American Quilter celebrates appliqué

Filed Under Articles, Baltimore Album, Designers, Hand appliqué, Machine appliqué, Needleturn | Comments Off on American Quilter celebrates appliqué

The November 2008 issue of American Quilter magazine, put out by the American Quilters Society, features “Appliqué Your Way” … yay!

Faye Labanaris contributes an article with photo tutorials for four different kinds of needleturn hand appliqué. Suzanne Marshall shares her method for creating bias stems. And Ann Holmes shows how she constructs her pieces for machine appliqué, in which “there’s no sewing until you quilt it.”

Not only is this issue full of great appliqué information, there’s a bagful of eye candy in the form of the winners of the recent Nashville show. Best of Show and Best Hand Workmanship Award both went to Baltimore Album-style quilts :).

The celebration continues in the next issue with Jeana Kimball’s back-basting technique. Jeana is one of my all-time favorite appliqué idols and I can’t wait to see this article.

Until next time,
Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs

A journey to a book ~ Part 3

Filed Under A journey to a book | Comments Off on A journey to a book ~ Part 3

Being the 3rd in a series of posts about a book proposal, from concept to print.

On December 31, 2006, I retired from my pesky day job. Yay! I battled my way through to the other side, and now my time, not to mention my mental energy, was my own!

flowerbasket.gifBy June 2007, the blocks were ready, and it was time to decide which publisher I wanted to submit to first. (Just in case you don’t know this, you cannot send simultaneous proposals. You have go one at a time, and wait until you hear back before submitting to the next one.)

I took a look at my bookshelf and what I saw was that I had more
That Patchwork Place titles than any other. Plus, I had heard very good things from other authors about working with the editorial staff there. I made That Patchwork Place my first choice.

Awhile back I had emailed them to ask for a proposal packet, which came promptly. I also asked what I considered to be a crucial question… did they use Adobe Illustrator? The response was, “Yes, we do,” with a little smiley face. Hot dog, I thought. I can hand them my files and it’ll be such an easy workflow!

I set to work on the manuscript and the proposal. A book of appliqué designs needs some appliqué notes as well, so I thought I would include my “Kay’s Hand Appliqué Tips.” I had a set of notes for both the freezer-paper-on-top method and the back-basting method already. Plus, I figured if the book was actually accepted, I could write up some notes about raw-edge machine appliqué too without too much trouble. I had used all three methods in stitching up the blocks.

I followed the instructions in the proposal guidelines as carefully as I could. The hardest part was filling out the “Author Background Questionnaire.” I had to include a bio, my qualifications for writing the book, my previous writing experience, and gack! personal references. I prevailed upon Tracey Brookshier of Bento Box fame and well known quilter and author Bettina Havig, whom I know through a mutual friend. Both these ladies consented to let me list them as references. Thank you!!

I also had to write a 300-400 word description of my book, then a 20-50 word version for punchier copy, as well as describe the three most important concepts, why I thought quilters would be interested in the book, and what inspired me to write it.

It’s a fact that in 1981 I kissed the Blarney Stone, so I put my best foot forward and wrote up all of the answers to the best of my ability. I pulled the designs, photos of the stitched-up blocks, and the appliqué tips into a draft manuscript. I sent the entire package, including the blocks themselves and a sample quilt, to Martingale & Company (parent company of that Patchwork Place) in July 2007.

Within a week I received an email confirming that the package had arrived. They advised me that the review process could take up to 90 days. Stay tuned!

Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs

I’m in the news!

Filed Under Articles, Patterns | Comments Off on I’m in the news!

The newsletter that is. I just got the September/October issue of The Appliqué Society newsletter and there I am!

A few months ago I responded to a plea for more patterns to go in the newsletters for TAS members to use and enjoy. I sent them a pattern and was delighted to learn that they also like to put in a short feature about the designer when the pattern goes in. In addition, Patti noticed that I do my illustration on the computer and asked if I would like to write a piece about the possibilities for using digital illustration to draw appliqué patterns. Would I! I jumped at the chance. I love a good rousing discussion of vector graphics. My article “Designing on the Computer” also appears in the newsletter.

Until next time,
Off to put this in my scrapbook,

Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs

Being the ever-curious appliquér, I picked up a package of Ricky’s version of freezer paper.


Here’s what the package says:

  • Large, ready-to-use sheet — more than twice as wide as standard freezer paper rolls
  • No cutting or taping needed to fit a full width of quilting fabric
  • Softer and more flexible than other brands
  • Lies flat, reusable
  • Use for piecing, appliqué, or ANY freezer-paper technique

  • Here’s what it looks like when you take it out of the package. This is only a portion of it.


    I cut out a hunk of the regular supermarket freezer paper and a piece of Ricky’s. Ricky’s does feel softer, thinner, and more flexible. I hope you can see a difference in this photo.


    Personally I end up chopping my freezer paper into little pieces for the type of appliqué that I do, but I can see where this product would come in mighty handy if you’ve been taping together sections of freezer paper to use with large patterns in other techniques. For instance, what comes to mind is designing and marking swag borders, where you use a piece of freezer paper that’s the same dimensions as your border, then fold it into sections for the swags.

