Monday, December 21, 2009

Time for baking, not quilting

Over the weekend, my mother and daughter (in the photo) joined me for a fun afternoon of Christmas cookie baking. One cookie tradition in our home is the making of pizzelles, a southern Italian cookie that is quickly baked in an electric "press" similar to a waffle iron. Made of flour, sugar, butter, and flavorings (we prefer anise), these crisp, lacy confections just melt in your mouth. And they are so light and pretty, I'm sure they can't have many calories - especially the broken ones where all the calories have leaked out. If you'd like my recipe and the name of my preferred pizzelle maker, just e-mail me at
By the way, my daughter also designed the adorable Play Date quilt pattern, recently published in the January 2010 issue of American Quilter magazine.
Whether your family celebrates Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Solstice, or just New Years, I wish you a lovely holiday season and sincere good wishes for happy quilting (and baking!) in 2010.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Round quilt hanging sleeve

(Submitted by Gail Garber,
Here are instructions for making a sleeve to hang Cartwheel Constellation (the cover quilt pattern from the January 2010 issue of American Quilter magazine) or any other round quilt. This method will work with even small round quilts.
Calculate 1/8 of the diameter of the finished quilt. Then determine the width of the quilt this measurement (1/8 of diameter) below the top. Cut a strip 8-1/2" wide and 2" longer than this width measurement. Hem each end and then stitch into a long tube, wrong sides together. Press seam toward one side, centered along the back of the tube. Position the tube a distance of 1/8 of the finished quilt diameter down from the top of the quilt, at the center. Slip stitch in place.
I use this method when hanging all circular quilts, positioning a sleeve close enough to the top to evenly bear the weight of the quilt, but not far enough below the upper edge to allow the top to flop over. I then insert a very thin piece of molding, about 1" longer than the sleeve. This is placed on two small nails that extend out of the wall just far enough to hang the molding. Generally, the quilt top will stand up nicely against the wall. In those rare instances where it still wants to flop over, I insert one tiny straight pin through the quilt and into the wall. Another option is to sew a small tab near the top of the quilt on the back side and pin that to the wall.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

UFOs? Get your guild in gear!

Seems like my editorial in the January 2010 issue is a subject very close to home for many readers. Lil Koster of Wilmington, Delaware wrote this note, which she gave me permission to share:
"I just read your editorial in the January 2010 issue of American Quilter and it brought a smile to my face. I thought I was the queen of UFOs - my 20th wedding anniversary is next May and I still haven't finished my wedding quilt. The blocks have languished in a plastic box for many years...maybe I'll finally get it assembled and finished for my 25th! And I have so many 'UFOs yet to be started' that I came up with a name for them: USOs (UnStarted Objects)!
My quilt guild, Brandywine Valley Quilters, has a biannual show, and we started a UFO challenge to inspire members to finish theirs. We give award ribbons to the oldest UFO by a single maker, oldest UFO completed by someone other than the original maker, most UFOs completed, most unique reason for the delay in completion, and most deviation from the original plan. If this helps even one quilter finish a UFO, it's a worthwhile idea! We're hoping to encourage more completed UFOs for our 2010 show, the theme of which is 'Something New from Something Old: Decades of Thread Stories.'
I thoroughly enjoy each issue of American Quilter. The magazine gets better with each passing year! I appreciate the mix of articles and projects, which appeal to a wide range of interests. They have helped me expand my quilting horizon - I have evolved from piecing and hand quilting traditional quilts to landscape collages, embellishments, and machine quilting. Who knows what my future will bring -probably even more UFOs!"

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Look what's in the January 2010 issue!

The January 2010 issue of American Quilter (on newsstand December 8th) is chocked full of wonderful articles and patterns…and some surprises! Joanne Winn teaches you how to use your machine’s embroidery module to quilt fancy feathers, while Gail Valentine reviews six efficient methods for making half-square triangles. You’ll be amazed at the first installment in a new series of articles by Iris Frank about remarkable larger-than-life quilting projects. And did you know that you can dye fabric with steel wool? Beth Wheeler shows you how in her article on rust dyeing. Tattooed quilters? You might be surprised at who is sporting quilter “ink” nowadays. There are colorful patterns ranging from easy to challenging, including the spectacular cover quilt by Gail Garber. All this and more await you in the January issue! Not an AQS member? Join now so you don’t miss a thing.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Pieced Batting - Part 2 of 2

(Submitted by Marje Rhine, technical pattern editor for American Quilter magazine)
Want to use up small leftover pieces of batting? I like to join them for use in doll quilts and wallhangings, but needed a quick method for joining the pieces so they would lie flat without a bump, instantly giving away the secret that they had been pieced. I tried butting straight edges of the pieces together then stitching together with a zigzag that catches both pieces. This worked OK but the batting tended to stretch as I sewed (photo left).

