Sunday, November 21, 2010

Project Review and Blog Hop

I was recently asked by a company called Clodite to participate in a blog hop taking place today and tomorrow, and do a review of an applique project in a book they have for sale. All they had to say was applique and I was in!

The book is called "Learn to Do Applique in Just One Weekend", by Nancy Brenan Daniel.I emailed Nancy, the author, and did an interview with her, and she had some really interesting things to say, so before I get to the actual review, enjoy the interview!

1)Joanna: My favorite method of applique is needleturn. Do you have a favorite method and could you tell us why you prefer it?

Nancy: I use a wide variety of techniques... for different purposes. My favorite is the ONE that I know will work the best with the design at hand.

2)Joanna: Many quilters think "applique" is a bad word and are scared to try it. How do you go about convincing them how wonderful it is?!

Nancy: I start my beginners with simple shapes that have small challenges. I use a variation of the apple design from the book in ALL my shorter, duration, applique classes. I strive not to overwhelm students... ever. I'm not there to impress a student about my skills.I'm in the classroom to teach the basics -- and to have them succeed.

3)Joanna: There are so many fabric choices in the quilting world today. What style of fabrics do you enjoy and why?

Nancy: For most applique projects I use 100% cotton fabrics of high quality. I also work in wool, felt and silk.

4)Joanna: I like the different subjects you use in your applique. What inspires you
and how do you decide what you are going to design?

Nancy: For applique I let nature inspire me. I also look to art, older architectural drawings and building details (like grates).I usually carry a sketch pad with me at all times to jot down ideas.

5)Joanna: Most of us have very busy lives. Between work and children and commitments it can be hard to dedicate time to ourselves. What tips can you give for fitting quilting and applique into our busy day to day lives?!

Nancy: Even when I had small children at home I always made time to live a creative life. I've always been fond to using my time creatively. Even now I make use of very small units of time in which to work. I might sort fabric while waiting for the pasta water to boil! ;-)

6) Joanna: We know that you obviously love to quilt, but what other hobbies do you

Nancy: I love to garden - take long walks with my dog - read - draw - travel - COOK!

7) Joanna: You are a quilt judge, certified by the National Quilting Association Inc. What are the most common mistakes you see when judging? Any tips for people
entering a quilt into a show?

Nancy: Take your time planning and finishing any quilt you plan to enter in any show. Most errors I see are in the planning, contrast, AND in the binding. Learn to take good digital pictures of your quilts.

8) Joanna: Some of us would like to teach our young (as in not adult) children how to quilt - what are your suggestions on how to approach this and make it a good
experience for all involved?

Nancy: I started my granddaughter hand piecing when she was five years old. She made four-patch that we converted into a pot holder for her Mom. Her stitches were long... but everyone was pleased with the results. ALTHOUGH... I don't think it was every used as a potholder!

9) Joanna: Where do you see the world of applique in 5 years?

Nancy: More of the same I would presume. BUT... I would like to see more turned-edge applique in studio/art quilts.

10)Joanna: What is your single best applique tip?!

Nancy: Use very fine thread for hand applique... I don't care if it's poly, cotton, or silk. Use a fine needle for hand and/or machine applique. Take your time... it's a marathon... not a sprint.

Thank you Nancy for your insight - there is a lot to think about in there and some great tips!

Onto my review...

I was assigned the cover quilt to review, and I liked the center of the quilt so much, I decided to not just read and review it, but make it too.Now anyone that reads my blog regularly knows that needleturn applique is my applique method of choice. I have tried every method out there and I keep coming back to needleturn. However, for this project, I used the method as written in the instructions, and it was actually a method I've never tried before! The instructions for this project were to use one of 2 different methods of freezer paper applique. Before I was a needleturn enthusiast, I used the freezer paper method where you iron the freezer paper to the wrong side of the fabric and use a glue stick to glue the seam allowance to the freezer paper. However, that's not the way I did this project. Instead of ironing the freezer paper to the fabric, you flip it, shiny side out, and iron the seam allowance to the freezer paper. No glue stick needed!

