Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Thank you for your readership, your support, and your comments on this blog over the last couple years. To give our readers a more pleasant and full experience, AQS has launched a new, comprehensive quilting information site:

You can find all my past and future blog posts at this site. Since the Quilt Views site will include content from me as well as my American Quilter’s Society colleagues, I think you’ll be very pleased with the amount of information we have pulled together.

Our upgraded website already has over 500 articles, with more added daily. All my previous blog posts are already live on that site, including the most recent comments from readers.

This website is hosted at a new URL, so please be sure to update your bookmarks, RSS feeds, and e-mail subscriptions.
Please visit us at our new, improved online location. Be sure to check out the site organization, including categories, tags, and techniques. And I hope you’ll sign up for e-mail updates to keep informed of the latest news.

You can find me now at

See you soon!


Friday, June 10, 2011

Barn Quilt Unveiling

This was a red-letter day in Fremont, Nebraska. Or maybe it would be better described as a red barn day! Candace Door, a Nebraska resident, was announced as the grand prize winner in AccuQuilt’s 2nd Annual Barn Quilt Design Contest, and her original quilt block design was unveiled on the side of the AccuQuilt headquarters building here in Fremont. From over 600 entries submitted, 100 semi-finalists were posted on AccuQuilt’s Facebook page where 10,000 fans voted for their favorites. The three top winners were then selected by Alex Anderson, Ricky Tims, and Eleanor Burns. (The winning designs are posted on AccuQuilt’s website, Eleanor was on also hand today to congratulate the winners and entertain the crowd with her rowdy Barn Quilt show, accompanied by music, laughs, and “live” farm animals including a rare flying pink pig, while promoting her new book, Quilt Blocks on American Barns.  

The idea for painting quilt designs on barns in rural America originated in 2001, where Donna Sue Groves meant to simply honor her mother and the five generations of quilters in her family with a colorful Snails Trail (or Monkey Wrench) design painted on the side of the family barn in Adams County, Ohio. In ten years, the concept has been eagerly adopted by historical societies and grass-roots art groups, and traditional block patterns now adorn over 3,000 barns all around America. The barns have become something of a tourist attraction in some states, with barn quilt trails popping up in rural counties nationwide.

Although the barn quilt contest event was certainly today’s highlight, the primary reason I am in Fremont is to participate in AccuQuilt’s first ever (and if you ask the attendees, first ANNUAL!) retreat for consumers, shop owners, or anyone who owns or uses an AccuQuilt Studio, Go!, or Go Baby! fabric cutter. Both the products and the company are quite remarkable, but I’ll save all those details for my next blog in a couple days.

In the meantime, take a peek at Eleanor’s book on the AQS website, She illustrates a variety of techniques to create 20 pieced blocks from 3” to 18”, including barn blocks. Sampler quilts photographed for the book showcase how the blocks can be adapted to a variety of styles and colorways as individual as America’s barns.  AQS members receive a discount on book purchases.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Thank you from New Zealand

Just a few days ago I received this letter and photos from Yvonne Roberts, a 20-year quilter who is actively involved in the quilting community and quilting organizations in New Zealand.

Yvonne writes:
“When tragedy strikes, quilters want to do what quilters do: make quilts for all those who have suffered. Just after the devastating February earthquakes in Christchurch, I contacted some quilting friends in the U.S.A. for help and it and it snowballed from there.

From the quilters of Marlborough, New Zealand, I would like to offer thanks for the more than 2,000 quilt blocks and 20 tops that were kindly send by quilters around the world, including hundreds from the U.S.A. It was heartwarming to know so many people thought of us—without hesitation people packaged up blocks and quilt tops and sent them halfway across the world.
Beautiful, colorful blocks of all shapes and sizes arrived at my door daily. As the number of blocks arriving was beyond my wildest dreams, I asked five quilting groups in the Marlborough area for help: Picton, Linkwater, Havelock, Seddon, and Marlborough Quilters.
Over a weekend in May we held a 28-hour quiltathon, with 40 people coming and going and some stalwarts spending the full 28 hours there. It was a mighty effort by everyone, with 59 quilts made during this time.
Our quilts are being delivered through churches of all denominations. My sister,Coral Kay, is a counselor and has been able to target the areas most in need. The first quilt went to a baby born amongst the mayhem, which we thought rather appropriate—a new life, a new beginning. The oldest recipient so far is an 86-year-old woman, previously a survivor of the London Blitz in WW II. She is now too frightened to sleep in her bed so has made a nest under her dining table with her quilt.

