Washing my Hugs and Kisses blocks

My goal was to have this quilt, Hugs and Kisses, finished by the end of the year.  I am trying my best, really I am.  I have finished stitching all 12 blocks.  Yipee!  Now it’s time to wash my blocks.  For those of you who have been following my blog, you will already know the routine.  For those of you who are new to the blog, this post is for you.  After I finish each block, I toss it into a sink filled with hot water and a bit of soap.  This step will remove the glue, the blue marking pencil and anything else that might be on your block.  Cat hair, maybe?  You will be amazed at how yucky the water looks once your block has soaked for a while.  But before you toss your block into the sink, take a really good look at it and make sure every itty bitty piece is stitched in place.  Trust me, this is an important step:)

Once  the blocks have soaked for about half an hour, it’s time to rinse them under the tap to remove the suds.  Then gently squeeze the block  to remove the excess water.  Your block should be fairly wet, but not dripping.

Next, lay the block out on a thick towel to air dry.  Easy Peasy!

Hugs and Kisses (designed by Sue Garman) is a Block of the Month that will start in January.  The blocks are fairly simple so this is a good quilt for a beginner.  I think this quilt is an excellent example of a quilt made up of simple blocks, but looks rather stunning when all the blocks are assembled.  Mind you, there are appliqued cornerstones and a swag border to follow.  Yes, stunning is a good word to describe this quilt.

Very often I am asked about thread.  I stitch with Mettler 60 weight.  It is 100% cotton and I use it because I love it.  It’s that simple.  I think everyone should at least give it a try (that is, if you haven’t tried it already).  I am including 5 spools of Mettler 60 in the colours you need to stitch the blocks.  Free.  No charge.  My gift to you:)

I think you will love it as much as I do.  You can sign up for Hugs and Kisses on the website.

 

Til next time….

Kerry

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What a Difference a Binding Makes!

At the top of my quilting “To-Do List” is to bind every one of my quilts or wallhangings that isn’t bound.  I must confess that putting the binding on is my least favourite activity. I’m not sure why, but I suspect it has something to do with knowing that my time with the quilt (or wallhanging) has come to and end.  Makes me sad.  Like not wanting to finish a good book.  But, the stack of unbound quilts is growing so I decided “It’s Time”.

I started off with my 2 class samples from last year’s Academy of Applique.  I like to stitch the bindings on with my machine and finish them by hand. As usual, once I finished one, I wondered what all the fuss was about and quickly started to get another one ready to bind!  My samples now look…well…finished.  Not to brag, but both wallhangings also sport a hanging sleeve.  And labels are in the works!  Kits for these 2 wallhangings are available on my website Simple Bird Studio.The exquisite machine quilting is done by Rose Bell of Fancy Feathers.

Speaking of The Academy of Applique, the catalogue of classes was released this past weekend and is now on the website.  If I wasn’t teaching, I’d be taking classes!  So much to learn.  If you have never been to The Academy, please give it some thought.  There is something so awesome about an Academy devoted to Applique.  Don’t worry though, you will have time to eat (and maybe sleep).  Here are the samples for the 2 classes I will be teaching in 2018.  The first one is called Giddy for Gerberas.

 

The second sample is called Bird of Paradise.  As you can see, neither of the samples are quilted yet.  Or has a binding.  But that is next on my To-Do List!

Til next time….

Kerry

 

 

Getting It All Together!

It’s still really hot.  Really, really hot.  So I am spending as much time downstairs where it is very cool, which is good, because I am getting lots done!  I finished stitching all of my blocks together…I must say I am thrilled with how wonderful the assorted pinks and greens go together.  I mean, when you veer away from the original quilt (Sue Garman’s quilt is made up of various red and greens) you really never know what you are going to end up with!

For those of who who have inquired, yes you can still sign up for Bed of Roses.  In fact, you can order one block at a time and work at your own pace, or you can order a few blocks at a time, or you can even order the complete set (which is your best bet to save on all that shipping!)

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I mentioned a few posts ago that I will be teaching two(!) classes at Barbara Blanton’s Academy of Applique.  What an honour!!  The catalogue of classes is now online so you can check it out here.  Here are my class samples.  I urge everyone who is even remotely interested in applique to consider taking a class at the Academy.  Don’t worry if you don’t know too much about applique….that is why you are taking classes….to learn more!  And if you are worried about going alone and not knowing anyone, well, stop worrying about that!  The Academy of Applique is the place to be if you want to meet fellow appliquers and maybe even make some lifelong friends.

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I am gearing up for the new BOM which starts September 1.  You can check that post out here.  That means you have exactly 10 days left to order! So if you want in on this BOM, you’ll have to order soon.  We will be starting with The Woven Flower Basket.  You will receive the pattern, the same fabrics I am using, a Color Chart so you will know which fabrics go where (handy!) and I will be doing a very detailed blog post to share the tips and techniques I am using.  I hope you will join me in making this awesome (but very doable!) quilt.

