Wednesday, April 30, 2008


This quilt pretty much sums up how I feel today - thankful.

Big hugs go to all of you who have commented and emailed me about my tutorials. I am so humbled by your comments and so SO happy that I might have helped some of you to be brave and take the plunge into the world of applique. Thank you all :)

Oh and if you have any questions about it, please ask - I don't mind helping!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Pay It Forward Gift

Has anyone joined in a Pay It Forward exchange on a blog? I did, back here, and I just received my gift from Karen at Cotton Spice Quilting Magazine. Boy oh boy was it ever exciting!

She had originally sent me a questionnaire, and one of the questions asked if I had any collections. Well other than fabric and kids, I don't really! But I have wanted to start a collection of pears for a while, so I wrote that down. What did I get in the mail from Karen, but pear goodies :)

Karen painted me a picture - can you believe it? She didn't go out and buy it, she did it herself!
And she knitted me these adorable pears. I didn't even know that was possible!
They are nicely weighted at the bottom - she said there are pennies in there, so if I ever run out of cash (in this economy, entirely possible!) to just raid the pears.

So this got me motivated to carry out my side of the deal, and I have emailed the ladies who signed up for it to let them know that I have my thinking cap on, and will work on their goodies. I didn't make my personal deadline of Christmas...but I'm rearing to go now!

So thank you Karen. I am super excited to have the best possible start to my pear collection:)

Monday, April 28, 2008

For the Love of Fabric!

I finally took some photos of my fabric purchases at the Machine Quilting Expo I attended a week ago. I just can't stop petting them! But isn't that always the way with us quilters? I am especially feeling the orange Paisley Jungle by Kaffe Fassett in the top right corner. Oh do I ever have grand plans for that one!

The fabrics in the one below were only $5.99/yard. Now tell me, how was I supposed to resist that?? Plus, you may recall my obsession with purple and teal.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Tutorial Contest

You will see below that I have done a second needleturn applique tutorial. This one covers the actual stitching process that I use. Others may do it differently, this is just what works for me!

I have put my tutorials in a contest being held over at Sew Mama Sew and you MUST go and have a look at the vast array of entries. There is so much to see and learn that it's like opening a glorious treasure chest! So head over there and have fun!

Needleturn Applique Stitching Tutorial

Now that you have your pieces all prepped from the Prep Tutorial, you are ready to stitch those beauties down!

First, some things to know :) Remember, this is called needleturn for a reason - you use your needle to turn the fabric under, and we will be focusing on that a lot here.

Secondly, the color of thread you use should match the piece of fabric you are appliquing as closely as possible. If you have nothing that even resembles it, then try to match to the background. But always try to match the applique piece first. In this example I used a slightly different color so you could see the stitches better.

Thirdly, this is how I hold the needle...front view...and what's going on underneath... The middle finger that you see - it has the eye of the needle resting on it - does the hard work of pushing the needle through. You might want to use a thimble - I don't, but I am used to the motion and the skin on there is tough now!

And as always, click on any photo to see a large view. __________________________________

1) Choose a nice straight, or as close to straight as possible place to start. Don't start at a corner or anywhere something interesting is happening. You want a nice boring place to start!

2) Use the tip of your needle to turn under the seam allowance to the line you have drawn. 3) Bring up your needle from the back, up through the background, and just catch the very edge of your applique piece. 4) Put your needle back into the background, exactly next to where you came up. 5) Bring your needle back up approximately 1/8th inch away, up through the background and catching the very edge of the applique again.Have a look at my fingers in this photo - can you see the finger on the eye of the needle doing its job of pushing the needle through? You have now done your basic stitch! Keep going like this until you come to a curve or a point. On a simple curve, or a circle, just keep going, constantly using your needle to turn under, and also to tug the fabric out or push it in if it isn't smooth and even. I usually only take 2 or 3 stitches before I start turning under the fabric ahead of me.

6) Sooner or later you will need to do a sharp concave curve. Usually on a star or a heart. This is the point you stitch to, and then stop...Now start to make your stitches tiny and use a sweeping motion like a window washer on your car to turn under the seam allowance. Because this is hard to explain, I made a little video to help make it easier for you. First, a photo of the beginning of the motion, then the video.

