A nip is in the air here in Santa Cruz. I was in Beverly’s yesterday and a bunch of the shelves were bare. (Bev’s is a fabulous sewing and craft store in case you don’t have one in your area.) I thought to myself, they’re starting to put up the Christmas stuff!! Then I swung by Target, and they already had their Christmas stuff out. Things are getting festive all over! A fun time of the year.

Okay, I thought, maybe it’s time for me to announce my own little Christmas corner. That’s right, over at Etsy, I’ve created a whole section devoted to the holiday.

Christmas Gift Tags

I just started making these... Espalier Christmas Tree Button Cards

Head on over to Etsy to check them out, along with all the other items. If something catches your fancy while you’re there, use the coupon code 20XMAS to save 20%! Good on anything in my Etsy Store.

Happy Approaching Holidays!
By Kay Mackenzie
Kay’s Etsy Shop

Just got word that I’ll have a block in the next issue of 100 Blocks! Keeping my streak alive!

However, they sent back another block and said no thank you.

Ugly Christmas Sweater by Kay Mackenzie

Can’t imagine why!!! :)

I sewed as much stuff to it as I could.

Would you like to inherit this hand-appliquéd and embellished 12″ block? if so, please leave a comment before 7:00 p.m. California time on Wednesday, February 18.

U.S. shipping addresses only, and clicking “Reply” to your email feed won’t enter the drawing. Come to the blog on the internet and leave your comment at the bottom of the post.

Thank you to anyone willing to adopt this poor orphan.

By Kay Mackenzie

I hope you all had a turkey-stuffed Thanksgiving and are still enjoying leftovers. We are… happily! It’s always just the hubby and me, but I cook the full dinner anyway.

I took some time today to update the Appliqué Booksstore with the latest scrumptious-looking appliqué titles. This virtual store is a very good gift resource for all your appliqué friends.

Have you seen the Appliqué Bookshop? It’s on the blog, in the left-hand sidebar. If you’re subscribed by email, you’ll need to click over to the blog itself on the internet to see the sidebars.

If you live in my area, you probably know the annual Heritage Holiday Craft and Gift Fair held at the Fairgrounds in Watsonville. It’s this coming weekend, and this year I’ll have a booth! It’s my first sort-of craft fair (as opposed to quilt show) and I’m excited because I’ve been into making finished goods lately, like those framed mini-quilts I blogged about not long ago. I’ll have my petite clutches, button magnets, button bouquets, and more. I’m also going to be offering quite a few wall quilts that I don’t need any more. Great opportunities for holiday shopping, for your loved ones or for yourself!

Here’s the poster for the fair.

Hope to see you if you’re from Santa Cruz County or thereabouts!

Holiday cheers,
By Kay Mackenzie

My mother’s mother, better known as Grandma, was from Scotland. She and Aunt Alice lived in my hometown, Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Grandma never lost her brogue even after more than 60 years living in the States. I’ve been to England a few times, and even to Ireland, but I’d never been to Scotland. Bucket list!

Grandma holding me, “a number of years” ago.

Earlier this month, my science-writer husband Dana was invited to cover a statistics conference in London. I had a quilt show booked at the same time, so I flew out to meet him after both our things were over. We spent a couple days in London.

No museums for me this trip! SHOPPING was high on my priority list!

Give me Liberty!

The major stores do not appreciate photography inside, but not knowing that, Dana took an illegal shot of some installation art looking down from the top floor.

My haul from the famous fabric department…. soft cotton lawns.

The unmistakeable purple bag.

Also on the agenda: Cath Kidston. Picadilly Line to Covent Garden, anyone? Again, no photography, but let me just tell you, for someone who loves color and floral prints, it was a feast of eye candy. Here are my small souvenirs.

We shopped along Oxford Street and visited the Topshop. Upstairs is the mens’ department, Topman. Just two weeks earlier they had installed a system whereby you could design your own tee shirt on a computer screen and have it printed on the spot. Of course Dana jumped on that!

We designed the following shirt which makes me laugh every time I see it. A prancing kitten, on the moon, with astronauts.