What a delight we have had making these quilts! Already 180 quilts have been delivered to earthquake victims, and by mid-June when the project winds down, we are confident the total will be over 200.
To those for whom I don’t have e-mail addresses and haven't been able to thank personally, I’m sending this special thank you through AQS for your contributions. They are much appreciated.”

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Wedding Quilt

I wasn’t at the AQS Paducah show this year and there’s a very good reason. My only daughter, unaware that the 2011 show was one week later than usual because of Easter, scheduled her wedding for May 1st in South Carolina. As much as I love meeting all the contest winners and catching up with friends new and old every year in Paducah, I could not shirk my long awaited mother-of-the-bride duties and pleasures that week.

From all reports, it appears the AQS staff, teachers, vendors, AQ contributing editors, and attendees pulled together under dire circumstances and did a remarkable job of coping with the unexpected flood warnings and weather conditions. Special thanks go to my contributing editors Iris Frank, Kathie Kerler, and Marjie Russell; amidst all the chaotic conditions, they managed to interview the major prize winners and wrote the text you’ll read in the Paducah show section of the July 2011 issue of American Quilter.

But back to the wedding! Of course there is a wedding quilt in the works. After showing my daughter (Leslie) and her fiancé (Jonathan) a dozen or so books from which to choose a quilt pattern, they found three designs they liked. All were from the same book, City Quilts: 12 Dramatic Projects Inspired by Urban Views by Cherri House (C&T Publishing). The couple currently lives in Denver, and Jonathan originally hails from New York City, so the contemporary quilts in this book were right up their alley.

Of their favorites, the design most suitable for a signature quilt was City Lights, featuring brick-shaped blocks set in vertical rows. I redrew the design in Electric Quilt (EQ7), working with the couple to come up with a color plan that felt right for both the wedding theme and their home décor. My rendering, which is slightly modified from Cherri House’s original, is shown above with permission from C&T (it is a copyrighted pattern).

Before the wedding, I cut out brick-shaped blocks and taped the edges with masking tape so guests wouldn’t write within the seam allowance. Many of the wedding guests had never seen or even heard of signing fabric blocks for a quilt, but our wonderful wedding planner made sure there was a table and chairs both at the outside reception and later indoors at the wedding dinner for this purpose. I asked my quilter friend, Pat Thompson, to handle this task, and she did it beautifully.

It will probably be the couple’s first anniversary before they receive my completed gift, but like all wedding quilts, I hope that this one serves as a permanent reminder of a special day filled with love, respect, commitment, and the importance of friends and family.

City Quilts: 12 Dramatic Projects Inspired by Urban Views by Cherri House is available for purchase at and AQS members receive a discount.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Fabulous freeform filler strips

Quilter, author, and pattern designer Gail Garber has come up with another winning concept for interpreting traditional quilt patterns in a more contemporary style. She calls her technique Freeform Fillers—they’re basically curved rows filled with a variety of foundation-pieced designs such as Flying Geese and Picket Fence. These colorful pieced fillers can be used to create an entire quilt, or they can simply add a dramatic border or center to your next project. As you can see from these photos, Gail's fillers have a graceful swooping and dipping bird-like quality, not surprising when you learn Gail is also director of Hawks Aloft, a New Mexico non-profit organization that works to protect indigenous wild birds.

Gail outlines her technique and shows you how to design your own fillers in the July 2011 issue of American Quilter magazine, which will be mailed to AQS members the first week of June. If you’re not yet an AQS member or if you joined after May 3, 2011, you can purchase this issue on newsstand in mid-June or order a copy now through our member services department at 800-626-5420. (This issue is supersized to 114 pages and features all the winning quilts from both the Lancaster and Paducah AQS shows. It's always a quick sellout.)

