Friday, April 29, 2011

A Whole Lot of 1.5" Strips!

Thank you all for your great comments about my first two videos!  They were fun to make and I have a couple more in the planning stages to do so stay tuned!  In the mean time you can subscribe to my YouTube channel if you like ;-)

Remember a while ago when I found that bag of scraps that I had set aside for a quilt project?  If you don't remember you can see them here.   Well after I found that bag of fabric I had pressed it all and stacked it in a container and put it away on a shelf.  Well, that was in January.  Yesterday we had huge winds here that knocked out power for over 7 hours.  Without the distraction of the TV and internet etc I decided to pull out this bin and use my new 1.5" strip cutter for my Accuquilt Go!  I just started laying the pieces on the strips and cut all the random pieces into 1.5" strips.  

At first the strip cutter was very hard to get through the cutter and I had to push the mat down and through the cutter a bit.  Not hard or anything - you should never force the cutter; but, the foam was very stiff at first.  After a couple passes through the cutter the die broke in and it was effortless.  Most people don't realize that the dies and the cutter both need to break in when you first start using them.  This was the stiffest die that I have ever used but it broke in nicely and was a real time-saver - I couldn't imagine cutting all those 1.5" strips on my own!  I also wish that the die blades were just a little bit longer - maybe 0.5 cm longer - or maybe that's just me.


You can see the picture of the quilt that I am making from the book More Elm Creek Quilts by Jennifer Chiaverini.  Do you like my little sorters?  I love these little containers - they are the plastic containers I get fresh mushrooms in from the grocery store and they work so wonderfully!  They nest in each other and are free - I like free - doesn't everyone?  

After 1 was finished cutting the strips I needed to cut the strips down into rectangles.  For the 1.5" squares I just sent the pieces through the cutter again the other way.  For the 1.5" x 2.5" rectangles I used my 2.5" strip cutter - the rest I had to rotary cut since I don't have any of those dies - hmmmmm maybe a little shopping is in order?  I did, however, use my Value Die for the 4.5" x 1.5" rectangles.  It's amazing to me how much faster die cutting is than rotary cutting!  Don't get me wrong I still rotary cut!  But chopping down the scraps this way was very nice - with very little waste.

Now I need to do all this again with the off-whites and creams in the other half of the container.  Should I wait for another power outage or get to it now?  I still have over 300 1.5" red squares to cut as well - but I am cutting this from a solid red Kona fabric.

You know - now that I am looking at this again - it would make a good leaders and enders project I think!  What do you think?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Leaders and Enders!

Hi all!

I thought that I would share the video we did yesterday on leaders and enders.  I have been using 2" squares for about 9 years or so as my leaders and enders and I have done so many projects with them.  If you would like to see the method in a nutshell you can see it in this post from 2006.  I absolutely love how you get a project from basically nothing with them!  My video features the 2" square Accuquilt Go! die but you can definitely cut these by hand.  I cut by hand for years before I got this die.

When I teach classes I frequently show my leaders and enders method so I thought that making a video would be a great idea since so many people have not yet heard of this great method.  Bonnie Hunter of Quiltville has made this method pretty famous in the quilting world but believe it or not I heard about this method years before from a fellow quilter and just fell in love with it!  Bonnie even has a book out on leaders and enders which is wonderful and well worth checking out if you're interested.  She uses many different shapes and sizes as leaders and enders; but, I guess I just love my 2" squares!

So, have you made any leaders and enders projects?  If you have I would love to see them - maybe you could share them on my Facebook page?

Friday, April 22, 2011

My First Video Featurng the Go! Bountiful Baskets Die


I finally did it!  I published a video on YouTube!  it features the Bountiful Baskets die for the Accuquilt Go!  I decided to do this video since so many quilters seem to have a hard time with the basket handle on this die.  I discovered a few tricks that made this a lot easier and the handle smooth.  I go over block assembly using my tricks that actually make this little block go together really well.

I hope that you will check out the video and let me know what you think!  You can watch it here or click on this link

Happy Quilting!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

We Have a Critter Winner!

Congratulations we have a winner!

Using a rondom number generator from I chose a winner from the 88 sucessful entries.

And our winner is!

Kathy H has left a new comment on your post "Spring Placemats and a GIVE-AWAY!!":

I haven't made any basket placemats or quilts yet and was holding off as they looked complicated. But with the basket die, it looks so much easier. The placemat is very cute, especially for Easter basket time.

