Sunday, November 21, 2010

How to avoid being a Pointless Person

This technique for preserving points on the Friendship Star and other Pinwheel and Star blocks comes from reader Diane Williams (edited by Marje Rhine, American Quilter magazine pattern editor). It works ONLY when you are making blocks using half-square triangles that you have cut slightly oversized.

For this project, I was working on a 9” finished Friendship Star. The star center and corner patches are cut 3 1/2” x 3 1/2”. For the star points, cut 2 squares 4 1/4” x 4 1/4” from each of the background and star fabrics. These are slightly larger than required. On the lighter fabric, draw a diagonal. Place on the darker fabric, rights sides together. Stitch on each side of the diagonal, 1/4” from the line. Cut apart on the line and press.
Lay the block out before trimming (fig. 1).

Fig. 1

One at a time, square up the half-square triangle units as follows. Position the unit so the star point is at the top right. Position a ruler over the unit so that the ruler’s 45° line is on the lower left seam line but the 45° line is slightly to the right up the upper right seam line and in the background triangle of the unit (fig. 2). Make sure that, with this adjustment, you will still be able to cut a 3 1/2” x 3 1/2” square. Trim the right and top along the ruler edges.

Fig. 2

Rotate the unit 180° and trim the other 2 sides for a 3 1/2” x 3 1/2” square (fig. 3).

Fig. 3

Replace each star point on the block as you work. Make sure the points are in the correct orientation. Assemble the block as you normally would. Since the tips of the star are about 3/8” from the raw edge of the block you will end up with a perfect points even if you don’t sew an exact 1/4 “ seam.
Thank you for your tip, Diane!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Quilts and Airplanes

The unveiling of the winners of the Navy Quilts challenge took place in Pensacola, Florida, last week at the National Naval Aviation Museum during the annual “homecoming” of the Navy Blue Angels flight demonstration team. Congratulations to best-of-show winner Nita Markos for her quilt “Into the Future” (shown on the left in the photo above). Challenge curator Kelly Gallagher-Abbott of Fort Collins, Colorado, accompanied 80 of the juried and judged competition quilts to Florida for this event – that’s Kelly on the right. Many of the quilts will travel around the country to quilt shows, museums, and airport venues in the next three years. Selected donated quilts will be auctioned at a special event in 2011, with proceeds donated to a scholarship fund for the National Flight Academy ( Other donated quilts will be auctioned online or sold at the Naval Aviation Museum Store in Pensacola.

This quilt challenge was the idea of Charlie Hoewing, wife of Vice Admiral Gerald Hoewing (photo below). Vice Admiral Hoewing USN (Ret) is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Naval Aviation Museum. Charlie, a quilter and museum volunteer, thought it would be wonderful to have a quilt challenge centering around the 100th anniversary of Naval Aviation. Visit to see a complete list of winners and for more information on where the quilts will be shown.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

AQS wins big at IQA

AQS book and magazine authors were well represented in the winners’ circle of the 2010 IQA "A World of Beauty" judged show in Houston last week. Congratulations to Sharon Schamber of Payson, Arizona, for winning the Handi Quilter best-of-show award with her quilt Mystique, shown above. Sharon is the author of two AQS books, Piec-lique: Curves the New Way and Piece by Piece Machine Appliqué. You can learn more about her Sharon’s life and career in Patricia Staten’s profile article published the January 2008 issue of American Quilter magazine. Then try out Sharon’s machine appliqué technique detailed in the same issue. Her magnificent Longarm Couture Trapunto technique was published in the January 2009 issue, pages 70–75.

Sandra Leichner won the Fairfield Master Award for Contemporary Artistry with her quilt Tea with Miss D. Sandra’s book Hand Appliqué with Embroidery is a recent AQS release, and Sandra was profiled in an article by Patricia Staten in the Spring 2006 issue of American Quilter.

Another top winner this year was Paisley Peacock (above) by Pat Holly, awarded the Maywood Studio Master Award for Innovative Artistry. Pat’s article on a unique tabbed edge finish appeared in the November 2010 issue of American Quilter magazine, and her AQS book Stitched Raw Edge Appliqué (written with sister Sue Nickels) details her award-winning machine technique.

The Pfaff Master Award for Machine Artistry was awarded to Susan Stewart for her quilt Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining. Susan is the author of Heirloom Machine Sewing for Quilters. You can find the pattern and instructions for her lovely quilt Misty Garden at Susan also won second place in the Computer-Aided Machine Embroidery category with her quilt Monochrome.

You often find Suzanne Marshall’s name on quilt show winners’ lists. She won first place in the Merit Quilting (Hand) category with her quilt Vases. (A photo of this quilt appears on page 29 of the July 2010 issue of AQ, as it previously won the Best Hand Workmanship award at the AQS show in Lancaster last March.) Suzanne is the author of the AQS book Adventure & Appliqué, and her Bias Stems for Appliqué technique is detailed in the November 2008 issue of AQ.

And there’s still more! Caryl Bryer Fallert won first place in the Art-Abstract (Small) category with her quilt Feathers in the Wind (above). Caryl is the author of the popular book Quilt Savvy: Fallert's Guide to Images on Fabric. Irena Bluhm’s Majestic Bugs won third place in the Merit Quilting (Machine) category. She is the author of Quilts of a Different Color, and an article on her technique will be published in an upcoming issue of AQ. Zena Thorpe, author of Beautiful Alphabet Appliqué, won an honorable mention in the Traditional Appliqué category with her lovely Annie’s Legacy. Zena is the author of Beautiful Alphabet Appliqué. Finally, former American Quilter magazine contributing editor Mary Lou Schwinn and her fellow Cotuit, Massachusetts, quilting friends won third place in the Group Category for their artistic entry titled Boston’s Back Bay.

All of the books mentioned above are available at And AQS members can access all recent American Quilter magazine articles and patterns by signing in with login and password. My congratulations go to all these winners, and my thanks go to all of the countless quilters around the world who enter their quilts in shows. Sharing your sewing and design skills in this way is truly a gift to quilters everywhere.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Fall Quilt Market

The 2010 Fall International Quilt Market is now over, but the influx of new products, luscious fabrics, intriguing books, and fantastic sewing and quilting machines to a quilt shop or dealer near you is just beginning. Buyers and sellers from all over the world converge each year in Houston for this wholesale-only trade show, which showcases supplies and technology for the quilting and soft crafts industries. AQS Publishing takes part in this show (as well as the annual spring market), introducing new book titles and arranging educational demonstrations by AQS book authors. Among those who represented AQS this year (photo above) are Jan Magee in the center, Chrystal Abhalter on the right, and me on the left. Yes, Jan (editor-in-chief of The Quilt Life magazine) is wearing her editorial devil horns. It was Halloween, after all.
The positive energy in the AQS booth is always palpable at Market. But this year, the energy was subdued: Marge Boyle, our director of sales and marketing, died suddenly this past week, just before she was scheduled to leave for Houston. Marge had worked as a quilting industry professional for many years, and her business skill, calm demeanor, knowledge, and efficiency were widely appreciated and respected. But AQS lost not only a valued part of the organization—Marge was a also a loyal and thoughtful friend to those who knew her. Hundreds of Market attendees signed a memorial book to be given to Marge’s family. My sincerest sympathies go to her husband and family.