And if you want to explore Gail’s technique even more, check out her book Flying Colors – Design Quilts with Freeform Shapes & Flying Geese (C&T Publishing), available for purchase at

Monday, May 16, 2011

Breaking the border-cutting "rules"

American Quilter magazine pattern editor Marje Rhine shares her views on cutting fabric borders:

"Quilters are usually taught to cut quilt borders parallel to the selvage. There are a couple of good reasons for this. First, there is less stretch in the fabric parallel to the selvage so less likelihood of wavy borders. Second, the borders would not need to be pieced with adequate yardage.

But we all know there are no quilt police and there are good reasons to occasionally break the quilting 'rules.' I often cut my borders across the width of the fabric (WOF) from selvage to selvage. The borders usually need to be pieced but less fabric is required. And if the fabric is one of those large-scale prints so popular today, the borders may look better cut across the fabric width.

For example, here is a large-scale print I want to use as the outside border for my quilt.

For the next figure, I have superimposed cutting lines on the fabric to show the difference in the appearance of the borders after the fabric is cut. Although there is quite a bit of the blue I want in the print, some border strips cut parallel to the selvage will have almost no blue. Also, the same motifs repeat often in a lengthwise border strip. The border strips cut selvage to selvage have more variety in color and motifs.

See the difference in these quilt mock-ups below. The quilt with the borders cut across the WOF is more balanced and interesting to look at.

Don't be afraid to break the rules if, in the end, you like the quilt better."

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Springtime in Colorado

Having lived in wonderful Colorado for nearly 20 years now, I often joke that the unpredictable weather is perfect for people with short attention spans. It’s not unusual to have 40 or 50 degree temperature variations between morning and night on the same day, and the weather can go from heavenly to devilish in a matter of hours.

Well, this week has been remarkable even for Colorado! It was 81 degrees in Castle Rock two days ago, and since then we’ve had over six inches of snow. And it’s still snowing! The hummingbirds are usually busy finding nesting places in the nearby scrub oak but when they see the snow piled up on my feeder (photo above), they’ll probably head back to the Gulf of Mexico for an extended winter stay.

The good part about this kind of weather—and with the advantage of working from a home office—I’m spending lots of extra time indoors, exploring new ideas for future issues of American Quilter magazine. One of the things that makes AQ unique is the variety of voices in which the articles in each issue are told. Quilting does not have a narrow spectrum, and one of my goals as editor is to encompass fresh new stories, techniques, patterns, lifestyle ideas, and author voices to make each issue special and unique. Maybe that “short attention span” thing comes into play here, but you won’t find a humdrum formula in AQ from one issue to the next.

The supersized July 2011 issue, with photos of 77 winning quilts from both the Lancaster and Paducah AQS shows, goes to press today. AQS members can expect to see that issue arrive in their mailboxes (though delivery is highly dependent on your local post office!) beginning the first week of June. But please be patient, and perhaps read my posting from March 25, which offers a little detail about magazine delivery. If you just joined AQS and did so AFTER May 4, your subscription will begin with the September issue. However, you can still order a copy of the July issue through our member services department (800-626-5420 or or purchase it on newsstand after June 14th.

What is springtime like where you live?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Coming attractions: Supersized July issue!

The next issue of American Quilter magazine (July 2011) will be published in mid-May, shortly after the annual AQS show in Paducah. To accommodate all the winning quilts from both the AQS Lancaster and Paducah shows, we've added more pages to the issue: "Yes, supersize that, please!"

In addition to the show winners, you'll find terrific articles on The Modern Quilt Guild by Iris Frank; Remarkable Hand Dyed Fabric by Mark Sherman; and Window of Imagination, in which Michele Byrum shows you how to create gorgeous floral appliqué from the most unlikely fabrics.

Two complete patterns, including my own quilt Meditation above, will be in this issue, plus instructions for an easy-to-make cotton bandana quilt as a free web bonus.

