Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Watch The Quilt Show with Alex and Ricky for free this weekend!

In honor of International Quilting Weekend, March 20-22, 2015, The Quilt Show (, the web TV show hosted by Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims, will open all of its shows from the first nine series – shows 100-1513 – for the entire weekend. This means that, for three special days, everyone will have the chance to view more than 200 shows featuring some of the quilting world’s leading artists, for free!

This year’s sponsors are contributing more than $5000 in prizes, including the Grand Prize, a BERNINA 550 QE.  Other prizes you have a chance to win are:
  • Innova – Have your quilt professionally quilted ($500 value)
  • Superior Threads – five $100 gift certificates
  • RJR Fabrics – a selection of RJR Fabrics
  • AccuQuilt – GO! Big Electric Fabric Cutter
  • Missouri Star Quilt Company –  $500 in Quilter’s Cash, plus signed copies of Volume 1 of Block Magazine and Man Sewing Swag
As you may already know, I appeared as the featured artist on TQS in show 901. If you didn’t have the opportunity to see this show the first time around, now you’ll have the chance to see it — and so many other terrific shows — at no cost in this unprecedented three-day offer.

I hope that you’ll share this information with all of your quilting friends. It’s a fantastic opportunity to enjoy three days of learning and fun without leaving your home.… all for free.
Enjoy the shows, and thanks for helping to spread the word!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Learn how to use Mylar® in art quilts

I have an article on ways to use Mylar® in art quilts in the upcoming issue of Quilting Arts magazine! The April/May 2014 issue also includes work by artists Lesley Riley, Margarita Korioth, Nysha Oren Nelson, Melissa Sobotka, and more. 

In my article, I discuss how to use Mylar® to add shimmer and shine to both realistic subjects, and as an embellishment. If you watch “Quilting Arts TV,” you may have seen me working with Mylar in Series 1500, episode 1512. Here are some examples:

“Magpie’s Hoard” by Susan Brubaker Knapp
“Magpie’s Hoard” (detail)
On “Magpie’s Hoard,” I used crinkled Mylar® to add texture and shine. The detail shot above shows a layer of blue-ish Mylar® on top of light blue fabric, with a piece of blue fabric and then a gold piece of Mylar® and a bead on top of it. Then lots of machine and hand stitching.
“Snowflake” by Susan Brubaker Knapp
“Snowflake” (detail)
For this snowflake, I stitched on top of a piece of blue-ish Mylar® and then trimmed it away at the edges.

“Busy” by Susan Brubaker Knapp
“Busy” (detail)
And to re-create the sheen and smoothness of a bee’s wings, I used an opalescent Mylar® in “Busy.”

The issue is available for pre-order now at the Quilting Daily Shop, and will be going out to subscribers, and on newsstands later this month. 

I purchased my Mylar® from Heirlooms by Sharon. She provided great customer service and speedy shipping!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Inked – block hop and giveaway!

Fiber artist Lynn Krawczyk of Smudged Textiles Studio has a wonderful new line of fabric by Red Rooster Fabrics called Inked. To celebrate, twelve quilters and fiber artists have worked with Lynn’s fabric line to create 12 fun 12"-blocks that you can make and stitch into a sampler quilt. All of the directions for all of the blocks will be on each quilter’s blog, and then will be available on Lynn’s website. Each blogger gets to give away a bundle of five fat quarters on her blog, thanks to Lynn’s generosity. (More on that at the end of this post!)

My block for Lynn’s block-hop is shown at the top of this post. The center of the block (which is actually nine smaller blocks) is based on a style of tiles that were popular in the early 1900s. I grew up with them in my bathroom as a child, and had the same style installed when we remodeled the bathrooms in our 1916 house. The center square in each section is black, and all the other tiles are white. But we can't have any of that black-and-white stuff here; Lynn’s line is beautifully saturated color. 

When I was a beginner quilter, I shied away from Y-seams (also known as inset or set-in seams), until I discovered a method that made them very easy. I promise you: It’s really not hard to do, and it will allow you to make all of those cool blocks with Y seams that you may have avoided in the past. (Bring on Tumbling Blocks!) There are nine Y seams in this block, one in each of the nine small blocks. If you make this block, practicing this method nine times, you will be an expert in making Y-seams by the time you are done! 