This is how the completed curve will look...I have used a different color thread so the stitches will show up better for you, but if you use one that matches the piece of fabric you are appliquing, these tiny stitches will barely show. Do them as close together as possible, since there is hardly any seam allowance in these spots.

Next comes a point. I find these trickier than the curves, but don't worry, after a few wonky points you will get it!

7) Go to the top of the point until you reach the end of your marked line. Take your stitch, and then do another one in the exact same spot. This will be extremely helpful to you as it sets that point in place for when you flip under the seam allowance. 8) Using the tip of your needle, flip under the point, and run your needle along under to get it nice and smooth. When you take your stitches here, they will help to pull in any bumps.
9) Keep going and before you know it, you will have a whole shape stitched down! Just take it one piece at a time and pretty soon you will have a whole block done, and perhaps you will be as addicted as me! Remember, stitch the shapes on the bottom first and work your way up to the top pieces. In this example, I stitched the pieces in the following order:

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Look at this!

Just a quick note as it is late and I am tired, but you MUST go here and leave a comment so you can win Camille's wonderful quilt pictured above! Not fabric, not a kit, but an actual finished, as in done DONE quilt! And it is a beauty - you WILL want to win this! She is so nice to give it away. There is going to be one lucky person in blog land!

Plus if you add it to your own blog, you get extra entries, and if you say I sent you, I get an extra entry! Hmmmm maybe I shouldn't be spreading this around - it gives me less chances to win, but I love you ladies (and maybe the ocassional male??) that visit me here!!

Busy Weekend

What a good weekend it was. I went to the Machine Quilter's Expo here in New Hampshire and saw a ton of beautiful quilts with quilting that I will NEVER attempt, but best of all, I went there with a new friend. She left a comment on one of my posts and two days later we were goin' quilt-showin' together! We got along so well, just like we had known each other for years. And it can be a tricky thing, meeting people you know online in real life, but this couldn't have gone better. We will get together a lot, I can tell :) Instead of me writing all about it, skip on over here and read what she wrote. I would have said exactly the same things! My daughter is quite enamoured with her - especially since she bought her a fat quarter. Yes she is easily bought. But hey, I could be bought for a fat quarter too lol!
I will take a photo of all the goodies I bought at the show to share with you later today and also of the new flowers I have completed for my 'door quilt'. For now, here is my new friend Stacy, myself, and my daughter Sofia.
Friday night I went to my friend Shannon's - she makes the most beautiful jewelry and was having an open house. I bought a red necklace and will be getting more from her in the future, that's for sure. Another friend of ours had made the most gorgeous spread of chocolate goodies - so good that you didn't want to touch it, but everything tasted as good as it looked! For example, would you want to touch these Petit Fours?
Sunday afternoon we went to my hubby's work. There is a lake there and he mentioned that there are ducks and geese and what do you know, I happened to have a bread bag full of crusts in the freezer that I have been saving for just such an occassion. It was a beautiful day and not only were there ducks and geese, but a beautiful big white swan which was being quite a bully by chasing any goose that came near it away. It didn't care about the ducks - just the geese. What a noisy thing it was!
I did convince my kids while there to pretend they were monkeys in a cage trying to get out. This was the result...I think there should be a sign saying, "Don't feed the monkeys", don't you?

Friday, April 18, 2008

Flower applique number 2

First of all, did anyone notice the new theme on my blog? I get bored with my surroundings easily - I'm always re-arranging furniture and wanting to paint and re-paint, so it's only natural that I would feel the same way about my blog!

I have had a major thing lately for red and aqua together, so when I saw this background I knew it was time for a change! This is the place I get backgrounds - it's easy to do, and best of all, free!

Onto the business of applique..

This is the second block in my flower patch...
And this is what they will end up in...
I found 2 of these doors on the side of the road, so I asked the owner if I could take them, and she was a bit bewildered as to why I would even want them, but she said yes! I could see massive potential in them. I may put photos in the other one. They need a good cleaning and maybe a fresh coat of paint...I'm still deciding on a color. Any ideas?! I was thinking teal, the same paint from my boys' room, (which is much more teal and not so blue in real life) but now that I see the blocks behind glass, I rather like the shabby look of the original. Still needs a good cleaning though!