We visited the fun and funky Camden Market. This little owl jumped into my purse.

I can’t go to London without visiting Harrods. Dana and I were there on our honeymoon trip 25 years ago and I just love it. It’s like 50 large department stores on steroids, with customer service agents everywhere to willingly help you with your smallest requests.

All lit up for Christmas, and Dana even got one of those iconic red double-decker buses in there.

Carnaby Street (makes me think of Twiggy) had a special holiday lighting party one night. We took the tube over a little early and did some strolling and shopping. In a card store, we each picked out charity cards, and they both had robins on them!

It was right about then that we started to notice robins everywhere. Carnaby Street had huge robins strung across the sky!

We asked a very friendly shop clerk what was up with the robins. She held her hands up as if to say “Obvious” and replied, “It’s… Christmas…”

Apparently robins have become a symbol of the holiday season in the U.K. Our shop friend admitted that she didn’t know exactly why. We explained that in the States they’re more of a herald of spring. Later Dana looked it up. Here’s a blog post that gives a couple of theories:

Celtic Lady’s Legend of the Christmas Robin.

I also always seek out Marks & Spencer. Nowadays seemingly more known as M&S (or at holiday time, Magic & Sparkle), there’s always one close by so not too hard to seek. Their tea bags are properly strong enough to stand up to the milk and sugar that I add courtesy of the partly Scottish upbringing.

Spotted some more holiday cards that seemed perfectly printy and decided to come home with me.

To Euston Station in the evening to catch the Caledonian Sleeper to Aberdeen. This was fascinating and fun. We booked a private double sleeping car that was tiny and cozy, with bunk beds, and we even managed some sleeping! The conductor woke us up about half an hour before arrival, with orange juice for Dana, coffee for me, and Walker’s shortbread for us both.

We stayed at the Skene House Whitehall. After the cramped quarters of the plane, the small London hotel, and the train, it was a heavenly surprise to open the door and find an entire living room, kitchen, and bedroom. I’d highly recommend the Skene House if you ever venture to Aberdeen. There are three of them.

The next day was our highly anticipated visit with my second cousin Jane, a relative I’d never met. Our grandmothers were sisters. Jane and Sandy live in nearby Stonehaven, and they invited us for lunch. We nattered nonstop for hours, exchanging information about our respective branches of the family tree while Jane fed us a delicious lunch of hot smoked salmon, with treacle duff for “afters.”

Sandy, Jane, and yours truly, in their lovely home.

The next and last day of our trip was my whole reason for going… a visit to Inverurie, Grandma’s hometown. I didn’t want to dive deep, I just wanted to be there, look around, and walk where she had walked.

We found a couple of addresses where the Manns had lived.

1 Souterford Road

38 High Street (red door)

High Street was the main drag, so we strolled up and down a bit.

In one of the shops I found a precious wee robin to put on our Christmas tree. He has a piercing gaze.

You know how we have the dollar store? In the U.K. they have Poundland. I made a fabulous find!

Reading glasses!

Sometimes it’s the little things.

Back home a few days ago after an 18-hour trip door to door. Still trying to catch up with jet lag and and an eight-hour time difference, but getting there. And one important thing off my bucket list. Grandma, I hope you felt me there in Inverurie, walking in your footsteps.

Until next time,
By Kay Mackenzie

Still waiting to hear back from the winner of the October giveaway, so I’ll let ya know.

The November/December issue of Quiltmaker is on its way to newsstands and subscribers now. I got my advance copies, and, happy dance! My article got a cover line!

This piece has been in the works for almost a year now, and it’s so very cool to finally see it in print.

The pillow that I made came out beautiful. I think this block is one of my favorites that I ever designed.

The project is accompanied by a step-by-step how-to on back-basting preparation for hand appliqué, complete with photos.

Until next time,

The PayPal shopping cart that I use for my website doesn’t have the capability to issue coupons (argh). BUT, I can set the shipping to zero on individual items, and that represents a good amount of savings.