This issue is always a sellout, so be be sure to check your AQS membership expiration date to ensure this issue arrives in your mailbox in early June. Not yet an AQS member? As long as your membership is received and processed by 4 P.M. (Central time) May 3rd, your American Quilter magazine subscription will start with the July issue.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Inspired by Carol Taylor

Quilt artist Carol Taylor of Pittsford, New York, is a talented teacher as well as a frequent award winner in AQS and other quilt competitions. Last year she wrote a wonderful article for American Quilter called Transparent Beauty, about using sheer organza fabrics in a variety of colors to create shadows and layers in her art quilts.

I recently received a letter and photos from Janet Gajewski of Lenoir City, Tennessee, about Carol and this article. Janet shares:

"I first saw Carol Taylor’s art quilt Bountiful in the March 2010 issue of American Quilter. I was inspired by the design and technique, so I drew my design on paper and began what turned into a real challenge. Although I'm an experienced sewer, I have been quilting for only a year. My nine-patch background consists of cotton fabrics plus several home dec fabrics. The first border is home dec satin; the second border, binding, and backing are batik. Some of my leaves are double fused. For example, I had bright red organza, so I fused a soft gold over it to get the desired color. For the peach leaves, I fused a peach polyester curtain fabric over light peach cotton. The finished size is 20” x 20” and I named it Nature Dances.

My learning experiences were phenomenal! I experimented with different threads for the embroidery stitching and discovered that a quality thread like Guterman rayon worked best. I also discovered that a narrow buttonhole stitch worked better for me than a tight zigzag, especially for the berries. It was a lot of fun doing something so different and creative, and I am happy to share these pictures with my family and friends."
Thank you, Janet, for sharing your beautiful quilt. AQS members can access Carol's article at

Monday, April 11, 2011

Quarter-square triangles: Efficient cutting

(Submitted by Marje Rhine, pattern editor for American Quilter magazine)
Some quilt patterns call for quarter-square triangles (QST), which are triangles cut from a square on both diagonals (fig. 1). These triangles are used instead of half-square triangles when the quilt designer wants the fabric's straight of grain to fall on the long edge of the triangle. This adds stability to the block.
Fig. 1
Often the large outside setting triangles for on-point quilt layouts are QSTs (fig. 2). One square produces 4 triangles, but sometimes a pattern calls for fewer than 4 QSTs, so there may be some left over after cutting. For small triangles this is not a problem, but it can result in a waste of fabric if the original square is large, as is often the case for setting triangles. Or, there may not be enough fabric left to cut a large square for additional QSTs.
Fig. 2
Special rulers may be purchased to help you cut these triangles one at a time. However, it is easy to do with just a large, square rotary-cutting ruler that you probably already have on hand.

First, make sure the strip or piece of fabric is at least as long and half as tall as the square size given for the QSTs. My pattern called for one 11 1/4" QST, so my fabric must measure at least 11 1/4" long x 5 5/8" tall.
Straighten the edge of the fabric.
Make small marks on the long edge of the fabric 11 1/4" apart (fig. 3).
Fig. 3

Rotate a large square ruler so the starting point for the measurements on 2 sides of the ruler are at the top point. Place the ruler on the fabric so the edges of the ruler touch the marks on the fabric.
Maneuver the ruler so the same measurement mark is at each of the 2 marks on the fabric. In this example the marks on the fabric fall just inside the 8" lines on the 2 sides of the ruler (fig. 4). Cut out using a rotary cutter, and you'll have one 11 1/4" QST.
Fig. 4

Monday, April 4, 2011

Reader quilt: Morning Star (Baby Greeensleeves pattern)

One of the patterns published in the January 2011 issue of American Quilter magazine was Baby Greensleeves by Claudia Clark Myers. Several readers, including Terri Kohlbeck of Kalispell, Montana, have let me know they enjoyed making this foundation-pieced quilt. Terri gave me permission to share her photo and letter here:

"Here is a picture of my Baby Greensleeves quilt. I named it Morning Star. It is all done in metallic fabrics. I have been quilting for about seven years after a traumatic experience with anaphylactic shock. I had a lot of brain trauma and believe the quilting helped me heal, and of course I became addicted. Quilting has been such a blessing. I entered Paducah this year and have been juried in to the show - what a shock and so exciting. Claudia has given me permission to show the quilt. I will have two quilts in the show.