This weekend is going to be a great one...tonight I am going to a friend's jewelry party - she makes everything herself. She is so talented! And tomorrow I am off to a quilt show (which I said was last week but I was a week early!) so I'm sure I'll have some goodies to show you soon :)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

I'm tagged and Amy Butler fabric

Yes I've been tagged - twice this week - by Wendy and Purple&Paisley. Now I know I did this once before, but I'll do it again and hopefully won't repeat too much :)

And interspersed with my 7 Random or Weird facts about myself, I will put photos of the gorgeous fabrics I received in the mail yesterday from Z&S Fabrics including some of the most gorgeous new line from Amy Butler, Midwest Modern. It is such a good quality cotton - so silky, and the colors are beautiful. I will be getting more of the line, that's for sure! And as usual, Kaffe came through with his to die-for fabric. Z&S has a really good sale on right now - 20% off everything - I think I paid something like $6.15/yard for the Amy Butler. Yes, that's an amazing price. Pick your jaws up off the ground. Their regular prices are great to start with. Even with shipping I still came out ahead.

OK, onto the 7 things...and I'm going to make them all quilt-related!

1) I love fabric with polka dots. You could say I am dotty for dots.
2) I don't like muddy or dull country type fabrics. I just can't force myself to work with them! Sometimes they are fine - but only as a background to a nice bright fabric which will just pop off that dull background!

3) I remember being about 10 years old and all my brothers and sisters were having babies (I am the youngest by 11 years). My Mum made a bunch of quilts and let them choose which one they wanted. I made her put aside my favorite for me - it was a purple puff-quilt made from one of my old dresses. Hey, it was the '80's, OK??!! I asked her a few years ago where it was - she didn't know what I was talking about LOL! Guess I'll never see that purple puff quilt again.

4) I haven't made a quilt from a commercial pattern for about 3 years now - I have so many of my own ideas in this head of mine, and they are all fighting for precious stitching time!
5) I am addicted to quilt blogs. If you have one, chances are I'm subscribed to, and reading it! If I'm not, please let me know!

6) I spend more time reading about quilting than actual quilting. I must remedy that.
7) I have a BIFF - Best Internet Friend Forever who changed the way I look at and design quilts - Anna, that's you!! And we have never met. But we really want to change that this year! We make each others designs - well mainly hers because she is so much more productive than me (and she has 7 kids! Wow!) - and she is going to be famous one day, mark my words!

Now that I have been tagged I am supposed to tag 7 if you feel like being tagged, consider it done ;)See, I told you the Amy Butlers were gorgeous!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Needleturn Applique Prep Tutorial

I should start off by saying that this tutorial is on how to prep your pieces for needleturn applique, not how to do the actual applique....though I have plans to do a tutorial for that too very soon.


1) Hunt and Gather

These are the tools of the trade - at least, this is what I use. Nothing more, nothing less!
- Fabric
- Pattern
- Lightbox
- Pencil
- Scissors
- Basting Glue
- Needles and Thread

2) Trace

Don't waste valuable time cutting out pattern pieces and drawing around them. Cut out a couple of steps and trace your pattern straight to your fabric with the help of a lightbox. This will save you a ton of time. I just use a pencil to do this, but you can use whatever you are used to.

3) Cut Cut Cut

Cut out your pieces. I like to leave approx 1/8 inch allowance around the lines. I don't like to have a bigger allowance as it is hard to work with when you turn points under. Now is also a good time to clip any curves which will make your life infinitely easier when you start to sew those curves! In regards to the background, I always cut it a bit bigger (usually 1/2 inch all around) than the given measurements, as applique tends to bring it in a little. Then when you are done with the block you can square it up to the perfect size.

4) Assemble

You now have your pieces cut out and it's time to play! Arrange your pieces on your background until you come up with something that makes you happy. Remember, things are going to look a bit crowded and weird, but never fear, it will look better once the seam allowances are sewn under.

