Archive for December, 2009

A Little Holiday Giveaway

Julie Wallace for Yuwa Fabrics

Inspired by a photo I saw on Kathie’s blog (inspiredbyantiquequilts.blogspot.com), I’m hosting a little holiday giveaway of one-yard of a wonderful turkey red fabric that was produced by Yuwa fabrics.  Seeing her post about the antique turkey red fabric owned by Judy Roche reminded me that I had an entire bolt of  a similar fabric that I purchased a year or so ago.

It was designed for Yuwa fabrics by Julie Wallace from Australia (quilters-barn.com).  For us in the US, however, you probably haven’t seen this fabric.  Printed on finely woven greige goods, it’s as silky as a lawn.  Wonderful.

"Making Welsh Quilts" by Jenkins/Claridge

I’ve been holding onto the fabric with the thought of hosting a little challenge between my friends and myself.  My thought was to challenge others to make a Welsh-style quilt…using the book Making Welsh Quilts as our inspiration.  This book was written by my friend Mary Jenkins and her co-author Clair Claridge, and is something you should track down if you don’t already have it in your library.  It has so many great ideas for traditional Welsh quilting motifs that it’s well worth the effort of finding it.

So, in order to throw your hat in the ring for this piece of beautiful Yuwa fabric, all you really need to do is leave a comment on this post by the end of the day on December 27th.  Sometime after that I’ll pick a number randomly and mail it out.  So, what could be easier?

Hope you’re all having a terrific holiday.



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Tile Quilt Revival

Tile Quilt Revival by Jones/Finley

I don’t have any idea how I managed to get so many very talented friends, but I’ve got another book to tell you about written by two friends, Carol Gilham Jones and Bobbi Finley.  Published by C&T, it’s called Tile Quilt Revival and focuses on exploring the 19th century technique of tile quilts.  I just saw an advance copy yesterday for a few minutes, so I wasn’t able to spend any quality time with it.  But given that I saw several of the quilts in progress, and am keenly aware of the talents of the authors,  I can sincerely say it’s something that you should take a look at.  

I was wishing that Santa was going to bring me one for Christmas, but I also just found out that it’s not due out until January’ish.   I’m trying to see if Prairie Queens will host a little book signing for Bobbi and her new book in the next couple of months.   So, if you live in the Bay Area and would like to meet one of the talented authors, keep checking back.  I’ll post the information once I’ve confirmed that there will be an event. 

For more about this book and some teaser photos, check out the posts by Deb Rowden and Barbara Brackman at:




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Eye Candy

"Wedgwood Blue"

I’ve received so many positive comments from earlier posts of  my applique that I’m dipping my toe in a little further and showing you more of my own work.  Wedgwood Blue was a quilt that I made in collaboration with the very talented Ronda Beyer a couple of years ago(rondabeyer.wordpress.com). 

Center in progress

Inspiration of the center block was a brooch that I purchased several years ago at Colonial Williamsburg.  My good friend Marina drafted the bird and scroll motif…which I stared at for many weeks before deciding on colors, overall design, etc.  For some strange reason, I decided to make this a blue and white quilt.  Strange because I am not particularly fond of blue…especially medium blues; a quick scroll through my blog will reveal my love of red.  But, it reminded me of some of the little blue and white Wedgwood pieces from England that I have collected over the years.   And, gosh, it’s just not a quilt without a swag border.

Perhaps not my best effort, but I did learn a great deal in making this quilt.  I learned all about using ultrasuede in quilts, both the good and the bad.  And, I realized that current quilt tastes don’t necessarily appreciate the flatness of solid fabrics.  At any rate, the quilt was greatly enhanced by Ronda who did her magic and contributed the exquisite long-arm quilting. 

The photograph of the overall quilt was done by the talented quilt photographer, Gregory Case (www.gregorycase.com).  Gregory, among many other things, is the still photographer for Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims, so, if you are ever in need of a professional quilt photographer…he’s your guy.

Hope you enjoy and are enjoying the advent of the holidays.


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For the last 10 or so years I have been a member of the Applique Goddesses of Silicon Valley. It’s a small group of 30 or so women who meet about once a month at the Prairie Queens Quilt Shop in San Jose to stitch, share, and support each other.  What I think makes this group so special is that we are a group of dedicated friends who have stayed together year after year. Open to new members, we do limit the total membership so to not lose the tight sense of community that our group has developed.

December is when we hold our annual holiday party, complete with gift exchange.  For the past few years we’ve been exchanging pin cushions.  The pincushions can be home-made or purchased — it’s not important.  Numbers are drawn and the first person picks from a bevy of packages.  And so it goes, with each person picking a wrapped package or stealing from another.  We are not shy and are prone to steal quite a bit.

Pincushion by Bluebird Mountain

At the top you’ll see photos of some of the pincushions from prior years exchanges.  And to the right is a photo of my offering for the year.  I will admit that I purchased it from Bluebird Mountain on Etsy rather than attempting to make one.

