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

Cathy Perlmutter is my special friend that I visit with whenever I’m in her area for a quilt show. She writes the fabulous blog Gefiltequilt about her wondrously creative projects. When I took a look at this month’s featured book, I knew that it was right up Cathy’s alley. Yay, she agreed to write a guest post!!

Take it away, Cathy!

How lucky am I that Kay Mackenzie loaned me a copy of Cheryl Lynch’s new book, Sew Embellished! Artistic Little Quilts, Personalized with Easy Techniques, published by Martingale in 2012.

This book is a delight, and packed with useful information. For everyone who would like to start embellishing, or be inspired by new ideas, this book is a must-have.

The book starts out as an embellishment encyclopedia. Cheryl shows how to attach a wide variety of beads, buttons, and miscellaneous hardware – anything, as she says, that has a hole in it. She shows how she uses trims as whimsical border treatments. There’s an explanation of how to make custom buttons and beads from polymer clay. She takes us through a wide variety of threads and yarns, and graphs the main embroidery stitches that quilters need.

Cheryl also offers a variety of ways to add words–whether applique, computer printing, embroidery, polymer clay plates, and more. She has a lot of really interesting binding and edging techniques, including folded shapes.

All that alone would be worth the price of admission, but we’re not even halfway through the book yet! Cheryl’s projects, which involve both piecing and applique, celebrate family, pets, nature and love. She turns unfinished blocks into works of art. My favorite are her brooches with shrink-plastic photos stitched on; a stunning appliqued “tranquility tree”, and her accordion-fold heart & home standing book.

I absolutely recommend this book to anyone who is interested in learning embellishment techniques or acquiring more; and who would like a reference and inspiration for personalized and unique art quilt gifts. I am buying myself a copy. It is a keeper that I will refer to again and again!

Kay here… thank you Cathy! Cathy has to get her own copy because we’re giving this one away! If you’d like to enter the drawing, please leave a comment before 7:00 p.m. California time on Monday, April 7.

It is with a sorrowful sigh that I must say that these drawings are now open to U.S. mailing addresses only. I found out with a shock that one of the changes in our recent USPS postal rate increase is that the cost to Canada has more than tripled. Apologies to my quilting neighbors to the north. :(.

Many thanks for reading All About Appliqué,
Kay and Cathy

I have a super-sized holiday treat this month as our featured book and giveaway! Landauer Publishing sent me a copy of Janice Vaine’s The Art of Elegant Hand Embroidery, Embellishment, and Appliqué.

It’s truly something special. It’s a great big, hard-cover, spiral-bound book, and with it Landauer also sent me the companion pack of 124 Block Patterns.

If you like hand embroidery and embellishment, you are sure to drool over this fantastic award-winning publication. Go on over to the Landauer website and watch the short video about the book. Click on “Look Inside the Book.”

Here’s an inside sneak peak:

The book and the companion patterns will both go to one lucky reader. If you’d like to win them, please leave a comment here on this post before 7:00 p.m. California time on Sunday, December 9.

The fine print: Open to U.S. and Canada mailing addresses only. Comments left on a different post are not eligible. Replies to an email feed are not eligible.

Many thanks to Landauer for providing us this wonderful resource for appliqué, embroidery, and embellishment enthusiasts. Good luck and happy holidays to all!!


At the Pioneer Quilt Guild show last weekend in Roseville, my neighbors across the aisle were hosting Terry McFeely, who just launched a brand-new company with a brand-new product, Terial Magic.

“Terial” is derived from “material” and is pronounced the same way, like “tirial.”

Terial Magic is a spray-on product that gives fabric enough body so it’s just about fray-free and you can make single-layer sculptural art with it. Beautiful!

This was my view for the weekend.

Terry says it’s not starch, and she actually came up with it out of need, wanting to make dimensional art from a single layer of fabric. She worked with a chemist to find the right formula and keep it in suspension.

Over on the Terial Arts website, there’s lots more information about the product, plus videos showing you different techniques and how to make gorgeous things.

Thought you might be interested in this trail-blazing gal and her brand-new product.

