Create experiences that leave you in awe, for these will be the highlights of your life. ~Ryan Blair

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Apple Orchard Project

It's here.

Continuing on with my quest… to use more of my stash fabrics, I attempt new ways to create interesting strip-pieced applique. Being passionate about machine fused applique, I continue to incorporate this idea into my own designs. So here is my second design: APPLE ORCHARD to showcase some larger applique elements and add bold colors into the design. Will this inspire you to use your own stash fabrics?

As tulips may remind you of the rebirth that spring provides, picking apples takes us into autumn which is a special time of year to harvest the bounty of the growing season.


Create your own apple orchard using pieced-fabric appliques and an interesting pieced background using 2-1/2” wide strips. Add bold colors for the borders; and quilt it as desired.

Why not try this charming wall-hanging to brighten a corner of a room to remind you of the blessings of our world.  And when the weather gets colder, can’t you already smell an apple pie baking in the oven?

So... with this quilt, I have used:
  • 2-1/2" wide strips to create the background for the appliques. This allows one to use smaller pieces of fabric, fat quarters, or ready-cut jelly rolls. 
  • 1-1/4" wide strips to create more pieced-fabric appliques that add a stunning look.
  • High contracting fabrics to frame the project, for an exciting finish that will make this quilt come to life.



For more on this project, you'll find it in the pattern details. It's available at my Craftsy store now. Creating beautiful quilts is really quite easy. So, why not revisit your stash fabric supply to see what you can make.

An apple a day...  be in good health!!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Playful Tulips Project

It's here!

Going on another quest… to use up more of my stash fabrics, I discovered how much fun it was to make stunning strip-pieced applique. 

Being passionate about machine fused applique, I wanted to incorporate this idea into my own designs. So here is my first design: PLAYFUL TULIPS to showcase some bright and colorful pieced-fabric appliques. It’s such a great way to bring renewed interest in your own stash fabrics.

Flowers bring us so much cheer; and who doesn't love the TULIP for it brings to us the promise that spring will soon be here again! Peeking out from under the snow, it truly is a delightful sight!

So whether spring is soon to appear in your part of the world, or it still feels like a distant memory; this may be the perfect project to make to brighten your home, or to make as a gift, to bring cheer to someone you love.

I generally use darker colors for background fabrics; however, this one may be the exception because I wanted to contrast this changeover in seasons, with how it looks in real life. Here the snow is represented in white; and the colorful bulbs that burst forth with enthusiasm; are showcased in bright colors using the pieced-fabric technique.
Why not try this delightful table runner to celebrate the promise of spring, or to brighten up your living space at any time of year?

PLAYFUL TULIPS -- 15" x 45"


This pattern is now available at my Craftsy store. Wish to check it out then click HERE.

Spread joy with flowers!

Friday, August 15, 2014

How-to Make a Stitch Bible


Have you....
been wondering how to begin that huge task of stitching out
those decorative stitches to have them available to refer back to;
when making a project that relies heavily on using more stitches?

Problem: When will you have time to get a stitch bible made?
Solution: Why not add only those stitches that you want to try when starting a new project.


I had not made a complete stitch bible before; and really the idea of trying something new, was what got me started. So with quilting entering the "ART" world, it may be time to stretch your creative talents, even further.

"A great time to stitch them out is when we purchase a new sewing machine. This gives us time to explore and experience what all it can do for us. But, many times that just doesn't happen. So we stick with only 2 or 3 familiar stitches which does not allow us to explore all the great features we had liked about that machine."

Therefore, if you haven't done that when your machine was new, why not consider making a stitch bible now. There are many projects available... especially aimed at getting more out of your machine.


Shortly after this sampler was made, my machine jammed and stopped any further progress on my waiting-list of projects. However, after about four weeks, I really had to change this, and couldn't wait any longer for repairs to happen to my machine. (It still is waiting to be looked at; and thus, am glad I found a replacement when I did, so I could continue sewing.)

With a new machine, I got the opportunity to try out ALL the stitches in this stitch bible that I will share with you now. I love the creative process and the designers that have found new ways for all of us to utilize our fancy sewing machines.


In order to have more flexibility, I decided to use a three-ring binder and clear protective sleeves to put my pages in, once they were prepared.

This will allow you to finish the edges of each page with whatever method you desire; once they have been completed. And then, you may continue to use the binder; or create a soft version with grommets to join the pages into a stitch bible. But, as you work on them, they can be contained in a binder, as shown below.

Following the example of a lined loose-leaf sheet of paper, I marked my fabric page with a left (3/4") and right margin (3/4"), and a top margin (1"). After marking the three sections of the page (to separate variations in the stitch length/width); then proceeded with drawing horizontal lines (3/4" to 1" apart) for using as my stitching lines.


Cut one piece of medium to heavy weight fusible interfacing and one plain cotton fabric piece to the same size; then fuse interfacing to wrong side of fabric. (Make as many of these pages as you require.)
My pieces were cut to: 8" x 11". My plan was to use grommets and bind the edges; however, while I was deciding on page size, etc., I decided to use the binder to keep track of my pages.

Using a rotary ruler and Hera marker, it was easy to draw lines on the page for the stitch samples. These guidelines would allow perfect placement on each page.
I first drew a line 3/4" from the edge of the fabric on both sides of the page (left and right margins). This line extended the complete distance from top edge to the bottom edge of the page. 

Since we will use the default settings of each stitch; and perhaps, two variations I marked three sections to help me see when to change my stitch length/width, while sewing. Then, I drew on the horizontal lines on which I would easily be able to add my stitches in a straight and even line along each row.  (These are from 3/4" to 1" apart. Some pages had less row of stitches.)
My markings allowed for a two-inch distance for each of two variations; and a slightly longer distance of 2-1/2" for the default setting.

Once my pages were ready, I proceeded to fill each line with beautiful stitches. Each stitch going on the line that matched its number. With the center mark of the foot on the line, you can easily see how wide it spreads and this can be helpful when deciding if a stitch will fit on a specific project.
I kept track of my number count, and added them after the page was done; however, if you only have time to make a few stitches at a sitting, write the numbers on each page; and then you can enter any decorative stitch at the proper location, no matter how many or few stitches you have made on the page previously. (I stitched from 1 to 201.)

Once my pages were done, I paired them together to serge the edges. I had not used my serger in quite some time; and wanted to liberate the machine from its confinement, in its box. (If binding the edges with a satin cord, use a heavy-weight interfacing.)

Finished pages are placed into the clear, page protectors and added to the binder. My machine manual is placed in the back pocket of the binder. There is a clear pocket on the front of the binder to place a cover page. (I can't show you because it isn't there yet.)

I have used it many times, already; to check out what stitches might fit a special location on an applique or quilt block. Now that I finally have a working machine, proper cording foot, and the satin cord, I really want to get to making my next project using my stitch bible. (So many cool projects to try, just need to clear my work table and get started...)


My Color Coded Pages:
  1. Brown: Utility Stitches
  2. Orange: Quilt Stitches
  3. Purple: Needle-Art Stitches
  4. Green: Satin Stitches
  5. Peach: Decorative Stitches
  6. Yellow: Characters (lettering)
  7. Pink: Sewing techniques 

  • Left margin: This margin gives adequate spacing if adding grommets, later.
  • Right margin: This margin allows marked lines to be numbered before stitching is added. (Allowing you to add stitches in the correct order; without having to complete every line, at the same sitting.)
  • Spacing of lines: This distance is adequate for adding the name of the decorative stitch above the stitched row, if desired.
  • The size of the page will fit into a clear page protector, as it fits an 8-1/2" x 11" sheet of paper.
  • The distance of my lines were dependent upon the number of stitches I wanted to fit on each page; as I had planned to use a different fabric color for each grouping of stitches. (ie. brown: utility stitches)

Go on now... you can make one too!

FOR AN AWESOME PROJECT that teaches you how to make a very functional stitch bible with grommets and a cord binding edge, and utilize all those decorative stitches, visit HERE.

I am enrolled in this class, and am enjoying the potential that the teaching has provided. 

Friday, August 8, 2014

How-to Make Your Own 'Pieced Fabric'

Need a fabric that is unique,
to add extra dimension
or for when you just cannot find that perfect shade?

Why not make your own fabric pieces? It's easy and fun!!

Cut them into:
(1) squares to use as blocks; (2) into the shapes needed for applique designs; or (3) use them in the borders of your quilts, for added interest.


In string quilts...
the narrow strips are generally sewn onto a lighter weight fabric or interfacing. The block is then trimmed to fit size requirements. This is also especially helpful when working with strips placed in a diagonal direction or pieces that are cut on the bias, keeping pieces from being stretched out of shape.


However, if you are working with strips that are not placed diagonally, or the backing size is not an issue; you can skip the extra fabric layer. 


You may just wish to sew strips together and store them for later projects. (Care should always be taken in every project, when pressing seams.)


Scrappy designs come out beautiful no matter how the colors are put together. So have fun making some colorful appliques for your next project.

  1. Start by selecting a particular color family or group of colors. 
  2. Because each strip is cut from scrap fabrics, arrange the strips into stacks with similar lengths. (This makes the sewing process more efficient.) 
  3. Lay out the strips next to your machine, whether in a particular order or at random, that you wish sew together. (This may be the whole stack and save some for later use, or a chosen few to match the size required for an applique project.)

  1. Begin with two strips... with right sides facing each other, sew them together using a quarter-inch seam allowance. (You may use either a regular or scant quarter inch for applique templates.) 
  2. Then lightly finger press the seams open. These seams will later be pressed flat with an iron. However, as you sew, you do not need to press each one, as you  assemble them. Work with the selected fabrics until all have been joined together. 
  3. Carefully press all the seams open; and tidy up the seam allowances from dangling threads.
  4. Now your piece is ready for the correct placement of the appliques. 

  • Alternating two colors in the same color family.
  • Selecting a set number of fabrics and repeating the pattern.
  • Selecting a color family and using a variety of different fabrics.
  • Using colors at random, making the section with a range of colors.

My Recommendations:

For pieced-fabric appliques: seams should always be pressed open.

This allows the fusible web to hold down all the seams neatly; and enables the backing paper to lift more easily when ready to separate from the fusible fabric.


To release the paper from the back, I use the tip of the seam ripper to release an edge, (before cutting out the applique) as once it is fused to the fabric, it is really difficult to remove easily. Make a pencil mark at this location so it is easier to find the loosened edge.

(I do this when using Pellon 805 Wonder-Under transfer web.)

Stitch lengths to use while you work on your project.
  <> Stitching seams:  I now use a (1.5) stitch length.
  <> Quilting the quilt layers:  A (2.5 or 3.0) stitch length works well for stitch-in-the ditch, outlining appliques, etc.
  <> Feel free to use free-motion quilting to quilt your project. (I still need to try this; however, it looks like that may still be in my bucket list in 2015.)

<.> <.> <.> <.> <.> <.> <.> <.> 

Butterfly Applique Picture Tutorial

(A.)  Sew five strips together to form the pieced-fabric section needed for this butterfly. (Hopefully you can see the fabrics in this photo, as black is difficult to photograph.)

The butterfly has been cut out of the pieced-fabric section, seams pressed open, fusible web applied, and paper released. (It is now ready to place on the quilt block.)


(C.)  In this finished project, the appliques have been fused, stitched on with an applique stitch, and an outline stitch added around each applique; to join the three layers of the quilt.

If you wish to make this free mini quilt, you can check out the tutorial and download the free PDF pattern at the website. 

Enjoy a new experience down this creative path....

Friday, August 1, 2014

Blue Moon Tutorial

Need a quick and easy mini quilt to make for someone?
Would you like to try something new? 
How about this 'pieced-fabric' applique project? 



Select a random range of colors and let's begin....

  • Eleven different colors for the quilt block. And two different fabrics in black for the border. 
  • All strips are 1-1/4" wide. (And taken from my strings collection drawer.)
  • Once the string block was made, I dug into my miscellaneous applique leftovers to find: 
    • three orange stars, 
    • a blue circle; 
    • and a black pieced butterfly.
  • Then, I tossed them on the block to see how they would fit, and liked how they looked. 
  • As the appliques had already been fused to fabric, it was a quick job to add them to the block.
  • Stitching around each applique in black thread using a pin stitch was quick and easy. ( I layered the batting and quilt top together for this step.)
  • Then, the backing fabric was added to complete the quilt sandwich. Using a straight stitch to outline each applique finishes the quilt off quite neatly. 
  • And, finally; a quick job of adding the binding, and it is ready to enjoy!

