Black Friday Through Cyber Monday Sale

November 25th, 2011

We’ve got some great specials for retail purchases made through our online store between now and 11:59 p.m. eastern time on Monday, November 28, 2011.  Everything in our online store is 15% off, (yes, that means everything!), but that’s not all:

*****For any retail purchase of $50, you’ll receive a free 6-pack of spools of Sulky Machine Quilting Thread!  That’s 3 spools of solid color 12 wt and 3 spools of solid color 30 wt thread – a $34.14 retail value, for free!!

*****For any retail purchase of $100 or more, you’ll receive the free thread above PLUS a $15 gift certificate toward a future purchase in our online store!  This means that when you spend $100, you’ll earn another $50 of free merchandise!

Both of these specials can be earned once per customer during this holiday sale.

All you need to do to get these great specials is enter the code word “Blessings” (without the quotation marks) in the discount code box during checkout.

Happy Holidays!

2 New Appli-K-Kutz Die Shapes & the Winner of the Beam ‘n Read Give Away Announced!

November 21st, 2011

Remember these great quilt blocks that I used in the tulip quilt?  You’ve seen those feather shapes all over the place because I’ve used them in all kinds of quilts, but the blocks above also use 2 other die cut shapes that are really fun to work with, the Tulip die and the Stylized Stem die:

Each of these Appli-K-Kutz dies is now available at retail and wholesale levels and each of them can be used to make all kinds of blocks, from basic blocks to very complex blocks.  The Tulip die has shapes that can be combined to create 5 different tulips and the stylized stem die can be used to create 2 types of stems.  Here are just a few examples of ways I have used them:

There is no end to the fun you can have playing around with these shapes! These 2 dies are compatible with all makes of Sizzix machines and can also be used on the AccuQuilt Studio machine if a shim is placed underneath to raise the die (I use 4 Priority mail envelopes stacked on top of one another as my shim.) You can find these dies here.

And….drumroll please…the winner of the Beam ‘n Read Give Away is Jeanne Crowell. Congratulations, Jeanne!

Questions Answered!

November 20th, 2011

I have fallen way behind in answering questions, so I thought I’d use a blog post to answer a number of them.  Most recently,  Susan asked:

Patsy, On top picture how did u affix the fine fern leaves onto the backrground after u fused them on ? Satin stitch? They are sooo intricate…………

I’ve never used a satin stitch to finish the edges of something this delicate; I’m thinking that the satin stitch would likely overpower (and maybe even shred) the most delicate portions of the stem lines.  Instead, I free motion embroider the fern, usually using a combination of the irregular swirl design in the leaf sections and just “in-lining” in the very narrow stem lines.  The project I showed in that recent post is now in NC and I’m in OH, so here’s a shot of another fern from another project finished in this way:

…and here’s a closeup shot of another fern that will probably give you a better sense of that stitching:

In an earlier post about using heavy size 12 pearl cotton embroidery thread in the top needle, Lisa wrote:

Very nice. I wouldn’t think that the pearl cotton would go through your tension so easily or that it would fray. Is that what the silicone does for the thread?

Yes, that’s exactly why I would use the Silicone.  It will lubricate the thread and the thread will flow through the tension discs more easily, minimizing the risks of thread shredding or breaking.  In this case, it’s because the thread is so big and heavy.  In the case of metallic threads, I use it because the threads are so fragile and delicate.  Again, you don’t have to use this liquid silicone in either of the above mentioned scenarios.  And one more thing about these big, heavy threads.  Someone had written to me about how “furry” that Caron Collection thread looked.  That thread is relatively furry; you can see that a bit better in this photo that shows the Caron Collection thread next to DMC size 12 pearl cotton thread:

The furriness would not stop me from using it, though.  Sometimes, you want threads that have varying textures on your quilt, and that furriness is sometimes a sought-after attribute.  The Caron Collection also makes a very plump embroidery thread that is a blend of wool and silk (talk about furry!) and the whole reason I use that thread is for that wonderful texture!  Think of these threads as over-sized versions of the commercial quilting threads on the market.  Look at some King Tut thread next to a Sulky Blendable thread.  They are both 100% cotton threads, yet they are completely different.  One is ultra-smooth and will flow through your machine like butter, and the other is not so smooth and is fairly furry.