I really love this fabric line. The colors are vibrant, the patterns are funky, and the whole thing has a wonderfully surface-designed feel, like you’d spent hours stamping, stenciling, soy wax batiking, and painting them. These are the five fabrics I used:

From purple, cut 9 squares 1.5" (for centers of nine small blocks)
AND 2 rectangles 9.5 x 2.5" (for top and bottom borders)
AND 2 rectangles 12.5 x 2.5" (for left and right borders)
From dark green, cut 9 rectangles 1.5 x 2.5"
From orange, cut 9 rectangles 1.5 x 2.5"
From aqua, cut 9 rectangles 1.5 x 2.5"
From brown, cut 9 rectangles 1.5 x 2.5"  

Note: For precision piecing, I always use a very lightweight but strong cotton thread, 50-weight Aurifil Cotton Mak0. This fine thread leaves almost no bulk in my seams. I know it may seem silly to some, but in my years of experience, I have discovered that it can make a big difference in accuracy.

1. Each of the small blocks is made with one purple square, and rectangles of green, orange, aqua and brown:

2. With right sides together, align the purple square with the green rectangle as shown below.

3. Sew a quarter-inch seam from the top right edge, down to 1/4" before the end of the purple triangle, and backstitch to secure (this is important for later). 
4. Press the seam toward the green fabric as shown, making sure to press the green fabric down 1/4" all the way down.

This is how it should look from the front:

5. Stitch the orange rectangle onto the green/purple edge, and press out toward the orange.

6. Stitch the aqua rectangle onto the orange/purple side, and press out toward the aqua. The brown rectangle comes next.

7. Stitch the brown rectangle to the aqua/purple side, but stop stitching just where you come to the edge of the green rectangle. (If you slide a pin along the seam, you can slightly crease it, or feel the bump so that you can place a pin there to help you know exactly where to stop stitching.) Make sure to backstitch here to secure the seam.

8. Press out toward the brown rectangle. Here’s how it should look from the front. See the problem? You need to join the brown and green rectangles next, and you can’t sew a seam straight down because the green rectangle is already stitched to the purple.

9. Here’s how to do it: Crease the short edge of the brown rectangle up 1/4" so that it aligns with the edge of the green rectangle:

10. Flip it around so that the right sides of the fabric are together. Align the creased seams on the brown and green rectangles, as shown.
11. Then pinch the seam together,  and pin.

12. I flipped over to the green fabric side, where I could see my stitching best. Start at the top of the seam, and stitch down to exactly where the other seam (between the green rectangle and the purple square) starts:

13. Make sure to backstich at the end of this seam, too. The photo below shows me finishing up the backstitching on the seam between the brown and green rectangles. The backstitching at the bottom of the photo is the very first seam I sewed (in step 3) between the green rectangle and the purple square: 

14. Press seam away from the purple square. Here’s how it looks from the front, once it’s been pressed. Nice and clean.

Here’s how it looks on the back. (Note how all the seams are pressed away from the purple.) Each small block should measure 3.5" square.  

15. Follow steps 2-13 to make eight more small blocks like this one, for a total of nine. 

Sew the small blocks together
16. Create each of the three rows by stitching three small blocks together as shown: 

17. When you press these seams, press one row in toward the center block, and two rows out from the center blocks. This allows you to notch the seams together when you are sewing the rows together in the next step, so that the seams line up perfectly.

18. Sew the three rows together to form the center of the big block. Press these two long seams open. The block should now measure 9-1/2" square, and look like this on the front:

and this on the back:

Add the borders
19. Sew one 9-1/2" x 2" purple strip to the top, and one to the bottom. Press toward purple strips. 

20. Sew one 12.5" x 2" purple strip to the left side, and one to the right side. Press toward purple strips. Finished block should measure 12-1/2" square. Ta-da! Here’s the finished block:

Make sure to follow along on the block hop to get the directions for each of the 12 blocks in Lynn’s INKED quilt. There’s a chance to win some of Lynn’s Inked fabric at each stop! Here are links to the participants:

Monday, March 2: Susan Brubaker Knapp

Tuesday, March 3: Teri Lucas

Wednesday, March 4: Jessica Darling

Thursday, March 5: Debbie Grifka

Friday, March 6: Lynn Carson Harris

Saturday, March 7: Jen Osborn

Sunday, March 8: Lynn Krawczyk

Monday, March 9: Flaun Cline

Tuesday, March 10: Lynn Krawczyk

Wednesday, March 11: Cheryl Sleboda

Thursday, March 12: Maddie Kertay

Friday, March 13: Lynn Krawczyk

Win a bundle of the five beautiful fat quarters (above) I used in this block! This giveaway is open to both U.S. and international readers (thanks to Lynn!). Leave me a comment after this post and tell me about the most challenging quilt – traditional, modern, contemporary, or art quilt – you’ve ever made. Tell me your horror story, share your angst. C’mon, it will be fun! I’ll pull one name at random on Sunday, March 14
and Lynn will mail your fat quarters. 

We have a winner! Sandra Cooper won the fat quarters. Thanks, everyone! 

Monday, February 23, 2015

Book review and giveaway! Adventures in Fabric: La Todera Style

I am so excited to introduce you to my friend Julie Creus’ new book, Adventures in Fabric: La Todera Style (Stash Books 2014, 143 pages, $25.95). It contains 20 fun projects – jewelry, table decor, pillows, sewing accessories, holiday decorations, children’s sofites and balls — using techniques such as fabric folding, fusing, weaving and thread wrapping. 

(Note that items made from these patterns are for personal use only; they are not to make and sell.)

Just look what I made from one of the patterns in her book! This is the “Zaftig Zinnia Brooch.” I used a blue ombré fabric from SAQA’s Urban Textures fabric line from Andover (I got mine from I found Julie’s directions to be very easy to follow. While it did take some time to prepare the petals, I was able to complete this project in only a few hours, I got great results, and I love it!

Julie has a real gift of thinking in three dimensions using fabric. It’s like she’s half sewist and half engineer. I’m not sure how she figures all of this stuff out (my brain doesn’t work this way!), but she makes amazing and beautiful things.

The book has a large pull-out pattern sheet that makes it easy to trace the shapes you need to create templates for the projects. The photography is wonderful, and there are tons of step-by-step photos to guide you through the directions, so that everything makes perfect sense. There is also information about the exact fabric lines Julie used for her samples, as well as sections on construction techniques, hand sewing stitches, knots, and choosing fabrics. 

Here are photos of more of the great projects in this book (with many thanks to Julie and  Stash Books/C&T Publishing for the photos):

I first met Julie Creus at the first Quilt Market at which she exhibited, 2010 in Houston.

Here’s how I met Julie: I walked into the booth for her company, La Todera. We chatted for a bit, and then she got a phone call. I was looking around at all her cool stuff, and when she got off, she said, “Oh my gosh, I just found out that Kaffe Fassett and Liza Prior Lucy are coming to my booth right now!” She asked if I’d take photos, and I agreed. Sure enough, a few minutes later, here come Kaffe and Lucy. (If you don’t know them, Kaffe is a very famous artist, well known in the quilting world for his luscious floral fabrics. Liza often partners with him, and designs many beautiful quilts with his fabrics.) I clicked away, both on my camera and on Julie’s, and got a bunch of photos of them admiring her work, including the one above.

Julie makes many of her flower pins with Kaffe’s fabrics, and gave him one to take home. She said, “I hope you don’t mind, but I named my pattern Kafflowers after you, because they look great in your fabrics!” (He didn’t mind at all.)

I stayed in touch with Julie in the years since then, and we see each other at Quilt Market or Quilt Festival. It’s been so fun to see her company grow. Last year, she came to Cleveland to shoot two segments for Series 1400 and one for Series 1500 of Quilting Arts TV.

Here’s your chance to win Julie’s book. First, take a look at the La Todera website. Then leave a comment after this post and tell me which of Julie’s designs you like best, and why. I’ll pull one name at random on noon on Sunday, March 1. (Yes, this give-away is open to international readers!) Please note that your comment might not appear right away, because I have to moderate/approve all comments. I am doing this because in the past, my blog has been slammed with Japanese porn spammers... and you really don't want to see that in the comments, do you? ;-)

We have a winner! Donna A. has won the book. Thanks, everyone!