Congratulations Kathy!  I've sent an e-mail off to Kathy so I can send her the little critters!  I hope that you enjoy them and will send a picture of what you do with them.

Thanks so much to everyone that entered - I hope you had fun on the Spring Blog Hop - I know that I had a lot of fun participating it it.

Happy Quilting all!!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Waste Not Want Not!

Hi all!  Have you entered my give-away yet?  If not you still have time to enter to win some great die-cut critters!  Read all about it here!

Well after I finished cutting those critters out I had a nice pile of scrap batiks with fusible on the back left-over.  A really big hand-full of them that I just couldn't throw out!  There was lots of good fabric in there and I wanted it!

So I had an a-ha moment and I grabbed my Rose of Sharon die for my Go! 

I placed the bits of fabric and fusible over whatever shape they were large enough for and once I had a bunch of shapes covered I ran it through.

And this is what I ended up with!  Lots and lots of little flowers, circles and leaves!  How cool is that??!!  Insta-project!  I don't know what I'm going to do with it yet but believe me these little guys will find a home!  

The blue container in the picture is actually the packaging from mushrooms from the grocery store LOL!  I love these packages - I just wash them well and then use them as sorters.  They nest into each other so they can stack really well.  You can organize a lot of little bits really effectively this way.  Waste not want not!

So what do you think - would you have thrown out the bits?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

More Give-Aways!

No it's not another one from me LOL!  But I think that you are all enjoying a chance at those die-cut critters!  Maybe I'll run more give-aways using die-cuts then for you guys that don't have a Go! . . . .  . yet!

Accuquilt, The Quilt Show and Aurifil have teamed up for an absolutely amazing give-away!  There is $1520.00 worth of prizes to be given away so enter!

Just Plain Laine is having a give-away to die for and I thought that I would share!  She's on today for the Spring Themed Blog Hop!

Also P.S. I Quilt is having a great fat quarter give-away!

And Leedle Deedle Quilts is having a fat quarter give-away!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Spring Placemats and a GIVE-AWAY!! ~ Now CLOSED

I'm lucky enough to be taking part in SewCalGal's Spring Themed Blog Hop!  Follow the link to find the other blogs participating!  Yey! and I am so happy to offer you this place-mat tutorial.  I used 30's reproduction prints for my baskets and a white fabric for the background.  So nice and spring-like!  But, I also think these place-mats would look amazing in country fabrics or in bright fabrics on a black background.  I also thought that the baskets were very appropriate since Easter is coming up and these would look just amazing on the table Easter morning. 

This tutorial features the Accuquilt Go! Bountiful Baskets die by Alex Anderson.  This is such a great die for cutting this cut little basket block.  Because this block is copyrighted I can't give you the cutting directions here but don't worry!!  Alex Anderson gives a video tutorial on constructing this block that you can access here.  And, you can access the cutting instructions here if you don't have this amazing die!  If you want another Basket tutorial you can click on my Wednesday Blog Hop buddy Bits and Pieces because she did the baskets die as well.  Who would have thunk it LOL!

To compare and contrast the die cuts versus cutting by hand I cut one basket block completely according to Alex's directions and video and the rest with the Go!  I can honestly say that not only is cutting easier on the Go! but it is less wasteful!  I get that question all of the time - is the Go! wasteful?  Nope not at all for this block!  Alex's rotary cutting directions on the video ask you to start with 2 squares 5" x 7" and doing this wastes a lot of your feature fabric.  With the Go! Bountiful Baskets die you can just cut your squares and lay them on with very little waste.  I put the picture up of the cuts so that you could see how tight they are - yey!!  I don't like wasting fabric.  And with the price of fabric - here in Canada we pay about $16.00 a meter -  less wasted fabric is great! And, having those dog ears cut off makes the piecing sooo easy!

Ok - so now that you have all made your postage stamp baskets (you will need 4 for each place-mat) you will also need 2 squares 5" x 5" - if you have the 5" square die you can use that and cut two for each place-mat.  You will also need one rectangle 8.5" x 14.5" for each place-mat.  Using the picture at the top lay out your place-mats and sew them together using a 1/4" seam.