The Goddesses are thinking it might be time to retire our pincushion exchange. If your quilt group has a great gift exchange idea please share.  We’re open to all new ideas.


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As a continuation of my discussion on favorite tools of the hand applique trade I’m going to turn my attention to needles.  My bias about needles is that it really is a personal thing and must be matched to the hand size and eyesight of the appliquist.

Sharps by John James

My favorite needles are a #11 sharp.  Much like me, they are short.  But that is where the similarity ends.  Because they are also flexible and *thin*.   But then my hands are short, and using a longer needle has me jabbing the top of my thumb with every stitch.

Straws by Jeana Kimball's Foxglove Cottage

But, I also use straw needles (also known as Milliners) for certain applications when a longer needle with less flexibility is required.  In my opinion a #9 straw is essential for hand finishing bindings, and I wouldn’t use anything else but a #10 straw for whipstitching hexagons.

So here’s the drill.  When I get a new group of students in a class, I always ask that they try the #11 sharp.  Then if they can’t thread it (even after using needle threaders) they can move up to a #10 sharp.  If they have longer fingers and find the sharps are too short, then they can try using  a #11 straw.  And, if they are totally disadvantaged by long fingers and poor eyesight, then I move then off to a #10 straw.  But that is about as large a needle as I would recommend when doing hand applique.

Although I doubt a needle will be the only contributor in making your stitches look fantastic, I have always found that the smaller the needle the smaller the stitch.

Now about brands of needles.  Well, my favorites have always been the Jeana Kimball Foxglove Cottage Needles (www.jeanakimballquilter.com), and John James Needles(www.colonialneedle.com).  Both are fine English needles and are readily available in the US, (and I suspect elsewhere).

So as before, if you have any favorite needles…let us know by posting a comment.  I’d love to hear what everyone is using.

My sewing tools above include Ginger embroidery scissors, a magnetic needle holder in the shape of a hedgehog, various needles, and a needlecase by Cath Kidson, London.


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Mourning Quilt


I thought people might be interested in the quilt that graces the top of my blog.  I’ve been working on it for so many years, it almost feels like it will never get done.  Begun when my mother took a severe fall while in her 90s, I was inspired by all the mourning prints available at the time.  Her surgeon warned me that folks in her stage of life often don’t survive hip fractures for very long…so, I began my quilt.  She even signed a block which I plan to use in the quilt.

Thankfully, my mother lived a few more years before passing peacefully.  That gave me plenty of time to work on more than 220 little 3″ baskets made from dozens of black, grey, and purple reproductions.  I even had gotten to the point in my assembly by having put together about 180 of the baskets with what I thought was the *perfect* setting (as seen in the photo above).  But, I stalled on the quilt when she did leave us and packed it away to finish  later. 


Pulling out the in-progress quilt a few years later, I was so disappointed when I saw my work.  It was dull and boring…and nothing like the mother I had grown up with.  So, I took apart all those blocks and decided to rethink everything.  (This is the one time to grouse about good tension.  It took me forever to release all those baskets from their dull neighbors). 

In the end I decided to reset them in a more dramatic way using a very un-mourning color — red.  And, then of course I had to add  a applique center block.  This was more like it…and the quilt just began to take shape.  This taught me a valuable  lesson.  If you’re just not happy with it, change it.  

I’m not yet done.  I have a final border that I’d like to finish off with an appliqued swag.  Perhaps in another year or so I’ll be finished.  I keep looking for 9 yards of leopard print fabric on sale for the backing.  (My mom *loved* leopard print.) 


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I’m Moving Down Under


For many years I thought I was born in the wrong country.  England is where my heart has been for as far back as I can remember.  (Thanks to Richard Greene who played Robin Hood in the 50s.)  But lately, I’ve been thinking of the land down under almost as much.  This is most likely due to all the wonderful appliquists living in Australia.  It seems that every week I learn about a new designer of fabulous  patterns for us dedicated appliquists.  Just looking through my earlier posts you’ll see announcement after announcement of fabulous new patterns from the land of the Pavlova’s and Vegemite. 

So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I’ve located yet another great group of patterns available from an online source from Australia.  Most likely well-known to readers from down under, Robyn Falloon of Bon Bon Designs (www.bonbondesigns.com/) , was previously unfamiliar to me.  But, no more.  I think you’ll agree that her patterns are  really worthy of serious consideration when planning out your next project. 

"Joie-de-Vivre" by Robyn Falloon

Robyn has graciously given me permission to show one of her quilts, Joie de Vivre, here.    Of course, it’s a given that I’d love it.  After all, it’s a medallion *and* it’s red and green. 

This isn’t the only great quilt she has either.  Click on “original quilt designs” on her menu bar and you’ll be inspired. 

And, for another quilt made from the Joie de Vivre  pattern, take a look at the (also Australian) blog of long arm machine quilter Bernadette of The Quilting B.  it’s truly a masterpiece marriage of design and quilting.  You can find the photos by going to: http://thequiltingb.blogspot.com/2009/07/break-from-nz-photos.html


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