And many, many people wrote to me asking to explain the EKG stitching.  That really made me chuckle, because I feel like I’m always posting about it, so I’m thinking that everyone is bored to death reading about it!  Here’s a re-print of a post from a couple of years ago that explains it:

The Mysteries of The EKG Edge Finishing Design Are Revealed!

I frequently receive emails inquiring about the EKG stitching that I often use to finish off the edge of applique shapes, like the edging on the tulip above. I received this sweet email just the other day:

I received regularely your news letters.
Your work is beautyful and I learn many things from you, I am a beguiner in the
quilting thing.
Please, I want to now what is this beautyful stich you do around your flower or
leave, is it a free hand stich or a machine stich and if so which one
Thank you for your help

Your note is so touching to me that I thought I would do a post on this finishing design because although it looks like it would be tough to do, it is as easy as pie! On top of that, it is very fun!

First, know that this is a design you will create-it is not a programmed embroidery stitch on your sewing machine. I call it the EKG design because it makes me think of an EKG pattern, kind of like a run of V-fib. Here is how to do it:
1. set up your machine for free motion work using the straight stitch (the way you set it uo for FMQ).
2. you begin your stitching at the inside edge of any applique shape. The design is created by gently moving the quilt slightly back and forth as you travel along that inside edge, all the while creating “V” shapes. Notice that the “V’s” vary in length and also in how wide they are:

3. As you travel along that outer applique edge, your goal is to keep the “V’s” perpendicular to the edge. If you need to pivot your piece as you work to keep yourself oriented, that’s ok! See how I was trying to stay perpendicular as I moved around the heart below:

4. The more “irregular” the lengths/widths of the “V’s,” the more interesting your work will be. Never let the length of a “V” exceed more than 1/2 the width of the applique piece you’re working in. Most of the time, you won’t come anywhere near that. When you are working inside a “skinny” applique shape (like a long stem), NEVER let a “V” from one side intersect a “V” from the other side as this will look messy.

You can use this finishing design on just about any shape. In general, I try to use a thread color that is related to the fabric color, but I try NOT to match it. In mean, gosh, I’m going to all this extra trouble to do this stitching, so I want to make sure people SEE it! Because of that, I usually pick a color that’s just a bit different. I wish I could say that I had invented this technique, but I did not. I learned it many years ago in a class by a wonderful quilter named Laura Heine. If you ever have the opportunity to take a class from her, do it!

One more thing about this…you can do this as a QUILTING technique, but I mainly us it as a FREE MOTION EMBROIDERY technique. In other words, I do all this stitching when the piece is just a quilt top…there is no bulk because there is no batting and because no portion of the stitch falls outside the fusible applique, I do not need to use a stabilizer. Once it’s in the final quilt sandwich, I stitch just outside the edge of the applique shapes with invisible thread and it creates a very cool texture. This technique really is worth trying if you haven’t yet.
And one more thing…there are just about 12 hours left to enter the Beam ‘n Read Give-Away!  To enter, just leave a comment by 11:59 pm (eastern time) tonight on the Beam ‘n Read Give-Away post from last Monday!  (scroll down 2 posts to find it!)


November 18th, 2011

One of the things about teaching is that you end up with lots of pieces of “remnata,” or samples that you threw together to demonstrate a technique but that don’t really have a use beyond that demo.  If I’m on the ball and have some time, I usually make samples up in a way that I can use them later for some other project.  The piece above was fused together so I’d have some fern samples that I could free motion embroider as a demo.  It seems like when I teach that leaf class, everyone gets to this part at a different time, so I wanted to have lots of ferns to demo on.  As it turns out, I didn’t get to demo on even half of them!  But, I really like this so it will eventually get finished into something special.  Here’s another block that I fused up for that class:

These leaves are the fusible version of reverse applique.  What makes them special is that negative space that’s created by cutting away the vein line section.  You don’t have to finish the edges, but if you do, it adds an interesting “kick” to the leaf:

I have mixed feelings about satin stitching.  A part of me is bored by it; it’s used so much that it makes me yearn for something more novel as an edge finishing design.  BUT, the wonderful thing about satin stitching is that it provides a definitive line and that line can be powerful and used in different ways.  If you vary the width and taper the line at points like above, it helps to accentuate the delicacy of the leaf and its vein lines.  The first time I used a satin stitch to finish the edges of one of these leaves, I used it to save the design.  I’d made a poor choice in colors and the leaf color didn’t have enough contrast with the background fabric, but once I threw in a satin stitch in a really high contrast color, that fine line of satin stitching made everything pop!  There’s plenty of contrast between the orange leaf and the background fabric below:

but you can see that the thread work is really adding a nice zing to this leaf, even though it’s just barely been embroidered. Here’s a shot of it finished, and I love how adding the red satin stitching makes this fall leaf look almost like it’s on fire:

And here’s the block with both of them finished:

(That white stuff you see beyond the edges of the block is a tear away stabilizer. Because part of the satin stitch falls outside the area of fusible web, it’s important to have a stabilizer to avoid fabric puckering. It will be torn off before tlock is used for anything.) Here’s what the backside looks like; I even like how this came out:

Both of these pieces of remnata will someday make their way into a finished product. For now, though, they’ll be staying in the closet!

It’s a Give-Away!

November 14th, 2011


Starting today, we’re hosting a give-away for the Beam ‘n Read Light!  If you haven’t seen this product before, here’s a photo that shows you what it is:
The long black strap is an adjustable neck strap so that  you can wear it around your neck, enabling you to focus it directly on your work.  The base of the light is also adjustable, so it really is possible to find just the right angle to direct that wonderful beam of light!  Each light comes with a yellow and a red light cover, so you even have your choice of the type of light that’s emitted.  On top of all that, there is also the option of a magnifying lens that easily fits onto the light.  I haven’t gotten to the point that I need that feature yet, but the way my eyes are aging, it sure is nice to know that feature is ready for me!
Now maybe you don’t think this light sounds like your cup of tea.  I’ll tell you, I’m amazed at just how handy this product is.  If I think of just the last 5 days, here are some examples of hand work that I’ve used my Beam ‘n Read Light for:
First off is this embroidered quilt block that I stitched as a split design.  If you look closely, you’ll see registration cross hairs and basting lines that were stitched:
…and I used my Beam ‘n Read to help me remove all those extraneous stitches!  (And didn’t this block come out great?!)  Next up, I needed that light to help me separate this sheet of embroidered plumes that were embroidered onto water soluble stabilizer:
As you cut these out, you’ve got to be really careful not to accidentally cut into the stitches…
and the Beam ‘n Read light makes it a whole lot easier to see all those stitches!  Here are a bunch of these plumes in different sizes and different edge finishes, after they’ve had the stabilizer rinsed off:
And of course, the Beam ‘n Read is great when you’re trying to sew the binding on a quilt:
And the light really helped me out the other night when I worked on this binding in a poorly lit hotel room:
Ugh!  And what about pulling all these thread tails to the backside of this top?
You guessed it-the Beam ‘n Read made it possible for me to actually SEE those thread tails to pull them through!  And last but not least, this light has been making it easier to remove the stabilizer from all my embroidered snowflake blocks:
Bottom line…this is one useful product! So, one of you lucky readers will own your own, courtesy of the Beam ‘n Read Folks!  If you’d like a chance to win one, it’s easy to enter the giveaway.  Just post a comment to this blog post that tells  me what you enjoy about reading my blog and you are entered!  Entries must be posted by 11:59 p.m.eastern time on Sunday, November 20, 2011.  And by the way, these lights, as well as all fabric, Isacord Thread, YLI Thread, Sulky Threads, and Quilters Dream Batting are 20% off in our online store until 9:00 am on Black Friday.  To get the discount, all you need to do is enter “2 weeks” (without the quotes) in the discount code box during checkout!
And to increase your chances of winning this great light, make sure you run over to my buddy Kelly Jackson’s blog at I Have a Notion, because she is also hosting a Beam ‘n Read Give-Away this week! And if you don’t win one of these lights during these blog hops this week, then check out the Sew I Quilt Blog between 11/21-11/30/11, because she’ll be hosting a give-away during those dates!