I started working on the first block yesterday, so I just wanted you to get a sampling of what the detailed blog post will look like.

OK…here we go….First I started by taping the pattern together.  You can make a personal photocopy (for your use only) so that you have a master copy.  You never know, you want to make these blocks more than once.  Next, I traced the pattern onto the background with a clover Water Soluble Marker (the thick one).  Take note that I only trace the outlines of a design and I don’t trace the inside detail.  Once you place the first unit on the background, you will cover up the inside markings.  And you will say to yourself… “Well, I just wasted my time tracing things that didn’t need to be traced”.  Trust me.DSCN7964

So I was laying in bed the other night thinking about baskets.  Specifically, baskets that are made from strips of bias.  And the fact that they are usually appliqued right onto the background.  And I wondered…”Where are the stems?  If the basket shows the background, shouldn’t I see stems.”  So then I thought…”I wonder what it would look like if I  added a layer of fabric to the background, and then applique the bias strips on top of that.  And then the stems would be “in” the basket”.  So that is what I did.  Which is why I did not trace the stems onto the background (just in case you were wondering haha!).

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Maybe you have never made bias strips before.  You probably think it is really difficult.  Well, I am here to show you how easy it really is.  First, you lay your ruler on the edge of the fabric so that the 45 degree line is lined up with the edge of the fabric.  It should look like this.   Here is a post you can read about how I make my bias stems.

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By the way, we are cutting our bias strips on a 45 degree angle.  Each one of those lines on your ruler represents a different angle, so make sure you are using the correct line

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When I cut my freezer paper template for the light blue piece, I did not include any seam allowance along the sides, but I did include it on the top and bottom.DSCN7965

Next, I removed the freezer paper template and traced the stem lines from the paper pattern.

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Then I glued the light blue piece in place making sure the top and bottom were lined up properly.

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Now I am ready to glue the strips in place.  You will notice that there is a bit of “over and under” going on with the stems so you’ll have to pay attention.  Clearly I wasn’t  paying attention, so I had to loosen the glue a little, but now it’s all good!!

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Til next time….

Kerry

Everything I Know About Making Bias Strips!

I love (love!) when people ask me questions about something I post on my blog.  For that reason, I am going to show you how I make my bias strips, which I use for stems.  First, let’s start with my pressing board…..it is a wooden board approximately 18″ x 18″ x 1″ that I have covered with a few layers of cotton fabric, so that the surface it still hard.  I have tried making bias strips on my ironing board (it has a very soft, thick pad on it) and it does not work at all.

When I use my 1/4″ bias maker, I cut my strips 1/2″ wide.  If you cut your strips even a 1/16th of an inch narrower, the strip will not go through the bias maker properly.

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Next, I spray the strip with starch.  I like to do one strip at a time because the starch dries fairly fast and you do not want the strips to be dry. Your strips  should be very damp when you put them through the bias maker.

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Using my stiletto, I guide the strip into the bias maker.

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Next, I turn the bias maker over and continue to guide the strip so that the end comes out the other side.

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Now I lay everything on my pressing board and place a pin through the bias and into the board.  You will be glad you did this!

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I take my iron in my right hand and slowly move the bias maker with my left hand and press along the folded bias strip.  Important note:  I don’t leave any space at all between the bias maker and the iron.   Also, I use the flat edge of the iron, rather that the tip of the iron.

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It’s as easy as that!!

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This is a post you might be interested it.  It shows how to use up your short pieces of bias so that no one will be the wiser!!

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Til next time…..

Kerry

Save those scraps!

I have been working away on the second block of “Love is in the Air” a pattern designed by Lori Smith.  I purchased this pattern a couple of years ago and put it away with the rest of my patterns.  Honestly, I forgot all about it.  About a month ago,  I went through my patterns and books in search of a simple applique pattern that would lend itself to a really scrappy feel.  As soon as I “found” this pattern in my box of (far too many) patterns, I knew “Love is in the Air” was exactly what I was looking for!  For those of you who may want to stitch these blocks along with me, the pattern is available here.

As I mentioned in my last post, I am using a collection of shirting for the backgrounds, so that means that each background square will be different, which I am not going to lie has me a little unsettled.  But I do love a challenge!

Also, I enlarged the patterns by 125%.  I cut my background squares 16″ x 16″, but I am not sure right now what size they will end up.  I never have all the details figured out before I start a quilt….what fun would that be?   Sometimes you have to listen to the quilt!

I started this block by tracing the pattern onto the background with a water soluble marker.  Next, I made a bunch of leaves, using many different fabrics, just for the fun of it and then I auditioned them.  Some I like.  Some I don’t.  Some of the leaves are competing with the background, so I will save those leaves for another project!

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OK, next I added my stems.  Notice I used the same fabric for all of the stems, just to give a bit of consistency.

