Thursday, August 27, 2015

Book Review - Machine Quilting With Style by Christa Watson

Christa Watson, is a celebrated, award-winning quilter, designer, instructor, blogger and online pre-cut store owner, who has written a new book; Machine Quilting; From Walking-Foot Wonders to Free-Motion Favorites; 12 Projects, Start to Finish.

I know many quilters who feel that machine quilting is their weakest suit, including me. Others, not so much. 

However, I am excited to write such a positive review about Christa's new book.
I love the way the book is organized. And the text is written in such a user-friendly way. What makes this book different than others, is that Christa takes the quilter, step-by-step, from yardage calculations, and fabric cutting through the piecing process. She continues into the basting process, then to the quilting, ending with binding techniques and other finishing touches.

After a very encouraging and upbeat introduction from the author, she writes about batting choices, thread options, pressing, work surfaces, ergonomics, hand positioning, the three machine quilting feet used most often, various types of stitches, their configuration possibilities, such as lines, ripples and swirls, in common sense, easy language. Readers of all levels will benefit from this section, and no doubt will pick up some new tips and tricks. These were a few of my favorites; 1. Choose a focal point in the block, and quilt around it. 2. Practice doodling quilting designs, which helps with muscle memory, for when you are actually quilting the quilt.

There are additional tips strategically placed throughout this book to support and extend the lessons. For example, in one tip box about thread, on pp.16, it says; "Close Matters - The more closely the thread matches the fabric, the less any wobbles or imperfections will show. Use highly contrasting threads sparingly. In 'Rain' (page 28), I used contrasting threads as an added design element." 

This speaks to beginning quilters, as well as more experienced quilters in a clean, precise way. It was daunting for me as a beginner to make quilting thread choices. This tip was not offered to me many years ago, because my very first teachers, (not Lisa or Deb), liked the contrast of using a different colored quilt thread. They were very experienced quilters and could sew a straight line during an earthquake. 

Another example of a helpful tip box on pp. 21, is about quilting better spirals. "Use a coin to change the diameter of the center circle." And there is a good illustration of that accompanying the text.

What comprises the majority of the book are 12 patterns, with instructions, illustrations and photos. The first seven patterns, Ripples, Rain, Color Crystals, Little Man's Fancy, Static, Square in a Square and Focal Point, were quilted with a walking foot. Some are pictured below.


Color Crystals

Little Man's Fancy


Square in a Square 

Focal Point

The last five quilts; Lightning, Candy Pop, Broken V, Facets and Pearl Gray, are machine quilted using a free-motion foot. Some are pictured below. This book is a skill building book. The emphasis is on taking it slow and enjoying the process. As Christa points out, practicing on quilt sandwiches is critical, and not treating the quilting as, a fast food quilting process. (I will admit that I have been guilty of that). 

I asked Christa what makes this book different from other machine quilting books out there? "I really wanted this book to be a complete book about quilting. Most quilting books just offer piecing patterns, while others are just a book of quilting designs. I wanted my readers to be able to successfully complete their quilts from start to finish. By including both walking foot-wonders and free-motion favorites, I wanted to let people know they can quilt on any type of machine they prefer!"

Another great inclusion in this book, shows how to piece the backing using leftover fabric from the front. And of course basting is covered, showing two different ways to accomplish this process.  Decorative quilting stitches are explored too, which is really a wonderful bonus the book offers.

Candy Pop

Broken V

Facets - Up Close

Facets - The Quilt

Pearl Gray

Christa provides some other lessons which are so helpful, and those of us who like a quick finish, may appreciate the process more, and now slow down a bit, and have better results. 

For example, on pp. 90 there is a wonderful lesson on how to use rulers. On pp. 43 a fabulous tip on sewing half square triangles, in a way where the point won't be pushed into the hole of the plate. 

I highly recommend this book. The stitches in the photos are clear, and impressive. This book successfully fills a void that other quilting books don't. The reader can really accomplish a project from start to finish.

On another note, Christa has generously offered to give-a-way an e-copy before the formal blog hop on this blog. 

To enter, please leave a comment telling us what your favorite machine quilting stitch is. If you are a no-reply blogger, please be sure to leave your e-mail address, so Christa can send you a copy of her book. The winner will be announced on Thursday, September 3.

After that, my husband and I will be travelling throughout Spain. I am planning on posting photos on Instagram and this blog, as long as technology cooperates. So stay tuned!!

Happy Quilting, Happy Labor Day, and Happy Back to School!!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

How to Calculate How Much Fabric Needed For Binding

I am almost finished with the machine quilting on my nautical baby quilt. My friend's daughter, who saw a nautical baby quilt, and requested the one I am making, had very little quilting on it. So I just stitched in the ditch. I would have added more quilting details, but what the client, or in this case the receiver wants, she gets.

