked before adding applique shapes, thus the design is continuous, taking the challenge out of keeping the quilting design aligned.
  • Do not have to quilt around applique shapes, which would be similar to "whole cloth" quilting.
  • An edge to edge quilting design can be used WITHOUT quilting over the applique shapes.
  • If you are using a longarm quilting services, this saves on quilting costs.
  • Can be appliqued per hand (if desired).


  • When adding the applique shapes to a finished & quilted top, there is extra bulk when working under the machine since it is already quilted.
  • Depending on the size, it can be challenging to turn an already quilted quilt under the machine a lot when stitching applique.
  • Usually an open toe foot is used for stitching applique, which means that applique shapes are sewn on a quilted top without the aid of a walking foot. 
  • Tension issues have to be taken into consideration with additional layers, ie. batting, backing, quilt top.
  • Stitches can be seen from the back, which are usually hidden in the quilt.
  • A solid fabric instead of a pieced backing may be more desirable since stitches are seen.
  • You lose a little bit of loft behind the applique shape because the batting under the shapes has already been quilted.
  • It may not be feasible to machine stich small applique shapes after a quilt has been quilted.

But when deciding to applique before or after quilting, it is essentially an economizing question by asking… what are the most important elements for me for a finished quilt? That stitches are hidden? That there is loft behind the applique shapes? That the quilt is finished faster? That time and money are saved during quilting? What kind of quilting do I prefer – custom quilting that is artistic and highlights the shapes? or an all over design that is subtle and takes a backseat? I would even argue that all these things come down to a matter of taste.

I recently reached out to Rachel from Stitched in Color to ask her if it would be possible to quilt my most recent Fly High, Dragonfly quilt, and set the parameters so that the flying geese tail would be left unquilted. She uses a Gammill Statler, which is a computer-guided longarm machine. The designs that she uses are digital downloads, and Rachel is able to adjust the scale, change proportions or edit details on the computer monitor. She shared with me that the process of quilting is not actually hands-off.  She has to periodically give the machine fresh bobbins, reposition the quilt to expose new areas to the needle, make sure the pattern remains properly aligned and troubleshoot any issues with thread tension, etc.  

So, now that my piece is quilted, let's get down to The HOW-TO of stitching applique AFTER quilting. Here's what you'll need:


  • Finished quilted top
  • Applique glue
  • Pins
  • 70 weight needle
  • Monofilament /Invisible Thread (Aurifil)
  • Open Toe foot
  • Knee lift

Before Starting: Stitch Options

Straight stitch:  I would actually suggest to use a straight stitch for applique that is stiched beforehand, rather than applique that is stitched to an already quilted top. The reason is that when using a straight stitch to stitch applique shapes to an already quilted top, then the quilting affect is on the shape instead of shadowing it. Usually one would quilt around the shape instead of on it. It can be done, and again, it depends on what things are important to you with a finished quilt.

Blind stitch: For me, the biggest advantage of using a blind stitch is that it gives the appearance of a hand-quilted look. The stitches are not as visible as with straight stitches. When using a high-quality monofilament (invisible) thread, it is barely noticeable when transitioning from one color to the next. Hands down, my favorite invisible thread, and the one I use for all my projects is from Aurifil. It is fine, yet does not easily break, and I have never had any issues with ironing, which some cheaper versions can be notorious for.

Machine Settings for Blind Stitch:

If you have never used a blind stitch before, then let me give you a short introduction: A blind stitch is usually used for hemming garments when it is more desirable that the stitches are not seen. It sews several straight stiches, which are beside the fold or applique shape, and one “zig-zag” stitch that comes over and takes a “bite” to hold the fabric in place.


Before getting started, if you are using a larger machine like I am, it’s important to change out your stitch plate. Usually I am using an open toe foot for a blind stitch, and the stitch plate needs to accommodate the zig-zig movement.

When using a blind stitch, it is important to change a few settings. With every machine, the settings will be different, so it is a little bit of trial and error when deciding on length, width, and tension settings. With this in mind, I would suggest to practice on a few samples before moving to your project. Here are a few things that you will need to adjust on your machine:

  • Stitch Length: By shortening the stitch length, the zig-zag “bites” come closer together. Since it is the “bites” that hold the applique in place, when they are closer together, there are more to hold the shape in place.

  • Stitch Width: Your stitch width will determine how wide your “bite” zig-zag is. This will determine how narrow or wide the “V” that secures your applique shape. I prefer a narrow width so the stitch is barely seen.  

  • Thread tension: This setting is a pretty important setting to change, as you are sewing on an already quilted quilt. I lower the thread tension even more when stitching on an already quilted piece than I would if I were only stitching applique on a block or a quilt top. Usually for blocks, I will lower the tension to 1.0, and for stitching applique on an already quilted piece, I will lower it to 1.5. If your applique shape looks a little "pulled", then you may need to lower the tension even more.