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Next, I went searching through my scraps and I found this piece of fabric I have had for about 8 years.  I love this fabric!  So I decided to use it for the 4 main flowers.

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Then I went through my scraps and found a fabric that went with the flower fabric.

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Next, I went through my blues and golds and chose a few fabrics that played nicely with the main flower fabric.   So far, so good!

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This patterns has a circle in the centre that I could make with a piece of bias and  a 1/4 bias maker, but I chose to make a template instead and prep it in the way I prep all of my templates.  So much easier!  Instead of tracing the circle from the pattern, I used a compass to get a more accurate shape.
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I cut the circle out and ironed it to the wrong side of the fabric.  I decided not to cut the centre of the fabric out just yet, to keep it more stable.

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Using starch, a stiletto and a mini-iron, I prepped the outside edge.

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Next, I trimmed out the centre and prepped the inside edge.

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Taking the freezer paper out is always fun (and kind of scary!) but it works like a charm every time!

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Once it is glued in place, it looks very neat and tidy.  Whew!!

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So, I auditioned several fabrics for the centres of the main flowers…brown, black, burgundy, blue…nothing appealed to me.  Then I tried gold.  Gold it is!!  But wait….

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I thought the gold circles were a tad too big, so I made them a shade smaller.

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Ahhhh.  That’s much better!

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Here’s a fun fact… I used three different golds in this block.  After all, it is a scrappy quilt!

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And here are both blocks.  Sweet!

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Keeping with the scrappy theme, I am working away on Trail Mix, a quilt designed by Laundry Basket Quilts.  I chuckled when I saw this block.DSCN7451

In this block alone, there is a scrap from my hexie quilt I worked on last winter,

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…a scrap of the background of my Civil War Bride Quilt….

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….and a piece of the background of my Reminescence.  Memories!

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Til next time….

Kerry

Trail Mix Progress and a new project!

I have been making steady progress on my Trail Mix quilt, designed by Laundry Basket Quilts. I must say it is rather addictive cutting and stitching all those tiny little pieces.   Sometimes when I start a new quilt, I set up some rules or guidelines for that quilt.  The rule for this quilt is that I can only use fabrics I have on hand.  It certainly is a nice feeling to use the last bits of some of the fabrics I have had for…well, a really, really long time!!!

Ok, so, you make 4 of these units….

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…..and stitch them onto these scrappy blocks.

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Here is the first one which fit like a glove!

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Here are the second and third units….

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I was absolutely delighted when the fourth unit actually fit where it was supposed to without any puckers or pleats!  One down, eight more to go.  Yikes!

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So, keeping that scrappy theme, I have started a new applique project that will also have a scrappy feel.  The pattern I am using is “Love is in the Air” by Lori Smith.   I enlarged the patterns by 125% to make the blocks bigger than the original size (8 1/2″).  I am also going to make a scrappy sashing, but more about that later!

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For my background fabrics, I am also going with a scrappy look.  I have had this collection of shirtings long enough.  It is now time to use them up!  I’m going to use a different background for each block.  Can’t wait to see what that looks like!!

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I started this block like I start all of my applique blocks, I traced the pattern with a blue Clover water soluble marker.  Then I made some bias for the stems (using my 1/4″ bias maker) and I started to make some leaves.  When I do go fabric shopping, I am always on the look out for green fabrics (especially olive greens) that would make awesome leaves.

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Next, I chose the fabrics for my flowers.

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Each flower has a “bud” and so I chose this darker purple (on the right) as the bud.  I thought there was enough contrast….

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…but, as you can see, there really isn’t much contrast.  Unfortunately, the bud gets lost.

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So, I opted for a darker, more tone-on-tone bud for both of the flowers.  So far, so good!

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Next came the tail feathers for the bird.

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And finally, the rest of the bird!  Do you recognize the blue fabric I used for the bird body?  It is the same fabric I used in my Mom’s quilt.  You can read that post here.

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Til next time……

Kerry

Wait til you see this!!

When I (finally) finished the applique on “To Everything There Is A Season”, I handed it over to Rose from Fancy Feathers with my usual set of instruction.  My instructions were:  “Do whatever you want.  Surprise me.”  I am that kind of quilter!

So when Rose called Thursday to say the quilt was ready, I could not wait more than a day before I went to get it.  To say Rose did a spectacular job is putting it mildly…extremely mildly!!

I love everything about the way Rose quilted it.  I especially love how the feather borders inside each block do not go all the way around the block, and have a random feel to them.  Love it!!  This pattern was designed by Marilyn at MT Designs.  Marilyn has not seen the finished quilt yet, but she will see it tomorrow at Thanksgiving dinner!  The individual patterns for each of the blocks are available on my website Simple Bird Studio as paper patterns for digital patterns.

So….here you go!

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The centre medallion will take your breath away.  I wish you could see this quilt in person!

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Spectacular…right?

Till next time….

Kerry