Quick and Easy Holiday Table Topper

A few weeks back, I traveled to my home town in Iowa to attend an annual fundraiser for my old high school. I get to spend 2 full days of quilting with talented quilters from my hometown. It is always fun and I love going! We usually offer a quick and easy project as a demo, including a few technique tips. This year, the goal was to create a holiday project, and tackling the subject of perfect points, mitered corners, machine quilting and bindings. Soooo. . .

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We showcased this holiday table topper. It was super easy and fun to make. I thought I would share it with you – just in case you needed to pull a quick holiday project out of your stash in the next few weeks.

I started with a great tutorial by Sewn Up/Teresa Down Under for a Disappearing Pinwheel Block. You can see the post and video here: Disappearing Pinwheel by Sewn Up, along with her beautiful sampler quilt and 11 variations created with simple little block!

I found some seriously-cute holiday fabric, referred to the video for the cutting instructions and made my first pinwheel. 
pinwheel-block Okay, that was easy. Now, let’s make a few more.

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Now the magic happens – cut the pinwheel block into 9 equal sections, creating 9 smaller blocks.

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Repeat with the other three blocks.

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Switch, flip and rotate a few small blocks and watch those large pinwheels disappear!

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Awesome, right? Let’s try another layout. . .

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Since I am partial to the Churn Dash Block, this was the layout I chose. Each block measured 11″ unfinished.

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I added a 5 1/2″ border with mitered corners to frame it out. In one short afternoon, I created a 30″ table topper for the holidays. Wow!


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This would be a great project for a table runner, placemats or an entire quilt. Here is one of the projects that was made at Quiltfest by a student. Same fabric line, but played with a little differently. I love the contrasts!

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Here’s a look at some of the other wonderful projects that were worked on over the weekend. So many great quilts!

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For our Bay Area readers – The new Bay Quilts quilt shop in Richmond, is having a meet the teachers event on Saturday, December 3 from 1-3. If you haven’t checked out this beautiful new shop, this is a great opportunity. Darci Read and I will be there chatting about the classes we are scheduled to teach in 2017. Stop by and say hello! There is also a wonderful 12 x 12 gallery show that will be on display at the shop. Be sure to check out The Power of 12 quilt show, that will be up through the end of the year.

Giveaway

And now – the Giveaway winner from last week’s post goes to Nance of idreamofquilting.com. Nance shared a simple, but really great tip:

“I always spray the top of the fabric and then flip it over and iron from the back. That way I don’t get any starch flakes on the top of the fabrics.”

There were lots of other great tips on ironing, so if you missed that post, take a moment and scroll through the comment sections. Thanks everyone!

Pati

Top Choices for Our Favorite Irons and a Giveaway!

The holidays are coming and we have received a few questions as to what our favorite iron is. Sounds like it may end up on a few holiday wish lists!

We thought it would be fun to share our different opinions on the subject of irons with you.

Laura:  I’m not sure I’m the best one to weigh in on this discussion because I’m a bit of a pessimist on this subject. But, I’ll throw my two cents into the pot, just because I want to be honest with you. I have not really loved an iron since my first one, a Rowenta, which I purchased about 35 years ago. I still have it and use it regularly in the classroom. It’s been a workhorse and has all the qualities I want in an iron – weight, good steam, no automatic turn off and definitely no leaking or spitting gunky brown liquid that will stain my fabric.

Over the years I have purchased probably 20 or more irons for both personal and classroom use, ranging in price from $20 to over $100. Truth be told, none of them has lived up to my expectations and as a result, I find myself buying a new one in less than a year.

I am currently using this Rowenta, and certainly not just because it is red!  It gets the job done but since I’ve never been excited about the automatic turn-off feature, this is a negative for me. It seems to take a bit too long to heat up and will turn off too quickly. I seem to spend to much time waiting for it to be ready. Perhaps I’m just impatient.

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One of my local quilt shops recently purchased  Reliable irons for the classroom. I had not used this brand but I have really enjoyed using them. They are heavy in weight and put out a lot of steam. I will certainly consider this brand the next time I am in need of a new iron. Unlike my other irons, this one suggests using distilled water. If you are not familiar with Reliable irons, I suggest reading some of the online reviews. I always find it helpful to listen to the advice of other quilters when it comes to the tools we regularly use.

