I dropped off the Teapots 2 quilts today with photographer Gregory Case. I’m pretty dang excited about that! Gregory is a renowned quilt photographer; you may know him as Photo Man on The Quilt Show. I happened to meet Gregory at PIQF last October and I was thrilled when he agreed to take on the photography for my next book.

After photography is complete, it goes pretty fast, so Teapots 2 to Appliqué should be out in the next few weeks. I already dropped by and spoke with “my guy” at the printers so he’d put me on the calendar.

The first volume of teapot designs, Teapots to Appliqué, is almost sold out of its third printing, and when those are gone, it’ll go out of print (so if you want one, go to quiltpuppy.com sooner rather than later). It’ll be a bittersweet moment, but the sweet part is that Teapots 2 will step right into its shoes with a whole new set of designs.

Teapot.gifStay tuned! I’ll let you know the minute the ink is dry. In the meantime, here’s a sneak peak!

Until next time,
Kay
Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs

Susan Brubaker Knapp of Blue Moon River emailed me to let me know that she’s going to be offering at least one appliqué tip a month on her blog, as she releases blocks for “Bohemian Bouquet,” her 2008 Mystery Block of the Month quilt.

Susan’s first tip is already up… a very handy post on how to handle appliqué shapes where the interior is cut out.

You might want to subscribe to Susan’s blog so that you won’t miss the rest of her great tips!

Until next time,
Kay
Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs

Designer Susan Brubaker Knapp has posted a wonderful photo tutorial on her blog about how to use Karen Kay Buckley’s Perfect Circles™ templates to make prepared-edge circles for hand appliqué.

I have a set of KKB’s templates tucked away in my appliqué bag of tricks. The circle templates come in a whole lot of different sizes and they come with a ring so you can keep them all corraled.

Be sure to visit Susan’s website also, Blue Moon River. Susan has some beautiful patterns there, including stunning block-of-the-month appliqué patterns.

Thanks Susan!

Until next time,
Kay
Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs

I found this fun photo tutorial on Bethany Reynolds’ website about how to use Stack-n-Whack® to make an appliqué heart!

Until next time,
Kay
Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs

Yesterday I took a workshop with Julie Hirota, an amazing appliqué artist and author of Art Glass Quilts. The last time she came to our guild, she taught her art glass, or “subtractive appliqué” technique.

Now Julie’s in a mosaic phase, and today we learned how to go about creating these gorgeous art quilts. Here are some highlights from the day.

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We all made up our own designs. Here’s my improvisational mosaic flower.

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Janet was sitting next to me. Here’s her project in progress.

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And here’s Janet herself. She shared fabric with me. What a good workshop neighbor.

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Julie Hirota, with her beautiful Queen of Hearts mosaic quilt.

Julie’s website is www.jhiro.com. If you’re in the mood for some eye candy, be sure to visit. Her work doesn’t look quite like anybody else’s, and it’s stunning.

Julie’s also into handbags lately (you can see some of them peeking out from behind her on the table.) They’re available at Julie’s Etsy shop.

Thanks Julie! I had a great time!

Until next time,
Kay
Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs

Willie helps me a lot in the studio.

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Yes, those are teapots… sixteen new ones to be exact. I’m working on my new book, Teapots 2 to Appliqué, and it’s coming right along. Stay tuned!

Until next time,
Kay and Willie
Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs

This part of California has been stormy for days. The power at our house has been blipping out so many times that I gave up resetting the clocks! Last night, I was just trimming an appliqué shape when whoops! there it went again. I waited in the dark, and when it didn’t come back on right away, I knew it would be out for awhile.

I groped my way to the flashlight and puttered around the house, doing a few things that didn’t require power, but my appliqué was weighing on my mind. All of a sudden I got an idea. I searched the bedside table for a little battery-powered reading light that I’d had for years but had hardly used. Making my way back to the sofa, I stationed my Cut ‘n Press on my lap, set the light on it, turned it on, angled it just right, and there was this bright little pool of light illuminating my work.

Now mind you, I had both my contacts in and some reading glasses on, but with this light I was able to go ahead and finish the appliqué block.

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This one’s called Mighty Bright, and I’ve heard of one called the Itty Bitty Book Light or something like that. Whatever kind you can find, they’re at bookshops, and I found this one quite handy last night.

