Monday, March 30, 2015

Diana’s Golden Needle

Diana with the first twin-sized quilt for her Gold Award project
I want to tell you about an extraordinary young woman I know. She has a big smile and an even bigger heart. Diana is a ninth grader in a school near me, active in many sports, including cross country, basketball, and track. She’s been a Girl Scout since first grade; her mother is in my quilt guild, and has always been her leader. She learned to sew when she was 10, and has done little projects here and there ever since. Now, she’s embarking on a huge project: The Girl Scout Gold Award.

The Girl Scout Gold Award is the highest achievement in Girl Scouts. It requires a minimum of 80 hours of paperwork, planning, and doing the project. “I will definitely exceed this,” says Diana. “For my Gold Award, I will be promoting community awareness about the needs for foster care.” She is also making twin sized quilts for teens who “age out” of the foster care program through
Barium Springs Home for Children in North Carolina. 

 Diana with her mentor, Toni-Ann Pfeiffer, volunteer coordinator at Barium Springs
Diana chose this project for her gold award because her parents adopted her from an orphanage in Russia in 2001, when she was 14 months old. By 2017, Diana is going to make 16 twin-sized quilts for the 16 years she has lived in the United States, plus 10 baby quilts to send to her orphanage in Russia.

“It would mean a lot to me if I could help kids who weren’t as fortunate as me,” says Diana. “Aging out means that they are age 18 and they are an adult now, and will be on their own.  Each year approximately 500 teens age out of the foster care system in North Carolina alone.”

Bonnie K. Hunter generously gave Diana the rights to use her pattern, “Scrappy Trips Around the World.” “I really like this pattern name because my parents had to go around the world for us to become a family,” Diana says. “It is a fun block to make and you can use up lots of scraps. I am really excited about this project!”

To learn more, and to follow her progress, follow Diana’s Golden Needle on Facebook.

Want to help? Diana needs 42 blocks for each twin size quilt.You can help my making blocks, sewing them together into a quilt, donating fabric, cutting fabric strips, or doing longarm quilting. Or focus on the awareness part of Diana’s project, by spreading the news about the importance of foster care and adoption. But before you jump in, please message Diana via her Facebook page to find out exactly what she needs! 

Adoption is an issue near and dear to my heart, because I have two wonderful nieces who joined our family through adoption!

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!