Category Archives: tutorial

Who Knew?

Who knew that playing around with computer-generated quilt labels could be so much fun? Well, not everyone’s kind of fun, I suppose. But I was delighted to learn from comments on my last post that my accidental method of making labels with fusible-backed fabric worked for other quilters using different fusibles and printing their labels on different computers. As promised, I will work on a tutorial for my website to show the method step by step.

One quilter, Marge, noted that she starches her label fabric and sends it right through the printer. No interfacing, just one layer of fabric. Of course I had to try it! I decided to make a new label for Ramblin’ Rose, another kaleiodoscope quilt from 2009 that needed more information:

Ramblin’ Rose, 53″ x 59″ (2009)

I’m happy to report that Marge’s method worked beautifully. Marge did say she “starches the heck” out of her fabric so I made sure I did too. As a matter of fact, I spent more time starching the fabric than I would have just fusing interfacing to fabric. You really have to iron the fabric after each application of starch until it’s completely dry. The weight and feel of the “page” of starched fabric felt almost identical to the fused layer I experimented with earlier.

Unfortunately, when I printed my starched page I realized that the top line of the label was too close to the top of the page, not allowing enough room to draw around a compact disc for my preferred round label. I had to prepare a new one. Instead of starching a new piece of fabric, I went back to my method of fusing interfacing to the label fabric.

Here’s the old label still on the quilt and the one I just made:

In my last post I described how I used a piece of quilter’s cotton for the back of my label. My friend Arden suggested I try using fusible interfacing instead. That’s what I use for my label backing when I make hand printed labels. With those I have only two layers: the label fabric and the interfacing used for the backing instead of fabric. With a computer-generated label, though, I have three layers: the label fabric fused with interfacing and the second piece of interfacing used as the label backing. Would two layers of interfacing plus the label fabric make the finished label too stiff, I wondered?

Worth a try. Yes, the label did feel a little stiff and I found it very challenging pushing the needle through the layers when I hand appliquéd the label in place. I’m wondering if washing the quilt would soften the label a bit. Ramblin’ Rose has been displayed on a quilt rack in my sewing room for over a decade so it could probably use a trip to the laundry room. I’ll toss it in the washer and dryer and report back.

By the way, here’s a look at the back of Ramblin’ Rose (with the old label still in place — and the hanging sleeve so it could hang in a quilt show):

Update

Ramblin’ Rose has made her trip through the washer and dryer, and I’m delighted to report the label turned out beautifully: it has body but is still supple like the rest of the quilt:

This method is definitely a keeper!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in 4-Patch Wonder, appliqué, kaleidoscope quilts, quilt labels, tutorial, update | 2 Comments

Label Me Surprised

A quilt I made over 10 years ago has an updated label, thanks to a mistake I made the other day creating a computer-generated label for my latest quilt, Uptown Funk. The label pictured above is the fourth one I’ve made using my computer and inkjet printer — and I may never go back to printing them by hand. (The smaller label on the left is the one I removed from the quilt so I could sew the new one on.)

For the first computer-generated label I made, created last fall for Give me the Simple Life, I followed a tutorial that called for label fabric to be fused to a layer of freezer paper and run through the printer. I had to use two layers of freezer paper before I was successful. Even then, the freezer paper rippled a little bit so it took a couple of tries (i.e. the printer jammed and I had to start over) before I got a label I could use.

On my second label, made for All You Need Is Love, I wanted an extra layer under the label so the print on the backing fabric wouldn’t show through. As an experiment I fused interfacing to the back of my label fabric before pressing it to one layer of freezer paper. There was very little rippling of the freezer paper. It went through the printer easily and I got a useable label on the first try. That in itself was serendipitous. Little did I know there was more serendipity to come!