I've come up with what I think is a better method. Layer the batting, right-sides together (or same-sides together) along the straight edge (photo right). Using a short and narrow blind hemstitch, sew the pieces together. The straight lines of the blind hemstitch should run just along the raw edges of the batting with the occasionally right-left stitches catching both pieces. Open up the batting and pull slightly. The stitching should hold the length of the seam and almost disappear both visually and to the touch (photo below).

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Cottage Bliss

"Cottage Bliss" is a good description of my three-day mountain cabin retreat with quilting buddies at a YMCA camp in Estes Park, Colorado, last weekend. Music, friends, sewing, scenic hikes, great food, and spectacular weather made for a memorable event. Other than missing our group members who couldn't attend, it was pretty much perfect.

But Cottage Bliss is also the name of a darling quilt shop in Estes Park that sells gifts, music CDs, books, and other trinkets in addition to fabric and notions. As you enter the shop, the sales clerks (gracious hostesses!) offer up herbal tea served in china cups while you shop - blueberry was the flavor on the day my group visited. The tea was followed by chocolate and snacks - what a welcome! Soft but interesting music plays throughout the building and in addition to fabric and thread, I bought a wonderful CD by Anne Murray that I hadn't heard before. Because the shop is relatively small, fabric selection isn't expansive, but what's there is quite nice. On the lower level is another small room jammed to the ceiling with fabric and notion bargains. All in all, this is a must-visit shop if your travels take you to Estes, and all shop profits go to charity. For more information, visit

Monday, November 9, 2009

Pieced Batting - Part 1 of 2

(Submitted by Marje Rhine, technical pattern editor for American Quilter magazine)
Because I make a lot of quilts, I have a lot of leftover batting that I hate to throw out. The small pieces are great for hot pads and placemats. I also use them for padding in packages to be shipped – much better for the environment than styrofoam peanuts. The large pieces of batting can be pieced together by hand to use in bed-size quilts. A little preparation ensures that the pieced batting will stand up to normal wear and tear on a quilt. First lay the batting pieces on a rotary cutting mat, overlapping by about 4”, and rotary cut a gentle wavy line through both pieces.

(That way, the quilting will not match the batting cut line and and quilting stitches are more likely to catch both sides of the cut in many places.)

Remove the small excess pieces, line up the pieces along the curve, and hand stitch cut edges together with large stitches. To make sure the stitching will hold, run a thread in each direction.
In the next post, I'll show you a great way to join smaller pieces of batting for doll quilts and wallhangings.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Des Moines Best of Show

What a thrill it was to chat with Karen Kay Buckley (on left in the photo) in front of her magnificent quilt, Arabesque, at the AQS show here in Des Moines. The quilt, which is hand appliqued and machine quilted, was three years in the making. The detail in this quilt is just don't do it justice. For anyone living in or traveling through Des Moines in the next couple days, this quilt is reason enough to stop by the AQS show in downtown. There will be more photos and lots of information about all the winning quilts in the March 2010 issue of American Quilter magazine.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Who is this famous quilter?

American Quilter magazine teaser:

Can you guess the identity of this renowned quilt artist, shown here in her New England garden? She began her artistic career as a potter but is now identified with spectacular use of color. Her quilts are largely strip pieced and strip quilted. Read all about her in the next issue (January 2010) of American Quilter magazine! If you're an AQS member, this issue should show up in your mailbox before Thanksgiving!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

More from Houston

American Quilter contributing editor Barbara Polston and I posed for this photo in the vendor area of the International Quilt Festival yesterday. She's at this show for the first time and thoroughly enjoying the experience. We chatted about some of the unusual and creative techniques we saw in the show, several of which will be showcased in future issues of American Quilter. The technical and design ingenuity of quilters worldwide never ceases to amaze me!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Catching up with friends at Houston

It's the second full day of the International Quilt Festival in Houston. Catching up with new and old friends is part of the magic of any large quilt show, and there's lots of that going on here. Even though it may be years since we published a particular article in American Quilter, the connections between the designer/writer and me are still strong and immediate. I feel so fortunate to have hundreds of "article friends' out there in "Quiltdom."