So that’s what I’ve done for my book A Merry Little Christmas to Appliqué, through the month of August 2013. Free shipping on this collection of Christmas-time designs in a variety of sizes that play nicely together! My tips for hand appliqué using freezer-paper templates are included, but of course you can use your own favorite method.

Just for good measure, Growing Hearts to Appliqué is also included in the special! Free shipping as well on this collection of 16 flowering heart blocks and the sampler quilt pattern.

Adding to the bargain-ness of it all, the current web special is that any book purchase gets you a free copy of the pattern book for Home: A Heartfelt Nap Quilt. You don’t even put it in the shopping cart; it’ll just come right along when you order any other book!

Also worth mentioning is that there’s free shipping all the time on hand and machine needles.

That’s a lot of free shipping goodness!

This is an unadvertised special, just for you blog readers. You won’t see mention of it on the website. The special goes through August 31, 2013.

Happy Christmas in August!
By Kay Mackenzie

Janice Vaine’s beautiful book The Art of Elegant Hand Embroidery, Embellishment, and Appliqué goes to Lea Rae Kuntner! Congratulations Lea Rae! Enjoy.

Happy holidays to you, all the other commenters, and to everyone who reads All About Appliqué. I appreciate sharing an enthusiasm for appliqué with you so much!

Quiltmaker magazine is having a fun Countdown to Christmas over on their blog, Quilty Pleasures. It started on December 3 so be sure to scroll back and catch all the very fun articles they’ve posted full of quilty holiday goodies. I’m pleased to report that you’ll see my Plum Puddings in the countdown!

After I posted Goofy Santa, many of you commented that you felt Dana could have a second career as an appliqué artist. I’ll share with you that back in the day, before I learned computer illustration, I used to ask Dana to draw things for me sometimes. He drew the scene that won me an Honorable Mention in the 1996 Keepsake Challenge!

It’s the one in the middle, with the cat on the sofa. It reads, “Quilts are the next best thing to cats” and “Cats are the best thing next to quilts.” That’s a Dana-ism. :)

Dana also drew the plum pudding for me. There’s a story there. Dana’s mom always made plum pudding for the holidays, the kind you steam on the top of the stove. Dana never thought he liked it because it had hard sauce on top of it. A few years went by and then he found out that hard sauce was “frosting.” All of a sudden plum pudding wasn’t so bad!

Holiday cheers,
By Kay Mackenzie

Some years ago when I was working on a Christmas book, my DH Dana drew a sketch of Santa.

From the look of him he was dubbed Goofy Santa. G.S. didn’t fit in and never found a place to be. He was filed away.

A couple weeks ago, I told Dana, “We’re pulling out Goofy Santa!”

His face lit up.

“You’re going to pick all the fabrics and I’ll show you how to make the fusible-web templates,” I continued.

“Um…. oh… kay….”

I finished rendering his pencil sketch in Illustrator and printed it out. I turned him loose on my fabric stash and he started pulling out traditional Christmassy reds and greens.

I was working on something else, quietly enjoying the fact that Dana was having a good time in my world. I looked over and saw this.

Cue the Alfred Hitchcock music.

“What’s that?” I asked, pointing to the purple orange, and chartreuse anomaly.

“I thought that would be good for the hat,” he said.

“It doesn’t go,” I said.

“What doesn’t go?” he asked.

“That,” I repeated.

“It’s all just wavelengths,” he countered.

“It’s not gonna work,” I maintained.

“But… I really like it,” he wistfully replied.

Okay! It was at that juncture that I tossed all the traditional reds and greens aside and told him, “We’re making a non-traditional Santa!”

Then he was like a kid in a candy store, quickly assembling other fabrics to go with the purple and orange hat. Then I showed him each step of the fusible appliqué process, and he did everything except the sewing.

I give you… Dana’s Goofy Santa.

Happy holidays!
By Kay Mackenzie

Anybody up for some old-school, not-quick-and-easy, very detailed, completely captivating holiday appliqué?

Then I have just the thing for you! Santa’s Loading Dock Quilt by Mary Buvia is this month’s featured book, courtesy of AQS Publishing.