Until next time,
By Kay Mackenzie

P.S. The PayPal conversion seems to have gone mostly smoothly, with a couple little hiccups. Isn’t that always the way. Thank you so much to those who helped test it out. :)

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

The speaker at my guild’s meeting last night was Rose Hughes!

Rose is the author of Dream Landscapes, which was previously featured here on the blog.

Now Rose has published a beautiful followup book, Exploring Embellishments: More Artful Quilts with Fast-Piece Appliqué.


I just so happened to have a copy with me last night, which Rose graciously signed for us! That’s right, courtesy of That Patchwork Place we have a fantastic giveaway to a lucky winner of the book personally signed by the author.


Rose’s lecture was all about color, and about each quilter’s personal color journey. We had the treat of seeing her color-drenched, fast-piece appliquéd and embellished quilts in person as she displayed a trunk show of her work. On her website, Rose has a free Color Discovery Lesson. Check it out!

Exploring Embellishments focuses on the embellishment side of Rose’s work, taking us through all different types of fascinating doodads. Some were a surprise to me! I was familiar of course with buttons and with seed beads and bugle beads, but I never knew about coin beads or pressed glass/lampworked beads. They’re beautiful! Rose also urges us to consider a range of natural materials and found objects. Basically, anything that has a hole in it or that you can get a hole through, you can use to embellish your quilt!

I had never heard of air-dry clay. How very interesting! Rose also has good times with Angelina fibers, chenille sticks, wool roving, and the Mysterious Substance called Lutradur. You’ll see how to use these materials and more to fabricate your own unique embellishments.

Each project in the book is an embellishment learning experience, starting with Fast-Pieced Appliqué to create a colorful, interesting background.

roses-dogCollectively these darling little quilts are called “The Truth About Cats and Dogs.”

starry-nightThe embellishments create the sparkle and glow of a moonlit “Starry Night.”

wildflower-walkWool-felt and wool-roving flowers.

To enter the drawing to win the book, leave a comment here on the blog before 7:00 p.m. California time on Friday, April 15. The contest is open to U.S. and Canada addresses only. If you’re subscribed by email or feed reader, remember to click over to the blog itself to leave your comment.

By Kay Mackenzie

Several months ago I bumped into a fellow PVQA member in the elevator while at Festival in Long Beach. She started telling me about a project that she and a group of friends were working on, inspired by my Dolls & Dresses to Appliqué. Each member of the group was making a self-portrait Red Hat doll!

It wasn’t until the October PVQA meeting that I had a chance to see the completed quilt. So exciting!! It was red-hat-letter day for me, as there’s nothing better than seeing what others have done with your designs.


How darling! I didn’t know a lot about the Red Hat Society, so I asked them to send me some information about it.

The Red Hat Cats, who created this self-portrait quilt from your book, is a local chapter of the Red Hat Society. Two of us purchased your book at the last PVQA show, and the members worked from the books together to create the blocks in the quilt.

The Red Hat Society-Fun and Friendship After Fifty-is a “disorganization” of women. Sue Ellen Cooper, the founder and Exalted Queen Mother was inspired by the “When I am an Old Woman” poem written by Jenny Joseph. The very first Red Hat, given to a friend of hers who was turning 50, is now in the Smithsonian.

We get together to have fun, and we are very good at it. Our chapter meets once a month to sew together, and we have monthly field trips (most recently to Half Moon Bay for lunch and pumpkin picking) and what are now traditional yearly events such as a Holiday Cookie Exchange, Summer Potluck and Croquet tournament, and a Winter Soup Potluck. We all belong to other organizations, but we tell ourselves often that this group is the one that we cherish most. There’s a huge span of ages from a Pink Hat (under 50) teacher in her thirties to women in their late seventies. Everyone is supportive, active, and FUN. I’m sure you can tell that from the blocks on the quilt.

Thank you for inspiring us with your book. We loved making the quilt blocks, and Shary Lewis had fun assembling the quilt. Carole Donovan quilted it at one of our sewing sessions, and we are super pleased with the result.

For more information about the Red Hat Society, contact their website at www.redhatsociety.com.

Denise Martin, current Queen Mother of the Red Hat Cats of Los Gatos.

It was great to learn more about the disorganization and about the Red Hat Cats :).

Here are some closeups so you can see more of the personalization and detail that each member put on to portray themselves.