To make label #3 for Uptown Funk, I decided to follow the second method. Three layers: label fabric, fusible interfacing, freezer paper. I made my preparations and trooped from my sewing room on the second story of our house down to the basement where the computer and printer are. Once there I realized I had only two of my three layers. I had fused the interfacing to the label fabric and trimmed it to size but had forgotten all about the freezer paper.

Arghh!! Did I really want to climb two flights of stairs to my sewing room to complete the freezer paper step? Or should I take a chance and run the fabric through the printer without the freezer paper? The worst that could happen is the printer would jam, right? So I tried it with just the two layers . . . and it worked — beautifully!

Was it just a fluke? Or have I stumbled onto an important discovery?

I decided to test my inadvertent discovery today by making a new label for a quilt I’d made in 2009. Back then my standard label information consisted of the name I had given the quilt, my name, and the year completed. At the time I didn’t appreciate the importance of providing additional information, such as the the designer of the quilt (if it wasn’t me) or the name of the person who quilted it for me. Nowadays I make it a point to include all that information on my labels.

Fiesta was quilted for me by the late great Lee Fowler, and I have been wanting to update the label information to acknowledge that for a very long time. I’ve actually been meaning to go back and remake several of my older labels but have always found an excuse to put it off. Creating labels by hand can be onerous and time-consuming, even when the results are pleasing. But now, thanks to the ease and speed of making a computer-generated label, my procrastination may be a thing of the past.

Here, very briefly, are the steps I took to make this label:

First, featherweight interfacing is fused to the label fabric. (I used Pellon 911FF.) Both pieces are cut slightly larger than a standard sheet of paper, 8½” x 11″:


Second, the fused fabrics are trimmed to 8½” x 11″ exactly:


Third, the two layers are fed into the inkjet printer and the label is printed from a file created on the computer. I tried two different sizes of type since I had room on the page for two labels:


Going with the smaller type, I decided I wanted a round label 4″ in diameter. (Labels can be any shape but I like the look of a round label.) My standard pattern is a compact disc measuring 4⅝” in diameter but it seemed a bit large so I made a trip to the kitchen to find just the right size to trace around. This small blue bowl is exactly 4″ across:

The larger circle drawn around the label was made with a compact disc, the smaller with the blue bowl.

I traced around the blue bowl on the wrong side of my label backing fabric so that when I held both layers up to the light I could position the top layer properly:

I don’t have a light table so the window had to do.

After being stitched and turned inside out, my label was ready to sew into place:

I chose to appliqué mine by hand but on another quilt it might be machine appliquéd if the stitching lines wouldn’t be distracting on the right side of the quilt.

My labels were printed on an HP OfficeJet Pro 8620. I know that all inkjet printers are not created equally. There must be wide variations between brands and models. I can’t help but wonder: with two successful labels behind me made with the new combo of label fabric + fusible interfacing + fabric for the back of the label, how transferable is this method of printing computer-generated labels?

Ah, that’s where you come in. If you are the least bit intrigued with my accidental discovery, would you be willing to make a test label? If this method works with different brands of printers — and different brands of fusible interfacing — I would be willing to create a  tutorial for my website with detailed instructions and a lot of photos. I thank in advance any quilter who decides to go for this.

Before I sign off, here’s a look at Fiesta, the first in my series of kaleidoscope quilts, front and back:

Fiesta, 54″ square (2009)
Back of Fiesta (2009)

Yes, I need to get a new photo of the back with the updated label!

 

 

 

Posted in appliqué, free motion quilting, kaleidoscope quilts, quilt labels, tutorial, update | 12 Comments

Throwback Thursday: I Love Paris (2011)

I’m taking a look back at some of the quilts I’ve made over the last 10 years, showing one every Thursday.

Last week I showed you Dianthus, a quilt I made in 2010. This week I’m featuring I Love Paris, made in 2011:

I Love Paris, 58″ x 64″ (2011)

The owner of the quilt shop where I was teaching at the time handed me a Lil’ Twister acrylic ruler by CS Designs and asked me to make something with it. This quilt was the result.

And the name? The heart-shaped design, the Eiffel tower, Paris map and French poodle fabrics . . . what else could I call this quilt but I Love Paris? Even the white background fabric has hearts on it, and there are different heart motifs in the quilting (beautifully done by longarm quilter Melissa Hoffman of Fiddlestitches).

Here’s a closer look at the fabrics and the quilting:

I wish I still had this quilt. A few years ago I sold it (reluctantly) to a family friend who wanted to give it to his girlfriend. He’s now married to someone else. Do you suppose the former girlfriend kept it?

Happily, some of the fabrics used in I Love Paris are still in my stash. I have no desire to make another quilt using the Lil’ Twister ruler but I would love to make another black-red-white quilt featuring the same fabrics.

In keeping with the theme, I made a heart-shaped label:

One of the first tutorials I posted on my blog when I launched it in 2012 was for I Love Paris. Just in case you’re thinking of whipping up your own version in time for Valentine’s Day (a mere five weeks away), you can find the tutorial here.

Thank you for stopping by on Throwback Thursday!

 

 

 

Posted in Paris, Throwback Thursday, tutorial, twister, update | 2 Comments

Christmas Pillowcases All Year ‘Round

Now that Christmas is over, I can show you the pillowcases I made for my twin sister Diane and her husband Ed:


The cases are made for a king size bed so they measure a generous 20″ x 33″. I am so in love with that floral fabric; it’s from a 2010 line for Henry Glass Fabrics called “At Home for Christmas” designed by Heather Mulder Peterson of Anka’s Treasures. It’s been in my stash for years. Knowing I would be using most of it, I scoured the Internet looking for more and even contacted Heather to see if she still had some in her shop; alas, it is gone.

I confess it was really hard to cut into that fabric but I knew that pillowcases made from it would look wonderful in Diane and Ed’s master bedroom:

The colors are Christmas-y but the prints are not, making the pillowcases appropriate for use all year round.

I had one other thing in mind when I chose the fabric. In the picture below you can just get a glimpse of a quilt on the wall:


It’s Midnight in the Garden, one of my very favorite quilts, made from my pattern 4-Patch Wonder:

I gave the quilt to Diane for her 60th birthday a few years ago and I get to see it whenever I travel to Georgia to visit her. I figured the pillowcases would complement her quilt very nicely. And they do, don’t they?!

 

 

 

Posted in 4-Patch Wonder, family, faux-kaleido quilts, home dec, kaleidoscope quilts, roll-it-up pillowcases, tutorial, update, wall hanging | 10 Comments

Giving Thanks

Greetings from Norcross, Georgia, the Atlanta suburb where my twin sister Diane and her husband Ed live. My husband and I are here for our annual Thanksgiving visit spanning two weeks. We’ve already been here a week. The time is going by way too fast!

Before we left Portland, Diane asked if I would bring fabric to make a pair of what she calls “Dawn pillowcases” as a thank you gift for a friend of hers. These are pillowcases made in such a way that all seams are enclosed. You may know them as burrito or roll-it-up pillowcases (see my tutorial here.) I love to have a sewing project to work on while I am here so of course I said yes.

Diane figured I would have something appropriate in my stash. (How well she knows me!) I texted her photos of possible fabrics and she quickly zeroed in on this lovely sage and cream toile from Timeless Treasures that I’ve had for a few years:

I brought several other fabrics as candidates for contrast strips, flanges, and bottom bands. Diane chose a narrow stripe for the flange and a small leaf print for the band, deciding against a third fabric for a contrast strip between the flange and the body of the pillowcase. This is the result:

The pillowcases are pictured on the bed in the main floor guest room, whose bedspread and quilt (the latter made by moi several years ago) match the cases perfectly.

As it happened, I didn’t have quite enough of the leaf fabric to make two bands without having to piece them. I used strips of the toile to do that. Take a peek inside a pillowcase:

Here’s a close-up of the inside:

I stitched the seam allowances down so they will stay flat when the pillowcases are washed.

Diane arranged the cases in a lovely gift box:

They’ll be in the mail tomorrow.

I had five yards of that toile; perhaps I was thinking of it as a potential quilt backing. There’s enough left to make two more sets of pillowcases — one for Diane’s guest room (since we know how well the pillowcases go with the furnishings) and one for the Portland White House. I’m thankful for that!

 

 

 

Posted in family, home dec, roll-it-up pillowcases, tutorial, update | 7 Comments

Suite Stuff

With a new Junior Billie Bag in my sewing room and a coordinating tool caddy, it was just a matter of time before I gave into the temptation to complete the suite of accessories. Pictured with the tool caddy below are a scissors case, a rotary cutter coat, and a fabric box:


I love these fabrics and colors so much!

You can find picture-heavy tutorials for the scissors case and rotary cutter coat under the Tutorials link at the top of my home page . . . or you can just click on this link.

Speaking of Junior Billie Bag accessories, I forgot to show you the tool caddy I made recently to go with the JBB completed last spring for a class I was teaching:

My friend Cheryl S. was the surprise recipient of this JBB and tool caddy when we were together at Quilt Camp earlier this month.

I’m so ready to shift gears! There’s a new-ish project I’m eager to get back to as soon as I finish up a couple of ongoing projects. And as my twin sister Diane keeps reminding me, the newly remodeled kitchen won’t be complete until I make those valances . . .

 

 

 

Posted in Billie Bag, Churning Stars quilt block, Junior Billie Bag, sewing tool caddy, tote bags, tutorial, update | 3 Comments

Dogs and Cats and Pillowcases, Oh My!

When I spotted this whimsical travel-themed fabric at a quilt shop in central Oregon last year, the first person I thought of was my friend Anna. Anna loves animals (especially dogs), France, and world travel — probably in that order.

Several years ago Anna sold her home in Portland and moved to Paris to live. Imagine that! It was a dream she had had for many years. I knew her through a mutual friend but had not seen her for some time when we ran into each other on the street just weeks before her departure. We stayed in touch after this chance meeting and a few years later, when Anna proposed a short-term house swap, my husband and I jumped at the chance.

In 2015 Charlie and I spent three weeks at Anna’s apartment in Paris taking care of her sweet cat Buddy . . .


. . . while Anna stayed at our home in Portland taking care of Empress Theodora:

The arrangement worked out splendidly. And I was lucky enough to go back to Paris in the fall of the same year with my twin sister, petsitting for Anna while she went to the United Kingdom to visit her beau, an American who had spent his professional life working in Europe.

Anna subsequently married her beau and they bought a house in France’s Loire Valley which they share with Buddy and two rescue dogs. So you can see how this fabric seems to have Anna’s name written all over it. (In fact, the travel documents on the fabric are in the name of Jane S. Doe but we can use our imaginations.)

I decided to make a pair of pillowcases with the fabric and send them to Anna in France. Months came and went while the fabric stayed in my stash. Then I learned Anna was coming to Oregon this summer for her 50th high school reunion. In no time at all I had made a pair of pillowcases, which were waiting for Anna when she arrived last week:

I tried to tone down the cuteness factor by choosing a rather masculine batik for the cuffs of the cases. After all, husband Joe has to sleep on them too!

(For those who might be interested, the fabric is from the line “Jetset Europe” by Anne Bollman for Clothworks Fabrics. I used my own tutorial to make the pillowcases.)

 

 

 

Posted in cats, family, Paris, roll-it-up pillowcases, tutorial, update | 7 Comments

Tutorial: A Nifty Way to Cut Binding Strips


One of the benefits of teaching quilting classes is learning from my students. The other day my friend and student Arden showed me a great method of cutting binding strips that she learned from Marjorie Rhine of Quilt Design NW. It’s very likely this method is known to many already but it was new to me so I wanted to share it with you.

