Anne Sutton of Bunny Hill Designs is offering a free appliqué BOM for 2009 called “A Tiskit A Tasket, 12 Months of Baskets.” Jump on over to Anne’s blog, Bunny Tales, and hop on it!

IMO Anne creates the absolutely most cute and fetching designs. When I went to Quilt Market last May, her booth won the bestest-decorated award.

Until next time,
Kay
Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs

And here’s my quilt of the same name.

Tis the Season by Kay Mackenzie

I made this little 18 x 18 wall quilt last year, just putting together some motifs from A Merry Little Christmas to Appliqué and filling in the white space with some cute red and green buttons. I used different prints and widths for side and top and bottom borders, something I’ve become fond of doing. The Christmas cracker is tied with embroidery thread. This one’s machine appliquéd and machine quilted.

If you’d like to see more Christmassy quilts, click on the ‘Holiday’ category in the left sidebar and that’ll bring up the ones I posted last year.

A very happy holiday time to you all! See you next year.

Kay
By Kay Mackenzie

Before Elly’s lecture began (see the November 6 post), I was looking around the shop when I heard my name called. I turned around and, happy day! it was the podcaster extraordinaire Annie Smith, whom I hardly ever get to see due to her incredibly active traveling, teaching, and speaking schedule.

Annie was teaching a class next door to our lecture and had just a minute before her class was going to start. “Did you see my coat at PIQF?” she asked me with excitement. I had to confess that although I had admired the garments, I missed entirely the fact that one of them was hers and also that the special exhibit “Off the Bed — On the Back” had been curated by one of my own guild members, Rachel Clark.

Annie sent me pictures of the coat and the accompanying quilt, along with the story of how they were made (which reads a little like The Perils of Pauline). Here’s the sometimes harrowing account:

“Rachel asked me to be a part of the exhibit when she saw my West of Baltimore quilt.

Each of the pieces in the exhibit was to be a specific technique of quilt making, (i.e.: log cabin, paper piecing, Hawaiian quilting, Baltimore appliqué — which was mine).

gardencoat4web.jpg
coatback4web.jpg

My quilter, Melodee Wade, quilted each of the coat pieces first, then the appliqué was designed and stitched to the coat. The hard part was that I was working like crazy to get the coat finished and Rachel asked me what the name of my quilt was.

Quilt?!

Oh yeah, I remember now… after a conversation LAST October…. little quilts, the quilt design is put on the coat… yeah, right. So I stopped working on the coat design — I was having quilter’s block anyway after being seized with ultimate stress of doing a quilt too — and began the quilt. The vase in the center of the quilt is on the back of the coat, and then I wanted to do some simple vines for the border. Or at least, what I thought was simple. I have to remember that the quilt will always tell you what it wants, and the quilt just grew on my design wall. I knew when to stop and that it was perfect — when I added all of the little yellow dots as detail.

My friend Aneda Phillips, who made the West of Baltimore pattern cover quilt, stitched all of the appliqué while I went back to finishing the coat. When she returned the pieces of the quilt so I could assemble it, I mis-cut the center [Ed. note: GASP] and had to make another one from scratch and do all of the stitching on it, as Aneda was finishing up her quilts for her Market booth.

gardenquilt4web.jpg

Then back to the coat. It had to be done in panels, appliqué then sew the seams together, then connect the design. The hardest part was the two flowers that are on the side seams of the coat. At that point, the coat was wearing me while I stitched them down! I do fusible, fine machine appliqué where I use a tiny blanket stitch and match all of the threads to the appliqué fabrics. There is some hand embroidery on the quilt and coat. I even made covered buttons with little appliqué flowers on them.

The name of the quilt is “Midnight in the Garden” and the coat is “A Rose Tree in a Baltimore Garden”. A Rose Tree is a traditional Baltimore appliqué pattern which I used for the shawl collar of the coat.

rosetreecollarfront.jpg
rosetreecollarback.jpg

The appliqué fabrics and coat lining were generously donated by Robert Kaufman Fabrics. I used Peggy Toole’s “Florentine II” fabric as the lining and focus fabric for all of the appliqué. You can a little bit of the gorgeous lining fabric in the front collar picture. The fabric is amazing.

All in all, I worked on the quilt and coat for three weeks, 12 to 18 hours a day to get it done in time for PIQF. And then, I didn’t even get to attend the show, as I was teaching in Canada!

Melodee is an incredible quilter. I just gave her the pieces and let her do her thing. She did some neat swirled feathers in places that aren’t covered by appliqué — and that’s the thing, she had no idea where the appliqué was going. She just quilted as if they were separate whole cloth quilts. I was amazed when I sewed the panels together — the quilting from one dovetailed into the other and in some places it’s hard to see the seam line. I know that it was totally random, but I love when magic happens like that.

I use Melodee exclusively to do the quilting for me. She always enhances everything I do, making my pieces better. Mel does it all free-motion on a non-computerized Gammill.”

Kay here… I’ll add that in addition to her quilting talents, Melodee is one of the nicest, most gracious people you could ever hope to meet. Her contact is melodeewade@aol.com if you’re interested in contacting her for your longarm quilting needs.

On her latest podcast,(11/10/08), Annie tells more about the creation of the coat and jacket, describing how they grew on her design wall and what a wonderful experience it was for her to let go and let that happen. Go give a listen, and you’ll also hear a hilarious story of how dedicated a quilter can be when it comes to acquiring an industrial Bernina for $100.

Until next time,
Kay
Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs

Ever since I started this blog I wanted to do a feature on fellow designer Darcy Ashton. Darcy lives in Oklahoma and even though we’ve never had the chance to meet in person, she’s been an inspiration, a mentor, and a friend. Darcy runs a one-woman publishing company, as do I, and has been a great help to me with the benefit of her experience.

A Darling Little DogIf you’ve been a quilter on this planet, you’ve seen Darcy’s distinctive and highly successful books featuring remarkably realistic-looking animals done up with buttonhole stitching. Amazingly, most of them are made up of only one piece of fabric.

Her resume includes such titles as Grandma’s Bunnies, Claire’s Cats, Butterfly Dance, Aquatic Creatures, Darling Little Dogs, and Beautiful Big Dogs.

Darling Little Dogs coverAquatic Creatures coverButterfly Dance cover

When I asked Darcy how she managed to balance running her very busy design and publishing company with family life, she replied, “My one-woman business came about because of my family life.”

Darcy had worked in graphics at several companies until the time her two small children came around. Then she learned that her current employer was closing and she’d be out of a job. Admitting that it was “actually a bit of a relief,” Darcy purchased her computer workstation from her former employer and settled at home to raise her kids.

Darcy came from a family of quilters, so it’s something she’s been doing for a long time. At a family reunion, her dad was given an unfinished quilt top to bring home to Darcy. It was started by Grandma, and as Darcy puts it, “One of the blocks had a rusted needle still parked in the block where she had put it down and never picked it back up. It had been set aside in the bottom drawer in her sister’s house and there it had waited patiently for nearly 60 years for her to get back to work on it.”

That UFO changed Darcy’s life. Guess what was on it? Bunnies! Adorable appliquéd bunnies with embroidered details. Darcy finished Grandma’s bunnies and put it up on her wall. Then, she says, every time she looked at it, she wondered why they didn’t have any tails, and why their whiskers were so long. Pretty soon she was re-drawing the bunnies and making her own quilt.

Without Darcy’s income, the family started to run on a tight shoestring. And, having worked for years, Darcy also started to feel the desire to have something to think about and work on in addition to taking care of her children. She got the idea that she could start teaching appliqué. When she went down to her local quilt shop with her bunny quilt to ask the owners if she could teach a class, they kept getting interrupted by quilters wanting the patterns!

That was a light-bulb moment for Darcy. With all of her experience working in graphic arts and publishing, she was very well prepared to put out a book of patterns, and published a limited number of Grandma’s Bunnies. The first printing didn’t last long. Word of mouth spread so fast and so far that before she knew it, Darcy was reprinting and selling far and wide.

Then quilters wanted cats. So Darcy published Claire’s Cats (named for her daughter) and hasn’t stopped producing amazing books since!

cc2_cover.jpgThe original Claire’s Cats has been so popular that when Darcy recently came out with Claire’s Cats Volume 2, there was such an overwhelming demand for the first volume to go with it that Darcy decided to reprint it once again. If only I could get into such a predicament!

Darcy sent me Beautiful Big Dogs (I am a dog person, you know) and Claire’s Cats Volume 2 (okay, I also have three cats) to take a look at. Besides the incredible patterns, these books are just jam-packed with information, tips, and options for making the critters and dressing them up in different ways. I especially liked the section on different ways of making the eyes. And, now I know how she does her appliqué! (You can use either hand or machine techniques.)

Darcy prefers to support our wonderful independent quilt shops, so ask for her books at your favorite shop. She also sells her books and patterns from her website, Ashton Publications if that’s a better option for you.

Darcy recently started a blog at www.DarcyAshton.vox.com, and take it from me, she’s quite the photographer as well.

To top things off, Darcy has graciously permitted me to post one of her free patterns for download! Here’s the bonus pattern from CC V 2. Enjoy!

Last thoughts: Darcy says, “You should not be ashamed of your UFOs. Leave something behind to inspire the next generation. If one of your unfinished projects lands in the lap of a young girl years after you are gone, you could be spreading the seeds of the next generation of quilters.”

Until next time,
Kay
Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs

Happy Valentine’s Day! The chocolate has been bestowed, and now I’m anticipating the bouquet. This has been a tradition throughout our 18 years of marriage, chocolate for him, flowers for her, and he hasn’t missed one yet. So although there aren’t any flowers yet, the day is young :).

Here’s another of my favorite blocks from Growing Heart to Appliqué.
I call it “Fly Away.”

fly-away.jpg

Freezer paper on top, hand appliquéd, hand-embroidered stems.

Until next time,
Kay
Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs

Here’s another block from Growing Hearts to Appliqué. A fun one, yes?

seed-packet.jpgWhen brainstorming on a theme,”growing hearts” or whatever, it’s so wonderful to let your imagination roam free and think up all sorts of notions about how to portray your ideas.

For this crazy design, I used freezer-paper templates on top, and I hand-embroidered the letters. The little black heart seeds are inked on with a permanent fabric marker.

And don’t faint, but maybe you can see that this quilt is hand-quilted. It still happens now and again.

Until next time,
Kay
Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs

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

I have a book of designs called A Merry Little Christmas to Appliqué that’s filled with festive designs in incremental sizes that play nicely together. Since it’s now a week until Merry Merry Day, I’ve decided to post a bunch of those Christmassy appliqué quilts between now and then.

Pam Crooks made a beautiful repeating poinsettias quilt using rich batiks. When she was planning this project, she emailed and asked how I felt about fuchsia. I replied, “Gotta love the fuchsia!” so this elegant wall quilt was born.

Karen Garret made an apron to wear at holiday time and decorated it with the same poinsettia pattern. She did a neat stylizing thing with it, and added sew-on decors. There wasn’t room in the book to show the whole apron, so we just showed the poinsettia.

Until next time,
Kay

Mistress of machines Janet showed me a border she’d made for a round robin. I couldn’t believe it. Yet another edge treatment for fusible appliqué!

At first I thought Janet had used the machine embroidery technique that I’d seen on her pieces in the past. I asked her to describe how she’d done this beautiful stitching. Here’s what she told me.

Usually, when machine embroidering, Janet hoops the fabric. This time, since the oak leaves and acorns were fused onto the background fabric, there was enough stability so that she could skip the hoop. Instead of stitching back and forth a little at a time to simulate three strands of embroidery floss, Janet did a free-motion stitch traveling in one direction all the time, and went around each motif two or three times close to the edges. The veins on the leaves were done the same way. She used variegated Star cotton thread from Coats & Clark, which is one of her favorite threads for her machine work.


Here’s the project so far, with just the center and Janet’s fabulous appliquéd border. Janet told me I could put this picture up, but shh! don’t tell the person whose center that is, or we’ll get busted. :)

Until next time,
Kay

My new favorite way of embroidering tendril-thin stems is to couch a full six-strand length of embroidery thread in place. I use one strand of a lighter shade for the couching stitches to add a little interest.

Here’s a twisty vine that I did this way.

This is about the extent of my skill as an embroiderer!

Until next time,
Kay

I spent the weekend at one of my favorite places in the whole wide world… Asilomar Conference Grounds in Pacific Grove, California.

Asilomar is right by the ocean and we always see deer, who are very used to the comings and goings of the visitors. Asilomar is often associated with the Empty Spools seminars, but lots of other quilting events happen there too. My friend Janet Locey organizes quilting retreats a couple times a year there (as well as at other locations). Her Quilters Getaways are the most fun thing ever. We bring our own projects and sew, sew sew, talk, talk, talk, and eat, eat, eat.

At one point during the weekend, I looked up and happened to see a fellow retreatant holding up a lovely Hawaiian appliqué quilt with what looked like some sort of skein of cording hanging off of it.

Intrigued, I made my way to that side of the room to investigate.

I made the acquaintance of Metha Schuler of Petaluma, California, who has been an avid Hawaiian appliquér for 12 years, ever since she became acquainted with the craft on a Maui vacation. I asked Metha what was up with the purple cording.

Metha related that when she was mostly finished with this quilt, she actually hated it. It was just “blah,” she said. It lacked contrast between the background and appliqué fabrics. Instead of pitching it (gasp), she decided to try to rescue it by putting something around the appliqué motifs to better define the edges.

She tried everything she could find at the craft store, and finally found something she thought would work… purple elastic bracelet cord. Metha is now in the process of couching the cord around all of the edges of the motifs, and when she gets done, she allows as how she thinks she will now like her quilt!

Here’s a closeup showing one of the interior areas that hasn’t been edged yet. You can see how much better the contrast show up with the purple cording.

Here’s Metha with her nearly rescued quilt, Seaweed.

Here’s another quilt, Raintree, that Metha held up during Show & Tell.

For more information on Janet’s Quilters Getaways, please visit her website at Hen Scratch Quilting.

This cutie was also made for the “Ways With Words” article (see previous post). In the article there are some notes about using Ultrasuede™ for making letters, but there wasn’t room for a photo example, so the quilt didn’t make it into the article.

It’s called “Peek A Boo” (as distinguished from my “Peekaboo” quilt pattern, which was named for a traditional quilt block).


The shy bear was needle-turned and then hand-buttonhole-stitched around the edges. For the letters in his sign, I used fusible web, being careful not to smash down the texture of the ultrasuede when fusing.


Ultrasuede is a slightly fluffy synthetic material that doesn’t ravel, so you don’t have to finish the edges. I used some embroidery floss in a running stitch to embellish the letters and to hold them in place permanently.

The frame and post of the sign are also ultrasuede, which I machine-buttonhole-stitched.

So, quite a mixture of techniques from my appliqué bag of tricks for this little quilt!

Until next time,
Kay

P.S. I got the ultrasuede scraps inexpensively on ebay.

P.P.S. If you’d like to see the other Peekaboo, you are invited to visit my patterns page at Quilt Puppy.

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