This flapper lost a shoe in all the excitement, poor dear.

This flapper lost a shoe in all the excitement, poor dear.



I love all the little details, embellishments, and additions. They really took my patterns and soared! Not all of the members are quilters, but I heard that they enjoyed learning how to fuse from the ones who are.

We enjoyed sharing our quilt with you at the meeting. We really had a great time creating our “dolls.” Several gals had never done any fusing and they thought this was great fun. We hope to put it in the PVQA Quilt Show and also the SCVQA Quilt Show in 2011. We will take turns hosting the quilt for a month at a time in our homes. My whole family was able to pick out me immediately and it will be fun to hear if other families can do the same.

Participants were: Denise Martin (Queen Mum), Jacquie Christensen, Linda Collins, Karen Cognac, Kimberly Cognac, Carole Donovan, Dee Hallett, Pat Havey, Jeanne Holmes, Shary Lewis, Anhela Oropeza, Joyce Schellenberg, Fay Taylor and Janeanne Walters.

Thanks for a really fun pattern, I am hoping to do it with my granddaughter (she will be 8 in January).

Shary Lewis

My pleasure, one and all!!!

Until next time,
By Kay Mackenzie

I have to say that I’m just a flat appliqué girl myself. But I truly appreciate dimensional appliqué and our book look for August is a fantastic celebration of floral forms that stand up and sing!


More Fabulous Flowers: Mini-Quilts in Dimensional Appliqué by Sharon K. Baker gives a ton of information on how to make faced, double-fused, prairie-point, double-folded prairie-point, ruched, strip-pieced, and yo-yo leaves and flowers. The detailed, illustrated instructions in the book go soup-to-nuts, from fabrics and supplies to pre-quilting the background to making stems to constructing all those luscious leaves and petals to embellishing them with beads and yarns to finishing the darling mini-quilts.


The book includes 20 little quilt projects to spark your imagination, and you can go anywhere from there. “The designs in this book are like ingredients in a recipe,” says Sharon. “Combine the ingredients as you like to whip up your own special creation. Use the flowers to embellish quilts or wearable art, or simply wear then as decorative pins on clothing. Combine the flowers, explore your own creativity and style, and create a peaceful garden for the mind and soul.”

Many thanks once again to Martingale & Company / That Patchwork Place for providing a copy of More Fabulous Flowers for a lucky reader. If you’d like a chance to win, leave a comment by 7:00 p.m. California time on Monday, August 9. U.S. and Canada only due to the cost of postage.

Those subscribed by email, remember, don’t reply to the email to leave a comment. Instead, click over to the blog itself. The comments link is at the bottom of the post.

Good luck!
Until next time,
By Kay Mackenzie

At the Pacific International Quilt Festival last fall, I was delighted to see that a fellow PVQA guild member had won a big whopping prize!


Best of World! It’s a big world, and I was so impressed!

You can click on the photo to get a larger view.

I asked Meri to tell us something about herself and her work.

Meri ~

I was born just outside New York City in 1945 to a family which, on my father’s side, has had literally generations upon generations of artists (I have never met a Henriques who wasn’t one sort of artist or another!). I received a BA in Fine Art from the University of California at Berkeley, which wasn’t terribly useful when it came to making a living! Fortunately, my husband does that for us, so I’ve been able to live the life of a housewife and non-starving artist.



In past years, I’ve worked on building costumes for the San Francisco Lamplighters under the guidance of the brilliant designer Melissa Wortman, and I’ve costumed shows for the now-extinct Bay Shore Lyric Opera Company in Capitola.

In 2006, I took my first trip to Guatemala on one of Priscilla Bianchi‘s wonderful Guatemalan tours, and fell in love with what I’ve come to think of as the ‘Rainbow Country’. My first Guatemalan quilt, ‘Las Mujeres Azules de Guatemala (the Blue Ladies of Guatemala)”, a result of that trip, was just published in Lark Books 500 Art Quilts.

Las Mujeres Azules de Guatemala by Meri Henriques Vahl

Las Mujeres Azules de Guatemala by Meri Henriques Vahl

I made a return trip with Priscilla in the fall of 2008, and the ‘Flower Market’ (the first quilt shown here) was the result. Here’s a description of my process. I began by putting the quilt back face-down on my worktable. Over this, I spread a layer of natural cotton batting, and then took out my scissors: I was ready to start creating…

The main central picture in the ‘Flower Market’ quilt is a fabric collage using recycled Guatemalan belts and huipiles (woven blouses), Guatemalan fabric, some cotton batiks, and a few flower prints that were cut into very small units. Because I couldn’t find all the flower prints I needed, for example chrysanthemums, I fused cotton fabrics onto Wonder Under and then cut them into narrow strips and ironed them down (just in case I sneezed or the cats got into them!). I also included short lengths of yarn in several places for flower stems, and layers of dark blue tulle (in the flower buckets, for example) to create shadows. Note: there are no seams in this area – it’s all raw edges.

For the faces, I took the photographs I was working from to Kinko’s and blew them up in black and white to the size I wanted, then traced the outlines onto tracing paper, which I then reversed, drawing the image onto freezer paper. Now I had a reversed image.

Next, I ironed fine off-white cotton onto the freezer paper and drew the faces with Aquarelle Caran d’Ache colored pencils using a very interesting layering technique that dates from Medieval times: I first drew the outlines in dark blue pencil, then shaded in the shadows; then came more pencil over-layers of tan, rose, brown, yellow, and black around the eyes. Once I had achieved the effects I was after, I used Sharpie permanent pens to add accents to the eyes, eyebrows, mouths, etc. I also used this same coloring procedure to draw the small baskets and any flowers and fruits I didn’t have store-bought fabric for.

Once my picture was complete, I carefully spread a single layer of black (yes, black!) tulle over the entire surface, added lots of pins to hold the pieces in place, and then spent hours and hours free-motion quilting over the whole thing, to ‘trap’ everything in place. The stitching (finally!) completed, I squared up the picture and then added the borders, using the usual traditional piecing techniques.

I have taught this fabric collage technique in the past, and will be teaching it again at the Monterey Peninsula Quilters Guild on July 11, 2010, and also doing a presentation the next day for the Guild (I believe non-members are welcome to take their classes and attend the lectures). It’s a thrill to see my students take off on their own exciting explorations with this marvelous liberating and fun technique! Since there is no piecing involved, anything goes — and wonderful landscape can be achieved in just a brief couple of hours!

And, I can’t wait to go back to Guatemala and find out what else happens!

Kay here ~ thank you so much Meri for talking us through how your create your stunning quilts. I’ll also look forward to seeing what your next trip inspires!

Until next time,
By Kay Mackenzie

whimsiesMary Lou Weidman is one of my most favorite admired quiltmakers and authors. Her Whimsies & Whynots: A Playful Approach to Quiltmaking has been on my bookshelf for years.

And so it was with great pleasure that I received a copy of Mary Lou’s latest book Out of the Box: Unleash Your Creativity Through Quilts from Martingale & Company as our featured appliqué book for this month.


Mary Lou’s quiltmaking style is one of riotous, colorful fun, personal meaning, and brave and fearless fabric choices. (It was through her that I first noticed and learned to appreciate the color “cheddar.”) This book is an inspiration to anyone who is willing to be inspired, and Mary Lou writes at length about the process of discovering your inner artist, inviting play and discovery, and listening to yourself instead of to your friends and/or critics.

Every day you have at your disposal the ability to think big, think colorful, think happy, think with large imaginative images, think clever, think expressive, think funny, think lofty, think about the past, think about the future, and think things that no one but you can think of. You have the ability to think ‘out of the box’ and to share your wonderful thoughts and your imagination with others in the form of art, in this case, quilts.

How different is that from the quilting rut of choosing colors and fabrics that “go” with our living rooms, of fretting over “perfect” precise blocks, of fearing the quilt police so that our childlike creative voices are stifled?

What is out of the box? “Push the lid open and jump out!” says Mary Lou, and she gives us a checklist of 24 sample items to test our position in relation to the box. After administering this self-test I discovered that I am not quite out LOL, but I can peep over the lid.

This book holds quite a bit of wisdom, more reading and thoughtiness that your average quilting book I’d say. It’s a process book rather than a product book. I really appreciate that approach. When I’m in my booth at quilt shows, I’m often asked, “How long did it take you to make that?” or, “How long would it take to learn to do that?” Wow, that’s a really product-oriented type of thinking. I want to reply, “Does it matter, if you’re enjoying yourself?”


Mary Lou emphasizes the need to think and daydream, and this struck a chord with me as well. Often, what happens to me during shows is that when I have some down time… slow periods on the show floor, or upon waking up too early in the morning… I seize a pen and paper and write down long list of thoughts that flood into my brain. The inspiration and energy that comes from being at a quilt show turns on a tap for me and I love it when the daydreaming flow of creativity starts. Mary Lou says we need to set aside time for this every day to doodle, think, and imagine.
(Yes, you really can find a half an hour each day.)


There’s a list of creativity stoppers to watch out for (like, ‘there is only one right answer’), pages and pages of inspiration exercises and sources found in our everyday lives, how the author shops for fabric, a section on words in quilts, and lots of information on color. How about being shown the eight styles of fabric! This was an eye-opener for me and something I especially enjoyed.

Then there’s an extensive gallery of the author’s quilts and short-story quilts made by her friends and students. Martingale has done their usual fantastic job on the photography… kudos Brent Kane!!! The quilts burst from the pages. Mary Lou finishes up the book by talking about the making of short-story quilts and how you can derive them from your own life. She shares “secrets” of scale, theme, focus, design elements, drawing, creating patterns, and also shares her own methods of appliqué. Borders, quilting, finishing, and embellishing (‘the icing on the cake’) are also included.

Out of the Box is quite a pep talk and an energizing boost! If you’d like to win a copy, leave a comment before 7:00 p.m. California time on Tuesday, April 6, 2010. (U.S. and Canada only.) Tell us why you need this book in your quiltmaking life!

The winner will also receive a copy of my book Easy Appliqué Blocks: 50 Designs in 5 Sizes. Thank you Martingale!

Until next time,
By Kay Mackenzie

My cousin Emily is the fastest needle in the East! She’s a fellow quilter so I sent her a copy of Dolls & Dresses to Appliqué. Not one day after she received the book, she sent me the following email:

“I scanned Violet into my Bernina embroidery software, digitized her face, neck, hands, legs, and shoes, and then did the auto appliqué feature. I’ll go back and “tweak” the design – I’ll probably alter the stitch angle on at least one hand, and on her neck…and I’ll add the facial features. She was fun to work with!”

Now I hope that tracks for most of you. I have only a vague understanding of computerized machine embroidery, enough to be mighty impressed by those who do it.

Before I knew it, Emily was back in my in-box with Violet, all done!


Wow! Who knew? The legs, shoes, hands, feet, and face are all machine embroidered, and I think the edges of the dress too? That is just so very cool! Thank you Cousin Emily!

Until next time,
By Kay Mackenzie

Full Disclosure Statement:

Cathy Perlmutter and I became fast friends a number of years ago over a bunch of commonalities that we just kept discovering: we’re both quilters, both writers, both working on illustrating, writing, and laying out books, both have scientists for husbands, both have papillon dogs (Wuli and Willie), and we both know the words to Tzena Tsena Tzena. (Okay, so Cathy’s Jewish and I’m of just about Puritan stock, but I did go to Israeli folk dance camp as a teenager and some things just stay with you.) When Cathy and I get together in person we’re like old shoes.

uncommon-yarmulkeCathy’s book is now out, and I have to say that my heart has been stolen away.
The Uncommon Yarmulke: Easy, Fun, and Spiritually-Loaded Little Jewish Hats is the most extraordinary book, and I’m not just saying that because she’s my friend. This is a gem.

Not only will you learn every single thing there is to know about making four-panel or six-panel yarmulkes from any kind of fabric there is, you will laugh out loud at Cathy’s excellent and completely thorough instructions filtered through her sense of humor. The section on fussy-cutting fabrics includes advice on how to avoid partial kittens, 4 ¾ Commandments, etc. She did regret slicing off the tails of some endangered manatees, “as if they hadn’t suffered enough.”