Jacqueline de Jonge, a talented quilt designer from the Netherlands, was profiled in an article by Marjorie Russell in the Summer 2007 issue of AQ. Since then, she has obtained a work visa for a lengthy stay in the United States as a working artist, and I'm delighted that she is so visible again on the quilting scene. She is here with her brother, Harm, who manages the business end of her endeavors and shares her passion to bring her amazing designs to an ever-increasing audience. (That's Harm in the photo. I'm in the middle and Jacqueline's on the left.)

The pattern for one of Jacqueline's spectacular foundation-pieced quilts is still available at Use the search box in the upper right corner of the home page to locate the pattern, called Dutch Treasure. Jacqueline has many more designs coming out in the next year...stay tuned!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Reporting from International Quilt Market

The 2009 International Quilt Market in Houston, Texas, came to a close yesterday, and in spite of a challenging economy, market activity was brisk and successful for many buyers and sellers. (For those not familiar with "Market," it is the twice-yearly wholesale event where quilt shop owners, teachers, designers, and industry entrepreneurs come to see all the new products and place orders for fabric, notions, books, and all things quilt related.) AQS Publishing participates in Quilt Market as both a book and magazine publisher and industry book distributor. That's Chrystal Abhalter in the AQS booth. Chrystal is the AQS copy editor and she also represents AQS at many quilt events.

Market is a terrific opportunity for AQS to introduce new book authors who conduct "schoolhouse" demos to share their techniques and generate excitement about new titles. It's a whirlwind of business activity but also a testament to the huge cultural and economic impact of quilting in the past 35 years.

I found some great new products and fantastic fabrics that will be featured in upcoming issues of American Quilter. But more than that, my quilting "battery" was recharged at Market, seeing all the beautiful quilts on display and reconnecting with the people who have made quilting so meaningful to so many people in so many ways. Quilt on!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Breaking news

The American Quilter's Society is proud to announce the creation of a new magazine with Ricky Tims and Alex Anderson as creative and executive directors. The Quilt Life is scheduled to premiere in April 2010 with six issues per year. According to Ricky, if you are someone who understands that quilting is a way of life, "you'll find our new magazine, The Quilt Life, has been created with you in mind."

Issue one will focus on inspiration and how it compels a quilter to start a new project. You will find articles from quilt artists who reveal the sources of their inspiration and share the techniques and patterns they use to create works of art. Popular quilter/teacher/author/judge Libby Lehman will write a regular column featuring tips and entertaining stories about her quilt life.

As editor-in-chief of The Quilt Life, Jan Magee is proud to be "working with the cream of the quilting industry crop - Ricky, Alex, and AQS."

Subscription to The Quilt Life is available at and is separate from AQS membership, which includes a subscription to American Quilter magazine.

Monday, October 5, 2009

On pins and needles

The expression "on pins and needles" can have special meaning for quilters. A friend recently spent several thousand dollars getting a milliner's needle extracted from her dog. Given that pins and needles are indispensable tools for quilters, I have collected some tips on safely storing them.
The magnet, in many shapes and forms, is perfect for keeping pins and needles in place as well as for searching for lost ones. Auto parts stores sell a highly-magnetized bowl (used to hold bolts, nails, and such) for under $10. They catch anything even remotely near them. You can turn them upside down and do a clean sweep of the floor to gather misplaced pins and needles. Just be sure to keep any magnetized objects away from your electronic sewing machine.
For searching the chair, couch, or other hard-to-reach areas for lost pins and needles, a bingo wand is very handy. This is a magnetized stick used for picking up bingo chips (see photo). They can be found in most variety stores in the hobbies and game section for about $2-3. It is not as powerful as the bowl but you can get under things and in nooks and crannies.
For transporting needles and pins safely, make a needle box. Choose a small box that will shut securely, like an empty gum or mints tin. Trace the shape of the tin on a flat refrigerator magnet. Cut to size and glue to the bottom of the tin. (It may fit in without gluing.)
Safely dispose of bent, used, or dull needles and pins. Family members who empty the trash will appreciate it. Any handy recyclable will do - a popular one is the old pill or prescription bottle with a childproof lid.
Remember the immortal words of Mother Goose:
See a pin and pick it up,
All the day you'll have good luck;
See a pin and let it lay,
Bad luck you'll have all the day.
(Submitted by American Quilter magazine contributing editor Kathy Niemann)