I so appreciate the American Quilter's Society and their magazine (American Quilter) and all the wonderful people who work so hard to keep it all going. Quilting has become my passion and I do appreciate all the expertise I get from the designers and the magazine."

Thank you, Terri, for sharing your inspiring story and your beautiful quilt. And congratulations for having two quilts juried into the Paducah show; that is an honor in itself! 

The pattern for Baby Greensleeves is available online at for all AQS members.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Will this issue arrive in your mailbox?

The May 2011 issue of American Quilter (shown above) is at the printer now and will arrive in AQS members’ mailboxes during the first few weeks of April. Many of the email messages I receive each day concern magazine subscription inquiries and AQS membership. As editor-in-chief, I do not have direct access to the membership database so I always forward these inquiries on to our member services department for follow-up. However, I would like to address several common situations here.
"I joined AQS two months ago and haven't yet received a magazine."
That is possible! There are six issue of American Quilter published per year, and your subscription always begins with the next issue published. Each issue is published two months prior to the named month on that issue: the March issue is published in January, the May issue in March, etc. For new members, your AQS membership must be processed by the last business day of the month BEFORE the next issue is actually printed in order to receive that issue. That is because the magazine mailing labels are printed on the first day of the month of issue publication. So, someone whose membership was processed on January 2nd would not receive the March issue, which is typically published early to mid January and mails in mid to late January. If that same person had joined AQS on Dec. 31st, they would have received the March issue. Using the same example, the January 2nd new member’s six-issue subscription would begin with the May issue, published in mid-March.
If you are a new AQS member and would like a magazine before your first issue arrives, you have two options. The complete digital version of the issue can be read online, or you can contact member services and purchase a copy of any issue still in stock.
"I didn't get the most recent issue and I'm an AQS member."
Most times when we get this inquiry, the member has simply forgotten to renew his or her subscription. Members receive a reminder inserted in the last issue remaining on their membership year. If you renew promptly, there will be no break in service or missing issues. Several other reminders are sent out to you after the first one. Depending on how long you delay renewing, however, you may miss an issue because of the same timetable described above. But remember AQS members can read digital issues online or purchase any earlier issues still in stock.
"I tried to renew my membership online but couldn't get it to work."
It is quick and easy for members to renew online at, but you can only do this by logging into your online “account” with your AQS username and password, which can be sent to your email account. (Of course you can always renew by mail or phone.) In addition to being able to renew your membership quickly, there are many other reasons to visit our website. You'll get updates on shows and AQS news, have access to all digital issues of American Quilter, and find many free patterns not in the magazine. Members can purchase books at a discount and read reviews of recent titles. You can view the Readers' Quilts gallery and enjoy photos of quilts made by our readers from American Quilter patterns. One of the most valuable resources is our online magazine index, which goes all the way back to 2001.
"No one in my local guild has received the current issue and it's already on newsstand."
When a large number of AQS members from a small geographical area inquire about a missing issue, it is typically a post office situation and not a membership problem. This happened recently in the Rockford, Illinois, area. Your local post office receives magazine copies for all the members in that zip code area at one time. Because magazines are considered periodicals and are not first class mail, the post office has flexibility in when those issues are actually put on trucks and delivered to customers. The issues usually go out promptly, but occasionally the post office will hold them for days or even weeks if they are overloaded with other periodicals. If this problem happens in your area, please inquire at your local post office and then contact AQS.

Want to avoid missing any of our top-rated issues? Please renew your AQS membership promptly and establish an online presence to enjoy all the many perks of AQS membership. For specific inquiries or other membership inquiries, please contact

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Lancaster show winners announced

Congratulations to all the winning quiltmakers at the second annual AQS Show & Contest in Lancaster, Pennsylvania! A complete list of winners plus photos of the winning quilts are now posted at
Best of show was awarded to Cindy Seitz-Krug of Bakersfield, California, for her quilt SIMPLY SANTA FE (photo above). Before starting the day’s tasks, this mother of two and owner of a commercial catfish farm gets up early and quilts from 5AM to 7AM every morning. “Quilting is my favorite part of the quiltmaking process,” Cindy says, “and I start thinking about the quilting as soon the quilt is designed.” As she did in this quilt, Cindy often chooses Cherrywood Fabrics for their rich appearance and how well her quilting shows up on them.

