Even studio cleaning can inspire

I spent most of yesterday cleaning up my studio. The applique project meant that I had pulled out pieces of fabric of every color. Fabric is the paint with which we create our works of art and sometimes we have to pull out a lot  to get just the right colors. And it’s so hard to know how to put away  all those smaller pieces of fabric. Often, I cut them into smaller pieces, but most of these were fat quarter to half yard size.

I did come up with some ideas as I worked. I had been dissatisfied with a couple of the appliques that I had done – or with the lack of contrast of my flower centers. So, I pulled out my Shiva Paintstiks and painted them. Otherwise, I think I would have thrown those applique blocks away–and they were a lot of work. I love the iridiscent paintsticks and that gave me the contrast and colors that were just perfect for those applique flowers.  I used stencil brushes so that I could control the amount of paint and for some of them I just gave them a light shimmer, and for others I gave them a big color change  from light to dark or dark to light.

Another idea was to go ahead and rough cut the flower shapes so that I could put away the fat quarter/half yard that  I needed  for that small 4 ” patch that would become the flower. I checked my Accuquilt GO dies and found that for the applique I’m doing right now, the hexagons are the perfect size – just larger than my flowers. So, now I have stacks of hexagons that will make flowers, and the centers of my flowers. This is so much more portable than all those stacks of little pieces of fabric with which I was struggling.

I started quilting an oak leaf applique quilt of Norma’s late yesterday. I am cross-hatching the background of the four blocks and will do a formal feather in the borders. I think it’s going to be pretty.


Weekend Lap Project – Applique

I always have to have a lap project going – and this past weekend, my Accuquilt Rose of Sharon die arrived which led me to do some experimenting. I ‘don’t do’ turned edge applique. That said, Sharon Schamber with Accuquilt’s help, has converted me. She makes wonderful applique using a paper biodegradable tearaway stabilizer base. This is the result of my weekend.

I really like the way this turned out. I think I would like my flowers to have a little more color contrast in the center so I’m going to do some experimenting; but this was a lot of fun.

Use the Accuquilt GO dies – both the flower and the Rose of Sharon – to cut the foundations.
Then put a spot of Elmer’s purple school glue on the foundation and glue it to the fabric heating it with the iron to make it stick.
Carefully cut around with about a 3/16″ seam allowance, clipping the inside curves.
Rub school glue on the seam allowance/edge of foundation and turn it. A cuticle stick is very helpful with this.
Use the little iron to heat set the glue.
Arrange the pieces to your  liking and stitch it to the background using polyester invisible thread and a very tiny zigzag stitch (1.0 mm stitch length, and 0.8 mm zigzag-on my machine). I stitch very slowly–almost like handstitching and use the tieoff feature of my machine for starting and stopping so I can clip the thread at the fabric. This can be handstitched, but the glue makes one require a thimble.
After soaking it in water, the glue disappears and the invisible thread stitches disappear into the edge of the applique.

This was so much fun–I might be an applique addict now — LOL!

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Elmer’s disappearing purple school glue
Cuticle sticks
Paper biodegradable tearaway and wash away stabilizer
Accuquilt GO flower and Rose of Sharon dies
Small iron
Polyester invisible thread (Sulky or Monopoly by Superior are great) 

Delectable ‘Crystal’ Mountains

I finally finished this one and here are a couple of pictures–will work on a “how-to” video and information sheet this afternoon.


Rectangle Block Lap Quilt

I’m still babysitting. I have decided that the best part of motherhood is knowing what is wrong when a child cries and being able to fix it. It really is satisfying when they wake in the night and you can easily stop the crying with a blanket or a stuffed rabbit or a pacifier. The hard part is if none of those things work.

The children will be home with Ezri today. The doctors at MGH in Boston said they would read her MRI scans and give an interpretation. They also said that if Barrow says she needs gamma knife radiation, then that is what they would recommend too, as the docs at BNI are the experts at treating hypothalamic hamartomas. As far as getting a better MRI, the new technology that is available at MGH has only been approved for ages 18 and over, so it will be some time before it is available to children as young as Ezri.

Now, for the quilting: Here’s a rectangle block quilt. I have drafted and re-drafted rectangle blocks. My goal was to create a block using only one strip width and for it to look like a rectangle, but actually be a square. That simply was not to be, so the quilt blocks have to be pieced in vertical rows instead of the usual horizontal rows.  It also requires cutting a couple of blocks in half so that the blocks are staggered on each row. You know I just hate having to match corners if I can get around it, and staggering the blocks makes it a much prettier quilt I think. The instruction sheet is here. This would make a great baby quilt in just the right colors.


Accuquilt GO shortcuts

I really like my Accuquilt GO, but must admit it is a very expensive tool. For that reason, it has to be absolutely as versatile as my rotary cutter has been all these years. And I want it to replace my rotary cutter so that my rotary cutter is to my GO the way my scissors are to my rotary cutter now. This requires some innovative thinking on my part, and collaboration with all you other quilters out there so the folks at Accuquilt can take this to the next level. I’d love to hear your ideas either here or on the Accuquilt Facebook page.

Wish list for what I want from my GO system:

1. I need it to be able to do more than simply cut single pieces that can be stitched together into a quilt. I need it to be able to make any shape I want for any block I decide to make. For it to do this, I have to not only cut the single piece, but I have to stitch and re-cut the stitched pieces into the next shape.

2. I need it to stand alone. The tool itself is big and the dies are big, so I don’t want to have a table for it and another table for a rotary cutter. (Also very important for quilters with limited mobility). This means a need for some utility dies, e.g.,

  • a gridded die with a single blade down the middle so I can recut things after I stitch them. This die would be long like the strip cutters so I could lay several blocks on it at a time.
  • dies for squaring blocks – I’d redesign the GO (that’s pie in the sky I know) and make it just a couple inches wider – still portable, but able to square a 9 inch finished block.

