Saturday, May 30, 2015

Butterfly Blues

Looking ahead in my Block a Day Calendar to see what's coming up for June, I discovered my tried-and-true Butterfly Block in a simple quilt. You mean you didn't remember what you designed for 2015, Debby? That's right! I create these calendars 1-1/2 years ahead (I'm 2/3 of the way finished for the 2017 calendar). And 2015 is the 10th year I've produced these things! So, you will have to forgive me.

Butterfly Blues Block - 12"
I originally designed some projects for Blank Fabrics using their Inspiration Collection and my butterflies. This is actually a traditional block from about a hundred years ago!

Here is the four block digital rendition that appears on Monday:

Butterfly Blues Quilt - 33" x 33"
Now, you may be thinking: why didn't she wait until Monday to share this? Think about it. Think about it. What happens on the first of every month? GALAXY OF STARS Block of the Month!

Come back Monday for the June block. It's awesome. It's BIG. And it's easy to rotary cut. That's all I'm saying!

Back to the Block a Day calendar for a minute. You would think at this time my brain would be empty (and most days, it is). But for some reason I had a second wind this year and have designed several awesome projects for 2017:

A Civil War Sampler with 26 blocks!

A Flying Geese Sampler with 18 blocks

A Star Sampler with 16 blocks

An updated version of the historic Vintage Alphabet Quilt (Nancy Page 1930s) -26 blocks

And a USA quilt with a paper pieced block for every state (including Washington, DC) - 51 blocks

And soon to be released is my 2016 Wall Calendar of quilt blocks - just images, one for each calendar day. When my publisher asked me to do this, I said that I would like the rights to offer one or two of the patterns a week on my blog. They said, "Go for it!" Be on the lookout for those free patterns to be issued concurrent with the calendar. Ask your quilt shop to carry it. I'm pretty sure the big box stores will have it in the calendar section. These blocks are taken just from my first 2 years of blocks! Is my head empty yet?

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

New Quilt My Way

Sometimes I think it's wise to listen to the voices in my head. They advise me about my quilts and usually are not wrong. Well meaning friends gave me their input on this new quilt that I've been working on for a few years. I would start; stop; pick it back up, and so on.

I first made this one block quilt . . .

One block Ezekiel's Crown quilt
I was just test driving making those pointy curved arcs. They remind me of a Pickledish unit. I liked them. Ran out of fabric so I began again with a new group. But I found I was running out of the green fabric and had to substitute some similar print (but same hue). Can you find the substitute?

Four Block Ezekiel's Crown Quilt
Now back to what those friends advised: Make more blocks because you need unity that runs along the diagonal. It should be a 5 x 5 block quilt because the opposing corners should have the same ending colors. Say what? I don't make quilts to show a design or to be artsy. I look for contrast, strong colors and I love the positive-negative way these blocks look. And my favorite part is that this is one of my several quilts where four blocks look like there are five blocks (see the center block formed by 1/4 of each of the other four?)

Those voices in my head were right. Just make what you love and be happy with it!

(This is a new workshop offering and a pattern that will eventually make it on my Craftsy site.)

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Revisting Butterflies

First, let me say CONGRATULATIONS to Annie R. of Michigan, who won the fat quarter bundle of Burlap Brights from the Blog Hop last week. I hope you've been able to visit each of the bloggers and enter to win for each post.

Today I was reminded of my tried-and-true Butterfly Block using dresden plate blades. This dates back to the early 2000s when I accidentally made these butterfly wings from a dresden plate block I oversized and then took apart incorrectly (don't ask!)