Wow! What a quilt! You can see a closer photo of it on Mary’ website. This is a masterpiece, and accordingly Mary was awarded Master Quilter status by the American Quilters Society.

The book gives you all the patterns and information you’d need to recreate the entire jolly scene; however, Mary encourages you to use whatever smaller elements from it that you like to make a smaller quilt or decorate other projects.

Mary’s appliqué method involves double freezer-paper templates, starch, and glue to create prepared-edge pieces for hand appliqué. The book also gives information for raw-edge machine appliqué if that’s what you prefer.

Many of the templates are given full size; however, some of them you’ll need to enlarge 200%.

So, who’s itching for some exceedingly cute holiday stitching? If you’d like to win this book, please leave a comment by 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, November 1. Open to U.S. and Canada mailing addresses only.

Holiday cheers,
By Kay Mackenzie

P.S. I’ll be in Lodi, California, this weekend for the Tokay Stitch ‘n Quilt Guild show. This is a lovely show put on every other year, and the ladies serve a delightful afternoon tea for all!

First of all, thank you so much to everyone who responded with warm enthusiasm for my foster kitten stories. There’s a followup… but I’ll save that for later.

Several of the projects that appear in my book A Merry Little Christmas to Appliqué are on loan to my pal Debby at the Quilter’s Faire in Palm Desert, California.

When a traveling quilt-show vendor specializing in Christmas expressed an interest in carrying the book, I thought I’d make another version of the project that’s the most popular one… Plum Pudding!

The original.

The original.

It was loads of fun rummaging for the fabrics, and also a little scary. It’s been awhile now since the book came out, but in the scrap bag I found a few leftover squares of the original fabrics used for the patched background! I also had enough of the red sashing and all three fabrics that were used for the puddings!

In my files, I even found the original pattern and tracing-paper overlay! Since the pattern is blown up 200%, this saved me a step. That’s why I keep stuff. You never know.


Once I’d pulled all the fabrics, I started thinking about the great expanse of white that makes up the ‘hard sauce’ part of the pattern. It would be covering a weensy bit of the brown, and also the patched background, and I didn’t want those to shadow through.

Usually, for machine appliqué I would use a double layer to create a light-over-dark motif by first fusing two layers of fabric together and then using that composed fabric to create the motif. This time, the area was so large, and I didn’t want the stiffness from the extra fusible. I thought I’d try something new.

I started out by making two motifs just the same, both with the inside of the fusible web cut out.





I removed the paper backing from both, placed one on top of the other on a nontick appliqué pressing sheet, and tacked them together with a hot iron.


If there are are inconsistencies in the two shapes, just use your scissors and trim them to match.

A little haircut needed here.

A little haircut needed here.

All trimmed and tidy.

All trimmed and tidy.

Now the motif is double-layer and with no fusible web in the middle to make it stiff! Try it! It worked for me.

Stitched block.

Stitched block.

Finished project: Plum Pudding 2

Finished project: Plum Pudding 2

Until next time,
By Kay Mackenzie

The extra holiday book giveaway, A Year in the Life of Sunbonnet Sue, goes to Comment #50, Kat! Congratulations! Kat’s birthday was December 13 so that’s very fun.

Thank you so much to everyone who posted and sent me nice birthday wishes. The DH Dana was away in Norway for a week prior and arrived home that night sick and jetlagged, so I put him to bed and we are still catching up on the bday celebrating LOL, whilst I’m doing my best not to catch his cold!

Until Christmas Day, when I subject you once again to picture of cute kittens in the second annual roundup of foster felines.


Enjoy this time!
By Kay Mackenzie

Guess what came out in 1997 and is still in print?

The fabulous Welcome to the North Pole from Piece o’ Cake!


This is one of my personal favorite books. I got it when it first came out and it sits on my bookshelf to this day. Back when I first got it, I made a little project for my friend’s parents, and loved every minute.

For Tess's folks, by Kay Mackenzie

For Tess's folks, by Kay Mackenzie

I jumped at the chance to get an additional review copy from Martingale / That Patchwork Place. The scenes in this book, which is subtitled Santa’s Village in Appliqué, are just utterly whimsical and charming. Here are a couple of the vignettes from Santa’s Village.