You needn’t be Jewish to appreciate this book. If you know anybody who would appreciate a personalized yarmulke, you would be doing such a mitzvah to sew them a kippah from a fabric that’s meaningful for them!

Besides that, the book contains a lot of valuable information about fabrics, templates, cutting, sewing, binding, and embellishment that any sewing enthusiast could benefit from. Or for that matter anybody who can thread a sewing machine, that’s how complete and thorough the information is, plus Cathy’s plentiful illustrations are out of this world. And, I learned some really interesting things about Judaism and Jewish culture along the way.

Cathy made a ‘barkmulke’ for Wuli, so of course I had to make one for Willie.


The hat's okay but did I really have to wake up out of a nap for this?

The hat's okay but did I really have to wake up out of a nap for this?

I also wanted to make an appliquéd and quilted kippah, so I made this one for Cathy, to show that I consider her a sewing star!


I used an idea that I’ve been playing with for a future project… magnets! I had these tiny spools that I picked up somewhere over the years, I had super-strong magnets, and I had a roll of sticky-backed magnetic tape. A super-strong magnet on either side of the hat and a little bit of sticky-backed magnetic tape applied to the spool and voila!



The hats are reversible, giving the maker another opportunity to carry out the theme. The magnetic hood ornament is easy to switch from side to side!


I had a ball making these. The Uncommon Yarmulke is available at Cathy’s website, Judaiquilt.com.

By Kay Mackenzie

Pacific International Quilt Festival was last weekend and as usual it was a colorful, energetic, heavenly concentration of quilts, quilters, and wares under one roof.

The quilt that reached out and grabbed me this year was Fragrant Memories by Rachel Wetzler of St. Charles, Illinois.

Fragrant Memories by Rachel Wetzler

Fragrant Memories by Rachel Wetzler

Rachel graciously consented to my posting her quilt on my blog. She reports, “It’s one of my favorites as it brings back ‘the good old days’ when mom’s warm bread or rolls awaited me after school. Yum!”


The description read, “One of my favorite childhood memories is coming home from school to the aroma of mom’s homemade bread. This quilt is one of five in my Simply Sensational series using architectural settings to highlight each of the five senses.”

I think Rachel succeeded in the smellorama department, don’t you? I wanted to step right into that kitchen and dive into a cinnamon bun.

This quilt won the Best of Country ~ United States award in the World Quilt Competition.


Rachel is an amazing quiltmaker. I found this interview with her on the Alliance for American Quilts website that was done in connection with the Q.S.O.S. project. She talks about the series and about how it wasn’t all that easy to make LOL! (I imagine not!)

Thanks, Rachel, for sharing your fragrant memories with us.

Until next time,
Much more from PIQF,
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


I’ve been looking forward to delving into this month’s book, Dream Landscapes: Artful Quilts with Fast-Piece Appliqué by Rose Hughes. Landscapes, art quilts…. totally out of my arena and it’s always interesting to learn new things to throw into one’s appliqué bag of tricks.

Rose tells us, “Fast-Piece Appliqué is a method of construction that makes easy work of sewing curves, circles, and many designs that you thought were too difficult to put together.”

Once I read through the process, it was one of those V8 Moments. Wow, it really makes a lot of sense!

Rose’s method employs tracing paper, freezer paper templates, and machine-sewing the pieces together from the front… simple and direct. She takes us through a small teaching project first and then provides several patterns and a beautiful gallery of her own and her students’ work for inspiration.

example1.jpgLook at those beautiful flowing curves!

example2.jpgCircles sewn without clipping or pinning!

The book includes a quick tutorial on color, full and detailed step-by-step instructions for Fast-Piece Appliqué, and a lot of information on yarn, which is couched over the top of the stitching lines to delineate the shapes and cover raw edges. The couching also provides the initial quilting.

Then the author takes us through the steps of sandwiching, further quilting, and binding these pieces of wall art, followed by a wonderful section on embellishing with embroidery stitches and beading.

Until next time,
By Kay Mackenzie

I’m working on a new appliqué book! The design work is mostly done and in a couple days I’ll be ready to start the stitching.

With any book project, there are parts that are delicious fun and other parts that, well, just need to be done. I try not to do all the fun parts first, making myself do some of the grunt work along the way. I did already indulge, however, in one of the delicious-fun parts.

