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Quilting Letters into Your Borders

I make quite a few t-shirt quilts, and I love to quilt the borders with information about the t-shirts that are in the quilt.  For the high school quilts, I like to put the person’s full name on one border, the high school name on another, and “Class of …” on a third.  Activities can be added this way as well.  The family name and year can be added to Christmas quilts.  Baby’s name, birth weight and length, and date can be quilted into those special baby quilts.

To do this, I use the Mylar Alphabet Stencils and lay the wording out along the borders.  I trace the letters with a pencil or pen that will be able to be removed after the quilting.  In the past I have used Frixion pens, but recently, I have had issues getting the lines to disappear.  When heat is applied, the line changes from the color of the pen to white.  The moral of that story is to ALWAYS test whatever pen, markers, or pencil you are using to mark on a scrap first to make sure it will come out!

I start my quilting about half way down on the left side of the first letter (see photo below) and, moving toward the bottom first,  follow the outline of the letter around the bottom and up to the point that it is closest to the next letter.  I keep stitching and move across to the next letter.  I quilt the bottom part of each of the letters in the same manner.  When I get to the last letter, I quilt all the way around, and when  I get to the line coming from the previous letter, I stitch over it and complete the top half of that letter.  Moving from right to left, complete the tops of the letters.

Alphabet Stencils

Alphabet Stencils 2

Hopefully the pictures will help you to visualize this!  These photos do not necessarily use the same same font as the 2 1/2″ Alphabet Stencils in my store.  Click here to check them out!

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Bonnie Hunter’s 2018 Mystery Quilt, “Good Fortune”

I have considered doing a Bonnie Hunter mystery quilt for many years now, but joining just before Christmas was a hindrance.  I have folders on my computer of a couple of the PDF’s from years gone by, hoping that I would make it during another part of the year, but without the deadlines and community, never started them.  One year I even tried to get some quilter friends to do it with me, but was not convincing enough.

This year, someone posted about it in a Facebook group I am active in, and I decided that this was the year to just do it.  It really helped the decision that when the paint swatches came out, they were all colors that I had in my scrap bin or my stash, and using much of that fabric was priority.  So…  I have taken the plunge, and I am glad I did!  It actually is a nice break at the end of the day to go to my sewing area and work on something rather mindless.  Bonnie has done all the hard work, and each week you are just doing the same block, in the same way, over and over.

This is Week Two of actual sewing, and I would think it would be quite possible to jump in now and still keep up.  All the information and the free downloadable PDFs are on Bonnie Hunter’s website.    In one of her posts or instructions, she gave “permission” (Let’s face it… some personalities need to get permission!  🙂 ) to do part of the blocks and make a wall quilt, or do part now and catch up later.  I thought that was probably what I would end up doing, but I actually get a little caught up in it and go farther than I expected.  So far I have completed all of the Week One blocks (the red and neutral ones) and almost half of the Week Two (blue and neutral) blocks.  Week Three instructions come out Friday, so I plan on being done with these by then.

Bonnie’s instructions are very good, and even though I am an experienced quilter, I am learning time saving and accuracy tips.  Another plus is that at least the first couple of blocks are small pieces.  I have been able to use some fabric that needed to be cut very small to look good and get them out of my stash.

I plan on posting weekly updates of progress on here, but I realize that as it gets closer to Christmas it may be fewer pieces than needed, and I will have to catch up later.   I would love it if you would join along!

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Our Kits are Now Available at The Sewing Connection!

I am happy to announce that some of our kits are now available at The Sewing Connection in Milan Ohio!  The Sewing Connection is a Husqvarna Viking dealership and service center and sew much more.  They offer long arm quilting, carry a large selection of decorative threads, specialize in beautiful batiks and hand dyed fabric, and have classes on how to use all of the above plus garment construction.

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Within the last couple of years they have expanded into the space “next door” and added a huge beautiful classroom/work space.  They have classes in this lovely space as well as groups that gather to sew together, such as Quilts of Valor, Button Box, and Snack and Sew.

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If you are in the area, stop by and check them out.  They are located on State Route 250, just a couple of miles south of Kalahari Resort.  If you are not in the area, you can visit them at http://sewing-connection.com/classes.  Make sure to tell them that Deb sent you!

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The Bluebird of Hope

The very first kit I am offering for sale is the one I have named my  “Bluebird of Hope”.  I would like to explain how he came to be so named.

