Thank you so much to everyone who came over from the Bloggers Quilt Festival and left amazing comments about Shopping Bags. I cherish each and every one; you’ve done my heart good.

There’s a followup story. As I was cutting shapes for the bags, I also cut a few blades and squares from each fabric for some Dresden plate blocks, figuring I had already pulled a coordinated assortment of fabrics so why not make it a twofer. I made this quilt later. Same fabrics exactly as the shopping bags! This quilt is from Faye Anderson’s pattern ‘Cracked China.’ I call mine ‘Mix and Doesn’t Match.’

Mix and Doesn't Match by Kay Mackenzie

Mix and Doesn't Match by Kay Mackenzie

Here’s the quilt that appeared in American Quilter. Funny that they were originally attracted to the pattern from the dark blue quilt, requested an additional lighter sample, and then never used the first one at all!

Shopping Bags II by Kay Mackenzie

Shopping Bags II by Kay Mackenzie

In this quilt, the bags were pieced into the background instead of appliquéd on.

Until next time,
By Kay Mackenzie

I asked Dana which quilt should be my quilter’s choice for the Blogger’s Quilt Festival put on by Amy of Park City Girl. Immediately he said, “Shopping Bags.”

Shopping Bags by Kay Mackenzie

Shopping Bags by Kay Mackenzie

The bag popped into my head a number of years ago whilst tromping the aisles at Pacific International Quilt Festival. It must have been the heavenly combination of quilts, fabric, and shopping!

It took awhile for the concept to get from my head to a design. Yes, kids, each bag has set-in seams in two places. That did not deter me. I used freezer-paper templates and sewed carefully, and they came together just fine.

Shopping Bags detail

Shopping Bags detail

It was gobs of fun rummaging through my stash for fabrics to make the fronts, sides, and backs. For the sides, I chose fabrics where I could use both the back and the front, to add to the illusion of a folding pleat.

After the bags were all sewn together (by machine), I turned over a quarter of an inch all around the edges and pressed. I chose a swirly background fabric and made my best stab at an artistic arrangement. In fact this may have been my very first quilt to come even close to being an “art quilt.” I just wanted them to hang there in space and overlap and float in and out from each other.

Once the bags were arranged, I basted them down and stitched the turned edges like appliqué, changing threads to match or blend with each fabric.

I went to the craft store to get something for the handles. I made my choice and as I was standing in line I saw the manager. Susan!” I yelled. “Whaddya call this stuff?” “That’s rat-tail cord,” she replied. Who knew. I couched the cord into place using one of those curve-bar thingies for placement.

Get this… I totally forgot to leave enough background fabric at the top for the handles. I quickly figured out that the topmost handles were going to stick up off the quilt. A happy accident… I get comments on how creative and clever this is.

Along with a different version of the quilt, the Shopping Bag block pattern was published the Fall 2005 issue of American Quilter magazine.

Hope you like Dana’s choice! Visit Park City Girl every day through October 16 and get a ringside seat for other bloggers’ quilt picks.

Until next time,
By Kay Mackenzie

The item that I ordered from Keepsake Quilting to use for the new designs arrived. There’s your second clue. :)


Until next time,
By Kay Mackenzie

I’m delighted to present this guest post from Barbara Brackman, esteemed quilt historian and author. Barbara has some news to share that is of great interest and excitement to the appliqué enthusiast!

Barbara Brackman

This just in from quilt scholar
Barbara Brackman

Encyclopedia of Applique, first editionTwenty years ago I published my Encyclopedia of Appliqué, which indexed all the appliqué designs I could find before 1970. It’s been out of print for years.

This month, C&T Publishing is bringing out a revised edition. The index will be the same but the introduction is updated.


Applique artists will love having the inspiration that the 1,800 black-and-white drawings provide. Born organizers like me will enjoy seeing all that exuberant design classified and numbered.

Page from Encyclopedia of Applique by Barbara Brackman

Here’s a scan of one of the pages on Reel quilts (they are all numbered 17). I’ve been having fun lately by finding block designs from online auction quilts and making myself digital files with color pictures of actual quilts like the page here. (I am a born organizer so that’s my idea of fun.)