The pattern came from my head. The squares I made were 5" each, and the borders were 3" each. At Pins and Needles on Friday, I auditioned a few fabrics for the binding.

This red fabric was the clear winner.

Backing fabric with red binding

Red binding next to border and a very small view of the front of the quilt

It made all the blues and yellows really pop. I generally pull something like this from my stash, and have always had more than enough. But not this time. And I love the way it pops the with the backing.

I don't want to keep showing you the same quilt, until it is finished, so these partial photos will have to do. There is a little surprise I'm planning for the back. Stay tuned.

Lisa gave me a formula for figuring out how much yardage is needed for the binding, which I am happy to share. The given is that I prefer to use 2.5" width strips to make bindings.

1. Add the measurements of all four sides of the perimeter. In this case it was 55 + 45 + 55 + 45 = 200. 

2. Add an extra 20", which now makes the total 220".

3. Divide the total inches by the WOF, width of fabric. In this case 45".

4. 220" divided by 45" = 4.88".

5.  It's a good idea to always round up. So you would be cutting  5, 2.5" strips for the binding.

Next post will be a book review of a wonderful, new machine quilting book that will go on sale at the beginning of September. I can't wait to share this review with you. And the author and I are excited to offer a digital give-a-way!!

Linking up with and

Happy Quilting!!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Winner of The Amy Gibson "For Keeps; Meaningful Patchwork for Everyday Living," Give-a-Way

Today I am announcing the winners of the give-a-way I posted several days ago, about Amy Gibson's new book; For Keeps; Meaningful Patchwork for Everyday Living. Amy has also generously offered to give-a-way to a second winner, a pattern of their choice from her online pattern shop.

The server for the is down. So I am having my friend Hana and her son Brandon choose random numbers.

Hana - 7
Brandon - 11

Congratulations to Corinne who won a copy of the book. 

Congratulations to Pank who has won a pattern of her choice from Amy's online shop.  Pank, I do not have your e-mail address. Please e-mail me at

Happy Quilting!!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Amy Gibson - Author of "For Keeps; Meaningful Patchwork for Everyday Living"

I was so excited to hear that Amy Gibson, blogger of Stitchery Dickory Dock and much celebrated Craftsy teacher, wrote a quilting book, For Keeps; Meaningful Patchwork for Everyday Life. (The book is published by Lucky Spool Media). After I read it, I knew I wanted to have her back to visit my blog again, and talk about this book with her unique perspective.

I am excited and honored to introduce to you, author, blogger, quilt teacher, and creator of The Sugar Block Club, Amy Gibson. 

1. Describe what you goal was in writing this book.

Truly, my goal for this book was to take the passion for patchwork-- my passion and I hope my readers' -- and nudge it to the next level, to that intangible place where we go beyond quality construction, to craft our quilts in such a way that we employ them in our lives, making them not only for their aesthetic value but to be part of the intentional strengthening of what life is all about: meaningful relationships. And that's really what the book is all about -- the making of quilts that soak up meaning through our times together; that become heirlooms -- not just because of their ancestry and meticulous construction, or because of their designer fabrics and bold piecing--but because of the stories they tell and the stories they inspire. 

The book contains 11 quilts and 5 patchwork projects - each and every one is meant to be used and enjoyed everyday, and was designed specifically from an intention of bringing the family together. 

2. What are the three things you would like readers to walk away from after reading and using, For Keeps? 

I'd love the readers to walk away with a new, more joyful and meaningful outlook on their sewing hobby, and I want them to feel inspired to make and enjoy these projects everyday. 

I also hope that readers feel empowered in terms of their construction skills. While I know that some readers may be advanced quilters, many are just starting out, so in an effort to make the book accessible for all skill levels, I included a wide range of project style and difficulty. 

The book also contains a very thorough Patchwork Primer section packed with clear photos and handy tips with help on everything from choosing fabrics and piecing techniques, to quilting and binding. It's a fabulous basics resource for those who are just starting out. 

3. Tell us the journey of how the book came about? Please take us through each step until the end? There are lots of readers who want to understand how this all happens and how it all works. 

I've always known that I wanted to write a book...this dream has been in my heart since childhood. Honestly, I don't really remember a specific moment when the idea for this book came to be, but it feels like it's always been with me. So much of it is my philosophy on quilting, and on life in general, so when I felt it was the right time to move forward with a book, there was no other topic I could even consider...this *had* to be my first book, if you know what I mean. It was flowing from my heart and I couldn't envision any other book coming to be. 

