Thursday, July 30, 2009

Knoxville Best of Show

Congratulations to Linda French of Centerville, Ohio, for her best-of-show win at the AQS Knoxville Quilt Expo. Circles of Life took Linda over three years. But what is most amazing is that this 30-year veteran hand quilter has only owned the Gammill longarm (on which this piece was quilted) for two years. Plus, she has never before entered any quilt competition! Read more about Linda and the quilt in the next issue (November 2009) of American Quilter magazine.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

School supplies: Not just for kids!

Hi – I’m Kathy Niemann, technical pattern editor for American Quilter magazine. Buying school supplies is fun for kids AND quilters.
Small portable stapler
Keep this with your sewing tools. It is handy in general, but if you do wool appliqué, you can staple baste the pieces to the background. The wool closes around the staple holes when the staples are removed.
Use it to draw circles for a quilting pattern (fantastic for making the Baptist Fan) or to make any size yo-yo templates.
This may be the ultimate school supply for quilters. Many patterns call for drawing a diagonal line from corner to corner and sewing on either side of the line to make half-square triangles. Sharpies show up well and then you cut the lines away. If you have difficulty keeping track of what order to sew blocks together, number them in a place that will be in a seam allowance. Then sew in order. My favorite Sharpies are the ones with retractable fine points -no caps to keep track of!
Pencil carrier
Have fun selecting one from all the styles, colors, and materials available. They serve as a wonderful centralized place to keep all your marking implements. The zippered ones make a great little portable sewing case for thread, thimble, and scissors. Some are even big enough to store a rotary cutter properly without worrying about the blade cutting something.
Back-to-school is the best excuse for having a big selection of scissors. The round-tipped kind are good to put in a carryall because they don't poke through.
Composition book
These classic black-and-white beauties are inexpensive and come in both book and purse size. I cut out pictures of quilts from magazines or color combinations I like and glue them in the notebook for inspiration. Glue fabric swatches in the smaller size book and keep it in your purse for quilt shopping. You can sew a cover for the notebooks, and remove the books out of the covers as you use them up (excellent gifts).
Glue stick
Archival glue sticks are invaluable for glue basting appliqué pieces in position. I even dab some on binding as I go, to keep it where I want it. Glue fabric over the cover of your composition notebook to personalize and use for journaling.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Fun with Taupe

Back in May when I first posted about my little 6″ Sawtooth Star blocks, I set a goal of completing two blocks a day. Some days I did none and some days I did three or four, but by July I had 48 scrappy taupe and gray blocks, all different.
Because of all the straight lines, the blocks seemed to need some curves in the setting. I drafted a 3″ x 6″ sashing block that creates a circle around the block when everything is joined. I don’t know if this has a name, but I’ve seen it done in both contemporary and antique quilts.
Curved piecing is a little trickier than straight line, but after doing dozens of those sashing blocks, I’m getting a lot better at it. Here are my tips.
1. Use a good old-fashioned template (plastic or cardboard) to mark the sewing (not cutting) lines. This takes all the guesswork out and guarantees accuracy. Leave at least 3/8″ all around for seam allowances, which will later be trimmed back. Mark the center point of both patches to be joined.
2. With a very sharp, small pair of scissors, snip up to but not into the marked seam line on the concave (inward curving) patch, about every quarter inch.
3. With the concave clipped curve on top, match the center points and pin with regular or appliqué pins every 3/8″ or so (see photo).
4. Adjust your machine to a shorter than normal stitch and use the needle-down feature if you have it. Stitch the seam very slowly and consistently, removing pins just before you get to them without stopping the machine. This gets much easier with a little practice.
5. Check the sewn seam for any flat spots or mistakes, then trim the seam allowance to about 3/16″.
6. Finger press the seam toward the patch with the convex curve. Then press with an iron.
There are probably faster ways to do this, but my curves are coming out very smooth, so I think it’s worth a little extra time. I’m not sure what the cornerstones in the sashing will be, but there’s plenty of curved piecing yet to do while I’m thinking about the next phase of this quilt-to-be.
Do you have any good tips for curved piecing you’d like to share? Just click on comments and type away!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Perfect Mitered Binding Corners

My name is Iris Frank, and I’m a contributing editor for American Quilter magazine. I recently discovered a nifty tool that really stands out among the hundreds of gadgets designed specifically for quilters. The mitered corners of bindings are always a challenge. While the more common continuous-binding folded method works fairly well, how about a little tool that gives you absolutely perfect sewn-miter corners on your binding every single time? The Binding Thingy will get you those results. And the technique is not difficult to learn!
Debbie Manlove says when she took a sewing class in high school, she learned to miter corners using this method, and years ago she decided it would be lot easier if she had a little tool to help her. Conveniently, her son was a sheet metal worker so she told him what she wanted and he made her one. When her quilting cohorts saw it, they each wanted one. Soon after, as requests for the tools increased, Debbie decided she couldn't keep asking her son to make them, so she perfected the item for market and located a manufacturer…and the orders mushroomed! The acrylic Binding Thingy is available from a number of retailers including Keepsake Quilting (, item #8258) and Clotilde (, item # 413700). Debbie even has a how-to video posted on YouTube ( which explains her nifty little gizmo. Debbie explains, "With a longarm, you just have to take it off and do the corners on a domestic machine." She proudly adds, "And it's completely American made!"
If you are interested a great way to improve the corners of your bindings, the Binding Thingy is worth considering!
(Submitted by Iris Frank, AQ Contributing Editor)

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Capitol Quilt Show, Denver, Colorado

Don't miss this event if your travels take you to Colorado this summer! The Colorado Quilting Council showcases the talent of Colorado quilters at the state capitol in a dramatic and unique quilt show. Colorful quilts are hung throughout the building and in the balcony areas of three floors, providing spectacular views. The show is free and is open to visitors during the normal building hours, 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. You may call the Tour Desk at the capitol at 303-866-2604 to check on opening times or for further information. The show closes Thursday, August 20, 2009. For more information on the Colorado Quilting Council, visit

Monday, July 6, 2009

Cannon Beach, Oregon

My name is Kathie Kerler, and I’m a contributing editor for American Quilter magazine. I’m lucky enough to live within 90 minutes of the Oregon Coast and enjoy going there often for a weekend. My favorite town is Cannon Beach—a great place with something for everyone. You can hike at Ecola State Park. In December and April, there’s whale watching as the mammals pass by on their way between birthing and feeding grounds. If you want to fly a kite on the beach but haven’t brought one, you can buy one at a local shop. Tidal pools on the shoreline teem with starfish, anemones, barnacles, and tiny crab, while puffins roost atop popular Haystack Rock, and pelicans fly overhead. In town there are galleries, restaurants, and a variety of places to stay. If all of that isn’t enough, there’s Center Diamond, a wonderful quilt and fabric shop open seven days a week. The shop is located at 1065 S. Hemlock Street in Cannon Beach, phone (503) 436-0833 and Web site Owner Julie Walker specializes in contemporary fabrics, offering a wide selection of batiks and a separate Asian fabric section. Next door is a glass-blowing studio, while across the street is a coffee shop and an adjoining art gallery. Just a short distance away, visit the quilt gallery at the Cannon Beach History Museum and Center. Each quarter there’s a new show featuring Northwest quilters. (Submitted by Kathie R. Kerler, contributing editor for American Quilter magazine)