The reel is one of the oldest appliquéd block designs, with examples dated in the early 1830s. It remains popular today. Here are a few quilts made by me and my friends using variations of the pattern.

app-finley.gifOak Leaf and Orange Peel (Bowden Family Quilt) by Bobbi Finley, Williamsburg, Virginia, 2003-2005.

Hip Hop Hickory Leaf by Carol Gilham Jones.gif
Hip Hop Hickory Leaf by Carol Gilham Jones, Lawrence, Kansas, 2007.

Hickory Leaf by Barbara Brackman
Hickory Leaf by Barbara Brackman, Lawrence, Kansas, 2003. Quilted by Lori Kukuk.

Kaw Valley Quilters Guild Opportunity Quilt.gif
Kaw Valley Quilters Guild Opportunity Quilt
by Georgann Eglinski and Roseanne Smith, Lawrence, Kansas 2009. Quilted by Lori Kukuk.

Thank you so much Barbara for sharing this sneak peak with us! The new edition of the Encyclopedia means that not only is it in print again, there’s an updated introduction about the history of appliqué, plus it has color pictures accompanying the black-and-white reference drawings, and, five quilt projects!

You can pre-order your copy at Here’s the link: Encyclopedia of Appliqué on Amazon.

If you have an interest in quilt history and fabric dating, you’ll definitely want to read Barbara’s blog, Material Culture: Information from a Quilt Historian About Quilt Fabric Past and Present.

Until next time,
Quilt Puppy Pubications & Designs

Ruth B’s the winner! Ruth, your comment is the same as what I would say about why I love quilting. It allows me to be a creative person. I never found ‘it’ until I found quilting.

Ruth, send me your name and mailing address to topdog at and your beautiful blue fabric will be on its way.

Thank you all for sharing what quilting means to you. It’s good to stop and think about it every now and then.

Until next time,
Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs

Today we give extra-special thoughts toward celebrating quilting in all of its forms.

Let’s talk about it. Leave a comment telling everyone why you love quilting.

At 7:00 p.m. California time I’ll draw randomly from among all the comments posted, and I’ll send the winner a yard of this gorgeous Michael Miller fabric “Lotus Blossoms” designed by M.E. Hordyszynski.


Your fellow quilter,
Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs

Nuttin! Orange and silver are two words for which there is no exact rhyme in the English language. A fabric company should put out an orange fabric with metallic silver highlights and call it “Nothing Rhymes.”

Today I’m ruminating about the color orange as part of Pat Sloan’s Virtual Weekend Retreat and OP Challenge. What’s an OP you might ask? Orange Pile! Your pile of orange fabrics from your stash! There’s a blog hop going on with prize giveaways, a free block pattern, photos of work in progress, and a tutorial. Click the OP logo in the left-hand sidebar and you’ll find out all about it.

What’s orange in nature? Lots of things. Oranges. Tangerines. Papayas. Pumpkins. Carrots. All of these grow with green leaves, so it seems that green goes with orange. However, to me, an orange and green combo just always has a “food” connotation, like food-service industry.

California poppies. Chrysanthemums. Nasturtiums. Still with the green leaves, but commonly pictured against a blue sky. Orange and blue… a nice combination.

Ginger tabby cats. Parts of calico cats. Pomeranians. Monarch Butterflies.


My calico cat Maikai.

Orange and black, besides being two colors in the classic calico triad, just means Halloween. Orange and brown occur often together in the coats of animals. A touch of orange is fantastic for depicting critters. Go see the giraffes on the home page of appliqué artist Nancy Brown’s website.

I happen to like orange, and when I say that I mean in my stash and in my quilts. Supposedly I can’t wear true orange, me being a ‘classic winter’ and all. But when I really think about it, orangey-red is really one of my favorite colors! Witness the color scheme for this blog (which I designed myself). My car is ‘red-orange metallic.’ I’m far more drawn to the orange side of red than the purple side.

free-flowers.gifI try to pull a splash of orange into my appliqué whenever I can. Here’s my improvisational, scissor-cut wall quilt Free Flowers. It just wouldn’t be the same without the orange and the pink.

Basket block from Growing Hearts to Appliqué
When I pulled fabrics for the blocks in my book Growing Hearts to Appliqué, I mixed orange into the reds.

One of my very favorite color combinations is orangey-red and tealy blue. Can you see it in this quilt block? They’re opposite each other on the color wheel, so they’re complimentary, and they look fabulous together.

Last year I stopped by In Stitches, an exceedingly cute quilt shop in Red Buff, California. The owner, Erda Fleming, told me that they had a program whereby the first fabric purchased by a customer would become the Bolt of the Day. I was the first one in the door so I got to proclaim the Bolt of the Day. Here’s what I chose.


Pat Sloan fabric!

Note the orangey-red and tealy blue. No wonder it was my favorite!
When I designed the cover for Growing Hearts I used this color combo too.

Growing Hearts to Appliqué by Kay Mackenzie

Have you guessed it? This book is my giveaway for the OP Challenge! Leave a comment on this post to enter the drawing for Growing Hearts to Appliqué. The winner will be drawn this evening, California time.

Don’t forget to visit Pat Sloan’s blog for the rest of her virtual weekend retreat on all quilty things orange!

Until next time,
Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs

Fabulous quilt designer Pat Sloan has put forth an OP Challenge.

What’s an OP? Orange Pile! Your pile of orange fabric from your stash! How fun.

Pat has already started putting up some notes for quilters who are participating in the challenge. If you’d like to join in the fun and “orange along,” just click the OP logo in the sidebar for all the information.

As part of the OP Challenge, Pat is hosting a virtual weekend retreat from Friday, February 20, through Sunday, February 22. There’ll be a blog hop with prize giveaways, a free block pattern, photos of work in progress, and a tutorial. It should be great fun, as it seems Pat really knows how to throw a party! I’ll be one of the bloggers on the hop and I’m already planning my prize giveaway.

my-op.gifHere’s my Orange Pile. I like orange. This doesn’t even show the orangey-reds.

Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs

One of my appliqué idols, Jeana Kimball, has written a very thoughtful piece on traditional hand appliqué in today’s quilt-show climate. Jeana’s website is Jeana Kimball’s Foxglove Cottage (be sure to check out her books and patterns) and here’s the link to the article on her Sewing Room blog.

My pal Janet Locey, Head Chick at Henscratch Quilting, recently redid her Pecking Order quilt sample in fresh new fabrics from Maywood Studio.

Pecking order by Janet LoceyIf you like chickens, this is the pattern for you!

It’s available on Janet’s pattern page.

Be sure to bookmark Henscratch for all your Featherweight needs as well. John Locey, the Ruler of the Roost, is a specialist.

Until next time,
Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs

It was easy to choose my favorite quilt from all the entries at the recent Pacific international Quilt Festival.

Paws down, it was Pup Art by Nancy S. Brown of Oakland, California.

Pup Art by Nancy S. Brown

In the quilt description, Nancy wrote that she loves animals and they are almost always the inspiration for her quilts, and that Charles Schultz got it right when he said, ‘Happiness is a warm puppy.’

I contacted Nancy and she graciously sent me a little more information about this happy quilt. “I like to make animal portraits with hand appliqué but don’t get to use bright colors (which I love) very often in them. I have been telling my students for years that you can make animals in any colors as long as you keep the lights and darks where they belong. I finally decided to take my own advice. I chose puppies as a theme after making a baby quilt with a blue laborador on it and of course, I just love puppies. I dyed most of the fabric myself and overdyed some black and white prints to add some texture.”

Here are a few of the colorful pups from the quilt, which, as Nancy says, “celebrates those wonderful, bouncy bundles of joy.”

And, it wasn’t just me who was captivated by the puppies. I was delighted to learn that Pup Art won the 2008 PIQF Viewer’s Choice Award!

When I visited Nancy’s website at, I was reminded of one of her earlier quilts that I had fallen in love with when I saw it at PIQF. Be sure to check out all of her incredible quilts, especially Sunday in the Park with Mittens and look for the papillon in the front row! (Little dog, big fluffy ears.) Unbelievably, Nancy tells me that the papillon in that quilt belongs to a friend of hers and his name is Willie too!

Until next time,
Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs

PIQF and Reno whirlwind

Filed Under Designers, Fabrics, Patterns, Quilt shows | Comments Off on PIQF and Reno whirlwind

Every year I look forward to the Pacific International Quilt Festival in Santa Clara. It’s less than an hour’s drive, and I’ve been so many times now that it’s like coming to see an old friend when I catch sight of the convention center.