Title came later...about halfway through my writing of the manuscript. I thought of it while sitting with my husband out on our back deck and watching our kids play in the yard. Such an organic moment. All of the sudden, "for keeps" was on my tongue, and my husband and I, as well as my editor, immediately knew that was *it*. 

As far as the book submission process goes, that's a very big topic to include here! I think perhaps I could write an entire book just on that! :) What a process, and I'm sure it's somewhat different for each author, depending on their specific circumstances. I will tell you that by the time I was ready to submit a proposal for the book (which can be different for each publisher- check a publishers website for specific submission guidelines), I had a fairly clear overview of the quilt genre and publishing industry, and had formed opinions about which publishers I thought would be most likely to create the book I envisioned in my head. 

I think this is a crucial step for any potential author to make - to really take the time to hone in, not just on the projects or the topic, but on what exactly you want the book to look, and feel like...the essence and style of the book overall...and to research which publishers would be the best fit. 

How to do this? Go to the book store and look through books! Find books you love, and look to see who published them. By approaching publishers that are a good match with your vision from the start, you'll save yourself time and headache, and will be more likely to come away from the whole process with a book that truly fits your vision. Hopefully this is helpful for any of your readers who might also be authors at heart! 

4. Which project in For Keeps are you most proud of and why? 

I love all of the projects in the book in different ways, and for so many different reasons. Some of them have designs that I just really adore, in and of themselves, like the There's Only One You, the Scenic Route, or the Potluck quilts-- the geometry and fabrics just move me-- and others are exceptionally functional and useful in our home, like the Filmstrip quilt, the Once Upon A Time pillow, or the Jam Packed lunch sack. 

There's Only One You

Scenic Route


Filmstrip Quilt

Once Upon a Pillow

Jammed Pack Lunch Sack

Others are particularly nostalgic or sentimental to me, like the Sweet Silhouette Wall art or the Raindrops quilt. They all mean unique things to me, so I guess it's fair to say I don't really have a favorite or one that I feel more pride or joy in, over than another. I love them individually, and I love them compiled together in this book! 

Sweet Silhouette 

Raindrops Quilt

5. The “For Keeps Pledge” is a very original idea. What inspired you to create this unique concept? 

Thank you! The idea for the For Keeps Pledge was definitely God-inspired. There's no doubt about that. I'd been thinking and praying for months for a unique way to help launch the book, that really felt organic and true to the message, and one day, He simply popped the pledge in my head. Giveaways or discounts (however fun and awesome) just didn't feel right for this book. I was longing for a launch idea that really conveyed the heart of the book in a big way- bigger than me, bigger than the book, bigger than a book launch...a larger message that I feel is important and hopefully relatable for everyone. One day it just clicked...a pledge...the perfect way to speak the message in a clear and simple way. 

6. How do you intend the readers and quilters who think about the pledge to process and actualize it? 

By taking the pledge, participants are making a commitment to ourselves, and a statement to the community that we want to refocus our hearts and renew our intentions when it comes to our quilting and sewing. It means that we will be more mindful about using our passion to bring people together. Taking this pledge does NOT mean we won’t drool over designer fabrics or strive to make high quality items. It doesn’t mean we won’t follow trends or enter competitions. It simply means that we desire even more meaning in the making and using of our projects, and will try to be more mindful, when we’re designing and sewing, of how our process and/or project captures and spreads love & joy in our homes and communities. See the For Pledge Button on my sidebar.

7. How did you have time to write this book, while bringing up four children, homeschooling, designing quilts, and teaching Craftsy classes? It’s an amazing accomplishment. 

I'll be honest - trying to balance mothering with homeschooling, book writing, and teaching is a very tricky endeavor. It's been incredibly challenging, and has required quite a bit of flexibility on the part of my whole family. 

Thankfully, my husband and I are truly a team when it comes to both of our careers, so that really helps. I can't fathom attempting such a juggling act with a partner who wasn't 150% supportive and frankly, sacrificial. Some days, he'll arrive home from work and jump right into cooking dinner and putting the kids in bed (with a smile, no less), so that I can get a few hours of focused work in. Sometimes weekends mean he takes the kids for a picnic or to the pool while I sew, or bring my editing work along on outings. Sometimes it means I wake up a couple of hours before the kids to tackle a project before the first set of jammed feet shuffles down the stairs. Some days I want to rip my hair out, but more often than not, I just feel overwhelmingly grateful that God has provided me with the incredibly rare opportunity to not only turn my hobby and passion into an actual income-earning business, but to be able to do it from home, around my family's schedule. What a blessing, in spite of the challenge.