Here is the first quilt I made using authentic feedsacks:

Feedsack Butterflies Quilt
And then I remade the pattern for my book, Bold Black & Beautiful Quilts:

Butterflies at Night from Bold, Black & Beautiful Quilts
And now I'm working on a pattern for Windham Fabrics and Keepsake Quilting. Here is my prototype butterfly, using an older collection of their Storybook Collection:

Vintage looking butterfly

All ready for me to stitch down. No handwork! Not sure what angle this dresden plate wedge is, but it has worked for my other quilts. I'll keep you posted on this little 1930s gem.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Sunbonnet Sue for Baby

I received a lovely email from Vicki, who purchased a copy of my Sunbonnet Sue pattern from my Craftsy site.
Sunbonnet Sue bed quilt

She showed me a six block quilt she made for a friend's baby using the Sunbonnet Sue applique. She did this in less than 2 month's time. When I saw it I immediately had itchy fingers, wanting to make a few blocks myself. What? Wasn't it enough to make that big bed quilt?

Here is Vicki's quilt (with her permission, of course!) Isn't it fabulous? So scrappy with so much color and texture that any child will spend hours just exploring the different fabrics. The blocks in this pattern are 14" square.

Vicki's Six Block Sunbonnet Sue Quilt
I did make a single block quilt several years ago. I used scraps and gave Sue a darker skin color. That's all the skin you can see because she hides her face under that big bonnet! I call it "Amish Sunbonnet Sue", but there's nothing Amish about her clothes. Have to eliminate those printed fabrics and only go with solids. See how much I know?

Amish Sunbonnet Sue: 10" x 12" block
I always enjoy seeing what people make with my patterns and from a workshop. Thank you, Vicki! I know the recipient of that quilt will treasure it for many years.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Burlap Brights and Blog Hop GIVEAWAY! - Day 4

I love bright colors and Benartex's blog (Sew in Love With Fabric) sent me 6 colors from this fabulous collection. And they said, "Go sew! And share what you made in a tutorial." What fun!

OK, Debby. What did you make? FOUR of these together . . .

Burlap Fabrics in a Palm/Hosannah block
And what's the GIVEAWAY?

Fat quarter bundle of these fabrics are the prize
A chance to win a fat quarter bundle of these six colors. EVERYONE WILL GET THIS PALM PATTERN FREE, of course. It's available at the Sew in Love with Fabric blog.

OK? What do I need to do?

For a chance to win a Fat Quarter bundle of the six Burlap Brights I used in my block, head over to Sew in Love With Fabric site and sign up to follow their blog by email or blog reader. Then leave me a comment letting me know that you did so. (If you already follow them, it counts)

For a second chance to win, follow Benartex on Facebook  and leave a comment letting me know. The giveaway will remain open through midnight, Sunday May 17. 

CONGRATULATIONS to Annie R. of Michigan, who won the fat quarter bundle of Burlap Brights from the Blog Hop last week. I hope you've been able to visit each of the bloggers and enter to win for each post.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Burlap Brights Blog Hop Begins Today

I love bright colors! They just speak to that happy part of me. Sew in Love With Fabric (Benartex Fabrics blog) is having a blog hop that begins today (Monday, May 11). My day is Thursday, May 14. What do the brights look like?
Burlap Brights Blenders by Benartex
Here is the schedule. Make sure you come back on Thursday to see what I've done. And there will be a tutorial with a lot of pictures on how to make my block. That's all I'm saying!

Go and be inspired by these other bloggers. They post at 9:30 am (EST) on the Sew in Love with Fabric blog.

Burlap Brights Block Hop Schedule:

May 11: Chris from Made by ChrissieD
May 12: Mary from Mary on Lake Pulaski
May 13: Alison from Little Bunny Quilts
May 14: Debby from Debby Kratovil Quilts
May 15: Kristen from KD Quilts
May 16: Benartex design team
May 17: Stephanie from Stitched Together Studios
May 18: Julie from The Crafty Quilter
May 19: Cynthia from Quilting Is More Fun than Housework
May 20: Jessica from Quilty Habit
May 21: Wendy from Ivory Spring

Friday, May 8, 2015

Nature's Message from My Azaleas

I think I got a message from God this morning about my color choices. I looked out my kitchen window at my jungle of a yard (if we owned this house we would nuke the backyard and start over). My azaleas are blooming and they are all in pinks and whites. Against the lush green backdrop I feel like I got an IM (instant message): "I love these colors. Go use them."