The quilt design is Cindy’s original, as are the feather quilting motifs and the hand appliquéd flowers in the quilt center. The intricate quilted background fillers are adaptations of patterns Cindy learned in classes with Diane Gaudynski and Sharon Schamber. Cindy loves the symmetry of traditional quilts, but admits the colorful ribbon border presented sewing challenges posed by all the bias edges. She quilts on a BERNINA 440 without a stitch regulator, and estimates that the quilting took between 300 and 400 hours.
Congratulations, Cindy, and thank you for entering your quilt in this AQS show.
It's not too early to start sewing for next year's AQS shows. Here are the 2012 show dates:
Lancaster, PA             March 14-17
Paducah, KY              April 25-28
Grand Rapids, MI       August 22-25 
Des Moines, IA           October 3-6

Monday, March 14, 2011

Announcing the Mystery Quilt contest winners

Congratulations to Amy Allen, Cynthia Felts, and Beth Schillig, the three winners of American Quilter’s Beyond the Block Mystery Quilt contest! And special thanks go to every quilter who completed the challenge within the short time frame required. You can see photos and read descriptions of ALL contest quilts in the Readers’ Quilts gallery located under the American Quilter tab at or use the link below:

MYSTERY, 58" x 74", by Amy Allen, Honaunau, HI

DANICA’S PINK BUTTERFLY QUILT, 54" x 73", by Cynthia H. Felts, Rolla, MO

A MORNING IN MARBLEHEAD, 50" x 66", by Beth A. Schillig, Columbus, OH

It’s not too late to make your own special Beyond the Block quilt! The first installment of the mystery quilt pattern, designed by those “Crafty Ol’ Broads” Linda K. Johnson and Jane K. Wells, was published in the September 2010 issue of American Quilter, with the remaining two parts published in the November 2010 and January 2011 issues. All three parts are available at to AQS members.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Online now: American Quilter Magazine 2010 Index

Want to locate a specific article or pattern you've seen in a recent American Quilter magazine? We've made it easy for you by posting a complete listing of every article and project published since 2001 in our online index. Go to and you'll find the indexes by year in the drop-down menu under the American Quilter tab on the home page.
Each index is divided into two sections: the pattern and project index, and articles by subject. The pattern/project listing specifies the type of technique along with the quilting skill level required. Projects are also categorized by the primary technique. (To see thumbnail photos of all projects published after 2006, look in the January issue of the following year. For example, photos of the 2007 patterns are in the January 2008 issue.) 
Within the subject index, you can find specific articles by topic, author, featured quilter, or quilt name, depending on the article content.

Friday, March 4, 2011

In memoriam: Jean Ray Laury

The quilt world has lost one of its icons; Jean Ray Laury of Fresno, California, died March 2nd. My sincere condolences go to her husband and family.
I was privileged to know Ms. Laury through occasional encounters and meetings at quilt shows, museums, and other quilt-related venues. As someone who began quilting in the 1970s, I always had the highest regard for Jean; she was instrumental in the renewed 20th century interest in quilting and expansion of the quilting industry. Jean was smart, accomplished, generous, and had a wonderful sense of humor, quite evident in both her quilts and her writing. I always enjoyed our conversations and and admired her extensive knowledge and creativity.
I will miss her.

Monday, February 28, 2011

69 Amazing mystery quilts now posted

Sixty-nine quilters beat the clock to enter their completed Beyond the Block mystery quilts in our contest, which ended in January. From embroidery to applique to foundation piecing to photos printed on fabric, participants showcased an incredible array of techniques and styles in their focus blocks. All 69 quilts are now posted for your enjoyment at, where you can read about the quiltmakers and their  inspiration. Three winning quilts have been selected from these entries and will be announced next week. Photos of the three winning quilts will appear in the May 2011 issue of American Quilter magazine.