Sure.. it will be similar; however, because your scrap basket and strings are different then mine; your mini quilt will be unique to your own treasured stash. So... why not try one today?


The blue circle ... on the quilt made me think of that phrase we hear sometimes: 'Once in a Blue Moon'so I have decided to call this one: "Blue Moon". 

“Every once in a blue moon, something new comes along that 
scrambles your preconceptions.” ~Author unknown

(10-1/2" x 10-1/2")


Front : 11 fabric strips (1-¼” wide x 9-½” long)
Border: 4 strips (1-¼” wide x length of side)
Back – 11” x 11” piece
Applique Design –                                      
                                          STARS: 2” x 5” piece              
                     MOON: 4-½” x 4-½” piece                                           
                                          BUTTERFLY: 3-½” x 4” piece; or pieced-fabric section: 5 strings x 4” wide
Binding – 1 piece: approx. 58” long x 2-¼” wide  (extra 6” included in measurement)


Fusible web – 6” X 8” piece
Batting – 11” x 11” piece
Sewing thread – colors of your choice



1.   If you do not have prepared strings, then cut 11 strips each 1-¼” wide by approximately 9-½” long. (The block will be trimmed, once pressed.)
2.   Sew these 11 strips together to make your pieced-fabric block.
3.   Press seams carefully. (You may press them open or towards one side.)
4.   Then trim so block is 9” wide. Cut only the two sides so ends of strips are even. (Strips run horizontally.)
5.   Block should now be 9” x 9”. (If not, adjust the measurements when cutting border strips.)
6.   Measure block to ensure correct lengths are cut for each border strip. In total, cut four strips, 1-¼” wide. (I’ve used strings the same width as were used in my block.)
7.   This project uses these measurements for the border: (Sides: 9” long. Top/Bottom: 10-½” long.)
8.   Add side strips first; and then measure again, and cut strips for the top and bottom borders.
9.   Press these seam allowances towards the border.
10. Cut batting layer and backing fabric each approximately 11” square. (Make these at least ½” larger than the top layer.) Set backing fabric aside, until ready to add.
11. Take your front fabric block (right side facing up) and place on top of your batting piece. Pin or use spray adhesive to hold them in place.
12. Add appliques to the batting/quilt top layers, using your favorite stitches and thread colors. This is my preferred method, as it creates a neater finish on the back of this mini quilt. (If you prefer, you can place all three layers together and do your fancy stitching around the applique design, all in one step.)
13. Now add the backing fabric. You may use pins or adhesive spray to hold layers together. Place batting on wrong side of backing fabric and stitch through all three layers. (Use a 2.5 or 3.0 length straight stitch to outline each applique.)
14. Lastly, add your binding. And if desired, finish with a label.

Note: If making your block larger; than adjust the lengths for the border strips. If desired, you may also use a wider width for the border. 

  1. Trace applique pieces onto paper-backed fusible web and follow manufacturers’ instructions for attaching to fabric.  (Patterns have been reversed for you.)
  2. Set pieces aside, until ready to add to the quilt block.
  3. When applique pieces are ready to stitch down, select your stitch type and thread color(s). This project uses only black thread on all applique pieces. You may choose to match the thread color to the fabric, if desired. 
If you wish to make the butterfly with a string pieced section, prepare the fabric section by sewing together 5 strings that are at least 4” in length. Once section is complete, press seams OPEN. Then continue with the fusible web instructions.


Pattern Download: Please join as a follower... if you like this design and are interested in seeing more free projects on this blog. As I do plan on adding more; however, am curious to see how effective doing both a tutorial and a downloadable pattern will be for me. Or, if I should concentrate more on providing these designs through my Craftsy store. Thanks for your feedback.

Bring that 'once in a blue moon' feeling just a bit closer with this delightful project. Happy stitching...