Monthly Archives: September 2018

“Quilt as Desired”…most hated phrase? 😝

Ok, so hopefully you have all purchased the current issue of Quilting Arts magazine and are inspired to create your own home-themed quilt for the Readers’ Challenge (which is for a particularly awesome cause!)

If you’ve decided to create a piece with the instructions in my article…you will see that I have included a few suggestions about what to do with the piece after you are done fusing. I thought it might be useful to offer the exact (time-saving) steps I employ…I have made so many of these now that I think my Bernina could do them for me ;). After assembling my thread palette of Aurifil 50wt for my series…

1. The cat comes first! Usually because I want to take a little time to look at the other fabrics and decide quilting patterns, I always stitch carefully around the inside edge of my cat, twice. On the second pass I stitch a line indicating one of his back legs is in front, then I stitch the outline of his face.

2. Next, house and roof! Simple outline stitching first…then radiating lines from peak of roof to bottom. Next, windows and door-again, simple outlines, then perhaps panes in the window. By now you’ve stared at the house fabric long enough to decide if it is made of stone (pebble stitch), brick (horizontal rows broken up by little vertical breaks), or clapboard (simple horizontal lines). An important design decision is: matching thread colors or contrasting hues? I prefer contrast for each element as it provides much more visual interest.

3. Tree time! I find it much easier to stitch the sinuous lines of the tree if I turn the piece around so the the roots are facing me. Outline first, then stitch “bark”…have fun adding a knothole and stitch around it. After the tree is finished, I’ll stitch the leaves: outline, then add a curving vein from stem to tip, backtrack and add a few little veins, then a second outline.

4. If you have a sun: begin at center and spiral outward…stitch the edge of the circle then stitch each little “ray.” Do cloud next.

6. Next, the “path” or “steps”. Consider the fabric: would you like to suggest cobblestones? Bricks? Some other pattern that enhances the fabric design?

At this point, you have finished the major elements. Little details such as a tree swing or a bird on top of the house can be added after you quilt the background. Now, take a lint roller and roll your piece firmly. Wow. There will be lots of fray to clean up (less if you are using batiks)!! I wear disposable lab gloves to free-motion quilt so I rub the surface of my piece at this stage to encourage the fray, then tidy it around each appliquéd piece with tweezers and thread snippers.


5. Sky…I like to turn the piece sideways and stitch in a smoothly rippling flame fill stitch.

6. Ground…first, stitch the horizon down with a few lines of stitching. Then consider the ground cover…this will depend upon the fabric. One approach is a free-motion lasso, which includes a leaf or a flower in between each 2 loops. Or, you might try free-motion zig-zag in curving lines to suggest grass…

Almost done! Now…if you want to include a tree swing (or a moon swing!),fuse a tiny sliver of fabric as the “seat,” stitch it down, and switch to a heavier thread to stitch the “ropes.” I, of course, recommend Aurifil’s 12wt…and for this bit, change your needle to a 100 size Topstitch. Free-motion stitch a line with little ripples in it, then backtrack doing the reverse pattern and it will look like this:

My last step? Well, I begin with my cat and I end with him ;)…whiskers are the final touch! A heavyweight white thread or a bright contrasting color (to both cat and ground hues) will be perfect. I lightly ink in his sleepy eyes and nose-mouth…stitch then carefully…then pick a spot on his jaw on each side and stitch in very visible whiskers for extra cuteness.

You’re done! Simply trim to 14″ square, zig-zag stitch around the edges, and you are ready to quilt your next house scene 😁.

Never Forget

Each of us has our own story for that day. Mine began on an Air Canada flight from Toronto to LGA…we were one of the last planes allowed to land. As the months passed, volumes of incredible art were created to commemorate the tragedy and help us to make sense of it all.

My piece is a nod to the incredibly moving Tribute in Light that shines over the site each year. I neglected to take any step-out photos but if you look carefully, you can see that it is quite simple.

1- the sky (Carol Eaton’s confetti-dyed) and the river (dark blue solid batik) were MistyFused onto the batting sandwich…

2- a piece of almost-but-not-quite Black was MistyFused and cut to the same width as the sky. First I cut out a series of skyscrapers in random order…then used my rotary cutter to cut a smooth curve representing the bank of the East River…

3- for the “towers” of light, I took a handful of silvery Angelina fiber…pressed it between my Goddess sheets,,,MistyFused it…then cut two tall narrow strips and fused them rising from behind the building…

4- and added “clouds” of wispy wool batting, MistyFused lightly to the sky.

5- I stitched the light towers in narrow columns with Superior metallic thread…a nod to the original design of the Towers…

6- and finished with simple free motion stitching in the sky and river (the latter a rippling pattern).

This piece hangs in my studio each September. I choose to remember the incredible kindness that New Yorkers showed one another that day…and the boundless hospitality offered by so many Canadians to those who were stranded north of the border.