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It wouldn’t be fair to leave out my favorite small travel-type iron. This Rowenta is the perfect size for taking to class, I like how it fits in my hand and allows me to easily press small pieces; especially when preparing small fabric shapes for appliqué. I definitely use my main iron for the final stages of pressing but there is something about this iron that appeals to me when working with small shapes and/or pressing seams open.

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Pati: Like Laura, I have owned quite a few irons over the years. Some worked well, others were just not up to my needs and expectations. I owned quite a few Rowentas in a row because they performed so well. A few years back I was having trouble with my forearm muscle and decided to switch to an Oliso Smart Iron, thinking that it would help. I love it!

Oliso Steam Iron

My cheerful, yellow Oliso had Scorchguards technology, which actually lifts the iron off the board for you the moment you remove your hand. Which meant my arm got a much-needed rest. I have been very happy with the other functions of the iron, also. It heats up quickly, even after the automatic turnoff. It works well with dry heat, and the steam settings are spot on. I especially like the steam blast button to get the creases out of folded fabric.
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One of my favorite features of my Oliso is the way you add water. I have always spilled or over-filled when adding water. This iron is almost spill proof when you use the companion water pitcher that comes with the iron. No more saturated ironing boards in my sewing room!

I want to also add that Darci and I both had a chance to use the Reliable Iron that Laura mentioned above, while at a retreat last weekend. I thought it was really great. It had great heat, lots of steam and I really liked the feel of the iron.

Darci: I grew up using my mom’s old Black and Decker classic iron. That thing always came through, so much so that we used it for 25+ years. When I started quilting, I was pleased to see that Black and Decker re-released their classic iron, now with updated technology. I had one that lasted a few years but then conked out. So I bought another, and that one failed after a few months. Enter: my cordless iron from Panasonic.

I have a really old vintage iron that’s pre-electricity also, I thought that was a funny comparison to how far we’ve come with our tech. My two cordless irons.

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The Panasonic NI-L70SR has a retractable cord along with a heat-resistant cover which makes it a great traveler. I brought it to our East Bay Modern Quilters Retreat this weekend, and it got non-stop use for 3 days. At the end of the weekend, I unplugged it and put it right in my car without having to wait for it to cool down.

I love how there’s no cord to get tangled up in. When I’m ironing larger items, I just make sure to put it on the base frequently so it doesn’t lose its heat. I haven’t had too much of a problem with that, it seems to hold its heat just fine. I love the stainless steel plate also. I just finished a large appliqué project that involved lots of glue and heat setting, and the plate never got gluey. My only complaint is that the water chamber is small, but since it’s detachable, you can take just that part over to fill it up. It gives me the excuse to get a few more steps in.

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Hope this answers a few of our readers’ questions. If you need a few quilters tips on how to properly iron, or clean your iron, check out these links:

How to Press Quilt Seams – A Free Craftsy Tutorial

How to Press a Quilt Block Flat – This is a great trick by Generations Quilt Pattern

Accurate Pressing – Quilting.about.com

Cleaning Your Iron with a Dryer Sheet – ApartmentTherapy.com

If you love DIY, then here is a recipe for the spray starch alternative we all love.

Spray Starch Alternative Recipe

In a large container, mix together:

24 oz distilled water

3 oz. vodka

1 tsp scented essential oil (optional) Love the fresh linen and lavender scents.

You may also add one drop of food color per gallon if you like.

Pour into spray bottle, give a good shake and your ready to press.

Giveaway

 

And for our giveaway – Share your favorite trick or advice with us and we will choose one lucky reader to win a free gift to use with all of your new ironing tips we have shared.

 

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and see you all next week!

laura-pati-and-darci

Welcome Darci Read, our new member of The See How We Sew blog team!

I mentioned a few weeks ago that we had some exciting news to share with you soon. Well, today is the day! Laura and I have been co-authoring See How We Sew as a duo for a while now. We are excited to say that we have a new member joining us to keep the ideas, information, and inspiration on quilting and sewing flowing for our readers. Laura and I would like you to meet Darci Read.

