Thursday, June 23, 2016

Quilting Magazine Round-Up

I splurged on three quilt magazines in Barnes & Noble recently and thought I'd do short reviews.

First, the August 2016 (issue 141) of American Patchwork & Quilting.  I don't buy every issue, only those that have a project that I particularly like.  I was looking for this one because I had seen a couple of photos online that intrigued me.

One of the articles, by Joanna Figueroa (of Fig Tree & Co.), is about using your own photos as inspiration for a quilt project.  Her design contribution is this orange and gray quilt, inspired by a photo she took at Alhambra in Granada, Spain.  I like the design; the blocks are almost 13" square.

Another of Joanna's photos inspired Just Rosy, by Laurie Simpson.   A quilt with a floral applique border is on my lifetime quilts-to-make list and I like the simplicity of this design.  It reminds me a bit of Mary Engelbreit designs.

My supply of Fig Tree fabric is still robust but I will eventually be down to scraps and have been looking for a scrap quilt design to keep in mind for that day.  I like this one, called Stairsteps , by Jo Kramer.  The magazine version is in Civil War reproduction fabric but the design lends itself to other fabric genres and I think it could work well for Fig Tree.  I will need to select a color to use in place of the red, though the right red could work.

This issue of APQ also has an interesting article about Missouri Star Quilt Company, the result of a Type A woman getting a new hobby in retirement!  I can't let my husband read it or he will start to worry about what I might have planned for "his" retirement.

Modern Quilts Unlimited is a new-to-me magazine.  The cover design by Emily Herrick caught my eye.  It is supposed to be a rose rendered in cross stitch, much magnified, but I just like the X block and may have another use for it. 

A second project, Orbit Chain (by Lisa Burmann), also caught my eye.

I had resisted buying this other new-to-me publication, Our Quilting, because of the high price ($17.99), but having sighed over the cover quilt on several different trips through the store, I gave in.  This magazine is published in Germany and appears to cover all aesthetic bases - art, modern, traditional, and primitive.  The cover quilt, called Gloria's Flowers (by Evelyn Zuber), is similar to hexagon flowers but uses an octagon shape for the outer petals.  It was constructed using English paper piecing.

After finishing La Passacaglia, I'd like to make another EPP project, though probably not immediately.

This bag also caught my eye.  It sort of looks like it was made out of a table runner, but I like the look and think it could work for a laptop sleeve.  Because a quilter shouldn't be using a solid black neoprene laptop sleeve; too boring!

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Monday, June 20, 2016

Ocean View - A Finished Flimsy

My version of Simply Woven is finished and I think I will call it Ocean View.  The cool, breezy colors are almost like having a fan on this hot day.

Please excuse the poor quality of the photo - Mr. Main Street's wingspan isn't quite as wide as the quilt (72") nor is he as tall (96"), it was an overcast day, and Dillie insisted on being included.  I'll try for a better one after quilting.  

By the way, making this quilt made me a convert to heavy starch.  If you recall, I starched the jelly roll strips with spray starch (saturated them really) before cutting.  No stretching or pulling out of shape and the blocks went together so easily.  I'll be doing this now whenever appropriate.  To make it easier, our local supermarket, McCaffrey's, is stocking spray starch in the laundry section again.  Do you think the buyer reads my blog, lol?

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Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Can you Hear The Waves?

I've been working on the blocks for my Simply Woven quilt and now have 48 finished blocks like the one above.  I've got the blocks laid out on the "design bed" and am tryiing not to obsess over block placement.  I am rotating the blocks 180 degrees in alternate rows.

The Moda Bakeshop instructions are quite detailed, with lots of helpful photos of the block construction process. But the instructions don't include pressing directions.  I quickly realized that if I pressed to the dark, I'd wind up with lots of bulk at the seams when it came time to join the blocks.  So I pressed my seams open instead.  That has worked out well as the blocks are nice and flat and the woven strips are lining up very nicely.  You can see the joining seam running horizontally in the middle of the photo below.

I'll be back with the finished flimsy soon.

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Friday, June 3, 2016

Slice, Dice, 'n' Sew

About six weeks ago, I showed you the batik strips I planned to use in my next quilt project.  I'm making a pattern from the Moda Bakeshop called Simply Woven.  It is one of those blocks that comes together by sewing fabric pieces together, cutting, sewing again, cutting again, sewing some more...and after a few steps, you have your block.

You sew your background fabric on both sides of one strip....

Cut it in half...

 Sew the halves to either side of another strip...

Repeat until you have used all six strips and you have a finished 12" block.

The directions for this quilt on Moda Bakeshop are very good, with lots of color photos to illustrate each step.  The sewing is easy and fast; you just have to pay attention to where you are cutting.  I recommend cutting fabric for a few extra blocks, just in case you flub up once or twice (or more often!) like I did.

I've already made 22 of the 48 blocks required fir a 72" by 96" quilt.

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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Ta Da!

My La Passacaglia project is a finished flimsy!  Oh, what a difference a 3-day weekend makes!

I will square up the sides after quilting.  I even got the back pieced and it is about to go off to the long arm quilter.