Friday, October 2, 2009

Readers' quilts: "Trail to Paducah" mystery quilt

Here are two beautiful quilts made by friends Cody Anne Moss and Debra Svitil. The pattern, designed by Kimberly Einmo, was published as a mystery quilt in the May, July, and September 2008 issues of American Quilter magazine. (AQS members can access the pattern online at Cody's quilt is named White Diamonds and Debra's is Daisy Chains. Debra quilted a daisy motif and the words "He loves me...he loves me not" in the purple border. Both quilts were recently exhibited in the entryway of the Bulloch Hall historical home in Roswell, Georgia, where visitors could see these two very different interpretations side by side.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Pieced circles: Getting the measurements correct

Isn’t the cover quilt for the November issue of American Quilter great? It’s Circle of Fire, designed and foundation pieced by Pat Wolfe.

As pattern editor for American Quilter, I get to see all these great quilts before you do. It is my job, among other things, to make sure that dimensions for pieces, borders, appliqué, etc. are correct. I’ve been a quilter for a long time but I am constantly learning new things. While working with this pattern, I became puzzled about why the diameter of the hole in the black frame around the pieced circle needed to be 1” smaller diameter than that of the unfinished pieced circle. This seemed to be too small an opening. I talked with Pat and thought about this for a long time before I came up with the following explanation that makes it clear for me. Suppose the diameter of your unfinished circle piece is 4½”. Subtract 1/2” for the seam allowance all around and the finished circle piece size will be 4”. If I cut a 4”diameter round hole in the middle of the frame, the raw edge of the hole will just fit around the finished circle, but it can’t be stitched to the circle because there is no seam allowance. To add the seam allowance I must reduce the size of the hole by 1/2” (two 1/4” seam allowances). I must cut a hole that is 3½” in diameter. This is 1” smaller than the original unfinished circle size.

(Submitted by Marje Rhine, AQ Pattern Editor)

Friday, September 18, 2009

Try our patterns!

Have you tried any of the recent patterns published in American Quilter magazine? We offer a variety of techniques and styles in distinctive designs you will be proud to sew and show. And we're sticklers for accuracy! Pictured here are Luminous Diamonds by Cathy Tomm, Butterfly and Berries pillow by Debby Kemball, Oriental Beauty table topper by Karen Neary, and my own quilt, Paducah Commons, adapted from an antique.
From applique to foundation piecing to handwork, our technical pattern editors check and review every pattern three times to make sure yardages and measurements are correct, and that the graphics are clear and concise. A final pre-publication check by our AQS copy editor fulfills the AQ editorial promise to do our absolute best in pattern presentation.
If you've made a quilt from any pattern in recent American Quilter issues, please e-mail a photo to Selected quilts will be displayed in our Readers' Quilts section under the "American Quilter Magazine" tab at

Thursday, September 10, 2009

I Wannabe a Longarm Quilter

A quick trip to the headquarters of Handi Quilter in North Salt Lake, Utah, last month reawakened my secret wish to be a longarm quilter. Gloria Bolden (American Quilter magazine advertising manager) and I were invited to attend a Media Day at Handi Quilter's new facility...and it's impressive. There's no doubt when you walk in the door that this is a company catering to quilters - beautiful quilts hang dramatically in the lobby and throughout the building.
After a morning presentation by CEO Mark Hyland, Gloria and I got some quick lessons from instructor Kathi Salter (center in the photo) on one of the 16 HQ machines set up in their education room. And since most of the guests that day were from other quilting magazines, of course there was a competition involved! Each team had to learn how to use the machine and then quilt an entire top (about 24" x 36") in an hour. Then Handi Quilter employees voted on their favorite quilt.

Gloria had never operated one of the HQ Sixteens, and within minutes had figured out how to deftly control the Pro-Stitcher. She used that for the center block quilting. I'd had a little free-motion longarm practice last year when I attended a Handi Quilter retreat for beginners, so I did the feathers and leaves. We each signed our own names. What fun! We were thrilled to come in 2nd, and it was acknowledged that it was almost a tie for first!

For more information on Handi Quilter, visit

Monday, August 31, 2009

Better Blanket Stitch

This is Barbara Polston, American Quilter Contributing Editor, writing from Phoenix, Arizona. I’ve been working on a quilt where the blocks are tracings of children’s hands positioned to look like hearts. To give the fused appliqué a nice finish, I machine blanket stitched around all the shapes. After doing about three dozen, I thought I would share a technique for turning the inside corner neatly. Using your machine’s needle-down feature is a great help here!
1. As you approach the corner, make sure your last left-right stitch ends with the needle down right at the corner. We’ll call this the pivot point.
2. Raise the presser foot and turn the block so that the foot is at a 90-degree angle to the corner.
3. Lower the presser foot and take one-half stitch (the needle comes up). Then raise the presser foot and reposition the block so that the needle will re-enter the fabric at the pivot point. Lower the presser foot and complete the stitch; your needle will be down and at the pivot point.
4. Complete the left-right stitch, which will end with the needle down at the pivot point.
5. Raise the presser foot and turn the block so that your foot is at a 90-degree angle to the next segment you’re going to stitch.
6. Lower the presser foot and take one-half stitch (the needle comes up). Then raise the presser foot and reposition the block so that the needle will re-enter the fabric at the pivot point. Lower the presser foot and complete the stitch; your needle will be down and at the pivot point.
7. Complete the left-right stitch and keep sewing.
This method gives inside corners a three-stitch finish, just as if it the stitching were done by hand. With some practice, you’ll be turning those pesky inside corners with ease!
For more great tips on blanket stitching by machine, read Ricky Tims' article in the September 2008 issue of American Quilter magazine.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Fun with Taupe

Even though I haven't posted about it lately, there has been progress in the continuing Fun with Taupe saga! I pieced seven rows of six stars, each with its own flavor and flair. In spite of using dozens of fabrics, I'm pleased that the top still has a sense of balance and serenity that I was striving for - hence its new name, Meditation. I have at least two borders planned, and one is already pieced and ready to sew on (photo).

I think this block is called Rolling Star or something similar. Does anyone out there know it by a different name?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Leapin' lizards!

Marje Rhine, pattern editor for American Quilter magazine, submitted this information and has graciously shared the original pieced Lizard background block for this quilt on

"This is my eighth fabric challenge quilt in several years and my fourth entry in the Hoffman challenge. I've won prizes in lesser challenges but to my amazement, this year I won an honorable mention in the mixed techniques category!

When I saw the Hoffman challenge fabric, almost immediately the skin of a lizard came to mind. When I found a great picture of a lizard in a Dover royalty-free book, I knew I had to make him. I assembled the pieced and appliquéd lizard, stump, and foliage before even thinking about the background. I wanted a pieced background that somehow related to the subject matter, but there is no traditional pieced lizard block - so I designed my own. I'm happy to share my pieced block with quilters everywhere. Here's the link:

The quilting generally follows and enhances the lines of the subject matter, except for the background where I quilted feathers and swirls. I particularly enjoyed piecing and quilting the stump.The quilt name, Transformed, came from a poem written by Robert Graves: 'Transformed would I be to toad or lizard.' I certainly transformed this fabric!"

The first showing of the winners of the 2009 Hoffman challenge is at the Rocky Mountain Quilt Festival August 22-23rd, 2009 in Loveland, Colorado. To see all the challenge winners and look at the show schedule, visit

Thursday, August 13, 2009

AQ Classifieds = Quick Results

Did you know that AQS members are entitled to one free classified ad (up to 30 words) per year, a $24.00 value? Starting with the November 2009 issue of American Quilter, the classified ads will be accessible on our Web site, Read this "testimonial" on the effectiveness of AQ classifieds:

"I'd contacted you earlier regarding a pattern called Chrysalis: Log Cabin Variation III by Maria McCormick-Snyder. So many people have been so helpful in this quest of mine, but all leads ran into a dead end except one. I decided to put an ad in American Quilter magazine, and it was published in the September 2009 issue. The magazine arrived on a Saturday, and I got a call on Monday night from a lady in Illinois. She is 87, bought the pattern in 1980 at the AQS show in Paducah where the quilt was on display, with the author of the pattern and maker of the quilt, Maria McCormick-Synder. I asked her if she had made it and she said no, so it is original and hand signed. I got so excited I almost couldn't sleep that night. She sent it along to me with the request if I ever get it made, she would like a photo.

Just letting you know how effective your advertising can be. I was quite sure someone, somewhere had this pattern but didn't expect such a prompt reply to my ad."

Ann Simpson

Monday, August 10, 2009

Whidbey Island for quilters

I’m Kathie Kerler, contributing editor to American Quilter magazine. I recently spent time on Whidbey Island located in Washington’s Puget Sound, home to amazing places and opportunities of interest to quilters.

I attended a great four-day design workshop at Gail Harker Creative Studies Center in Oak Harbor. Gail offers numerous classes and courses such as Experimental Machine Stitch and Studies in Art and Color ( Just ten miles south is the Pacific Northwest Art School in Coupeville. The school features a wide variety of fiber arts workshops with renowned quilters (

Whidbey Island offers a variety of lodging options, but a special one is Whidbey Island Creative Escape. This four-bedroom, three-bathroom home is nestled in the woods and set up with quilters, crafters, and artists of all types in mind. There are eight tables and lamps in the workspace, allowing plenty of room for each person. Along with a large kitchen, the retreat has a gas fireplace and Jacuzzi tub for relaxing after a day of creating.

If you’ve forgotten some supplies or want to buy fabric, quilt shops abound. At the north end of the island you will find Sundown Quilt Shop in Coupeville at 101 NW Coveland St., Suite B, and a bead shop just a block or two away. In Oak Harbor, there is Quilters Workshop, located next to a yarn store at 715 S.E. Fidalgo Avenue, #105. The Quilt Shop is in Anacortes at 820 Commercial Avenue. At the island’s south end in Freeland is Island Fabrics at 1609 Main Street. Nearby is the town of Langley where you’ll find Quilting by the Sea tucked into a courtyard at 221 2nd Street, Suite 6.

Currently, there is a quilt exhibit by the Contemporary QuiltArt Association of Washington at Penn Cove Pottery, 26184 State Route 20, Coupeville, (360) 678-6464. The photo shows a view from Penn Cove. As you drive the island, you will see a Naval Air Station, farms, sailboats in bays, and at the north end, the stunning Deception Pass and State Park. Whidbey Island is also home to 40 pairs of eagles.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Knoxville Best of Show

Congratulations to Linda French of Centerville, Ohio, for her best-of-show win at the AQS Knoxville Quilt Expo. Circles of Life took Linda over three years. But what is most amazing is that this 30-year veteran hand quilter has only owned the Gammill longarm (on which this piece was quilted) for two years. Plus, she has never before entered any quilt competition! Read more about Linda and the quilt in the next issue (November 2009) of American Quilter magazine.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

School supplies: Not just for kids!

Hi – I’m Kathy Niemann, technical pattern editor for American Quilter magazine. Buying school supplies is fun for kids AND quilters.
Small portable stapler
Keep this with your sewing tools. It is handy in general, but if you do wool appliqué, you can staple baste the pieces to the background. The wool closes around the staple holes when the staples are removed.
Use it to draw circles for a quilting pattern (fantastic for making the Baptist Fan) or to make any size yo-yo templates.
This may be the ultimate school supply for quilters. Many patterns call for drawing a diagonal line from corner to corner and sewing on either side of the line to make half-square triangles. Sharpies show up well and then you cut the lines away. If you have difficulty keeping track of what order to sew blocks together, number them in a place that will be in a seam allowance. Then sew in order. My favorite Sharpies are the ones with retractable fine points -no caps to keep track of!
Pencil carrier
Have fun selecting one from all the styles, colors, and materials available. They serve as a wonderful centralized place to keep all your marking implements. The zippered ones make a great little portable sewing case for thread, thimble, and scissors. Some are even big enough to store a rotary cutter properly without worrying about the blade cutting something.
Back-to-school is the best excuse for having a big selection of scissors. The round-tipped kind are good to put in a carryall because they don't poke through.
Composition book
These classic black-and-white beauties are inexpensive and come in both book and purse size. I cut out pictures of quilts from magazines or color combinations I like and glue them in the notebook for inspiration. Glue fabric swatches in the smaller size book and keep it in your purse for quilt shopping. You can sew a cover for the notebooks, and remove the books out of the covers as you use them up (excellent gifts).
Glue stick
Archival glue sticks are invaluable for glue basting appliqué pieces in position. I even dab some on binding as I go, to keep it where I want it. Glue fabric over the cover of your composition notebook to personalize and use for journaling.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Fun with Taupe

Back in May when I first posted about my little 6″ Sawtooth Star blocks, I set a goal of completing two blocks a day. Some days I did none and some days I did three or four, but by July I had 48 scrappy taupe and gray blocks, all different.
Because of all the straight lines, the blocks seemed to need some curves in the setting. I drafted a 3″ x 6″ sashing block that creates a circle around the block when everything is joined. I don’t know if this has a name, but I’ve seen it done in both contemporary and antique quilts.
Curved piecing is a little trickier than straight line, but after doing dozens of those sashing blocks, I’m getting a lot better at it. Here are my tips.
1. Use a good old-fashioned template (plastic or cardboard) to mark the sewing (not cutting) lines. This takes all the guesswork out and guarantees accuracy. Leave at least 3/8″ all around for seam allowances, which will later be trimmed back. Mark the center point of both patches to be joined.
2. With a very sharp, small pair of scissors, snip up to but not into the marked seam line on the concave (inward curving) patch, about every quarter inch.
3. With the concave clipped curve on top, match the center points and pin with regular or appliqué pins every 3/8″ or so (see photo).
4. Adjust your machine to a shorter than normal stitch and use the needle-down feature if you have it. Stitch the seam very slowly and consistently, removing pins just before you get to them without stopping the machine. This gets much easier with a little practice.
5. Check the sewn seam for any flat spots or mistakes, then trim the seam allowance to about 3/16″.
6. Finger press the seam toward the patch with the convex curve. Then press with an iron.
There are probably faster ways to do this, but my curves are coming out very smooth, so I think it’s worth a little extra time. I’m not sure what the cornerstones in the sashing will be, but there’s plenty of curved piecing yet to do while I’m thinking about the next phase of this quilt-to-be.
Do you have any good tips for curved piecing you’d like to share? Just click on comments and type away!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Perfect Mitered Binding Corners

My name is Iris Frank, and I’m a contributing editor for American Quilter magazine. I recently discovered a nifty tool that really stands out among the hundreds of gadgets designed specifically for quilters. The mitered corners of bindings are always a challenge. While the more common continuous-binding folded method works fairly well, how about a little tool that gives you absolutely perfect sewn-miter corners on your binding every single time? The Binding Thingy will get you those results. And the technique is not difficult to learn!
Debbie Manlove says when she took a sewing class in high school, she learned to miter corners using this method, and years ago she decided it would be lot easier if she had a little tool to help her. Conveniently, her son was a sheet metal worker so she told him what she wanted and he made her one. When her quilting cohorts saw it, they each wanted one. Soon after, as requests for the tools increased, Debbie decided she couldn't keep asking her son to make them, so she perfected the item for market and located a manufacturer…and the orders mushroomed! The acrylic Binding Thingy is available from a number of retailers including Keepsake Quilting (, item #8258) and Clotilde (, item # 413700). Debbie even has a how-to video posted on YouTube ( which explains her nifty little gizmo. Debbie explains, "With a longarm, you just have to take it off and do the corners on a domestic machine." She proudly adds, "And it's completely American made!"
If you are interested a great way to improve the corners of your bindings, the Binding Thingy is worth considering!
(Submitted by Iris Frank, AQ Contributing Editor)

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Capitol Quilt Show, Denver, Colorado