Layer your place-mats with batting and backing and quilt as desired.  Because I used some nice vintage fabrics I machine quilted them with a feather motif.  If you don't want to bind your place-mats you can also do the inside out method.  If you would like a tutorial on the inside out method I give one here.  I chose to bind my place-mats to give them a more vintage look and because I had that nice print that I love!  If you do choose to bind your place-mats you will need 2 strips, for each place-mat, 2' by the width of fabric.  Need a binding tutorial?  You can find one right here

Now for a give-away!  It's spring and I love that everything is coming back and is lovely so I am offering 10 die-cut Butterflies and Dragonflies (5 of each) that I featured back in this post.   I have already put Steam a Seam fusible webbing on the backs so all you need to do is peel, stick and stitch!  Sweet!

I'll send 5 whole dragonflies but 5 bodies separated from the butterfly bodies so you can mix and match.  (Ok UPDATE!  I'm sending you everything that you see in the above photo!  It's more than I originally said - and it includes an extra set of dragon fly wings that you can attach to one of the extra bodies.  I'm sending 9 bodies in total) You will absolutely love working with these little guys and they would look great on any quilt!

Ok here's the fine print!

For one chance to win you can comment on this post.  Tell me why you would love to win these little cuties or what you would make with them.

For a second chance to win, become a follower and leave another comment here for a second entry.  If you already follow my blog that's fine just leave a comment here telling me that you do.

For a third chance, blog about my giveaway and leave another comment here telling me where I can find your post!

For a fourth chance to win like me on Facebook and leave another comment here.  Again, if you already like me on Facebook just tell me so in a comment.

Every comment is your entry - 1 comment one entry ;-)

Please, please make sure your blogger is not set to no-reply!!!!  Please see a previous post here on how to make sure that you are not a no-reply blogger!  If a no-reply blogger is chosen then I will be forced to draw another name and I really don't want to do that!

 So what do you think?  Do you want to make some great basket place-mats?  I hope that you will enter my give-away to win some great die-cut critters!  And don't forget to visit the other bloggers!

We'll end the Give-Away Sunday so get entering and good luck!  The give-away is now closed ~ thank you so much for all who entered!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Spring Theme Blog Hop

Are you ready for a Spring Themed Blog Hop?  Well SewCalGal sure is and she's hosting a great one!  Each day she is featuring two bloggers and I'm on Wednesday!  Yay!!  For a complete listing of the blogs involved please check out SewCalGal's blog

So check back tomorrow for my project!  I think you're going to like it - or at least I do ;-)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

My Sewing Table

Hi all!  I was so inspired after reading Marguerita's book, Sew and Quilt in Comfort,  again yesterday that I wanted to make some changes to my sewing set-up. I thought that I might share with you what we did yesterday; but, first I need to give you a little bit of the back-story on my sewing machine table.  When I first started quilting we were newly married and had a new born baby.  I loved to quilt and was sewing on the dining room table - sound familiar?  Since sending my quilts out to be machine quilted at that time simply wasn't a financial option I had to learn to quilt them myself.  Well if any of you machine quilt on a table-top you know how hard this can be without a good set-up.

I went into a quilt store and looked at the Horn of America cabinets - they were beautiful and wonderful and very pretty - but also very expensive to this newly wed new Mom!  Spending $1500 just wasn't feasible so my husband built me a very basic copy of the cabinet that I loved so that my sewing machine could be sunk down level with the bed.  This made quilting easier but I still need support on the left hand side for the bulk of the quilt.  I used my ironing board lowered down to support the bulk.  Now an ironing board is NOT very stable so I would frequently knock it over.  So the second incarnation of my sewing table was born - we took the main top off and added permanent support for the left side.

Then I got a new machine!!  An embroidery machine!!  Well the embroidery machine needed to be able to be level with the sewing table and on top of the sewing table easily so I purchased the Touch Release Air Lift from Horn of America and the Plexiglas insert that fit my machine.  Most people don't know that you can purchase this on its own - but you can!  We installed the lift onto my custom sewing table and I was extremely happy!

Then I got another machine with a large harp for machine quilting.  It came with a large extension table and I quilted with it table-top for a couple years - not ideal but doable.  After reading Marguerita's book through I realized that I was not doing myself any favours and I enlisted my husband to make more changes to my table.

First we decided where I wanted the sewing machine sunk - and I took Marguerita's advice and pushed it back several inches.

Then we cut a big hole in the table to fit the machine.

Then we adjusted the hole until the machine could go in it.  This took some time LOL!  After the hole was cut my husband added a shelf under the table so that the sewing machine wouldn't fall through the hole to the floor!  And so that the bed of the sewing machine would be level with the table top.

Yey!  A level quilting machine!