I took photos to show you how it works...(for detailed written instructions, see the book)

The first few pieces were a huge learning curve for me. It took me a while to get the feel for it, but once I did it became much faster.

There are some advantages and disadvantages to this method. For me, the biggest disadvantage is the time it takes. It took me 4 hours to iron the seam allowances to the freezer paper patterns. That to me, is a long time for one block.

However, there are distinct advantages. The first being how easy it is to lay out your block. Because the edges are already turned under, it's easy to see exactly where your pieces will fit.

The second big advantage was the actual stitching. The stitching was a little faster because I didn't need to turn under the edges with my needle as I went.

I also liked that I got to do a bit of reverse applique in this project. I had done a little of it in the past, but not a lot, and it was fun to try again!

So would I recommend this book? Yes, I would recommend it, definitely to the beginning appliquer. Nancy goes over ever applique method out there, with detailed instructions on how each method works. She also describes in detail every tool you will ever use for every method of applique. I wish I had seen this book when I first started appliqueing.

If I had a complaint it would be that the full page color photos of each project are lumped together in the middle of the book. I prefer them to be with the instructions. But that's just my personal preference. I'm sure some people prefer it that way!

And finally, you can't beat the price - $9.95. It's not a big thick book - it has just 64 pages, but everything you need to know about applique is in there.

As for the block I made, I plan on turning it into a cushion cover this week, so stay tuned to see the finished project!
And while you're waiting to see that, head on over to the other blog hop participants blogs and read their reviews of other projects in the book!

Jessica Kovach --

Judi Madsen --

Stacy Gandy --

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The REAL Thrifty Thursday

You're all a bunch of enablers. Because of your comments on my last post, today I went and bought the other 2 chairs from the thrift store! I mentioned to my hubby that there were a couple more that I wish I had bought with the green one, and he said, "You should go get them!" Followed by, "I read the comments on your blog so you should definitely get them!" At least, that's what I think I heard. He might have said something completely different but all I needed to hear was, "you should" and it was a done deal!

So here they are sitting together in the living room. I am SO glad you are all such good enablers!! When I came home the other day with the green one I told my kids that there was still a pink and a purple one left at the store. My daughter said, awww you should have got the pink one for me for my room! So she gets the pink one, BUT it's hiding out in the shed at the moment. It's her birthday at the end of the month so it will be a surprise present. She came home today and saw the purple one and was so sad that I didn't have the pink one. I told her someone bought it. Which isn't a lie - she just doesn't know the person was her mother! Until November 28th, this is how it will be...
Thanks again folks - next time I really want something that I can't afford, I'll just ask for your permission, which I know you will all happily give, and then go buy it!!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Thrifty Thursday. Edit: Oops! Wednesday!

It's been a few months since I did a Thrifty Thursday post, and today is Thursday so I figured, why not?! (OK OK OK I am completely losing my mind - just realized it is only Wednesday, NOT Thursday!!)

I've been having fun in thrift stores, as usual, and found some great stuff. My latest acquisition is this fabulous kelly green vintage chair.
I picked it up and put it back about 5 times while in the store, mostly due to the price tag. It was $20 which is a crazy price in a thrift store. I never pay that much for second hand junk, ever! BUT I was in completely in love with it, and knew I'd regret not buying it. I am SO glad I bought it! I love the clean simple lines, and look how perfectly it matches my re-done green cupboard!
There were actually three chairs, this green one, a pink one and a purple one. Think I can convince the hubster to let me get the other two?!!

I've also kept up my milk glass collecting, getting pieces for a dollar or two here and there.

I get so much satisfaction from decorating with second hand items. Of course, there's the monetary savings, but also the uniqueness factor. Who else has a matching green cupboard and chair? I know they're not everyone's cup of tea, but they make my heart sing!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Applique class

On Saturday I was invited to teach the lovely ladies at the New England Modern Quilt Guild how to do needleturn applique. It was so much fun!

They all came prepared with a tree block from my tree tutorial (you can find it here or over on my sidebar) and I taught them how to prepare and then needleturn leaves to their trees. I was so impressed with all the different trees and loved their fabric choices. Look at them all holding their tree blocks!
They all picked it up really well and learned that hand applique really isn't so scary after all! And best of all, they all went home at the end of class, enthusiastically promising to finish their trees. What more could a teacher want?! Thanks ladies for being such great students! And thanks to Shelly for bringing all the free magazines. This is what was left after being picked over. I have a nice pile to read through!