Once you have your machine settings in place, let's move on to thread: When using a monofilament thread, remember that it is for the top thread ONLY. While there are some quilters that use an invisible thread for the top and bobbin threads, I prefer to keep it only on the top.
For the bobbin thread, a standard thread is sufficient. Because you are working with two different types of thread, AND sewing on an already quilted piece with additional layers, that's why it is important to stress again, to adjust the thread tension to accommodate for this.

Adding the applique shapes:

When I am working with extra large applique, I will work with the quilt top (or quilt in this case) on my design wall. I am able to check placement much easier when the surface is flat, and I can look at it from a distance. This way I am also able to pin the shapes in place before gluing them. I started by gluing the bottom wings in place, and then moved to the sewing machine. When I glue extra large shapes, I will glue it in sections, and then pin the glued section so it stays in place before moving to the next section.

If you have never worked with a knee lift, this is the point where I always suggest to try it out. With the smaller shapes like the circles, I end up turning the quilt a lot under the machine, and it's a huge advantage to be able to be able to turn the quilt so often - hands free!

When using a blind stitch, I will change to my open toe foot so I can sew along the side of the applique shape, and see where the blind stitch will come over and catch. The stitches beside the shape are your straight stitches, and the zig-zag that comes over are your securing stitches. Be careful that the straight stitches are beside the applique and not on it. Only the zig-zig bite should be coming over on the applique shape.

For this quilt, I actually stitched the stems, leaves, and flowers on the lower wing unit before I stitched the entire wing to the quilted piece. After the wings were stitched in place, I then went back and shadow quilted around the applique shapes to add additional quilting and secure the large shape in place without shifting later. Here is a short video, where I talk about the process for stitching applique BEFORE quilting. When stitching applique after quilting, the concept is essentially the same, with the biggest adjustment being in the tension settings.

When using a thread color that matches the quilt back fabric, the stiches are barely noticeable. This could possibly be considered a "con" to stitching the applique after quilting, but since you really have to look to find the stitches, I'm not ready to fully put it in that category.
So what's your take... stitching applique before or after quilting? Ready to give it a try? Since I love the idea of combining more complex quilting designs with my applique, I will definitely explore this option again.

Be sure to stop by Rachel's blog as she is comparing the two approaches from a longarm quilters aspect. She always has such insightful input on quilting projects.

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Cool or Warm color palette?

My grandmother loved blue. She had piercing blue eyes and found beauty in surrounding herself with that cool and calm shade... every room, and even a large percentage of her wardrobe. Because my mother grew up with so much blue around her, she attributes that as one of the reasons why there was an extreme absence of blue in the house. Like my mother, blue is also noticeably missing in my home, but in spite of all of that... somehow blue seems to follows me.

If you were to look at my most recent projects, you might get the impression that an ocean-inspired palette is what make my heart sing. Hmmm... there's Purdy Bird, then my second Fly High Dragonfly, my reverse applique quilt, and now my most recent project, a second Circle Around pillow.

When I am working on a project, I usually have a pretty specific color palette in my head. Even though finding blue in my house would be a little like a "where's Waldo" search, I very much enjoy working with a cool palette in my quilting projects.

And, as I've discovered about myself... I can sometimes get stuck on a color combo, camp out on it for a while before moving on. There are actually several examples to mention: my purple phase, my jewel-tone phase, a green phase (which is totally to be expected since it is my favorite color), a warm color phase...

Sometimes a specific purpose for the project influences my color decisions... why am I making the project? Is is for me to use? Is it a sample for a teaching class? Am I making it for a pattern? Will it be gifted to someone special? 

 .. and this particular project, I did have someone special in mind - a confirmation present for our goddaughter, who just happens to loves shades of blues and turquoises. I have to admit, that I love the way this warm and cool color palette work together, that I might just have to make this again.

What about you... are you are you drawn to a cool and calm color palette? or does a warm and fiery color palette hold your affections?

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

NEW YouTube Video - Sewing Drunkard's Path Blocks

I find that there a few quilting techniques that newbie, and sometimes even experienced quilters shy away from... and one of those is sewing curves. Sure it's a little nerve wracking to cut into your much beloved fabric and try a technique that looks really hard... but what is the point of doing something unless you are always pushing yourself towards the next thing?

There are a couple different approaches to sewing curves. One way is to pin them, and then sew, but I much prefer the no-pin, or ease method and trim later. In my latest YouTube videos, I demonstrate both of these techniques, so if you've never sewn curves before, what are you waiting for?

I recently shared a few Purdy Bird color inspiration mock-ups, and if you know me very well, you might have already guessed that the next one I make would be using Anna Maria Horner fabrics. Right now, I have several kill-two-birds-with-one-stone projects going on, and I am essentially preparing another Purdy Bird quilt top to demo for a class that I am teaching in October. 

Even though doing a computer mock up gives me the general direction that I would like to go, I always find that things change a good bit when working with the actual fabrics, which has me cutting into a few of my favorite and most treasured fabrics.

If you are following with the Quilt-A-Long, we are in Week 2, and whether you are joing the QAL or just wanting to learn a new technique, jump on in and sew a few curve blocks with me!

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