Here's a view of the table showing both my machines - I have shared space between them so I am not wasting.  When I want to use my larger machine to machine quilt I use the air lift on my other machine to sink it down, so it sits under the cabinet, so that I have extended space.

Here is the large extension table that came with my machine.  It works well but the machine is elevated just shy of 3.5" with it on!  Not very ergonomic.   You can also see how I have left hand support for both of my sewing machines as well.  This is a must-have for me.

This is the removable left hand support that we made for my quilting machine - I can't have it as a permanent fixture because it is in a very busy area of the house and people would bang into it.   It just slides off and folds up to store so that I can put it away when I am not machine quilting.

Here's the wooden shelf that now holds my machine.  Nothing fancy but it works!  I can now use my knee lift again since my machine is lower.   I can slide my hand in on the left to change my bobbins.

One last thing.  I used Marguerita's advise, again, and used clear vinyl over the bed and part of my table so that the surface is completely smooth and slippery.  The area of the table right around the sewing machine was a little rough so this really helps to smooth it out.

So what do you think?  It's not ready for a magazine photo shoot but it works for me and I love it!  Although I love the Horn of America cabinets I wouldn't trade this one for the world since this one perfectly fits me and what I want.  Besides - this cabinet has taken approximately 11 years to build so far!  Who knows what we're going to do to it next ;-)

What do you think?  If you have any questions or comments feel free to leave them here!  I love to hear from you.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Sew and Quilt in Comfort - A Book Review!

I was lucky enough to be sent Marguerita McManus' new book Sew and Quilt in Comfort:  How to Inexpensively Create and Customize Your Sewing and Quilting Area to Fit you Perfectly.   She is the author of a book that I love Crazy Shortcut Quilts. This is a great book for quilters who are currently creating in a less than ideal setting.  I know you're out there you quilters who have your sewing machine set up on the dining room table or a small card table.  Most quilters don't have a dedicated space or a sewing studio that looks like it could be featured in a magazine.  I wish we could all have a beautiful studio but often it just is not possible!

Am I speaking to you yet?  If you do have a wonderful studio, and, are 100% happy with your set-up, than this book is not for you.  But, if you're one of those quilters who doesn't have an ideal studio - this book is for you!  Marguerita gives doable and inexpensive ways to set yourself up a sewing area that will allow you to sew in comfort!  I absolutely love that her solutions can be taken down and stored easily as they are light-weight, flat and can be stored in a closet or under the bed.  This book offers realistic advise that any quilter could implement.

Marguerita put a couple videos on YouTube showing her table and how she constructed that have got over 50 000 hits and have really helped a lot of qulters.

Watching the videos will make you reconsider how you're currently quilting and how you can easily make your set-up work for you!  The book goes into greater detail than the videos and is a great reference when you're actually changing your set-up.   Several of the tips in the book made me change my set-up for machine quilting.  Moving the sewing machine back a few inches really increased visibility and decreased shoulder strain.  I also love the idea of the faux-long-arm set-up that several quilters use. 

So if you want to easily create a more comfortable quilting area I would highly recommend this book!!  You can get it here on Amazon or even a Kindle version for only $2.99!!  You won't regret it!

So check out the videos Marguerita has a great YouTube channel!

What's your set-up like?  Studio fit for a magazine shoot or the dinning room table?

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

You Get What You Pay For!


Wowie sometimes a saying can be so true! A while back I found what I thought was an amazing deal on rotary cutter blades at a fabric store.  They had Singer blades on sale for $0.99 each!  Yey, I thought, I'd better stock up!  Up here in Canada blades are around $8.00 each so I thought I was getting a real deal. How bad can they be I wondered?  Singer is a good name isn't it?  Well, was I ever wrong!  The blades burred so fast!  They got nicks in them and just never cut well.  The metal must be very soft in these blades.  But, hey, I bought about 30 of them so I wanted to use them up!!  I've been putting up with these blades on projects for a while so I stopped noticing how horid they are to work with!

This weekend, while I was demoing,  I caught the corner of my ruler with my rotary cutter and really nicked the blade.  I couldn't cut with it anymore so I ran over to the notions wall and grabbed a new blade (don't worry I paid for it latter LOL).  I quickly switched blades and started cutting with a new Olfa blade instead of the Singer blade.  Wowie-zowie what a difference!  It was night and day a better blade.  The cutting was perfect and the rotary cutter rolled wonderfully!  I had forgotten how much I had to work to cut with those Singer blades, how much pressure I had to put on the cutter and the re-cuts I had to do!  