When I was a child, we sang songs in our music class about bluebirds.  There were also those adorable bluebirds in Disney’s “Cinderella” that were instrumental in turning her from a scullery maid into a princess.  Who wouldn’t love those bluebirds who sang along with “Snow White” to cheer her up?   There were bluebirds on birthday cards and in coloring books…  The problem was that I had never seen a real live bluebird.  My grandma and my teacher assured me they were real.  My mother told me they were different from the blue jays that were common in our area.  In my young mind, that made the bluebird something very special and elusive…  somewhat like a unicorn.

Fast forward many years, and I came to a dark period of my life.   And that dark period included a week that  was darkest of all.  I was exhausted from sewing the dresses for a large wedding party.  My father was pronounced terminal, comfort care only to be given. I was chasing preschoolers and driving teenagers here, there, and everywhere.  And watching dreams die for one of my children.

In the midst of all this, I was in my living room having a very real heart to heart talk with God.  I had just read a verse in Psalms that said “I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living”.  I so wanted to believe that verse, but the darkness around me just made it seem totally impossible.  In the midst of all this, I simply told God that I really, really needed to know if that was true for me, if I could hold onto that verse, and if He was actually listening to all of this heartbreak being poured out.

I no more than said this, when a real bluebird landed at the very top of a tiny twig of a tree in the center of our front yard.  It seemed to defy gravity sitting there.  And to top it off, a sunbeam illuminated him, as if he were on display.  And he was.  He was there for me to see that God was hearing, and that He cared.

I was so elated.  And so excited.  A couple of hours later when my husband got home from work, I met him at the door with car keys in hand, and asked if he would put up a bluebird house if I went and got one.  Being the great guy that he is, he said yes, but questioned if we would ever have one come around to live in it.  I told him what had happened, and off I went to buy a bluebird house.  Within a couple of days, it was occupied, and most summers since we have had bluebirds living in our houses.  I have also accumulated quite a few bluebirds for inside our house, most of them gifts.  And every one of them reminds me that God is listening to my pleas.  And He CARES!

My “Bluebird of Hope” had to be the first kit in my new business.  I hope you begin to be reminded of hope when you see bluebirds from now on!!!

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The Store is Open!

Quite a few years ago, we built our own house.  Hands on built.   During that time we learned a very important life lesson.  If you think it will take an hour, it will take a day.  If you think it will take a day, it will take a week.  If you think it will take a week, it will take a month.

As it turns out, that also applies to stores and websites.

I started considering this about three years ago, and dismissed it for all of the reasons we as humans come up with because we are reluctant to step into unknown territory. However, it would not go away.  Finally at the beginning of this year I decided I HAD to do this.   Every argument I came up with would be demolished by something I read or heard.   Beyond that, I just knew this was what I had to do or I would forever wonder…  What if?

So here I am.  Here IT is!   This truly is a culmination of my life:  all that I have experienced and all that I have learned (about myself, about my craft, about life, about those I love).

I hope you will come along and watch my store grow and maybe even help me with suggestions, photos of your work, and even questions.

And please examine those thoughts that keep coming back to you and won’t go away.  Please don’t get to your sunset years and find yourself asking…  What if?

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Why doesn’t it FEEL like the holidays are here?

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It is almost Thanksgiving.  The turkeys are thawing in the refrigerator.  The shopping lists for Thanksgiving dinner are prepared.  The date and time of our family Christmas get-together is set.  The names are drawn for the gift exchange.  So…  Why doesn’t it feel like the holidays are upon us?  And what do I do to change that?

When I get into one of these funks, it is hard for me to be creative.  I can do the work.  I can do all the right things, and they can come out looking good.  But they are missing something.  That spark is not there.  Again, what do I do to change that?

For me, the best thing I can do is get out of my routine and do something appropriate.  So that is what I did.  I took the time (when I didn’t feel like I had the time) and made the drive to a somewhat local, one location, garden center that happens to ship its plants all over a several state radius, Corso’s Garden Center.  I called them first to ask if the poinsettias were in the store’s greenhouse and if they were in bloom.  The answer was “Oh, yes!”  And as you can tell from the above photo, boy were they!  Not only that, but the beautiful decorations were up, included an exquisite garden railway, set up by a local garden railway enthusiasts club.  I am sure soon the music will be playing as well.

It struck me later that we don’t have much of that in our area anymore.  The higher end department stores and malls used to be beautifully decorated, and abuzz with music and people.  Most of those high end stores have closed in our area, and the malls are feeling the loss.  I was missing something I hadn’t even noticed was gone.  I knew the stores weren’t there anymore, but I hadn’t realized that the “extras” had left too.  What has replaced those extras is all mass produced and artificial.  And we have already been looking at it for months.

I am so glad that there is somewhere I can visit that still goes over the top for Christmas, with natural beauty and the scents of Christmas included.  Not the artificial scent of cinnamon pine cones found EVERYWHERE (and I should know, as I have a coughing fit every time I get near them), but the real scents of flowers and pine in abundance.

I am happy to say the inspiration is back!  Full force!  And now I know where to go when I need it again!

Where do you go to get re-inspired?

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Eat Your Frog!

“If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning.
And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”
Mark Twain (Brainy Quote.com)

This little stone frog lives on my windowsill above the kitchen sink.  He lives there because that sink tends to be the first place I go in the morning to fill my tea kettle.    He is not adorable.  He is not even cute.  But he does have great significance to me, and I need to see his face each morning.

I bought this little guy back in February, 2011 at a small “flea market” in Haiti.  This was just a little over a year after the Haiti Earthquake of 2010, and the effects were everywhere we looked.   My husband, adult son, and I were all there as part of team that was building a village for displaced people to live.   When we came across these little hand carved stone frogs, my son and I just had to bring one home as a reminder of an important principle we had learned.

One morning while there, a spry awesome little spitfire 80+ year old nurse stopped at our table and asked my son and I if we had eaten our frog today.  Neither of us had any idea what she meant by that, so we asked for an explanation.  She proceeded to tell us that it was a saying that meant that you should look at the tasks that you have for that day, and do the one that you dread the most first thing in the morning.  This not only stops procrastination (You can’t procrastinate on a dreaded task more than a day if you are doing this!), but the rest of your day just seems so much easier after accomplishing that one thing.

We had no idea that this was part of a Mark Twain quote, and it wasn’t until years later that I found that out on the internet.   When I sat down to write this today, and looked up the quote, I found the second half of this quote:  “And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”  Even better!

Over the years, I have found it to be amazing how many things I put off and put off, only to find that it only takes me a few minutes to actually do it when I set my mind to it.  And it is so freeing when that thing is not on my mental to do list anymore!  Freedom AND productivity, all in one simple step.

So…   have YOU eaten YOUR frog today?

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Fusible Web Test Project

Quilting, Applique, Fusible Web, Challenge, Steam a Seam 2, MIsty Fuse, Splendid Web Plus, Iron On, Challenge, Test



I just finished doing a test of three brands of fusible web to determine what works best for the laser cut fusible appliques that I will be selling. I wanted to be sure that my kits were high quality and would hold up whatever finishing touches were used.   I purchased each of these at the full price charged by the store.  No freebies or perks here, I just simply wanted the best product for my project!

The three fusible products that I chose were based on reviews and things I had heard or been told.  I was really hoping for Attached Inc’s Misty Fuse to be the winner, as it does not have the paper backing, so should be better for the environment and less paper waste for me to dispose of.  It also has the reputation of leaving the fabrics with a softer hand (Alittledesignhelp.com defines “hand” as “the ‘feel’ of the fabric against your skin.”) because of it’s sheerness.   I have used Bosal In-R-Form in tote bags before and loved it, and have read good things about their Splendid Web Plus, so chose that as a trial as well.  For the third choice, I used Warm Company’s Steam-a-Seam 2.  I have seen this brand recommended on many websites, so it also made my list.

Here are the steps I used for this test:

  • I used a piece of unwashed fabric from my stash and cut three 4 ½″ strips from this same piece so that all three fusibles would be tested on the exact same fabric.
  • I put the three different fusibles on the back of the fabric strips using the large heat press that I will be using for my fusible laser cut appliques, noting and following each of the manufacturer’s instructions, and documenting temperatures and steam/no-steam, etc for future reference.
  • I then cut three 3 ½″ squares from each of the strips, using the laser. This is important to note, as the heat of the laser melts the fusible while cutting, and the fusible bonds to the cut edge, helping to keep it from fraying afterwards.
  • I then ironed three squares of each type of fusible backed fabric to a base fabric (sheeting from my stash) that I had serged the edges on so it would hold up through the washings. I did this step using my Rowenta home iron, again following the manufacturers’ instructions.   I knew my future customers would be using a home iron, and thought it was important to replicate the process that would be used to put a kit together.
  • For each of the different fusibles, I left one square raw edged, the second one used the raw edge applique technique, stitching about an 1/8″ from the edge with a straight stitch, and the third square was stitched down with a traditional zig zag satin stitch. One of the things I looked at through this process was the ease of sewing through each of the fusibles.  I had no problem with the needle gumming or getting through with any of these products.
  • Then the washing began! I washed this sample several times to see how well each of the fusibles held up to the washing.  I did not give this piece special or gentle treatment.  I threw it in with whatever laundry I was doing that was appropriate:  towels, t-shirts, and even jeans!  I washed with warm water and used the regular setting on my dryer.