Let’s just say that this new collection of designs presents opportunities for using tiny trims, buttons and bows, frills and lace, beads and embroidery, etc. I went to Beverly’s, a fabric and craft store, and walked the aisles collecting those items that caught my fancy the most. I also spent a good hour plundering my studio for anything I had squirreled away in various nooks and crannies at earlier points in my quilting career. That was jolly good fun.


All of it went into a project box to await its destiny. The trims are optional, and probably only a fraction of them will end up on blocks, but it was good vicarious fun for me, this rummaging and collecting and feeling excited about the possibilities.

As a kid, I was not a girly girl. My sister and I ran all over our semi-rural neighborhood and my mother would just ring the supper bell when she wanted us to come home.


Momma wrote on the back of this, “Anne (near), Kay (far) fishing.” I grew up with a fishing pole in my hand. I can remember that neighborhood lake and sitting on the bank waiting for the cork to bob like it was yesterday.

lunchbox.gifLunch break!

tomboy.gifMy favorite striped tee shirt, with a plaid shirt… and… are those patches on the knees? Can you say tomboy? My dad took us to the barbershop for cereal-bowl haircuts, which may have added to the general effect.

But the following picture serves up proof that I did own a dress, and I had a doll. There’s your clue to the theme of the new design collection.


Check out that groovy 50s sofa fabric. I seem to remember the swirls were orange and brown. And those great legs! What happened?

Until next time,
By Kay Mackenzie

Today I’m writing about my favorite quilt as part of the Bloggers Quilt Festival put on by Amy of
Park City Girl.

My favorite quilt is usually the one I just started :) but if I had to pick just one, I’d have to say that it’s my Sixteen Baskets.


Here are the reasons why:

In many ways I think this is my best work. It’s hand appliquéd, back during the time that I favored the freezer-paper-template-on-top method (before I learned back-basting). The tiniest motifs are machine appliquéd or hand embroidered.

Each of the blocks is my original design… they’re published in my book Baskets to Appliqué. It was an exciting, emotional, fulfilling process developing the concept for each basket, and I still remember that time…. the mischevious kitty, the fat quarters rolled up, the nod to Baltimore, the pastel eggs inspired by Janet’s chickens who gave us eggs exactly those colors.

This quilt is also hand quilted. I took a picture that’s unevenly lit on purpose to try to get the quilting to show up. I love hand quilting and don’t get the chance to do it as much as I used to.


I love the soldier blue and the dogtooth border. (Also that it’s called a dogtooth border, because I love dogs.)

So that’s my favorite quilt. Thanks for visiting to see my entry in the Bloggers’ Quilt Festival! Visit Park City Girl every day through April 24 and get a ringside seat for other bloggers’ favorite quilts! It’s quite a show!

Until next time,
Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs

Sometimes I do a little hand embroidery on my appliqué blocks when some really fine details are needed, like whiskers or tendrils. It’s not truly a part of my skill set, and I just kinda sorta go for it.

birdbath.jpgI was so grateful when Anne Sutton of Bunny Hill put up Embroidery 101 Part One and Part Two on her Bunny Tales blog. I had had a block stuck up on my wall for awhile, waiting for some embroidery that I was putting off. Anne’s post inspired me to get to work on it… my stem stitch is now so much improved!

Appliqué patterns can often be used as embroidery patterns as well, so go read Anne’s fantastic primer and then you’ll have a whole new use for them!

Until next time,
Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs

The Quilt Show posts Elly Sienkiewicz slides

Filed Under Baltimore Album, Designers, Embellishment, Hand appliqué | Comments Off on The Quilt Show posts Elly Sienkiewicz slides

I’m a member of The Quilt Show with Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims, described by them as “The World’s First Interactive Video / Web Magazine and Worldwide Online Community for Quilters.” They send me email updates a couple time a week. Their latest one announces an upcoming program with venerated appliqué artist Elly Sienkiewicz.

Even if you’re not a member, you can click on the “Slideshows” tab at the top of the home page and view behind-the-scenes photos taken during taping by Photo Man Gregory Case. And you’ll enjoy some gorgeous Elly appliqué eye candy!

Until next time,
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.

Next Page →