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Darci is a talented quilter and sewist that I met a few years back through the East Bay Modern Quilters. She is a lovely person with a unique style and eye for design. I love her work and am so excited to have her join our team. – Pati

Laura’s thoughts: Since Jennifer retired from the blog, Pati and I have wanted to add another contributor. Pati met Darci through the East Bay Modern Quilters and felt that Darci could be the perfect fit as someone who would provide a different perspective and share her knowledge and expertise on topics which interest her. After meeting Darci, I couldn’t agree more. I am thrilled to have her join our team. Please join Pati and me in welcoming Darci Read to SHWS.

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Hello! Darci here. I’m a graphic designer by day and sewist every other minute. I started sewing (again) 6 years ago in New York City. I had moved there from Minnesota to finish my graduate school. When my sister had her first baby, I wanted to make her something handmade. Enter: Quilting! I hadn’t sewn since Home Ec class but decided to take a class at the City Quilter in Manhattan. The rest is history.

(Sidenote: I feel like I might hold a world record in stash building. Looking at my pile of fabric makes me wonder if I have my “started quilting” dates wrong. My other hobby is hunting estate sales and thrift stores. I love anything vintage, especially the fabrics.)

Fast forward 6 years, I now make most of my own clothing, sew lots of quilts for friends and family and express myself with quilts that I have just started showing. I rent time on a long-arm in Berkeley and love machine quilting. It’s my favorite part of the quilting process. I’m an active member of 3 quilt guilds in the Bay Area, but my home base is the East Bay Modern Quilters. We meet on the last Tuesday of the month-I’d love to say hello!

This year I’ve started to teach sewing also. I have a group of elementary students who come once a week and are working on their first quilt. Their ability to jump in and let go amazes me. I also am working on a class that will be held at Bay Quilts about beginning garment making. Be sure to check their site for more info.

Here’s something I’m working on now. I love mixing traditional elements to modern quilts, like taking these English Paper Pieced Hexies and appliqueing them to a larger solid background so I have lots of space to quilt. I’ll be sure to share the finished project.

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I’m so honored to be part of the See How We Sew team! My passion is machine quilting and modern design, and I can’t wait to share that with you. I have my own blog at darcisews.com. Feel free to say hello there, too. I love comments.

darci

 

A SHWS Alum Stops By + A Giveaway!

Hello SHWS readers, Jennifer here! It’s been many months since I’ve been in touch. These days I’m trolling the crafting and quilting resources of the great Southwest from my new digs in Arizona. Believe me, it’s challenging to leave the abundance of the San Francisco Bay Area where artists and craftspeople are setting trends, but it’s invigorating to jump into the unknown and explore who I am when I don’t have my posse of creative types for input. (Lordy, I miss Laura’s know-how though!)

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In my adventuring I’ve come across a wonderful pattern designer called Carrie Payne of Believe Magic. As I explain in a post at my blog Chasing Bright Shiny Objects, I discovered her work at Scottsdale Quilts in Arizona. I don’t typically fall for charming figurative designs, but something clicked with her illustrations that celebrate young womanhood. It’s a case of right place/right time and a sudden need to make something special—my eldest son was about to propose to his girlfriend! As a mother-in-law-in-the-making I realized I needed to welcome my prospective daughter-in-law in an appropriate quilter fashion . . .

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Giveaway Details

And so, if you click over to my blog Chasing BSOZ, you’ll get the lowdown on my Carrie Payne adventure and the opportunity to enter a giveaway to win one of Carrie’s patterns. The deadline is Monday, November 14th.  Leave me a comment and I will draw random winners. There’s a question to answer, but you’ll find that at the end of the post.

What’s Better Than One Bridal Project? Two, Of Course!

It’s a bit embarrassing to admit, but once I made one engagement gift, I couldn’t stop. Maybe it was the fabulous vintage ribbons available at Scottsdale Quilts, or perhaps I’m building up good will with my other son’s girlfriend. Her only sister is about to marry and she’s the maid of honor plus organizer of the bachelorette party. We decided she needed a bride quilt bedecked with charms from all the girls attending the party.

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screen-shot-2016-09-28-at-4-09-41-pmI didn’t fly as blindly this time with the little quilt. This bride-to-be was months into preparation and had an official color scheme and a wedding gown. Carrie’s pattern is very flexible and I was able to style that bride to match her plans. Don’t you just love Pinterest? I took her special color board to the quilt shop and craft store and found just the right embellishments.