By the way, sending props to those of you who have gone through power outages that lasted days. I salute you!

Until next time,
Kay
Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs

When it comes to stems or vines, there’s more than one way to skin a cat. (Just an expression, I’ve had three cats for seventeen years and haven’t skinned any of them yet :) .)

Here’s a photo tutorial on stems and skinny stems, two ways each. That’s four stems! In all cases this is hand appliqué, however, they can be adapted to be sewn on the machine.

Here’s how I was first taught to do stems.

Cut a bias strip 1″ wide or wider and press it in half, wrong sides together, lengthwise. Mark the stem or vine on the front of the background fabric.

Sorry if you can’t see the pencil mark too well… there’s a big storm in California today and there’s no good natural light.

Place the folded bias strip over the marked line, kind of averaging its position. Fold over the raw edges to where they fall short of the other side and crease to give yourself an idea of the stitching line.

Stitch the vine to the background fabric using a small running stitch (left side of picture). Then roll the folded edge over the stitching, covering the raw edges of the other side. Appliqué the fold down (right side of picture). Disregard the position of the needle in this picture; I laid it down in haste.

To make a skinny stem the same way, just stitch much closer to the fold.

Trim away the excess, very close to the stitches. Roll and sew the same as before.

A pretty good skinny stem.

Now, on to the method I use most of the time now, with my trusty green gadget, the Clover® ¼” bias tape maker. Cut a bias strip that is 5/8″ wide. Yes, just 5/8″! Cut the top so that it angles upwards to the left — it seems to feed through better this way.

Poke the strip right-side-up into the wider end of the gadget until you can see the fabric in the slot at the top. Use the tip of a pin to pull the strip through the slot until it sticks out the narrow end. Pin the strip to the ironing board. Use a glass-head pin, so you don’t have to worry about melting a plastic pin.


Using a hot iron and plenty of steam, pull the gadget along the strip in one smooth, fairly rapid motion, following it closely with the iron. Don’t stop part-way through, or try to back up. Smoothness is key.

Important: Hold your iron so that the steam vents are not directed at your fingers.


You can make bias strips fusible by applying thin strips of paper-backed fusible web. I do this as a second step. I actually cut the strip of fusible in half lengthwise to make a very thin strip, which I find is enough. The product comes on a roll and is found alongside the bias tape makers.

Using a dry iron, press the fusible strip to the back of the bias strip. Remove the paper backing and steam-press the stem over the marked line. Then it’ll be ready to stitch.

To make a skinny stem this way, make another bias strip with the gadget, and press one side out flat again. Trim along the crease.

Get out your glue stick and run it along the wrong side of the strip. Pick up the strip and pinch the raw edge back over to the center. It should stick with cheerful obedience. It if doesn’t, use a little more glue or make sure the glue stick is fresh.

If you prefer to skip the gluing, you can use a hybrid method! Appliqué the folded edge first, then tuck under the raw edge on the other side as you stitch.

All four, placed improvisationally on the background and, for some strange reason, from bottom to top!

I hope this has helped you if you were looking for information on how to make stems or skinny stems. There are other methods too… remember those cats I mentioned?

Over at the Quilter’s Newsletter website, I did a quick search and came up with several tutorials on how to make skinny stems. Check them out as well!

Until next time,
Kay

You won’t believe what a fantastic post I’ve got for you to start out the new year, courtesy of appliqué designer Kaye Moore!

I’ve met Kaye a couple of times at her booth at Pacific International Quilt Festival. (I joked with her that she’s one of the reasons quilters want to put an “e” on my name.) This last October, I was drawn into her booth once more by the beautiful appliqué samples hung everywhere.

Kaye works exclusively with wool now, and I asked her if she would be willing to talk about some of the wonders of wool for appliqué. Wow! Kaye, who admits to being “a little bit passionate about wool,” sent me a fabulous, info-packed article! Here it is, in her words. Take it away, Kaye!

“The discovery of wool is simply one of the most wonderful stitching discoveries I’ve ever made. Without a clue to the new path I was about to travel, I purchased a wool kit for a pennyrug at a quilt show several years ago. I completed it quickly and purchased another and another and so on.