5) Time to attach

I am in love with the glue basting method. I used to use applique pins but my thread would get caught on them and it was quite frustrating. Glue basting is so easy!
- Remember, baste the pieces on the bottom first and work your way up.
- Just little dots. They don't need to be too close - just enough for your applique pieces to stay flat and keep their shape.
- Keep away from the edges - remember, you will be turning those edges under, and you don't want any glue to be in the way. However, if you find you have glued in the wrong spot, just give it a tug and it will separate from the background.

6) Time to sew!

As quickly as that, you are ready to sew! This is also a good time to clip any curves you may have forgotten to do earlier.

I will do a separate tutorial on the actual stitching process as it can be quite involved. Not hard, but it deserves it's own spotlight! However, here are a couple of photos of the basic stitch I use.

When your block is complete you are ready for the next one...prepare to be addicted!

Needleturn stitching tutorial coming soon...hopefully this week.

Back on the Applique train!

Finally I have done some real applique. I spent every spare minute of my weekend prepping blocks and appliquing. In fact, I was so busy doing it that my daughter said, "You always spend all your time quilting - you never do ANYTHING with us!" Yes she is a drama queen. So I explained to her that this is the first real quilting I've done since we moved into this house last June! And also that doing something I love, like quilting, makes me happy which makes me a nicer Mommy.

I have prepped 5 blocks now, and finished one, which I'll show you here, and then....drum roll....I am going to do a tutorial on how to prep for needleturn applique! So watch for that later today.

These blocks are all done on the felt I made a few weeks back, and it has been a dream to work with! And it feels so good to get back in the applique groove!
Before... After...

Thursday, April 10, 2008


Well yesterday I turned the big 3-5 and it was a great day! My hubby planned the whole day and by the end of it I was exhausted. My only request was that I didn't cook a single meal all day.

We started the day by going to the Dream Diner for breakfast and there we met Betty Boop.
Then we went to my favorite thrift store - this was a hard one for my hubby since he hates shopping with me, so a big hug to him for doing that for me!

It was early release day at my daughter's school so we picked her up and headed down to Boston to the Museum of Science which we amazingly found on the first try. If you have ever driven in Boston you will know what an amazing feat that is!

We had never been there before and decided to get a family membership since it was only $26 more than for one day, so now we can return at any time. The best part of the museum for me was the Butterfly Garden - it was overlooking the Boston Harbour and the butterflies were all around us, even landing on us. The colors on their wings were amazing and of course I had to take photos!
After a few hours at the museum (we only saw half of it - there is a lot to see and do in there!) we headed back to NH, and of course it was rush hour. Rush hour in Boston is just a barrel of fun. LOL! And then keeping to my request to not cook, hubby took us to the Outback Steakhouse for dinner. My rib eye was very delish. It was funny reading the menu - all these Australian names for some very American food.

When we drove up our driveway I saw a package peeking out of my mailbox, and it was a blog give-away that I had won! Wow talk about perfect timing! It was this lovely vintage apron (wrapped up in the most darling black with white polka dot ribbon) from a wonderful new blogger, Cat from The Vintage Housewife... you must go and check out how fun she is! Thank you Cat, your gift topped off a perfect day - I bet you had no idea it would arrive on my birthday!
So do you want to know what I got for my pressie from hubby? Huh, huh? Here it is...
I actually got it on Saturday. Hubby took our daughter on a date to the mall and when they got home she blurts out, "Daddy got you a present!" To which I yell, "Nooooo don't tell me - I don't want to know!" She starts to giggle and says, "It's jewellery - he got you a ring!" So hubby said, "You may as well open it now!" So I did, and I was very VERY impressed! Especially when he said that daughter picked it out. And he also put a bunch of money in my bank account to spend at a big quilt show this Saturday. In our house we don't just have a birthDAY - we have a birthdayWEEK!

Then at last the kids went to bed and I cut up some of my felt and finished drawing some patterns for a new project I'm working on. I hope to get my applique pieces cut out today and started on it, so I can have something applique-related to show you!

If you've stuck with me this far through my birthday story you deserve a medal. Or ten points. Take your pick!