    I went ahead and tested it out for the freezer-paper-on-top type of appliqué that I know.


    Note the cardboard underneath. The firm surface helps create a better bond when ironing the template onto the fabric.

    I’m a baster… can’t abide pins when I’m trying to stitch.

    Works great!

    It strikes me as amusing that Ricky would need to call this product by a name that’s not what it’s intended for (wrapping meat for the freezer) so that it will be familiar for quilters!

    C’mon gang, chime in. What use would you make out of extra-wide freezer paper?

    Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs

    A journey to a book ~ Part 2

    Filed Under A journey to a book, Books | Comments Off on A journey to a book ~ Part 2

    Being the 2nd in a series of posts about a book proposal, from concept to print.

    After I published Baskets to Appliqué in February 2006, I needed a break in my routine. I had pushed out a book every six months or so for a couple years and felt like to was time to go in another direction for my next major project. I thought to myself, “Self, it’s time to pursue that traditionally published book!”

    As I said last time, I had that as a goal from the beginning, in addition to publishing my own little books. I knew going into it that it would be a different type of experience. As a self-publisher I had control over everything, but submitting a book to one of the big publishing houses is a different animal. I knew going in that I would not have control, and I was ready for that. It was something I wanted to try.

    I’d also been waiting for the right concept to come to me… something that deserved a longer book with glorious color throughout. What popped up was what I called “The Little Book of Big Appliqué.” The idea was that it would be a whole collection of blocks printed in thumbnail format, with a CD included that you could stick into your computer and print out your block in the size you wanted. No more enlarging to certain percentages on your all-in-one or down at the copy shop! Also, the designs would be available to print in reversed orientation. No more tracing and flipping when you need a reversed pattern! I was hoping that a publisher would think that this modern technology would be a good added value to the book.

    Posy Bunch block by Kay MackenzieSo, I set out to design a whole bunch of appliqué blocks, just an eclectic collection this time, not around any central theme. I had just done a pattern, A Spin in the Garden, with a very simple chubby bunny and flower block. The bunny was a breath of fresh air after all of the detail in Baskets, so I decided to make this my direction as well… the blocks I designed would be simple, with fewer rather than more pieces.

    It took a looong time to both design and stitch up the blocks. In addition to supporting Quilt Puppy, I still had a pesky day job, and was in the process of trying to get retired from it, which was no easy feat. Anybody who’s been through this knows that they expect you to write up all of your procedures and train your replacements on top of keeping up with your actual work. My job was being eliminated and the work was going three different ways, so I had three different people to train. Plus, in a moment of insanity I agreed to take over a different desk with more responsibility for the last two months, so I was actually a wreck for awhile there and let’s just say I didn’t have a lot of mental energy left over to work on my book proposal!

    Okay, thanks for listening. :)

    So, March 2006 through about May 2007 were spent just working up the designs, off and on. That’s more than a year! Stay tuned for the next phase in the life of a book.

    Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs

    The Appliqué Society shares

    Filed Under Articles, Hand appliqué, History, Needleturn | Comments Off on The Appliqué Society shares

    The Appliqué Society has a page on their website called Just Appliqué that offers really fun, useful, and interesting things for appliqué fans.

    There are articles on international appliqué, there’s a resizing calculator, there’s a Show and Share section, free patterns, and a wonderful series of articles on the basic appliqué stitch, how to put together an appliqué sewing kit, and some information about the history of appliqué.

    These resources are there for you to enjoy whether you’re a member of the Society or not. Thanks TAS!

    Until next time,
    Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs

    Kay Mackenzie

    This is me. I’ m quite happy with this photo and plan to use it for the next 40 years at least. My eyes are open, and I don’t have that slightly crazed look that I do in most pictures. The reason for the success in taming my wayward face is that this photo was taken by Most Fantastic Photographer Gregory Case with his partner Elena Morera.

    Gregory is renowned in the quilt world for his fabulous quilt photos. He did the photography for my last two books. He also does people, so when I needed a professional shot, I begged him to squeeze me in.

    Getting a picture of myself is usually an agonizing, tortuous process, replete with much cursing, but this time it was almost pleasant. I felt like a rock star! Elena advised me on hair, wardrobe, and makeup. They sat me on a stool and adjusted the big lights, told me to turn my knees this way, my head that way, tilt it a little bit, a little more, and Elena kept darting in to tug my blouse into position. We tried different positions and camera angles, and kept going until we got one we were all happy with. (The joys of digital photography.)

    And why did I need a really good professional picture of my mug? Okay, here goes. Deep breath… I’m doing a book for Martingale & Company / That Patchwork Place! I needed an author photo to go in the back of the book.

    I can hardly believe that I’m writing this as fact, and you’re hearing it here first. My book is called Easy Appliqué Blocks: 50 Designs in 5 Sizes, and it’s due out in March 2009.

    As you may know, I’ve published little books for quilters myself. Ever since I began my career as a designer and writer, I also had the goal of being traditionally published. I’m so excited that this flip-side goal is coming true!

    This is the first of a series of articles on my experience, from concept to print. If you’ve been thinking of writing a book yourself, you may find the series of interest to you. Stay tuned!

    Until next time,
    Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs