Thursday, March 31, 2011

Book review and give-away: Inspired By Tradition

I have a wonderful book to give away today to one lucky applique lover! Inspired by Tradition: 50 Appliqué Blocks in 5 Sizes (Martingale/That Patchwork Place, $22.99) is Kay Mackenzie’s latest book.

Kay Mackenzie
In 2009, I reviewed Kay’s last book, Easy Appliqué Blocks, which includes 50 other block designs. After Kay wrote that book, she envisioned a way for quilters to have “a library of designs right at your fingertips whenever you need one block or many!" Her new book continues and expands the library she began in the first book in a wonderful way. 

This time, the blocks are all traditional in style, but are somewhat simplified for the modern quilter. There are vines, berries, birds, baskets and wreaths. Each design is shown in a color photo of the block, and all the designs are included on the CD (more about this later).

But this book has more to offer than just lovely block designs. There are also great instructions for Kay’s two favorite appliqué methods, one one by hand and one by machine.

Coming Up Roses (26" x 26")
The hand method involves back-basting, something I’ve heard about but not tried (yet), so I am looking forward to testing it out. There are instructions for hand stitching all kinds of shapes, including points, notches, curves and circles.

Kay’s machine applique method involves raw-edge machine appliqué using paper-backed fusible web. For both methods, Kay provides excellent instructions that are extremely detailed, with many clear diagrams. 

At the back of the book, Kay included “A Little Gallery of Ideas,” which is a great way to see how you can stitch and combine several blocks to make a small quilt, table runner, wall hanging or banner. Some of these projects are shown here.

Appliquér At Heart (22" x 46")

One of the neatest things about this book is that all 50 of the applique block designs  are included on the CD that comes with the book. It works on Mac, PC or Linux platforms, and it includes all the designs in five different sizes, from 6" to 12". So as long as you have access to a computer and printer, you won’t have to go running to a photocopy shop to make an enlargement. And all the designs are also reversed on the CD, so if you are doing fusible applique or Kay’s back-basting method for hand appliqué, you don’t have to do that step, either!

Cherry Jubilee (three 8" square mini quilts)

I especially enjoyed Kay’s “Appliqué Questions and Answers” section; it includes very valuable information and insights to common appliqué issues. Even though I consider myself to be somewhat of an expert on appliqué – my first book, Appliqué Petal Party (C&T Publishing 2009) was an appliqué pattern– I learned a lot from this book. It just goes to show that no matter what your experience level, you always have new things to learn.

Inspired by Tradition shipped out in early March. So if you want a copy now, ask for it at your favorite quilt shop. It is also available at Amazon and through the publisher, Martingale/That Patchwork Place. And of course, you can order it from Kay’s website and get an autographed copy!

Kay has generously donated a copy of her book for me to give away here! For a chance to win, leave a comment after this post and tell me what you like best about appliqué, and what kind of method you use. OR if you don’t appliqué, tell me why you want this book. I’ll draw one name at random at 9 p.m. EST April 1. Honest. This is NOT an April Fool’s Day joke.

Giveaway is closed... The winner is Robin in Richmond, VA.

If you want to read other reviews of Kay’s book, you can check out other bloggers participating in Kay’s “Book-a-Round” here:

Maria Peagler

Darcy Ashton

Erin Russek


Holly Mabutas

Kathy Mack

Kim Jamieson-Hirst

Sarah Vanderburgh

Maria Michaels Designs

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Win this book tomorrow!

Tomorrow I’m giving away a copy of Kay Makenzie's wonderful new book, Inspired by Tradition: 50 Appliqué Blocks in 5 Sizes! Check in to find out how you can win.
Today, there's a chance to win a copy of the book on Maria Hrabovsky’s blog!

Can’t wait and want to find out more about this book now? You can read about it and purchase a copy on Kay’s website

Monday, March 28, 2011

Quilt Art 2012 Engagement Calendar

Last spring, after my quilt Pink Petal Party was displayed at the AQS Quilt Show in Paducah, I was contacted by Klaudeen Hansen, who edits the Quilt Art Engagement Calendar. She wanted to know if I’d give permission to include my quilt in the 2012 edition, and of course I said yes. A few days ago, the calendar arrived in my mailbox. 

I’ve purchased this calendar in the past, and it is very nice. Each spread features a beautiful quilt — and all types, including pieced, appliqued, contemporary, traditional, and art quilts— on one page, with the other page to write your appointments and important dates. Here is my spread: 

There are 54 quilts featured this year; I think Klaudeen gave me Valentine’s Day week because my quilt is so pink and sweet! 

The 2012 Quilt Art Engagement Calendar costs $13.95 ($11.16 for AQS members), and is available from the American Quilter’s Society’s website

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Fall Farm Stand, Part I

I have started to paint the big gray pumpkin in the commission piece I am working on. It is coming along nicely. I am thinking about calling it Fall Farm Stand. Here is that section of the photo, so you can see what I am trying to achieve:

I will probably do a little more blending, and adjust some of the highlights and shadows, before I am finished painting. After that, I will do the rest when I thread sketch. I am planning to do each pumpkin separately, then applique them to the background. This is partly because I want to add some extra batting behind some of the pumpkins to make them come forward. And I want to add bumps to some of the pumpkins with pieces of melted Tyvek. This material is stiff, and I can’t bend a big quilt too much to get it under my home sewing machine to thread sketch. The finished piece will be about 24 x 36".

In case you were wondering, here is my workspace – my kitchen counter island (or peninsula, more properly). That's my microwave at the back, and my oven to the right.

I am showing this because I’ve discovered that a lot of people think I have a big fancy studio, with space for “wet work” like painting and dyeing. 


I do have a studio, which holds my fabric and sewing machine and a cutting table. It is my former guest room, and it is about 14 x 14 feet. And I feel very fortunate to have that space, but it is not big enough to handle a painting surface. So when I paint, it is most often on my kitchen counter, in the middle of the hub-bub of family life and meal preparations. My old laminate countertops in pale yellow (probably installed in the 1970s) hold up very well to acrylic paint, and can be cleaned with SoftScrub. 

I really hate my countertops, but since I can’t afford to replace them right now, and since the laminate works great for my process, they are probably here to stay for a while.

Friday, March 25, 2011

101 Patchwork Projects + Quilts

I have two projects in a new publication by the publishers of Quilting Arts magazine: 101 Patchwork Projects + Quilts. The 196 page magazine ($19.99) will be available in mid-April, and is available for preorder now on the Interweave website.  

The issue features “patchwork projects of every kind, including home décor, accessories, and wearables… from full-sized bed quilts to patchwork scarves, slippers, bulletin boards, and key chains.” I’m intrigued by the table of contents; it looks like there are lots of cool projects, including many that would be fun to make as gifts. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Bumwad and Poster Brain

Trouble cat says, “Take me with you!”
If you’ve been checking in on my blog every few days, you may have noticed that it’s been mighty quiet around here lately. That’s mostly because I’ve been on the road a lot this month. In the past two weeks, I’ve taught four days and given two lectures, and traveled to nearby Concord, NC, to the Cabarrus Quilters Guild and to the Lake Quilters Guild of Smith Mountain Lake, near Roanoke, VA.

I love speaking and teaching, but I also need time in my studio to work and think and create. Today I got a little. I am starting to work on a commission piece, and this time, I am experimenting with tweaking my preparation process.

When basing a piece on one of my photos, I often start by tracing an 8x10" printout. I add things, take things out, or move things around while I trace. Then I scan in this traced drawing, enlarge it and print it out in “tiles” (or sections), and use this printout as my pattern. If the piece will be done using fused applique, it becomes the pattern for the fabric pieces. If the piece will be wholecloth painted, I place it under fabric and trace the lines.
This time, instead of using an 8x10" photo, I had my photo enlarged to a 2 x36" poster through PosterBrain. It cost me $19 plus shipping, arrived very quickly, and the quality was fantastic, just like a giant photographic print. Here it is, spread out on my cutting table:

A student at one of my workshops suggested a type of tracing paper I’d never heard of before called Bumwad. Sounds like toilet paper, right? ;-) It is actually a type of tracing paper used by architects, and it comes in big, wide rolls, up to 24" and 36" wide. Bumwad is available through ArtSuppliesOnline. I paid $16.23 (plus shipping) for a 24" x 50 yard roll. 

I placed a piece of Bumwad (fighting the giggles now, each time I write that) on top of the photo and taped it down.

Then I started tracing the main lines in the photo. (You can see the photo I printed out on my laser printer next to the pen.) My first impression is that the Bumwad is a tad heavier than traditional tracing paper, which has its pros and cons for my process. It does not tear as easily (pro), but it is also harder to see through (con). I could put it on top of a light box, but because the poster is on paper that is nice and heavy, I doubt that the light box would help me see any better. I do find that I am able to see better when I flip on the lower setting of my overhead desk light, rather than the brightest setting.

I am reserving judgment on whether I like these materials or the changes to my process, but I’ll let you know as I work more on this project. I am thinking about using some melted Tyvek pieces on the bumpiest of the pumpkins in this piece.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Second edition of inStitches features my friend Faith!

My friend Faith Cleary is featured in the second edition of Quilting Arts’ new e-magazine called in Stitches! That’s her in the photo with the dog (above), wearing those cute flower headbands.

