Monday, December 14, 2015

The quilting tool you probably already own..........but didn't know about

Recently, I happened upon a very handy tool for quilting - I bet you even own one yourself! What's that you might ask? Well...........

It's a plastic serrated knife silly!

What in the world of quilting could you possibly use that for?

Why, for closing safety pins used in basting your quilt of course!

The knife slides easily underneath the pin without damaging the fabric, and without your fingers being pricked by the point of the pin. In addition, the serrated teeth grab the pin, so that it is extremely easy to navigate the closure. Try it - I guarantee it, or your money back!

OR you could spend the $8.99 suggested retail on something like this:

Money spent elsewhere = missed fabric opportunities!!!!

"Necessity is the mother of invention" - Unknown

Monday, December 7, 2015

Amish Bars - mug rug pattern - free

Today's free mug rug pattern is my interpretation of an antique quilt found in the collection of the International Quilt Study Center & Museum. If you have not had a chance to visit their website, please make sure to visit. They have a collection of over 3500 quilts - most of which you can view about eye candy!

Anyway, the quilt I used is an Amish Bars/Strippie quilt that is estimated to have been made 1890 and 1910 in Pennsylvania. Here is a link to the photo of the original quilt, found on the International Quilt Study Center & Museum site and here is a link to the detailed quilt information. I hope that you will enjoy making it.

So, here is my interpretation - albeit tiny in comparison and squinched in the middle to make a mug rug:

The finished size of this mug rug is 8 1/2" by 6 1/2" and it uses 3 fabrics. From what I can tell, the original quilt was Dark Red, Salmon Pink and Off-white. Obviously, you can make yours any color you choose. Here are the traditional piecing instructions:

Cutting Instructions:
All measurements include 1/4" wide seam allowances.
From the Dark Red Fabric, cut:
  • 1 strip 1" x 18" long 
    • Cross cut into:
      • 2 strips 3 1/2" long
      • 2 strips 5 1/2" long
  • For the backing - One 9" x 7" rectangle
  • For the binding - One 1-1/2" x 45" (or width of fabric)
From the Salmon Pink fabric:
  • 1 strip 1 1/2" x 29"
    • Cross cut into:
      • 2 strips 6 1/2" long
      • 2 strips 4 1/2" long
      • 2 strips 3 1/2" long
From the off-white fabric, cut:
  • 1 strip 1 1/2" x  16 1/2"
    • Cross cut into:
      • 3 strips 3 1/2" long
      • 4 squares 1 1/2"
  • 1 strip 1" x 4"
    • Cross cut into:
      • 4 squares 1"
Constructing the top:
Make center vertical bar block:
  1. Using all 3 1/2" x 1 1/2" strips - starting and ending with off-white, alternate sewing off-white and salmon pink strips long-sides together.
  2. Press toward salmon pink.
  3. Block should measure 5 1/2" x 3 1/2"

Add inner border:
  1. Add dark red 3 1/2" by 1" strips to each end of vertical bar block.
  2. Construct top and bottom inner border pieces by sewing two off-white 1" squares to both ends of a dark red 1" x 5 1/2"strip.
  3. Sew top and bottom inner border pieces to the top and bottom of the vertical bar block, which already has inner border attached at ends.
  4. Top should now measure 4 ½” x 6 ½”.

Add outer border:
  1. Sew left and right end of outer border to left and right ends of inner border.
  2. Construct top and bottom outer border pieces by sewing two off-white 1 1/2" squares to each end of 1 1/2" x 6 1/2" salmon pink
  3. Attach top and bottom outer border pieces to middle section.
  4. Top should now measure 8 ½” x 6 ½”

Sandwich, quilt and bind as desired.

That's it! Please enjoy this pattern, but as with all my patterns, please do not copy or use any portion other than for your personal use in making a mug rug. If you want to share it with friends, please send them a link to my blog.
May your bobbin always be full!
Michele Hester

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Got Jelly Rolls? Free quilt pattern

Click here to get the pattern.....

This is one of my favorite free patterns that uses Jelly Rolls! It is called Jelly Roll Strip Starburst by Kimberly Einmo. I have a few jelly rolls sitting around, so I think I will try this one. Isn't it gorgeous?!

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Butterly/Flower Mug Rug

Click here to get the pattern
Spring weather is notoriously unpredictable. On some mornings you might still need a piping hot mug of coffee or tea to start your day. This Flower and Butterfly Mug Rug is perfect for your coffee table or desk. It's a reminder that even when you're shivering over your morning cup of joe, the outside temperature is bound to rise. You'll have so much fun piecing together this quilted mug rug that you might want to make some for your friends as well.

This pattern is now available on Craftsy.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Free Motion Quilting - Feathers

Sometimes free motion quilting can be so frustrating! The problem is, I am a perfectionist. I also am one of THOSE that thinks if you don't quilt your own quilt, you can't lay claim to making the quilt. WHO AM I TO ARGUE with Eleanor Burns - who "quilts with her credit card!" Problem is, my credit cards are all gone, and we live on cash only.....when I think about shelling out cash to someone else to quilt, well............I would rather buy fabric!

I have quickly gotten to the point of having several quilt tops sitting in my studio, un-quilted. I am DETERMINED to learn to quilt them myself. The perfectionist in me though, won't let me start them! This too goes against the teaching of most free motion quilting teachers....their advice is always practice, practice, practice. and even practice on real quilt tops (GASP!!!) What if I mess it up? Well, if they site there an never get quilted, what good are they anyway?!? (<---those are exclamations of ambivalence.)

I participate in a challenge recently that was all about free motion quilting feathers....who doesn't love them? I know I love them. I tried drawing them, and when you look at them at a distance, some of them weren't too bad, but again, the perfectionist in me reared its ugly head. I had to use a template. A template?! - Diane Gaudinski said we could! Okay, so she might have only mentioned templates, but I took that as complete permission.

This template is from one of my absolute most favoritist free quilting template - if you haven't been there, be sure to go and collect all of their beautiful free quilting motifs. I used the one called "Feathered Heart Motif"

The pdf says it is for a 12" square, so I needed to reduce it for my 8 1/2" practice piece. To figure out how much to reduce it, I divided my square size, to get the percentage of the original size I needed to print. (The original pattern size 12 divided by 8.5 equals .67 or 67%) On my print settings, I set it to print 67% of original size.

Next, I took my quilt square, and marked the center lines, by folding and marking. I used a light box to align the center lines on my square, with the center mark on the pattern. I then traced once side of my heart. Then I flipped the pattern over, and traced the other side. Note, the disappearing ink pen disappeared too quickly, so I had to revert to the water soluble. The other neat thing about this project is learning to use all those nifty tools I have sunk a lot of money into!

I set my machine up for free motion quilting. This time I spray basted my practice sandwich, as this is a pretty complex motif and I would have a heck of a time working around pens.

I tested my machine out on scrap piece and everything worked fine.....I went to my real piece and YIKES I started having skipped stitches. Since I cleaned my machine, before I started, I knew that wasn't the issue. So, I changed needles - stitching once again worked fine on my scrap piece. Went to my real piece again - and skipped stitches!!! WTH!!!! Yes, I am using expletives, because I HATE reverse sewing.

So, to the internet I go.....since I had a new needle, my machine was clean, my tension was fine on my scrap piece, I couldn't figure out what was happening, then it dawned on my, I had a thicker batting on my scrap piece!! I found Diane's advice about skipped stitches in free motion quilting here - and made a new "scrap piece" using the same skinny batting, and voila - problem of skipped stitches solved.

Sorry for the novel here, but I had to get all that out!

NOTE BENE: this is a repost of one of my popular posts in the past. I have since purchased a long-arm, and as you can see from some of my other posts, I have gotten quite a bit of practice since this originally posted. I still think it has valuable information in it, so I wanted to repost for my new followers.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Did you know that you can do a lot more with a walking foot than straight line quilting?

Petit Design Co has done a 31 day series on quilting with a walking foot.........think it is just straight lines? NOPE - she includes curves. There are some great ideas applicable to quilting on a longarm as well.

 Click here to visit the landing page with links to the 31 days......

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Stitch In the Ditch Foot you probably already own.......

Do you own a blind hem foot? If so, then you own a perfectly respectable, multi-tasking, stitch in the ditch presser foot. Of course we quilters and don't do any hemming - if we can help it!

Mine looks like this:

 It has a vertical metal piece that runs through the middle down to the fabric like this:

To use it - guide the little vertical metal piece along your seam line (or in the ditch) and voila! Stitch-in-the-ditch simplified! No tugging on your fabric necessary, because that little curved piece right in the middle of where your needle goes through pushes the fabric over for you.

It almost looks like a piece of wire running through the middle in this picture:

Friday, August 28, 2015

Chemo Quilt - Start to Finish

A friend of mine's wife was recently diagnosed with Cancer. Stay tuned to see how her story and this quilt turn out - all in one post!

She is an oncology nurse, so she sees this kind of thing every day.....only now she has to experience it first hand.

I decided to make a quilt for her, to keep her warm at the hospital during her treatments. 

The quilt starts simply - rows of squares - each row with 3 squares of the same size and lots of white space around them.

I asked her husband (my friend) what he thought she would like in colors. He said he thought she would enjoy bright colors and a more modern style.

I used bright, cheery batiks.

The next step was to cut wonky squares, with plenty of white around the edges. It was helpful to have a 9.5" square and to move it around, until I got the "tilt" I wanted. 

Then it was a matter of deciding the placement of the squares, being careful to balance the sizes, values and colors.

Next, sew the squares together. The smallest squares are raw edge applique.

I added sashing and border and a flimsy was born!

Now onto Millie for quilting. I chose a swirly pantograph, because I wanted to soften the straight edges and give it a definitive feminine side.

A few close-ups.

I used a black/white tiny polka dot on the back. The photo makes me a little cross-eyed to look at, but it looks good in real life.

The full quilt, hanging on the Millie frame.

So I gave the quilt to my friend (the husband) who cried when I gave it to him. He couldn't believe it. He carried it around the office and I am told showed it to everyone. He was very happy.

His wife - just as happy!

He brought back stories of how all the nurses and other patients in the treatment rooms were SO jealous!

This quilt is a happy quilt, that deserves a happy ending - don't you think?

Well, it got it's happy ending. A few months after she started, she was given a clean bill of health! YAY!!!!!!!

I like to think the quilt helped her a little. :-)

Ladybug gave her seal of approval and added an extra prayer, before it was delivered.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Something a little different

I have been working on a little crochet project. It is called Sophie's Universe, which was a crochet-a-long that was finished quite some time ago, by those who actually did it as a crochet-a-long.

I don't like surprises, so I tend to wait until I can see the full product, before I start something.

I do the same thing with "mystery" quilts......collect the patterns, to make sure I like it.

I have to say this has been fun though, the many different stitches and varying colors make me want to skip a night or two of sleep, just to see what is coming next!

What about you - have you ever truly participated in a mystery - dove in, not knowing what it would become? Did you like the process?

To Grandmother's House We Go - a free quilt pattern

Click here for the free quilt pattern This quilt is a take on little red riding hood. I just think it is adorable for girls of any...