It seems a little odd to spend all that time hand piecing this baby only to quilt it by machine.  I briefly considered hand quilting, as several quilters whose progress I have followed online are doing with their versions.  But after contemplating the backside of the top, I decided my hand quilting skills are not a match for the many seam allowances that need to be quilted.  Here's a look at the back with papers removed:

The pieces are so tiny that the seam allowances often overlap, so that hand quilting stitches would have to go through two or three layers of fabric, and that's just the top, not including the batting and backing fabric.  The only way around all the layers is to quilt inside the larger pentagons and diamonds only.  So I decided to go with machine quilting.  More experienced hand quilters may have no trouble with all the layers.  

I'll be back with more on this quilt when it is truly finished, but in the meantime, I'm moving on to a "fast quilt" project.

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Friday, May 13, 2016

Tips For Making Your Own La Passacaglia Quilt

Now that I'm nearly done, and with over a year of experience working on my own La Passacaglia quilt, I'm here with some tips just in case you want to tackle this project yourself.

First, you need the book Millefiori Quilts by Willyne Hammerstein. It was published by Quilt Mania and is not widely available in the US (not available on; I got my copy at  Even if you know how to do English paper piecing, you will need the diagrams in the book because this quilt goes together like a jigsaw puzzle.

La Passacaglia is constructed using the English paper piecing method, where fabric is secured around pieces of stiff paper cut to the desired shape and size then hand sewn together.  I can't see machine piecing working for this quilt, given how tiny the individual pieces are.  I got my paper pieces from  They sell a complete pack for this quilt (as well as other Willyne Hammerstein designs) and while it seems kind of pricey, it will save you a lot of time; I would rather sew than cut pieces of paper!  You can either baste the fabric to the paper or use fabric glue.  I used glue, the Sewline glue pen, which is easy to handle and applies a narrow line of glue.  You don't want too much glue as it will make it harder to remove the paper at the end.  I think I used about seven glue refills for the pen as well.

It is very helpful to do your gluing and some of the cutting on a rotating cutting mat.  It makes things easier but is not absolutely necessary.  I have this Olfa mat and have used it for other projects.  Don't let the square shape fool you; it does spin.

It is possible to cut your fabric using a regular ruler and rotary cutter but I bought the acrylic templates for each shape from along with the papers.  I found them particularly useful when fussy cutting.  When not fussy cutting my shapes, I cut my fabric in strips the width of each shape then used the acrylic templates to cut the individual pieces.

Of course, you need needles and thread for the hand sewing.  In her YouTube tutorial, Sue Daley recommends Bottom Line thread from Superior Threads so I bought the set of bobbins to give me a wide range of colors.  You want your thread to either match the fabric color or blend, so your stitches don't show.  I used matching colors where I could and found a khaki color included in the bobbin donut (actually #617 taupe) blended well.  Bottom Line thread is polyester; if you don't like using polyester thread, try one of the fine threads like Aurifil or a thread made for hand applique.

You need a size 10 or 11 straw needle for the sewing; I used some I had in my quilting tool box.  You will want several needles for the project.  The eye of this size needle is small so you may find a needle threader useful.  I recommend using a thimble to protect your finger tips.  I like the adhesive dots (I put one on the middle finger of my right hand, exactly where a callus would form if I didn't use a thimble), but you can use whatever works for you, which is probably whatever you use when hand finishing binding.  I found the small binding clips useful for holding two pieces together before I took the first few stitches as it is hard to get pins through the paper.

There are a number of videos on YouTube that will help teach you the actual stitching.  I like Sue Daley's videos and has some tutorials as well.

Let's not forget the most important part, the fabric!  If you Google la passacaglia quilt and click on images, you will see this quilt in made in every conceivable color combination.  You can see examples on Pinterest and Instagram as well.  I had a particular color combination in mind and chose fabrics (mostly from my stash) accordingly.  Fussy cutting floral, paisley, and other large patterned prints can give your rosettes a really special look and is worth the time.  You will want to augment these prints with small scale prints, tone-on-tones, and stripes for variety.

Here are three fabrics I used in my quilt, fussy cutting each in different ways.  When fussy cutting, you will need either five or ten repeats of the same motif (keep this in mind if you are shopping for fabric).

Here's an example of the "swiss cheese" effect after fussy cutting.  I used this fabric for the center star (5 diamonds each) in two rosettes and for the outer ring of 10 pentagons in another rosette.

One fabric print can be fussy cut in different ways, emphasizing different parts of the print and different colors, to give a variety of looks.  Go here to see how Lynn Wilder used fussy cutting to great effect in a Lucy Boston block. Here's a 19th century repro fabric that would be great for fussy cutting.  Or say you want to use the French General colors of red, cream, and tan.  A wallpaper stripe like this or this, along with a motif like this would get you off to a great start with lots of potential for variety.

If you've been thinking about starting this project, I urge you to go for it!  I've found it very satisfying and see myself doing another EPP project in the future.  Just allow yourself plenty of time and enjoy the process.

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Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Further Progress on La Passacaglia Quilt

This is where I was in March when I last documented my progress on my La Passacaglia quilt project.  (The newspaper is there to show me where I need to add more to reach the desired size.)

Here she is with three more rosettes added.

Closer up:

And in this photo, I've added two more.  Just three more rosettes to go in the upper right corner.

I started this project in April, 2015, and I think I can finish it this month!  Later this week, I'll have a post covering what you need to make this quilt and my tips for the construction process.

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