Cut strips to your desired width. Strips can be of varying lengths, of course, but most quilters cut strips along the crosswise grain from selvage to selvage, also known as width of fabric or WOF.

Lay one strip on top of a second strip, right sides up, aligning the edges. Bring the short edges of the doubled strips up next to each other, still with right sides up. I’ve pinned these to my design wall so you can see that the strips form a U shape and the ends of the strips are parallel at the top:

Layer the strips at the top so that you have four layers, all right side up:

Take the strips to a cutting mat and cut through all four layers at a 45° angle:


You wind up with strips with parallel diagonal cuts at each end:


Place one strip in front of you and feed the second strip in from the left, aligning the edges and allowing for a ¼” offset at each end for the seam allowance:


Stitch from notch to notch:


Join remaining strips the same way, press seams open, press in half lengthwise, and before you know it your binding is ready to attach:

As the Barefoot Contessa would say, “How easy is that?”

 

 

 

Posted in tutorial, update | 7 Comments

Tutorial: Scissors Case from First Light Designs

These safe and stylish scissors cases look complicated but they are surprisingly easy to make. Each case is made from a little quilt sandwich that’s bound, folded in half on the diagonal, and stitched with one seam. If you’ve ever bound a quilt using double-fold binding (also known as French binding), you’ll have no trouble making one of these cases. They make wonderful gifts as well as delightful additions to your own sewing basket.

All you need are two squares of contrasting fabric, one square of batting, and a length of 2″-wide binding (straight grain or bias, your choice) in a third fabric:


Bits of ribbon, small pony tail elastic bands, and vintage buttons combine to make charming fasteners. These are completely optional, however. Even though I usually put a loop and button on my scissors cases, I tend to leave the top flap open so I can easily see if the scissors are there when I look into my quilter’s tote.

If you start with 7″ squares, you’ll wind up with a scissors case that measures about 5″ x 10″. This case was made with 6″ squares and measures about 4″ x 8″ opened . . .

. . . and about 4″ x 6¼” closed:

I like this size best for my 5″ Ginghers.

(If you’re not sure what size square you need for the scissors you have in mind, experiment with squares cut from sheets of paper. Fold the paper using the instructions below as a guide. Insert your scissors into your paper “case” and test the fit.)

This tutorial is for the slightly larger case using 7″ squares but can easily be modified for the 6″ size.

Scissors Case from First Light Designs

Finished size: about 5” x 10” (from top point of flap)

Materials
(2) 7” squares of cotton
(1) 7” square of light to medium weight batting
36” of binding fabric cut 2” wide and pressed in half lengthwise
Optional: small ponytail elastic band or 4” length of ⅛” – ¼” wide satin or grosgrain ribbon
Optional: button
Optional: ¼”wide Steam-a-Seam fusible web

Recommendation: use a walking foot for construction

Step 1. Layer the cotton squares and batting as for a quilt and staystitch ⅛” from the outside edges:

In the photo above, the darker print is the outside of the case and the two-toned gold fabric is the lining.

If using a loop and button closure, stitch a loop in one corner on the lining side, keeping stitching inside the seam allowance:

I used a small ponytail elastic on this case but you could also use narrow ribbon as I did in the two cases at the top of this post.

Step 2. Still working on the lining side, position the binding strip halfway down the side from the loop:

Note how the edge of the binding has been folded at a right angle and how I added a few stitches inside the seam allowance to secure the binding to the edge of the quilt sandwich.

Step 3. Leaving enough room to tuck the other binding tail into the fold, begin stitching the binding with a scant ¼” seam, stopping ¼” from the end in order to miter the corner:

When you come to the fourth corner, be careful not to catch the loop in the binding seams when you miter that corner:

Step 4. Tuck the left tail into the fold of the right tail . . .