Don't miss this event if your travels take you to Colorado this summer! The Colorado Quilting Council showcases the talent of Colorado quilters at the state capitol in a dramatic and unique quilt show. Colorful quilts are hung throughout the building and in the balcony areas of three floors, providing spectacular views. The show is free and is open to visitors during the normal building hours, 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. You may call the Tour Desk at the capitol at 303-866-2604 to check on opening times or for further information. The show closes Thursday, August 20, 2009. For more information on the Colorado Quilting Council, visit

Monday, July 6, 2009

Cannon Beach, Oregon

My name is Kathie Kerler, and I’m a contributing editor for American Quilter magazine. I’m lucky enough to live within 90 minutes of the Oregon Coast and enjoy going there often for a weekend. My favorite town is Cannon Beach—a great place with something for everyone. You can hike at Ecola State Park. In December and April, there’s whale watching as the mammals pass by on their way between birthing and feeding grounds. If you want to fly a kite on the beach but haven’t brought one, you can buy one at a local shop. Tidal pools on the shoreline teem with starfish, anemones, barnacles, and tiny crab, while puffins roost atop popular Haystack Rock, and pelicans fly overhead. In town there are galleries, restaurants, and a variety of places to stay. If all of that isn’t enough, there’s Center Diamond, a wonderful quilt and fabric shop open seven days a week. The shop is located at 1065 S. Hemlock Street in Cannon Beach, phone (503) 436-0833 and Web site Owner Julie Walker specializes in contemporary fabrics, offering a wide selection of batiks and a separate Asian fabric section. Next door is a glass-blowing studio, while across the street is a coffee shop and an adjoining art gallery. Just a short distance away, visit the quilt gallery at the Cannon Beach History Museum and Center. Each quarter there’s a new show featuring Northwest quilters. (Submitted by Kathie R. Kerler, contributing editor for American Quilter magazine)

Monday, June 29, 2009

Meet the editors in Knoxville

Do you want to be an AQS-published author? If you are planning to attend the AQS show in Knoxville July 25-29, please stop by the Editors Room to introduce yourself. AQS executive book editor, Andi Reynolds, and I will be sharing this room to conduct show winner interviews and have meetings with potential authors, both book and magazine. I'll be in and out of the room during the daytime, Wednesday through Friday. Please e-mail me at for an appointment in advance, or just stop by to set something up during the show. (You can also contact me via the AQS membership booth at the show.) Andi Reynolds can be contacted at The Editors Room is classroom 200E, on the second floor just off the elevator. I'll also be at the awards presentation Thursday afternoon at 1:00 PM in the lecture hall.

I'm really looking forward to this new AQS venue - there will be lots of wonderful quilts, outstanding vendors, fun events, and terrific teachers. Y'all come!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Freedom to Wear Orange

Hi! My name is Marje Rhine. I am a quilt pattern designer (Quilt Design NW), teacher, longarm quilter, and, most importantly, pattern editor for American Quilter magazine. I'll be posting occasionally on this blog.

I belong to a journal quilt group that meets monthly to share thoughts and ideas about our little challenge quilts. Every meeting we choose a word, technique, and fabric to inspire us (or not, as sometimes happens) to make a quilt for the next month. My quilts finish to about 9" x 12". For the most recent meeting, we were to use items from our art supply cupboard in any way. The key word was 'freedom' and the fabric was one I decided not to use. (There are no set rules, so I could do that.)

I had recently read the new AQS book, Faux Appliqué, by Helen Stubbings. She uses colored pencils to re-create the look of appliqué. So, out came my colored pencils. Following Helen's instructions, I colored this black and white motif printed on fabric (small photo) just to see how the process worked. I treated the fabric per Helen's recommendation so the coloring wouldn't easily wash or rub out, and it worked well. I see many possibilities for this technique.

In the meantime I was thinking about 'freedom.' To me, freedom meant I could do anything (legal!) I wanted, even wear orange! I found a great zebra-stripe fabric in my stash, but no bright orange colored pencil. So I used an orange hi-lighter pen to color a piece of the fabric, then treated it (again per Helen's recommendation in the Faux Appliqué book). I designed a saw-horse zebra block and pieced 6 zebras - 5 white & black and one orange & black. I call my creation, Freedom to Wear Orange. The quilt was fun to make, and I had a ball seeing what everyone else did for their little quilts.

Submitted by Marje Rhine, pattern editor for American Quilter magazine