You can pick the saying that applies here:
  • penny wise pound foolish
  • you get what you pay for
  • if it seems to good to be true it probably is
  • etc
I don't want to go back to using those cheap blades now.  I have about 9 of those blades left and I want to throw them out!  

What would you guys do?  Would you throw the blades away or save them for an easy to cut out, accuracy not so important project?

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Go! Butterflies and Dragonflies

Today I am doing a little mini tutorial on the Accuquilt Go! Critters die.  I absolutely love this die since it is sooo cute!  When I did my Go! Butterfly Garden quilt I really liked how the bodies and the wings were different colours on the butterflies and dragon flies.  What I didn't like was I was going to have to hand cut those wings off to get a body and how I would have to try and shape it myself.

Then I had an ah ha moment!  I could use my die!

First apply your favorite fusible webbing to the back of a smaller piece of fabric that will cover only the body of the dragon fly and a contrasting fabric over the who are of the wings of the butterfly.  If you're doing a dragon-fly you can layer fabric over top of your body piece.

Cover this with your mat and run it through your cutter.

You'll have something that looks a little like this.  I know the body isn't shapely yet but here it comes.

Turn the body piece around so that the head is at the tail and the tail at the head.

Make sure that you line it up properly so that the edges of the head and tail are right on the edges of the die.  It is so much easier to do this if you have outlined your dies with your silver Sharpie.

Here's what it looks like after I have run it through the cutter.  See how it has shaped the rest of the body for you?  With absolutely no hand cutting you now have a very attractive looking  body for your butterflies and dragonflies!

Peel the fusible webbing off the back of the body and adhere it to the wings. Voila!  you now have a very shapely body for your dragonflies and butterflies.  How fast and easy was that?  

If you have any questions or comments feel free to leave them here and I will do my best to answer them for you!  And, if you liked this little mini-tute I hope that you will click follow so that you can find me easier.

Happy Quilting!

Monday, April 04, 2011

Exhaustion After Demoing!

Ohhh so tired even the day after demonstrating all day at The Quilting Quarters.  Demoing is so rewarding and so fun and we had an absolutely fabulous group of women - sorry guys - I know there are male quilters, don't worry, but, we were an all female group yesterday LOL! 

Anyways, I was so brain-dead after it was all over, and everyone had left, that I forgot one of my biggest bags at the shop!  This bag held ALL of my Accuquilt Go! dies and all of the rulers and books I demoed that day - that was an important bag!  So, today I went back to the quilt shop (about a 25-30 minute drive) to grab my stuff.  Not a big deal really; but, I felt the need to console myself with some fabric.

I got several meters of 30's prints that I think would go in very nicely with my stash to make a great double wedding ring quilt!  I can see it so clearly in my head that it makes me smile.  They are such happy, cheerful prints with such pure tones.

One down-side, I don't have enough variation in my 30's prints!  Uh oh I see more fabric shopping in my future!

So what are you all working on today?  Anything new?  Anything you're thinking of?  Or UFO's?

Happy Quilting!

Friday, April 01, 2011

Go! Butterfly Garden

I finished it!  I made the Accuquilt pattern Go!  Butterfly Garden.  Isn't it pretty!?  The weather networks were calling for sun and warmth and well - we got neither so I decided to bring a little spring into the house!  By the way sorry for the dark photo - I'll try to replace it on a brighter day - I told you we were having dull days!  I made mine smaller than the pattern on the Accuquilt site so that I could get the boarders out of the width of fabric instead of cutting them on the length-wise grain.  I had hand-dyed te green and blue fabrics and I was looking for a project to make with them for a while.  I think they work well here and it is nice to use one of my hand-dyes instead of hoarding them!

I didn't have all of the dies that they used on the Accuquilt site.  The dies I did use were:
  • Critters
  • Rose of Sharon
  • Feathers
  • Circle
I improvised by using these dies for all of the shapes - leaves can become flower petals easily!  I found it very enjoyable to look at the flowers and see what I had.  Now that said - I really want the round flower and funky flower dies now LOL!  Notice I said want - not need ;-)  That said I am sure I could think up another project that NEEDS the dies LOL!

BTW Accuquilt is having the most amazing promotion!!  You have to check out what you get free with every order!!  I've now placed an order just to get this item.  You can check out the amazing promotion here!

What are you all working on?  Any spring projects to share?

Also don't forget to stop by my facebook page and join in the conversation and fun!

Happy Quilting!