I had been in the quilt business, vending at quilt shows around the country, but had not found my “niche”. Thankfully my niche found me. Very quickly my booth became an all-wool booth.

What’s so wonderful about wool, you ask? For starters, you can appliqué without turning the edges under as you must do in traditional appliqué using cottons. Since the wool has been felted during the dyeing process, the edges will not ravel.

What is felting? Felting is the process of washing the wool in hot water, shocking it in cold and drying it in a hot dryer. Wool from old garments or cut from a bolt at a fabric store can be felted using this method. Felting compresses the fibers, making them very tight, thus no raveling.

While many designers recommend fusing the appliqué pieces to the background, I do not recommend that. To me, that defeats the purpose of wool, which is supposed to be soft and easy to sew through. I simply cut out the images to be appliquéd, pin them to the background, and buttonhole stitch them in place. Details such as veins in leaves and flowers, French knots, etc., can be added using simple embroidery stitches.

There may be an occasion when you get a wool that is very loosely woven and no matter how many times you felt it, because of the way it has been woven, it will never felt to the point where it will not ravel. In that instance, I do apply a bonding agent to the back of the piece to be appliquéd, but then I do not bond it to the background fabric, but simply stitch it to the background.

I do tell my customers, however, that if they have used a bonding agent in the past and are pleased with the results, then by all means do so again. Purchase the bonding agent of your choice and follow the manufacturer’s directions.

The traditional stitch for working with wool is the buttonhole stitch, but a primitive overcast stitch can also be used. Wool appliqué can be done by hand or machine.There are a lot of threads available and it’s best to try several to see which one works best for you. I like to use a variety of threads, often mixing them on the same project. Perle Cotton No. 12 and DMC floss are my two favorite threads. Perle Cotton No. 8 works well if the piece you are making has a primitive theme. I think No. 8 is too thick for most projects that are a little more sophisticated. There are also some wonderful hand-dyed wool threads available, many that have been dyed to match the wool. You can also add beading and ribbon embroidery to your wool projects.

Using hand-dyed wools for the appliqués is a delight for those of us to are enchanted with wonderful colors, which vary in depth and hue on a single piece of wool fabric.

All the quilts I have designed using wool appliqué have backgrounds from flannel. My favorite two flannels are Marcus Brothers flannel and Moda’s Marbled flannel. I do not pre-wash the flannel as it often has a sizing agent in it which gives it good body and makes it wonderful to stitch on.

I use flannel for the background of my quilts for three reasons:

1. It is much easier on my customer’s pocketbooks than wool.

2. When you sew the blocks together, you have a traditional seam. With an all-wool quilt, you either have lumpy seams or you must butt the edges of the blocks together and zigzag them. Then you must find a way to cover up where they have been joined.

3. If this is a quilt you are going to hang, you do not have to worry about it sagging. An all-wool quilt can be very heavy and possibly sag with time if it is a wallhanging.

While it would seem logical that quilts made from hand-dyed wool can be washed, I do not recommend washing your wool quilts. Depending on how the wool was woven and how it was felted, there is a possibility it can continue to shrink. I simply don’t think it’s worth taking the chance of ruining your quilt by washing it.

So, how to you care for a wool quilt? About once a year or so I put my quilts in the dryer on “Air” to remove the dust and refresh them. Should your quilt become soiled, you can have it professionally dry-cleaned or use a dry-cleaner packet you purchase at the grocery store. Pennyrugs and table toppers can be spot cleaned. Wool naturally repels water, so a spill can often be blotted up before any harm is done.

Wool projects are great “take along” projects. If you are waiting at the dentist’s office or for a child at an after-school activity, working on a wool project is a great way to pass the time and when completed you have a beautiful gift or treasure for yourself.

If you have not tried working with wool, I suggest you purchase a small project that can be completed quickly – one that has simple details. Once finished, I think you will be anxious to get that second project. I often tell my customers wool projects should carry a warning label because working with wool is addictive. It has certainly proven to be true for me!”

Thank you so much, Kaye! This is great information and all of us appliqué fans appreciate it. Please visit Kaye’s website to see her wonderful wool designs plus some fabulous patterns by other designers.

Here on the blog, hover your mouse over the designers and pattern companies in the sidebars to see others who specialize in wool.

Until next time,
Happy New Year,
Kay