So, that’s my wish list for now.

Tips for streamlining cutting with the GO:

1. Did you know that you can use the Accuquilt GO mats for cutting with a rotary cutter? They have a great straight edge. So, if you’ve got a large piece of fabric that needs to be pre-cut a bit, just use the mat to cut and then you don’t have to get out a ruler.

Note: I use Polar Notions fabric storage sheets because they are the best!

2. If you’re going to use your GO mat to rotary cut, why not mark a line on it with a permanent Sharpie, so you know how wide your cut needs to be to just fit over the die.

3. If your die needs to go into the roller in a specific direction (never send a straight edge going under the roller), mark an arrow on the die. Yesterday, I sent my Tumbler die into the roller the wrong way and cracked a mat so that was an expensive lesson.

4. Because you should send the dies through the roller from both directions, develop a system so you know which way the die went through last when you’re cutting a lot of pieces. The way I do it, is that I flip the mat and die sandwich upside down on the side that I started the cut, and lay the die back down on the side where it should start the next time. Then I take my cut pieces from the mat on one side and arrange my fabric for the next cut on the die on the other side.

5. Did you know that the die rack also works for plexiglass ruler and templates – both rotary cutting and longarm templates? I use two racks for my strip cutters, although one will work.  (Note: You can use a pot lid rack too, but the dies will fall through the bottom because lid racks are designed for round things and dies are square. And a GO rack costs the same as a pot lid rack)

6. If you label all four sides of your die, then you won’t have to worry about putting them back into the rack with the label on top – you’ll always know which die is which.

7. Remember when you finish your cut to flip the die/fabric/mat sandwich upside down. All the fabric will stay on the mat and makes it easier to remove your cut fabric.

8. If static electricity is a problem, run a dryer sheet through with your fabric. I use the non-fragrance type.

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Stay tuned for  new videos I’m making:

Delectable Mountains Quilt Block, and There’s More Than One Way to do Applique


Layered Scrappy Pinwheel Quilt Block – using Accuquilt GO

Here’s a fun block I made using Accuquilt GO dies: 2 1/2 inch strip die and the 4 1/2 inch square from the Value Die.  The inspiration is from Bonnie Hunter’s “Strip Twist” on quiltville.com. Rather than four strips, I just used two. It looks great set in a quilt and is a quick and easy block to make. I made a 5 minute video showing how I put this together. I also made up an instruction sheet that you can download.  Please let me know if you have any questions about this one.

Here are some photos:

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Here’s the instruction sheet:

Layered Pinwheel Block rev 04-27-2010

And here’s the video:


Mother’s birthday and a special gift

Got back late yesterday from visiting my Mother and celebrating her 84th birthday. Enjoyed some wonderful Cleveland County BBQ at Red Bridges BBQ restaurant on NC Highway 74 – BBQ, hushpuppies, and red slaw – there’s nothing better. I gave my Mother an Accuquilt GO! cutter so she can cut her own quilts. Actually, since her stroke she doesn’t have the strength to cut, but this will allow her to direct her caregivers to do the cutting for her. She will be able to place the fabric on the die and tell them how and what she wants cut. She is still sewing quilt pieces together quite well, so I’m excited that this will give her more creative freedom than having someone 200 miles away cutting pieces for her. It will also allow her to use her fabric stash (and not mine) for her quilts – LOL!

A real bonus of this is that one of Mother’s caregivers is an accomplished seamstress, but has never made quilts. It was very apparent that she was excited about learning to quilt.

A special treat was waiting when I got home. there was a package with two beautiful dresses for Ezri and Kes from my brother Al and his wife, Sandy.

Dresses from Al and Sandy

Scrappy Pinwheel using the Accuquilt GO! cutter

Here’s a quick and fun pinwheel block made using the Accuquilt GO! cutter. This makes an 8 inch finished block.

You can download an instruction sheet here.

2 ½ inch strip die
3 ½ inch strip die
Value die

Step 1: Prepare strips and stitch pinwheels
• Cut light and dark strips using the Accuquilt Go 2 ½” strip die
• Cut light and dark strips again by laying cross-wise on the 3 ½” strip die
• Lay 2 ½” x 3 ½” pieces at right angles and stitch diagonally as shown in the diagram. Trim to ¼” along the seam line.
Note: To make sure all the pinwheels spin in the same direction, always sew the light and dark in the same direction for every piece.

Step 2: Make background pieces and stitch
• Cut light background strips using the Accuquilt Go 2 ½ inch strip die.
• Cut these strips into 4 ½” bricks using the 4 ½” square on the Value die.
• Stitch pieced strip to background strip on the long edge (see diagram) and press to the dark.

Step 3: Make blocks
• Arrange with pinwheels in the center (see diagram).
• Stitch blocks together as you would a four-patch.


Cutting Chart, Fabric Requirements for 8-inch Log Cabin for AccuQuilt Go cutter

Here’s a chart to go with the video for cutting eight inch log cabin blocks on the AccuQuilt Go cutter. Call me compulsive, but I have a notebook with lots of cutting charts. After I go through the process of creating a quilt in Electric Quilt and calculating everything for a block or a quilt and get it started; sometimes I get interrupted or distracted with something else for a week or a month or so, (sound familiar?!? ;). So it’s really nice to have something written so I can pick it up again and proceed.

Right click on the link below to save it to your computer. You will need adobe reader to view it.

Cutting Chart and Fabric Requirements