The spectacular quilt shown above is one of the contest entries. Marlene Oddie of College Place, Washington, wrote this about her finished quilt, which she titled Bordered Beyond the Block:

"The focus blocks were chosen from the Savannah line by Michael Miller. This fabric reminded me of a painting, My Grandmother Dreams in Peonies, by Stacy Barter, a high school work colleague and classmate. This painting received the Best in Show $25,000 Award for the 2007-2009 Museum Exhibition Tour of Blossom - Art of Flowers. The fabric was in my stash with a few coordinating prints I had been saving along with it to someday do something spectacular. The ad for the 2010 American Quilter magazine Beyond the Block mystery quilt said it would have a ‘stunning setting’ so I decided this was the project to get out the Savannah fabric and put it to use. The rest of the fabric was selected from my stash based on the mystery guidelines. I did use two fabrics for #6 Light.
Extending the borders was exciting. I had just written an article about extending centers into the border for the Country Register, so it was fresh on my mind. I experimented in EQ7 until I was satisfied with the final outcome. I used black Quilter’s Cotton Sateen in the border, backing and binding and wool batting. I quilted this on my Gammill Optimum Plus with a fair amount of stitch-in-the-ditch and the rest free motion. It is fun to look at the backside with a light on in the front of the quilt—you can see the quilting in a whole new way."
Marlene has graciously offered to share her instructions to make the extra extended border for this mystery quilt pattern. Contact Marlene via her blog at

Friday, February 25, 2011

Color of the Year

“In times of stress, we need something to lift our spirits. Honeysuckle (2011 Color of the Year) is a captivating, stimulating color that gets the adrenaline going – perfect to ward off the blues,” explains Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute®. “Honeysuckle derives its positive qualities from a powerful bond to its mother color red, the most physical, viscerally alive hue in the spectrum.”

Eiseman continues, “The intensity of this festive reddish pink allures and engages. In fact, this color, not the sweet fragrance of the flower blossoms for which it was named, is what attracts hummingbirds to nectar. Honeysuckle may also bring a wave of nostalgia for its associated delicious scent reminiscent of the carefree days of spring and summer.”

Have you ever wondered where color trends originate? Some years department stores offer clothing and bed linens in nothing but brown and turquoise, and the next year we’re overwhelmed with jewel tones. These color trends go way beyond the department store, though; manufacturers of consumer electronics, household appliances, toys, and even dishes rely on the predictions of one particular company when making corporate decisions on color. That company is Pantone.

According to Pantone, these are the colors you’ll be wearing next fall: Bamboo, Emberglow, Phlox, Cedar, Deep Teal, Coffee Liqueur, Nougat, Orchid Hush, and Quarry. Why do I feel as though I’ve entered an exotic gourmet market? I wish someone would clarify if my dark brown pants qualify as Coffee Liqueur so I can continue wearing them this fall. I’d hate to be unfashionable.
Actually, Pantone represents quite a remarkable success story, and you can read more about the hows and whys of color trends in my editorial in the May 2011 issue of American Quilter magazine. AQS members will receive this issue in late March and it will be available on newsstand in April.

Monday, February 14, 2011

300 Shoes and Counting...

Is anyone else out there besides me a shoe fanatic? When I saw this clever wallhanging made by quilter Linda Mesirow of Shorewood, Wisconsin, I asked her permission to share it here. I just wish I had all those adorable high heels in my closet like Barbie®. Here is Linda’s story:

“This wallhanging started about three years ago when my daughter Laura and I were at an antique store and found a small baggie with five mismatched Barbie shoes for a dollar. I wondered who in the world would want five unmatched shoes. But they were only a dollar, so I bought them thinking I could use them in a quilt someday. I mentioned it to several friends who raided their daughters’ Barbie things. I paid a neighbor 25 cents per shoe for any she could get from her friends, found more at rummage sales, and even received some from someone I didn’t know who had heard about it from a friend.