Here is a preview:

You can find out more, and purchase the download by clicking here

Faith is also featured in the spring issue of Studios magazine, the one with Ty Pennington on the cover. She shares how to manage pet messes and decorate with your pet in mind.

Here are some more photos of Faith’s work for clients of her company, Dolce Amico. She takes photos of pets that are provided by her clients, like this: 

and makes them into fabulous thread-painted portraits like this (that can be stitched onto tote bags, purses, pet carriers, stockings, apparel and more):

Here’s another example of a client photo:

and Faith’s finished product:

Faith’s French Bulldog, Barkley, is featured on the front cover of a photo album:

Faith captured two labs named Daisy and Scooter in this piece, which was matted and framed:

I think Faith’s work is amazing. And she is such a warm and wonderful person.

Stay tuned! You’ll be seeing a lot more of Faith’s wonderful work in other Quilting Arts ventures this year!

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Space Between, Part 4

Hope is the Thing by Susan Brubaker Knapp 36" x 46.5"
It’s done! This is my latest piece, and it is called Hope is the Thing. I am submitting it for consideration in a juried invitational called “The Space Between,” which will be co-curated by Leslie Tucker Jenison and Jamie Fingal

The name comes from a line in an Emily Dickinson poem; you can read about it in my previous post

I am very pleased with it, now that it is done. After I had finished the quilting and had sewn on the binding, I decided that some of the feathers were not blue enough. It looked a bit washed out. So I went back in and added some more paint (I used Jacquard Lumiere and Stewart Gill acrylic paints) so that the blue was even more luminous and iridescent, the way it looked in the photo I took.

I also added darker blue on the second and fourth feathers to make it obvious that the third feather was on top of them. The third feather was a lighter blue color to start with, but I made it lighter and the others darker because this contrast portrays greater depth, and defines the layers.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Aurifil’s free project for March

Eclipse by Sarah Vedeler
Aurifil’s Designer of the Month is my friend, Sarah Vedeler. Sarah designs fabulous machine embroidery designs, and recently won first place in that category at International Quilt Festival in Houston with this beauty:

One of the things I like best about quilting is being part of a community that encompasses such a wide range of techniques and interests. There is a place for everyone, whether you like handwork or computerized designs. Sarah’s experience as a software engineer led her to digitize her own quilting designs and use the embroidery machine to do the quilting. 

If you click over to Aurifil news page and read the interview with Sarah, you can also download the free project she designed for this month, Eclipse (shown at the top of this post).

You can learn more about Sarah and her work here:
Pat Sloan’s interview with Sarah (scroll down to the podcast):

Aurifil will pick one random winner each month who has made one of the designer projects; she or he will receive a special Aurifil thread prize. You can make any of the designer projects (and we hope you make them all!) To participate, simply share your photos at our Flickr Folder... we can’t WAIT to see what you do.

Each month this year, I’m going to be giving away a pack of Aurifil minispools (like the one shown above) when the new project is announced. Just leave me a comment here to tell me what you think of Sarah's project. I'll pull a name at random on Friday, April 1 at noon. The sampler pack includes great colors in different weights. 

UPDATE: Tonya Littman won the thread this month! If you didn't win this time, please come back and try again each month this year. 

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Space Between, Part 3

Yesterday, I finished quilting my piece to submit for consideration in a juried invitational called “The Space Between,” which will be co-curated by Leslie Tucker Jenison and Jamie Fingal. I just pressed it (with lots of steam), and it is actually lying flat. Hallelujah! I am amazed, as I had worried that such heavy quilting would make it go very wonky, and it was certainly looking that way before I pressed it. I thought you might like to see the back of the piece, which more clearly shows the stitching, all done in black and white thread (Aurifil Cotton Mako 50).

The back looks like a pencil drawing, and it is quite a nice effect. When I was worrying about the wonkyness, I thought I might have to add a layer of interfacing and another backing, and quilt some areas again to take care of this. I am so glad that I didn’t have to, since it would have hidden all of this wonderful stitching.

Here is a shot of the front:

Now, on to the binding. I usually face my art quilts, but if I do this, I will turn under just a bit of the quilt, and at this point, it is slightly smaller than the size requirement for the exhibition, and a binding will add a bit back. And I think a small white binding will frame it nicely. I hope to show you the finished piece in my next post. 

And I have a name: Hope is the Thing. It comes from a poem that was special to both my mother and me, and seems appropriate, as I was working on this piece when I learned about her death on Jan. 26. My mother loved two American poets very much: Robert Frost and Emily Dickinson, and passed that love on to me. The name for this quilt comes from this poem:

by Emily Dickinson
Hope is the thing with feathers 
That perches in the soul, 
And sings the tune – without the words,  
And never stops at all, 
And sweetest in the gale is heard; 
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm
I’ve heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.