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Carrie’s pattern allows for styling, and so my son’s girlfriend and I played with different hair designs and decorative elements. We ended up with her hair down and a fascinator carefully snipped from a length of vintage lace. Those roses could have formed a bouquet, but all told, that was too much when elaborate lace layers alternated with white print tiers.

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These are some of the finishing details. I told her I’d sew the charms on once the bachelorette party is over and there’s a blank label on the back for the guests to sign.

Your Official Invitation

Do come over to Chasing Bright Shiny Objects to check out my latest creative adventures and please enter the drawing for a Carrie Payne pattern.

My best to the wonderful readers of See How We Sew!

Jennifer

Monday Morning Musings

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I woke early this morning with thoughts of what to write in this post flitting through my mind. So much time has passed and so much has happened in the 4 months since I checked in with you.

Do I let you know how over the moon excited I am that I will welcome my first grand baby, a sweet little boy, into the world sometime around March 1st? If so,  I could share with you some of the many projects I have already started working on for this little man!

Knitted with love from Grandma!
Knitted with love from Grandma! Pattern is Cashmere Treasured Heirloom Baby Blanket by Lion Brand Yarn. 

Or perhaps, I will tell you all about my summer road trip to Thermopolis, Wyoming where I took a Road Scholar course at the Wyoming Dinosaur Center learning to become a Certified Dinosaur Bone Preservation Specialist?

Hard at work chipping away matrix from a 50 million year old dinosaur bone.
Hard at work chipping away matrix from a 50 million year old dinosaur bone.

Oh, and yes, let’s not forget my new electric pressure cooker,  The Instant Pot has quickly become my new favorite kitchen toy. I know you would love reading about all the yummy recipes I have been experimenting with.

Delicious Dulce de Leche - 20 minutes in The Instant Pot
Delicious Dulce de Leche – 20 minutes in The Instant Pot

Finally, I’m thinking you might enjoy seeing photos of the new quilts I am designing in preparation for teaching on an upcoming Cruise to Hawaii. This is just a start . . . as lots of fun sea creatures will be added.

The background for an underwater scene.
The background for an underwater scene.

I am anxious to share all of these and more with you, but honestly, I feel I will save these for later posts.  Today I just want to say thank you ALL for being here, for supporting SHWS.

I hope you know how much you are appreciated.

I hope you are well.

I hope you are happy.

I hope you are finding time for some joyful creating.

I send you all my best this first day of November and I hope this little tree with its heart shaped leaves brings a smile to your face, as it does to mine.

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Please check in with us next week as one of our original contributors, Jennifer Rounds will be sharing a guest post.

Until next time, Happy November everyone!

 

Laura Signature

 

An October Afternoon

Fall table“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”
― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

I know you have been wondering what happened to Laura and me over the past few months. The truth is, we both wanted to take a little break to renew and refresh. Before we knew it, our summer break extended into the month of September! But it is now October, with all the beautiful colors of autumn. Our summer excursions are now sweet memories, with lots of inspiration to draw from and share with you in upcoming posts. pati-and-laura-october-2016

We will be back on track with our weekly posts from now on, and who knows – we may have some exciting news to share with you soon!

Laura & Pati

Inspiration Friday!

2016-05-24 17.20.57 HDR-2Summer vacation began early for me this year. I just spent the past 10 days with a visiting relative. I got to play tourist in my own back yard – and what fun it was! My cousin Pam, is from the  small, Midwestern town that I grew up in.  It is filled with tree-lined streets, sprawling green lawns and a brick paved town square in the center of town. Pam lives in the quintessential American home, filled with lovely antiques, vintage quilts and 3 adorable Puggles. She was looking for some inspiration to do a bit of spring “freshening” to her house when she got home. And so, instead of the regular tourist attractions, we chose to focus on seeking out some of the hidden gems that Northern California was offering at the moment. Pam went home with lots of ideas, and I now have a gallery of inspirational photos to kickstart some new quilts! I thought you might enjoy seeing some of the photos.

We attended a Garden Ramble through eight lovely, sustainable gardens in Piedmont. The colors and texture combinations were so interesting and unusual!