There’s also a chess tournament in Reno that my husband likes to go to, and I love going with him. While he’s duking it out with worthy opponents over the chess board, I’m on vacation in a grown-up playground. Penny slots and the bingo parlor, so much fun! And, Reno has a fabulous quilt shop, Windy Moon.

Each year I hold my breath to find out the dates of these two events. They’re always close to one another, and sometimes they’re the same weekend. Dang! Just like the previous two years, they were at the same time this year too. I decided to split the difference and try to catch some of each.

So, on Thursday I dropped DH Dana at the San Jose airport, where he caught a quick flight to Reno. I continued on the short distance to the Santa Clara Convention Center and took in PIQF for the day. As always, it’s a wonderful show, very inspiring and full of energy. I took some pictures of a couple of appliqué quilts that I just loved, and hopefully I’ll be able to share them here on the blog if I’m able to get permission from the quilters. And, of course, I thoroughly tromped the vendor aisles. This year my mission was to find fresh fabrics for appliqué. I’ve been working on tons of new designs and was getting a little tired of rummaging through the same old same old fabrics in my stash.

Here’s my haul from PIQF.

The next day, Friday, I dropped all the animals at Bed & Biscuits and set off for Reno. Somehow I got there in less than five hours (I’m pretty sure that’s a record) and hooked up with the DH. We always stay at the Sands Regency ’cause that’s where the tournament is and they give us cheap rates don’tcha know.

The next day, Saturday, I set off for Windy Moon.

It’s not far away from the Sands… I just head for the Holiday Inn that sticks up and it’s on that same little street.

Here’s what you see when you walk in the door. A quilter’s delight!

Just one of the many nooks and crannies stuffed with gorgeous fabric.

I asked if they had any appliqué patterns from local designers, and the ladies directed me to a darling Snowman Advent Calendar from Cutie Patootie Designs.


Here’s my pile, under the famous speckled rock.

After my visit to Windy Moon, I set out south to hunt for another quilt shop that I had seen on-line: Going Batty. I found it with some good directions from their website.

A very pleasant, spacious shop with yummy fabrics.

My fabric finds from Going Batty.

So, it was a great, long, whirlwind weekend. I got to do everything I wanted and had a great time. Dana tied for second in his division and won some $$. If you’re interested in chess, you can read the whole story at Dana Blogs Chess.

And I was very happy with my fabric trove. It’s great to have some new pretty pieces to pull from.

Until next time,
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,

Yikes! I finished stitching the very last block of a loooong project, spritzed the back to remove the water-erasable pen that I had used to mark the pattern for the back-basting method, and left it to air-dry overnight. The next morning I wandered into the studio and was pretty aghast to see that the red fabric had bled onto the white background.

Here’s the back of the block, with the lovely embellishment that was completely underappreciated.

I always pre-wash my fabrics, but don’t generally test them for colorfastness. I’ve had no trouble to speak of with fabric bleeding in my quilting career… but there’s always a first time!

I drank my coffee and considered what to do. I knew there were products designed to pick up excess dye molecules, and I had heard of something called Color Catchers that you could get at the supermarket. I decided to give that a whirl. It would be a Grand Experiment.

I had to go to three places to find the product. I had no luck at the drug store or the supermarket, but found it at the hardware store.

Color Catchers™ are white sheets that you are supposed to throw in the washer with your loads of laundry so that excess dye from one garment doesn’t redeposit on another. I had no idea if it would help my situation or not but thought it wouldn’t hurt to try.

Starting with cold water, I soaked and swished the block in the sink with a Color Catcher and a little detergent. Nothing much happened that I could see. I repeated with lukewarm water, then on to hot tap water, soaking and swishing, soaking and swishing. After a good bit of soaking and swishing… yay!!! The excess red dye came out of the white background fabric and my block was rescued! And the Color Catcher was pink.

My Grand Experiment was a success, and now I don’t have to restitch the block!

Until next time,

Ultrasuede letters

Filed Under Blanket stitch, Embellishment, Fabrics, Fusible web, Raw edge, Words | Comments Off on Ultrasuede letters

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,

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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