If anyone in the New England area loves the new modern patterns and fabrics out there, I highly recommend checking out the New England Quilt Guild - they are a fun bunch of ladies with lots of exciting things going on!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Jacob's Coat

Last week I actually managed to finish something which has been somewhat of a rarity around here this year. Back here and here I showed you the version of Jacob's Coat I was working on. Finally it is done and hanging on the wall!
It's not perfect - you are not allowed to look too closely at the points in the middle of the circles! Hey don't purposely look now that I mentioned it!

This is a quilt for which I use the famous quilters' saying, "If you can't see it from a galloping horse then don't worry about it"!

If you look at the back, you can see how I quilted the appliques - I just followed the basic petal shape, then outline quilted the rest.

I chose to paint the frame a fun bright green, and it couldn't have all come together more easily.I highly recommend using these frames for when you feel like a different way to display your quilts. It eliminates the need for binding - just some elastic on the raw edge helps keep the quilt in check...
I noticed once I put this latest quilt up, that I am running out of wall space for quilts in my living room!

Must be time to start on our bedroom...

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Zig Zag Block Tutorial

This post is for the online block exchange groups I'm in, but the rest of you are of course welcome to enjoy it too!

The block I have chosen for my months (October for the Beatnik Bee, and December for Fresh Comfort) is the zig zag block. We really need a new quilt for our bed (the pretty lavender floral bear's paw quilt currently on there just isn't doin' it for me anymore!) and I've decided a zig zag quilt would be gorgeous!

So let's get started.

1) Cut your fabric. Bee members, I have pre-cut the fabric for you. Everyone else, for one block you will need:

(8) 6.5 x 3.5 rectangles of patterned fabric
(16) 3.5 squares of solid fabric
For my quilt I am doing alternating rows of Blue/cool fabrics and red/warm fabrics, so I cut 4 rectangles of blue fabric and 4 of red.

2) Sew a square to your rectangle, from corner to corner. ***(Because people have had trouble with this part, I am editing to say make sure you do HALF your pieces one way, and the other half the opposite way! See instruction #7 for more details)*** You can draw a line on the wrong side of the square if this makes it easier for you to get it straight.

3) Sew another square to the other end of your rectangle, corner to corner, and in the same direction as the first. It is similar to sewing flying geese, but instead of sewing them in opposite directions, they are the same.

4) Sew another line approx 1/2 inch from each of the first lines, on the side closest to the corners. I did mine a little narrower than 1/2 inch, so I could have larger 'bonus' squares (keep reading to see what I mean by 'bonus' squares!)

5) Cut between each of the lines. You now have extra 'bonus' half square triangles to use in another project!

6) Finger press your seams and this is what you have so far...(remember, we are only using the rectangular one for this block - the HST's are NOT used in this block - use them for something else!)

7) Now for the crucial part of making a zig zag quilt successful. In order for the zigs and zags to work, you need to sew half the squares the same direction, and the other half the opposite direction, as in this picture...Because I am doing red rows and blue rows, this means that for each block, you will sew two reds one direction and two reds the opposite direction, and two blues in one direction and two blues the opposite direction. Clear as mud?! Good!

8) Lay your pieces out and place them in an order that is pleasing to you...

9) Now sew them together and repeat for the blue row...

10) Time to press. Press the red row seams in one direction and the blue row in the other direction. This will make everything fit together nicely when you sew the rows together.

11) Sew the rows together with the reds on top, blues on the bottom, and you have finished your first block!
Look how fabulous just 4 blocks look laid out in different combinations...I think the last is my favorite :)

If you want to make a quilt for yourself using this method, you will need about 7 yards of solid fabric and the equivalent of scraps for the top of a queen size quilt. Kona cotton is a popular solid fabric with quilters, and I used Kona Chocolate. Just the name alone made me buy it!

Thanks Bee members for your work. Have fun sewing and let me know if you have any questions!