Thursday, October 28, 2010

Attention Mystery Quilters!

If you are one of the nearly 150 quilters who entered our Beyond the Block Mystery Quilt Contest, remember that the deadline for submitting a photo of your second installment is looming. Please send a clear photo of your Part 2 sewn components to me at by November 1, 2010. (Sorry, only those quilters who entered the contest by August 31, 2010, are eligible to win.)

I'll be in Houston at International Quilt Market and International Quilt Festival through November 6th but I'll be checking e-mail every day.

Part 3 of the pattern, which reveals the final clues for completing your mystery quilt, will be published in the January 2011 issue of American Quilter magazine. This issue will be available online for AQS members by mid-November, and mailed to members later that month. In order to be eligible to win one of the three contest prizes, you should e-mail me a photo of your completed mystery quilt (quilted, edges finished, and sleeve attached) no later than January 18, 2011. You may send the photo earlier if you finish earlier. Please include a little information about your focus blocks when you submit your final quilt photo.

Happy sewing and Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 25, 2010

A Sticky Subject

(Submitted by Marje Rhine, pattern editor for American Quilter magazine)
When I recently needed a project for a car trip, I pulled out a small kit for an English paper-pieced Grandmother’s Flower Garden block. I remembered Rachel Wetzler’s article “Portable Pastime” in the May 2009 issue of American Quilter magazine on preparing just such a project. Rachel recommends printing the templates on freezer paper, then pressing the shiny side to the wrong side of the fabric before basting around the templates. But there was no time for thatI already had lightweight cardboard templates, and my husband was in the car and ready to go. So I grabbed my re-stickable glue stick and was out the door.

The glue stick worked great. Re-stickable (sometimes call removeable or repositionable) glue stick makes any piece of paper stick like a Post-it® note. It holds the paper in place but is easy to remove without leaving sticky residue. I like the Scotch® brand but Avery® and Elmer's® make comparable products. Rather than pin the templates to the fabric, I applied a light coat of the re-stickable glue stick to the back of the template. I let it dry about a minute, then finger pressed it onto my fabric. It held firmly while I basted around the template. When it was time to remove the template it came out easily and the template could be reused.

Restickable glue stick has become an important tool for my quilting. I have used it for years to hold the first patch to the foundation when foundation piecing. I also apply it to the back of plastic templates to hold them in place on fabric while I draw or cut around.

If you decide to give this a try, make sure you are using re-stickable (or removeable or repositionable) glue stick, and apply it to the template or paperNOT the fabric.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Vivacious Curvy Quilts

Every once in a while a newly-published book makes me sit up and take notice for one reason or another. Dianne Hire’s Vivacious Curvy Quilts is one of those books. The colorful cover gives you a sense of what you are about to discover in the pages that follow: Template-free ways to cut, sew, and combine curvy pieced blocks into dynamic and creative quilts. Lots of clear illustrations and dozens of visually-interesting original quilts accompany Dianne’s well-written text. This is truly a playtime book, one that gives you the technical and design tools to venture successfully into quilt innovation. Dianne has graciously given me permission to share some of her quilt images and book ideas here.

Most of the blocks begin with a stack of 4 to 6 compatible fabrics cut into squares which are then rotary cut in a variety of gentle curves. For those with no curved-piecing experience, Dianne recommends starting with a gentle “continuous curve” cut (shown in the first-from-left block  in the top row of the quilt above). Vessel-shaped or chalice “curvies” start with a rectangle instead of a square, elongating your block designs. Corner curvies, below, are another variation.
Dianne’s quilt Curvaceous Squares, shown at the top of this posting, illustrates three different types of curvies: continuous, circular, and corner. Here are four different configurations for side-to-one-corner curvies:
 In Rain Clouds, shown below, Dianne experimented with larger rectangles and quickly put together this lovely wallhanging in under just three hours.

A final chapter in the book is devoted to bindings and edge finishing, including details on how to finish a curvy quilt with “stick-outs,” like Saffron, shown below.

If you love traditional geometric quilt designs but are ready to venture into more contemporary and original quilts, you will no doubt enjoy this book. AQS members receive a discount on this and other books ordered through our website,

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Where in the world...

Is it Shanghai? Singapore? Beijing? Yokohama? No, this lovely Asian garden is on the east bank of the Des Moines River! It’s just a short walk across a pedestrian bridge from the Iowa Events Center, where the third annual AQS Des Moines Quilt Show & Contest wraps up today, and it’s just one of the many pleasant surprises an out-of-towner can experience in Iowa’s largest city.

The Robert D. Ray Asian Gardens and Character Garden were opened last year on a site provided by the city of Des Moines. The gardens are the first phase of the Chinese Cultural Center of America Riverfront Project, designed to highlight the importance of diversity and acknowledge the significant contributions that Asian Americans have made to Iowa. The picturesque Asian pavilion sits atop an undulating bridge, spanning a pond that cascades into the Des Moines River with a series of waterfalls. Strolling by the stone pagodas, lanterns, and sculptural rock formations, you are spiritually and visually transported to a Far Eastern paradise.

The Character Garden features six large granite boulders arranged in a circle, each carved with Chinese characters representing responsibility, citizenship, fairness, respect, caring, and trustworthiness. The boulders symbolize and celebrate the six enduring moral values that transcend time, nationality, and culture.

Back to quilts: The AQS Des Moines Quilt Show & Contest closes today at 5 P.M. Congratulations to best-of-show winner Lisa Calle of Pottstown, Pennsylvania, for her quilt Hula Hibiscus. You can see photos of this beauty and all the other award-winning quilts at If you couldn’t make it to Des Moines this year, it’s not too early to plan ahead. Next year’s AQS show will take place Sept. 28 – Oct. 1, 2011.