The real revelation came when I went on—I had NO idea! There were thousands of Barbie shoes listed, from her original 1959 black mules made in Japan with the holes in the bottom ($100 apiece...I didn't buy them!) to 25 pairs of shoes for $5! Barbie shoes had been made in the Philippines, Hong Kong, Japan, China, Malaysia, and Indonesia. I bought shoes from people all over the world, including Sweden and Germany.

After collecting for several years and ending up with over 300 shoes, it was time to do something with them. Since they were all different colors, I decided a checkerboard would be best. The squares are 2 1/4" x 2 3/8". It is technically not a quilt because it doesn't have three layers, but the shoes were all sewn on by hand after piercing each one with an upholstery needle. I wanted shoes to "walk" around the edge, so the piece is mounted on an oil painting canvas about 2' x 3'. Of the 250 shoes on the piece, there are only a few doubles. I gave it to Laura for her 28th birthday recently because she loved Barbie dolls, LOVES shoes, and wears really high and unusual high heels!”

Friday, February 11, 2011

Coming in the next issue: Amy Butler

Designer Amy Butler does it all. Her teaming of bold designs and luscious colors results in one successful fabric collection after another, and each can only be described as "eye candy" of the first order.

American Quilter magazine contributing editor Iris Frank recently had the opportunity to interview Amy. In the May 2011 issue you'll discover the real Amy Butler: How did she get to where she is today? What inspires her? What keeps her going? AQ is pleased and privileged to share Amy's answers about her creative and successful life journey.

And as a special bonus, AQ pattern editor Marje Rhine has designed a fabulous easy-to-sew pieced pattern called Soul Stars (photo above) that shows off Amy's new Soul Blossoms fabric collection. Complete instructions will be published in the May issue, which mails to AQS members on March 30, 2011 and will be available on newsstand April 19, 2011.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Template Technique

(Contributed by Marje Rhine, pattern editor for American Quilter magazine)

Like many quilters,  I shied away from using templates for many years. When I did use them, I tried to cut around them with a rotary ruler firmly held over the edge of the template. But this didn’t work too well and I usually ended up taking slices out of the template before I was done. Heavier duty template plastic that you can rotary cut around is nice, but when cutting through many layers the cutter can still slip and it just didn’t feel safe. So I came up with a method for making straight-edge templates (this doesn’t work with curves) that can be used for rotary cutting. The resulting patches are very accurate and I can cut the entire quilt without ruining my plastic template, or my finger.

Following are instructions for my method. In addition to the template pattern and fabric you will need:
• Template plastic or cardboard – a cereal box is about the right weight
• Add-a-Quarter™ ruler – this comes in 2 sizes, 6” or 12”
• General purpose glue stick
• Optional: restickable or repositionable glue stick
Above is the pattern I printed using EQ7. Cut the template out leaving a margin all around the finished patch line; the margin doesn’t need to be 1/4”. Using the general purpose glue stick, glue the pattern onto template plastic then cut out on the finished patch line.

 I use my paper-cutting rotary cutter because I am much more accurate cutting that way than with scissors. Note that there is no seam allowance around the outside of the template.

Glue the template onto a piece of paper, again using the general purpose glue stick. Make sure there is a wide margin of paper all round. Using the Add-a-Quarter ruler, cut out around the template, adding the 1/4” seam allowance to the paper around the plastic template. The lip of the ruler fits snuggly against the edge of the plastic to give an accurate 1/4”.

The photo above shows the template I just made and another template for the piece to which it will be sewn. (To make it easier to see I glued the plastic template to blue paper.) Next, trim the templates to help in aligning the patches together before sewing. Gail Valentine describes how to do this in her Timeless Templates article in the March 2011 issue of American Quilter Magazine.

Rub the back of the template with restickable or repositionable glue stick. This is a non-permanent adhesive that makes the back slightly tacky so the template won’t slip on the fabric. Double-sided tape or a loop of tape might work as well.

Use the template on the fabric to aid in cutting
 the size of strips needed.
Place the template on the strip, and using an Add-a-Quarter ruler, cut out all around.

After cutting the first pieces I always do a sewing test before cutting out the whole quilt.
If the cutter or ruler does slip, the plastic template is not destroyed, and it is only necessary to remove and reapply the paper to the back of the plastic.