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And whimsical!

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So many lovely shades of green.

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 And a garden path to follow.

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Then it was off to Berkeley to enjoy the Berkeley Marina. Clear blue skies, reflective blue water, and cheery, colorful boats of every shape and size. I love how striking the pattern is, created by all the masts.

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The last trip was to Napa Valley, to visit Sunset Magazine’s new gardens in Sonoma. What a treat – color, texture, patterns, shapes . . . my little quilty brain was in heaven!

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Wouldn’t this be considered blue fescue on point?

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Perhaps an improvisational fenceline?

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I found more paths to meander down . . .

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And I realized that at the end of every good path . . . 

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Lies a lovely place to contemplate all that you have been inspired by.

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Have a lovely weekend!

Pati

 

 

 

20 Degrees of Fabric Play

FullblockIt feels like forever since I have checked in with you. I read through all the thoughtful comments from my last post and could not select just one winner, so I randomly picked two. Be sure to read to the end to see who will be receiving my new pattern/ruler pack. If you missed seeing the post, simply click here. I challenged myself with a charm pack, large scale floral fabrics and a 20-degree wedge ruler. It was great fun. I’m still in play mode and don’t see an end in site any time soon.

So much has happened here since the last time I checked in. I have completed my new pattern, the Blooming Wedges Table runner and had some personalized 20-degree wedge rulers made. The two combine perfectly into a neat little pack. I have just shipped my first order to a major distributor so they should be available to shops very soon! In the meantime, if you are interested, I am offering a 50% off special on my website until May 31st. The special price is $12 plus $2.50 shipping. If you don’t use PayPal, just simply leave a request in the Comments and I will be happy to contact you via email.

Blooming Wedges Table Runner - pattern plus wedge ruler
Blooming Wedges Table Runner – pattern plus wedge ruler

 

 

I have also taught Wedge Play workshops at several local guilds and have been so pleased to see the abundance of creativity and willingness to play with fabric and rulers. To say I’m beyond excited, is an understatement.

Although the pattern has specific instructions for making the table runner, there are endless design possibilities using the ruler.

Below are just a few of the projects currently on my design wall.

I’m heading out on a four-day quilting retreat next week with the goal of finishing these quilts. Wish me luck!

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is not a color combination I generally work in, but I'm loving the results.
This is not a color combination I generally work in, but I’m loving the results.

 

I LOVE red and black, with just a bit of an Asian flare.
I LOVE red and black, with just a bit of an Asian flare.

This is my favorite so far . . . made from silk tie samples.

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I’ll be sure to post updates with my next post. Finally, the lucky winners of the pattern/ruler pack are Jane from MA and Judy White. I will be sending you an email shortly to get your mailing addresses. Please be sure to share your projects.

As always, many thanks for checking in. Until next time, happy creating everyone!

Laura Signature

Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks Blog Tour

myblockisin13_200_68131I was excited to be selected for the latest issue of Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks. They are hosting a blog tour this week and I am on the first stop. So welcome everyone!QM21115

The issue hits newsstands May 3, or you can purchase right now as a print or digital issue in the Quiltmaker’s shop. You will find instructions for 100 original and very unique blocks.magazine spread

My block, called Girl’s Best Friend, block #1219, is a take on deconstructing a diamond.

Deconstructed Diamonds

I used some of Tula Pink’s collection, True Colors because I had been looking for an excuse to play with them. I really like the eclectic feel of this collection.
True colors


Part of the fun that I had with this block was playing with pattern designs. I am self taught in Photoshop, so, I am always looking for opportunities to get a little more familiar with the program. So, after using it to crop my block photo, I thought I would just play with some repeats, flipping, rotating and moving around. I think this block has a lot of possibilities.

#1. This might make an interesting border idea . . .

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#2. Or a horizontal band running across the width of the quilt.

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#3. I love the zig zag effect in the center of this setting . . .

 

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#4. and the last one looks like layers upon layers of diamonds.

100 Blocks Quiltmaker
What do you think? It ‘s fun to build a virtual quilt once in a while, just to get the inspiration flowing.

Be sure to follow the rest of the block tour. There are giveaways and lots of talented designers that will posting this week about their block designs.
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Have a great week!

Pati