Unruly and beautiful azaleas in my backyard
I replied: I do use them and want to use them even more! Thanks for the confirmation.

I made a super sized Dresden Plate quilt a few months ago using a very old border print. A border print with a Dresden Plate ruler? Why, sure!

12-1/2" height Vortex Ruler
This Free Spirit border print is at least 10 years old, but still so pretty:

Very girlie, very pink border print
 And here is my pink and green quilt made using that border print:

30" center (I think); I used the 10" line on the ruler
When you use a Dresden ruler (any angle) with a border print you have to cut for two blocks to get one. That's because you are flip-flopping the ruler back and forth on the fabric. I squeezed the life out of this half yard of fabric. I loved putting it on that Spring Green dotted background fabric (Windham's .Com Collection). And the sweet bird border print was all I had left from 2-3 years ago sewing with a Benartex Collection (House and Home).

Here's my free motion quilting up close, done on my HandiQuilter Sweet 16 machine:

Let The Birdies Sing
More with Dresdens coming up soon. I have SO MANY quilts in a variety of styles and patterns that I'm thinking of having a Dresdens Page on this blog. Thanks for stopping by and seeing the azaleas-inspired quilt!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Sometimes I Revisit Old Blocks

I have been sewing the Hosannah Palm Blocks for years. I even have one that has a seam down one center diagonal. Traditionally this block has been sewn using templates. What do those templates look like (from a vintage quilt pattern book)?

Here's the pattern book cover:
Bible Favorites Pattern Booklet
And now for the templates. Yikes!
How do you like these templates?
About 15 years ago I took this pattern and drafted it for a single foundation pieced unit. I have made quite a few blocks and quilts. You can see some of them on my Palm Quilts Showing Off page. I put this up for the Vermont Quilt Guild that I am visiting TODAY and teaching the Hosannah Quilt to in a workshop.

But to get myself up to speed, I pulled out some of my 10" foundations and some new shot cottons by Pepper Cory, I pieced 3 blocks in a new rendition using 3 colors for each palm frond. Want to see?
Of course you do! I made these on Sunday afternoon.

Gray, deep purple and very lime green

Fuschia, mint green and turquoise

Red, brown and grape purple
I am hoping to remake these using a bundle of Windham shot cottons called Artisan Cottons. Here is the bundle they sent in January. I've been waiting for some inspiration. What do you think? I don't want to use a gray as I did in the blocks above. In "real life" the gray dulls the shimmer of the fabrics. I think I'll use some sort of white.

Artisan Cottons by Another Point of View for Windham Fabrics
This will be a pattern on my Craftsy site. Because of the size, you will have to draft the block yourself. But that's where my directions come in. When I teach the workshop, I include a lesson on how to draft a Palm Block for any size. And when you're done piecing you have a block. This is created like an off-center log cabin. And as is true with many of my paper piecing patterns (at least the ones for my published books) I will include what size fabric to cut for which patches. Then the guesswork is gone.

I'll keep you posted. Oh - and as is true in my last two books which include foundation piecing, I will have a lesson on how to make needle punched copies in case you don't want to go to the copy shop. One master can make many more patterns! I'll show some of my needle punched stacks soon. For now, I'm heading to Vermont and the husband has the dog to take care of (and the garden, mail, dinner, dishes, trash, etc - you get the picture).

Monday, May 4, 2015

Homemade Machine Quilting Grippers

I am a HandiQuilter Ambassador and now use an HQ Sweet 16 sit down model  to machine quilt my quilts. I have SO MANY quilt tops as the result of making samples for my classes. Let me show you my ingenious take on expensive MQ grippers.

When a quilt is larger than a small table topper, it becomes quite a chore to push it around under any machine's needle. I have used gloves. I have used the tips of rubber gloves (these are my favorite). I regularly spit on my bare finger tips. But I needed something with a little weight, the right size and some serious gripping power.