. . . and finish stitching the seam, starting and ending a few stitches beyond the original stitching.

Step 5. Turn the binding to the right side and stitch by hand or fuse in place using ¼”-wide Steam-a-Seam 2 (not Steam-a-Seam 2 Lite). If using fusible web, take care not to melt ponytail elastic with hot iron!

Step 6. Fold the case in half diagonally and mark a stitching line 1¼” in from the upper right corner, tapering to the bottom as close to the binding at the bottom as you can get. (Note: loop is in the upper left corner). The pins in the photo below show the stitching line:

Stitch, backstitching at both ends:

Note that you stitch through the binding at the top of the seam and taper down toward the corner with the stitching ending right next to the binding. Try using a zipper foot for this line of stitching if the walking foot skips stitches. The stitching will not show when the flaps are folded back. (If using 6″ squares, mark your stitching line 1″ in from the right edge rather than 1¼”.)

Open up the seam and press flat as shown below. Sew button on seam line (test placement by holding top flap down to see where loop is in relation to button).

Voilà! Ready to use:

 

 

Posted in rotary cutter case, tutorial, update | 5 Comments

It’s Party Time!

Cheryl at Meadow Mist Designs is hosting a Best of 2017 Linky Party, inviting bloggers to highlight their top five posts of the year. It’s a fun way to look back over the last 12 months and identify some of the high points.

My top five are below, in reverse order. Clicking on the links will take you to the original posts.

5. Dutch Treat. Although I didn’t finish this quilt till June, I started it in January during an epic snowstorm that kept me and many Portlanders indoors for several days.

4. NYC and VFW. A trip to New York City with my twin sister in March combined many of the things I love in life: family, travel, theater, museums, and quilting. The quilting part? A visit to the Manhattan shop of Victoria Findlay Wolfe:


Victoria didn’t happen to be there that day but I had the pleasure of meeting her the following month in Paducah, Kentucky during AQS Quilt Week:

3. Terrazzo Tiles and Piccolo Terrazzo Tiles. Using the free pattern Mini Mod Tiles by Sew Kind of Wonderful, I made two versions:

The larger one was made by “supersizing” the original pattern, using the larger of the two curved rulers Sew Kind of Wonderful designed for cutting curves. I wrote a tutorial showing how I did it.

2. Junior Billie Bag. This was the first of two JBBs I made in 2017:

Designed over 20 years ago by Billie Mahorney, it’s a fabulous quilter’s tote personalized by each maker, starting with the design on the front and back panels and ending with the pockets inside and out. Two years ago Billie turned the teaching of her design over to me, and I make a bag every time I teach a class. This may be my favorite of the eight I have made so far.

Without consciously planning to, I wound up making a suite of accessories to go with my Junior Billie Bag:

(See the rotary cutter coat in the lower left corner? I wrote directions for it in 2014 and it remains my most popular tutorial. Every now and then when I see a huge spike in the number of views on my website/blog, I know it’s because someone provided a link to the tutorial.)

1 . Where It’s @. Much to my surprise and delight, this quilt won a second place ribbon at the Northwest Quilting Expo in Portland, Oregon in September:

The design is Rewind by Karla Alexander of Saginaw Street Quilts. I started the quilt in a class with Karla in Sisters, Oregon in July 2016. Getting a ribbon was honor enough but the award came with a check for $500. My first reaction? “Think how many yards of fabric I can buy with that!”

Well, this has been a nice little trip down memory lane. Do you want to join Cheryl’s party, too? The link is open until January 2. Be sure to check out the top five posts of the other quilting/blogging partygoers. And thank you for checking out mine!

 

 

 

Posted in Billie Bag, family, Junior Billie Bag, Northwest Quilting Expo, QCR Mini, Quick Curve Ruler, Quilter's Affair, rotary cutter case, sewing tool caddy, tote bags, tutorial, update, windmill block, wonky Greek key | 5 Comments