The book includes notes on fabric selection and preparation, information on the Piece o’ Cake gals’ hand appliqué methods, adding embellishments, and finishing your festive little quilts.

If you’d like a chance to win Welcome to the North Pole, leave a comment here on this post by 7:00 p.m. California time on Sunday, September 4.

Drawing open to U.S. and Canada addresses only. Remember that if you’re subscribed by email, you’ll need to click on the title and come over to the blog itself to leave your comment.

By Kay Mackenzie

Seasons Greetings!

Admin note: the previous drawing for a year’s subscription to the new Quilt Pattern Magazine in still underway. The winner will be chosen the first week of January.

Now on to today’s post. Last year at this time I did a special double giveaway to celebrate my birthday on the 17th (not to mention the other holidays). It was so much fun and made me feel like my birthday lasted for a week! So we’re doing it again this year.

When the nephews were kids, Dana and I used to travel to Minneapolis for Christmas. Now that the boys are all tall and college-y, we stay home and enjoy the comforts of our own living room at Christmastime. Much as I loved seeing the boys dive through their presents, now I love our quiet celebration at home.

And so, in keeping with that theme, I’ve selected two titles that play on the theme of Comfort.

First we have ‘Tis the Season: Quilts and Other Comforts.


As the authors Jeanne Large and Shelley Wicks say, “Adding just a few accents to a room can change the feel of that space from everyday to holiday.” In that spirit, the book offers simple and charming quilts and projects to “keep your home well dressed for winter!”

Screen shot 2010-12-14 at 9.21.40 AM

Jeanne and Shelley should be experts in the field, since they live in Saskatchewan, Canada.


The book starts out with basic information on fabric selection and preparation, then moves on the the authors’ favorite special techniques. Included here are fusible-web appliqué, fusible-interfacing appliqué, working with wool, hand-embroidering, making vines, and finishing basics.

Then, on to the projects! There are detailed instructions for very cute pillows and wall quilts to welcome Santa and the season (you can see one on the cover), cozy lap quilts, cheery welcoming table toppers, a whimsical primitive wool runner, and tons of inspirational decorating ideas.



What I really like about these projects is all the words! Plus, the templates given in the book are full-size and already reversed for your ease of use in fusible-web appliqué.

Our second offering is Country Comforts: Quilts for Casual Living.


Country Comforts by Cheryl Wall is full of that comfy old-fashioned primitive style that I appreciate so well.

The author’s introduction is an inspiration unto itself. “I’m drawn to the primitive style of quilting and crafting because of the freedom it allows me to make projects that are less than perfect but still beautiful,” says Cheryl. “I believe that the creative process should be fun and soul satisfying.” Right on sister! Worrying about stuff only robs us of the enjoyment of quiltmaking.

The books starts out with the basics of quiltmaking, including supplies you’ll need and some info on the types of fabrics that work well for this style, also rotary cutting, chain piecing, pressing, freezer-paper-on-top hand appliqué, wool appliqué, and hand-embroidery stitches. Finishing your quilt is covered too.

Most of the warm and inviting projects in the book are a combination of patchwork and appliqué, a combo platter that just always works. You’ll find quilts for laps, beds, tables, walls, or just plain draping over something. All of them will lend your home that air of casual comfort and relaxation.



If you’d like to enter the drawing to win these two titles courtesy of That Patchwork Place, leave a comment by 7:00 p.m. California time on Saturday, December 18.

Those subscribed by email or feed reader, remember that you’re not actually on the blog when you read the posts. You’ll need to click the title of the post to be taken to All About Appliqué on the internet, where you’ll be able to leave a comment at the bottom of the post and enter the drawing. U.S. and Canada only due to the cost of shipping.

Good luck everyone and I hope you are having a happy holiday season!

Until next time,
Kay, Dana, and Willie!
By Kay Mackenzie


Holly Mabutas blog header

Holly Mabutas of Eat Cake Graphics just posted an adorable free Santa pattern on her blog Sprinkles of Thought.