Here is my solution:

I asked my husband for some scrap wood about the size of my hands. He cut off the ends of an old wooden fence post he had in the garage. They're a different shape, but who cares? That's what we came up with.
Small pieces of scrap lumber
Notice that blue stuff. I bought it as the Dollar Store for - wait for it - a dollar! It is the rubber gripper stuff you put under your carpets to keep them from slipping on your wood or tile floor. I needed some tape . . .

Double sided tape

I cut a piece of the blue rubber to wrap around the square piece of wood and used the double sided tape to secure it.
First MQ hand gripper
Then I traced the shape of the odd sized piece of wood onto the blue rubber and cut two out.

Trace, cut and secure with tape
Second hand gripper
Now, do they work? They sure do!

My two hand grippers with my Stacked Hearts table topper
I will be sharing a few of my recent quilt finishes in the next week, including this Stacked Hearts quilt. I got brave and used stencils to mark a design and then quilted it. Very much like what I did a few months ago with this hexagon mat. This is a class sample for when I teach Free Motion Quilting. Those marks are made with Washable Crayola Markers. They gave me the boundaries I needed to create my free motion designs.

17" sample marked and stitched
Markings washed out after I finished quilting
I'm trying to work myself up to stitching this New York Beauty quilt that has been in the works for about 6 years. I'm determined to find just the right stencil for the center.

New York Beauty

Stay tuned for more on my venture into quilting on this amazing machine with 16" of open space for my work.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Galaxy of Stars HELP PAGE

I have received several comments about blocks that are not coming out true to size. Sometimes it's in the 1/4" seam allowance. That I can't fix! One comment came in that I can address and it has to do with making sure your printed pattern is coming out TRUE TO SIZE.

I design and sew for publication and have for 23 years. I use Adobe Illustrator and not Electric Quilt or other non-vector based applications. While I readily admit having made errors in the past, my editors have caught most of them before publication. These Galaxy of Stars patterns have been published before and I want to assure my visitors that they can get perfect results by following just a few suggestions.

One is your printer. When you go to print my pdf files, you should get a printer window like this:

If you don't, then look for "printer preferences" somewhere on your computer. Many printers "naturally" or by default shrink the end result by as much as 3-5%. That is a NO NO for quilters!! Right? Adjust your printer settings.

OK. So how do you test my files? Here is a test file to print to check your printer settings today. I will try and rewrite my future BOM stars and include a 1" test square. But for now, here is a TEST PAGE so you can print and check your settings.

Galaxy of Stars test page.pdf

The file you will download includes the paper piecing units for the April and May blocks. It has a 1" square on the page that you can measure when printed. I have printed this and it is accurate using my printer.

I hope this helps. I thank those who have written to me about this. Unfortunately, several are "no-reply comment" bloggers and I have no way to personally contact them. Thanks for your patience and happy sewing!

Friday, May 1, 2015

Galaxy of Stars: May Block is Here

Yes, can you believe it? Already May! How are you doing with your Galaxy of Stars blocks so far? Do not panic! I was once in a Block of the Month where I waited until December to sew all 12 blocks - and they were applique! I just wanted to wait until I saw all of them before I committed to my fabrics. It was a lovely quilt and it won a ribbon at the county fair the following year. So, take it from me. There is no hurry. No one's keeping track!

Now for the May block: Irregular Star

Irregular Star
This is very similar to last month's block, Grandma's Star. I have included both templates and foundations for paper piecing for those challenging points. Here are two blocks that I made that are just orphans:

Irregular Star with plain center square
 And how about just two colors for the star? And notice that the points are reversed. You can have the long point on the right or on the left; your choice!

Irregular Star with a uniform color in the points
Now, it's time for the pattern. I hope you enjoy this. Let me know how you're doing and how you're keeping up, if you want.

Irregular Star pattern