8. What’s next for you on this amazing professional journey you are taking? 

I often refer to For Keeps as my "first book" because I absolutely intend to write more. The process, however arduous, was quite fulfilling, and I am most definitely eager to continue writing books. I'm also excited to be exploring some other creative avenues related to sewing and design, and really tapping into my design creativity at a deeper level, so I look forward to sharing more about those projects as they come to fruition. 

9. You are always so upbeat and full of life, joy and energy. You seem to be able to not let the negative or stresses of life get you down. Would you please share your philosophy about how you cope, and just move forward when the tough stuff in life happens? 

You know, it's funny-- I grew up in a very *loud* family, which can be a good and a bad thing (just ask my husband, who most definitely grew up in a quiet family!). We play our music loud, we sing at the top of our lungs, we scream during football games, we throw big parties, we fight too often, and we cry big tears. We wear our emotions on our sleeves, and are often incredibly stubborn, dramatic and outspoken. It's a blessing and a curse, but it's how I see the world, and when paired with a deep spiritual faith that creates that joyful inner peace, I think there's a kind of fearlessness and optimism that results. 

Having this type of personality, and growing up in this type of environment, has really shaped my perspective on life. When something tugs at my heart, I go after it with everything. And if I crash and burn...if my team loses or my business move fails, or my homeschooling day feels more like self-induced torture...all the more to learn from, for the next go. 

My husband and I have taken this approach when it comes to our family and our careers, and good or bad, it's created lots of opportunity for growth and learning. We feel that when we open ourselves up to the possibility for God to do great things, He does. And when we hold back or doubt because we're unsure or afraid, He comes through anyway, and teaches us next time to just trust, to open up our wings a little wider so we can just glide, and let Him take us higher. We certainly don't have it all figured out, but we know that if we let Him, God will get us where we need to be, when we need to be there. 

Thank you so much for having me on your blog today! I'm honored to be able to share a bit about who I am and what I'm up to, and am so grateful for the support and friendship of you and your readers. Thanks so much, Anne! 

Thank you so much for your time and generosity of spirit, Amy.

Amy has kindly offered two give-a-ways; A copy of her new book For Keeps; Meaningful Patchwork for Everyday Living, and one of Amy's patterns from her online shop.

Please leave a comment in my comment box telling us which is your favorite pattern from her web site and blog. The winners will be announced on Sunday, August 16th. 

If you are a no-reply blogger, please leave an e-mail address so I can notify you that you are a winner.  

I love reading all your comments, and respond by e-mail. Thanks.

Happy Quilting, reading and creating!!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Nautical Baby Quilt Progess

I have sewn all the blocks together on the nautical baby quilt.

I label each row until the entire top is sewn together. That's my next step. I love this whale print. Definitely one of my favorites. And another favorite fabric in this quilt is shown in the photo below. It has a white background with Navy Blue Jelly Fish, Star Fish and Sea Turtles.

There are nine rows all together. I am hoping that this will be finished with the light blue borders sewn on by Monday.

Not much else to share, other than it's very hot and humid in the Hudson Valley this week. It's okay with me. I don't miss winter one bit.

Happy Quilting and stay cool!!

Linking up with WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced and Let's be Social at Sew Fresh Quilts.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Great Sale at Cedar House Fabrics

Lela at Cedar House Fabrics is having a GIANT SALE, through August 10. She is offering 30% off your entire order. Just use the code SUMMERSALE when you check out. She has some great modern and solid fabrics left.

Happy Shopping and Happy Quilting!!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Midnight Mystery Quilt with Cheryl from Meadow Mist Designs - One Fabric Change

Earlier this month, I posted my fabrics for the Midnight Mystery QAL, that Cheryl@ Meadow Mist Designs, is sponsoring. It's still not too late to join. Click here for more details.

These were my original fabrics below.

I love the way these fabrics look together. My "A" fabric is directional, with text, which just will be a bit tricky when it gets cut into HST. I found out that "A" would be easier to work with if it were a non-directional fabric. I did peek, because I really need to do the August and September steps for this quilt, because we will be away for most of September.

When we get back, I will be caught up with everyone else. In the meantime, I promised Cheryl no photos, except for the ones that coordinate with the month we are all working on.

My new "A" fabric keeps the dark blue in the mix the way I planned, and also uses medium blue for the fruit.

My "C" fabric below is a light blue marble print, and shows up much better in this photo.

And my "D" fabric shows up much better in this close up.

I love these gray swirls, and purchased a lot of yardage. It goes with everything, and would be great for backing fabric too.

In the meantime, I have to get back to working on the three baby quilts.

Looking forward to posting more on them later this week.

Happy Quilting!!