The following photos clearly show the results after five washings!

The left column is Attached Inc’s Misty Fuse, the middle column is Bosal Splendid Web Plus, and the right column is Warm Company’s Steam-a-Seam 2.   This was test for my purposes, so I didn’t get fancy.  I just wrote the names with a permanent maker on the backing fabric.

This first photo is the piece before washing.  You can see that they all started out the same.

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This next photo is after two washings.  I did NOT iron the samples after washing and drying for any of the washings.  I did not want to change the results in any way.  You can see that the top two squares in the first column (Misty Fuse) are starting to fray and bubbles are starting to form between the top and bottom fabric.  The same is happening in the middle column (Splendid Web Plus), but not as bad as the first column.  (This actually started happening after the first wash, and I took a picture, but it must have gotten deleted.)  The third column, Steam-a-Seam 2, is showing no fraying or bubbling. Please keep in mind that I was not careful in the washing and drying of this sample.  This test was for my purposes, and your project may call for some of the attributes of these other webs!

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The following photos are from washes 3, 4, and 5, as numbered.  I did not trim any frays, or iron after washing.  Number 4 looks smoother, but I think that is just because I got it out of the dryer faster.

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I quit after five washings, as I knew at that point what I was going to use!  There was such a difference between the three that I didn’t feel I needed to go any further.  The third column, Steam-a-Seam 2, was still firm with no bubbles, and no fraying on the top square that did not have any stitching.  Both of the others were bubbling and the raw edges were fraying.

Now you know!   The Artfully Quilted Design Pre-Fused Laser Cut Applique kits will be made with Steam-a-Seam 2!  An added plus?   The repositional quality of this fusible is wonderful for getting those little pieces in just the right place, and they stay there until you press it!

 

 

 

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Color Inspiration for Quilting

beautiful sunrise, quilt color inspiration, God's handiwork, featured

Heaven is declaring God’s glory; the sky is proclaiming his handiwork.  Psalms 19: 1

When I first started quilting, most of the quilting fabrics were “calicos” and solids.  There were few “quilt” shops (I don’t think I saw a single one until I was well into quilting and that was in an Amish area almost 2 hours away).   The big box fabric stores did not have aisle after aisle of fabrics organized by color.  There definitely were not many collections and colorways to help with your fabric choices, and for the most part I used fabrics that were left from other sewing projects.

So…  if you are not an art major, how do you pick colors that will look good together when you are finished?  I think the best advice I ever received on this subject is this:  Look to God’s creation.  In my early days, I would not have considered putting a vivid red and a vivid purple together, and definitely would not have put green in the mix.  But look at the poppies on my first blog.   How beautiful they are!   All red and purple, against a background of green!   The green makes the red “pop” because your brain cannot register red and green at the same time.  Consider the salmon, blue, and purples in the sky in this sunrise against the black background.  Wouldn’t either of these palettes make for a beautiful quilt?

Or consider the beautiful colors of a different sunrise: the soft pastel peaches, yellows, blues, pinks, and lavenders!  If you happen to be as fortunate as I am, you may even have a golden field of wheat below them to accent all of it.    Or how about the colors of autumn?   Or the colors of the rainbow?   Or the colors of the beach: the water, sand, birds, and seafoam?  Then there are the mountains… or a bouquet delivered by the florist… or a snowy day with blue jays and cardinals and the scarf of the snowman…  I am sure you have the idea.  Look around you.  Color is everywhere.  When you see something that registers as “I love that!” or “That is beautiful!” consider snapping a picture and capturing those colors in your next quilt!

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The Journey Does Indeed Begin!

poppies, color inspiration, Artfully Quilted Design, Purple and Red

He refreshes my soul.  He guides me along paths for his name’s sake.  Psalm 23:3

Retirement…  A time to step back, relax, take life easy.   That is what we like to think the definition is, but is it?   Or is it a clean slate to start doing that which you have been building within your life for many years?

I believe that whatever the Lord has brought into our lives, the experiences, the things that we have learned, the talents we have honed, the people we have met, the skills we have acquired, the passions we have developed, all have a purpose.  They all build on each other, and if we follow the path set before us, at some point they all converge.

And so this new life begins…