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.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

If You Knew Susie...

The March 2011 issue of American Quilter magazine (already mailed to AQS members and available on newsstand Feb. 15)  includes several articles and patterns featuring the amazingly ageless Sunbonnet Sue. Here is a response from Jacquie Scuitto (aka The Muse). Jacquie has graciously shared this photo and the poem below.

"I just received the latest issue of American Quilter and am really enjoying all of the Sunbonnet Sue articles.
One of the two quilt tops I have that were made my my mom around 1940 feature the Sunbonnet Babies. The photo shows a section of the quilt. In Sue's honor I wrote the following verse some years ago:"


Oh Susannah!
My Sunbonnet Sue!
So many quilts have featured you
In so many activities
Over the years,
Mirroring real life.
Garnering cheers.
Some people don't care
For your innocent charm,
But their lack of taste
Will do you no harm:
Ever in fashion
With fame that astounds,
Your popularity
Knows no bounds.