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.