Like all of Holly’s artwork, the pattern’s special and wonderful. Be sure to take a look at all the quilt patterns and rubber stamps at Eat Cake Graphics. You’ll be glad you did. I keep telling Holly’s she’s the next Mary Engelbreit, Susan Branch, and Debbie Mumm all rolled into one.

If you like scrapbooking, be sure to subscribe to A Sprinkling of Samples, which shows what ‘bookers have done with Eat Cake stamps. So creative, and a feast for the eyes.

Until next time,
By Kay Mackenzie

When I posted my illustrated guide to points back in September, I had some requests for the same type of thing for sharp notches. It’s been on my list and I’ve been checking it twice, so here you go. A very happy holiday to you in all the flavors!

Stitches are exaggerated for illustration purposes.

Clip almost to the turn line.

By Kay Mackenzie

Sew to within 2 or 3 stitches of the notch. There will be very little turning allowance in this area. That’s okay. Use very small stitches and tuck under any loose threads.

By Kay Mackenzie

Turn the project. Tuck under the first bit of turning allowance on the other side of the notch. In this illustration, some threads from the motif fabric are sticking up in the notch. The needle is not stitching; it is behind the motif, ready to sweep the misbehaving threads under.

By Kay Mackenzie

Use the shaft of the needle to sweep across the notch, creating a tiny fold and encouraging any threads to go under. The needle is still not stitching, just sweeping.By Kay Mackenzie

Take the remaining stitches down to the notch. The last one, directly in the notch, should pick up 3 or 4 threads of the motif fabric.By Kay Mackenzie

Sweep again if needed. With the tip of the needle, dig under the motif fabric and insert the needle exactly where the current stitch came out. Swing the needle and come out going uphill for the next stitch. Snug the thread down well to create a sharp notch.By Kay Mackenzie

I hope that whatever Santa you celebrate brings you all good things
this year.

A Happy Christmas to All by Kay Mackenzie (detail), designs from A Merry Little Christmas to Applique

“A Happy Christmas to All” by Kay Mackenzie (detail), designs from
A Merry Little Christmas to Applique

Until next time,
By Kay Mackenzie

Dana MackenzieMy husband of 20 years, Dana Mackenzie.

Willie MackenzieOur dog of 15 years, Bertram Wilberforce Woofster Mackenzie III, aka Willie.

Pixel MackenzieThe Last of the Mohicans, Pixel, 19 years old and sleeping snugly in the closet with my old Bernina.

Chutney & Maikai MackenzieChutney and Maikai, our two kitty friends of 18 years, to whom we bid a furry farewell this year.

Kay's handsMy hands. I was thinking about this after the quilt show in Sacramento last weekend. Sometimes ladies come into my booth, look around, and say, “I used to appliqué but my hands don’t work any more.” That’s a sadness to me. So I’m thankful that I have my hands. Not many people know this, but I’m what I call a ‘closet arthritic.’ Two major bouts earlier in my life stiffened my joints and crimped up my toes but, very thankfully, spared my hands. I can appliqué.

Illustration from Easy Appliqué BlocksThe above photo is a staging shot that I sent to Martingale for their reference in creating an illustration. Here’s the corresponding figure from Easy Appliqué Blocks, showing how I pinch the turning allowance under ahead of my stitching.

Those are the really big things. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

Until next time,
By Kay Mackenzie

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 quiltpuppy.com 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

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.

By Kay Mackenzie

Kim Jamieson-Hirst of Chatterbox Quilts in Calgary, Alberta, has posted a very nice article on her website giving lots of tips and information about fusible-web appliqué. Visit Chatterbox Quilts and click on the Tips and Techniques page.

Bundle Up pattern from Chatterbox Quilts
You can use Kim’s information to make her brand-new, exceedingly cute table runner pattern, Bundle Up. It’s on the Patterns page at Chatterbox, or go directly to
Kim’s Etsy shop.

Happy holidays, and bundle up!
Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs

Next Page →

E-mail It