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