How I Spent my 4th of July

July 4th, 2018


I had a glorious day, dyeing fabric out in the hot sun:

These are 1 yard pieces of cotton sateen that I use for backgrounds of applique scenes.  These 4 baking on the blacktop are nearly dry, so the colors are close to what they should be once washed:

I also dyed several smaller pieces of 100% Egyptian cotton to use for applique shapes.  Those have much less variegation of color in them:


Most of the dye powders I worked with today are over 10 years old, so I’m not allowing myself to get excited yet because old dye powder usually means not so great color.  Several of my dye platters were still damp when I brought my stuff in this evening, so the washout will have to wait until tomorrow…I just hate waiting!

 P.S.  The washout went great and all my luscious reds and oranges are still luscious and saturated colors after the washout!!  Yippee!!

Hope you had a nice 4th of July, I sure did.

Feather Adventures Book is Back and Other News!

June 22nd, 2018




It’s true!  We’ve had so many requests for this book in the years since it’s been sold out that we finally went ahead and printed a short run.  Just like the original “Feather Adventures,” this second edition is 140 pages of full color feather education and inspiration.  Learning to quilt feather motifs will take your quilting to new heights and transform your quilts.  If you missed out on scooping up a copy from the original printing, don’t miss out on this new opportunity!  You can find this book in our online store by clicking here.


As if the Feather Adventures news weren’t big enough, we also have a new set of arc rulers that are debuting today!  The PTD Shallow Arc Ruler Sets are a set of 4 arc rulers that are cut from 18-inch diameter, 24-inch diameter, 30-inch diameter, and 36-inch diameter circles.  This means they hold curves that are shallower.  Why does this matter?

  1.  Shallower arcs are ideal for creating diamond-based ruler work designs.  This is because arcs with more dramatic curves leave little “interior real estate” inside the diamonds, and this means less room to subdivide with channel work or beautiful free motion quilting work.  If you’re like me, that “empty space” is your playground, and shallow arc rulers will deliver!
  2. Adding to your arsenal of arc rulers will always pay off.  In ruler-guided free motion quilting, we are always working off either piecing landmarks or applique landmarks, so having a nice stash of curves available means you’ll have just the right arc to deal with whatever curve you’re working around on your quilt top!
  3. If you like making large feathered wreath ruler work designs, these arcs are a great tool to have on hand.

Here are a couple of “stand-alone” diamond designs I whipped up with the shallow arc set:



In this next one, I changed the internal design and also added plumes to the outside of the diamond:



Here’s a diamond border design:



…and here’s another diamond border design:



…and here’s one more:


These diamond borders are as much fun as arched swag border designs!  You can find the shallow arc ruler sets in our online store by clicking here.  If you’re looking for a bargain, there is a 15% discount when you purchase the PTD Ruler Work Starter Set and the PTD Shallow Arc Set at the same time.  You can find that merged product in our online store by clicking here.

I’ll post some tutorials about how to create these designs in the next couple of weeks, so check back at the blog!

Adding a Trapunto Layer to The Fantasy Flower Quilt Blocks

June 20th, 2018

Remember the Fantasy Flower Block I showed you several  weeks ago?  Here is a shot of it to jog your memory:

While I was trying to figure out what to do about borders to surround the 4 of these blocks in the center of the quilt, I decided to add a little trapunto to these 4 blocks.  I began by pinning  a piece of scrap batting behind each block, then began my design by using ruler work that played off major applique landmarks in the block.  Here is the initial outline that I made:

I then added a 1/4 inch parallel channel inside the outline, then a 1/2 inch channel, and then another 1/4 inch wide parallel channel.  Once all that was done, I added a cross-like ruler work shape that played off landmarks in the center of the blocks.  I began stitching at the edge of one of the periwinkle embroidered shapes, carried the thread line to the adjacent stem base, and then moved to the next edge of an embroidered shape.  Once done, I threw a 1/4 inch parallel channel inside that design, and here is what followed:

I cut away all the excess batting that fell outside those designs, and here is what the backside looked like at this stage:

I went back in and filled  my 1/2 inch parallel channels with a single row of pearls, then added plumes that sprang from the stems to add some yummy featherwork.  Here is a shot of one of the gold blocks at that point:

Once this entire quilt has been pieced and thrown into a quilt sandwich, I’ll outline these areas with invisible thread and it will really make all the various “zones” of this ruler work framework pop.  I think it will highlight the centers of the blocks and help set off these ruler work designs from non-trapuntoed ruler work designs elsewhere on the quilt.  I have my work cut out!

Quilting a Featherette Border

June 13th, 2018

Happy summer!  I haven’t posted much for awhile because I haven’t been quilting much.  There’s no good reason for this except that I’ve been kind unfocused, which is not my norm.  I’m trying to force myself to be less goal-driven but I am learning that I am not very good at being unfocused and I don’t really like it!

Anyway, Ern kindly filmed and edited this video showing how to quilt a long featherette border.  This is an easy border design that works well in borders that are 1 inch to 3 inches wide.  If the border is much wider than that, you’ll end up needing to hyperquilt the featherette once it’s done because the plumes will be so large that they are kind of scary!    Thanks much to Ern for his skilled editing…



Ruler Work Feathered Wreath

May 21st, 2018

This trapuntoed feathered wreath was rescued from a  quilting UFO pile.  It’s a good example of how you can use trapunto to visually direct the viewer’s eye to see “zones” of a design by preferentially adding more dimension to certain portions of a given quilted design.  Different portions of this have 1 layer of batting, some have 2, some have 3, and 1 section has 4 layers of batting.  Between trapunto and how densely you choose to quilt portions of a design, you have tremendous control over how someone perceives or “sees” the design your are creating.  I’ll walk you through the process below, and know that these photos were all taken on different days, in different rooms, and in different lighting, so the colors will keep changing!

It started as a piece of commercial black mottled fabric that I over-dyed with purple.  I then quilted the center star using a digital file on my embroidery machine, (you can find that design file by clicking here), and  threw a scrap of polyester batting under the whole square but there was no backing fabric.  I started to enlarge that center design using arc rulers, but this all came to a screeching halt 2-3 years ago because I wasn’t sure I liked what I’d done.   This UFO has been sitting in my giant tote bag for all this time, waiting for me to do something.  I cleaned out the tote bag last week and ripped out what I’d started earlier and then went to work making a large feathered wreath.

My first move was to use my PTD 6.5 arc and PTD12 arc rulers to create a circular chain of 2-tiered crescents that surrounded the star:

(The pins that you see are holding another layer of polyester batting that will fall underneath the entire wreath.)  Next up, I started by adding multiple circles  to create “zones” in the spine area.  I got to break out my new set of Westalee Circle Rulers  that allow me to make circles up to 18 inches in diameter:

(These larger circle templates work exactly like the earlier Westalee ones, but you can see that they provide channels for creating larger circles.  You can find the Westalee COQ set 6 templates in our online store by clicking here.)  I then marked a circle in soap that gave me 2 3/4 inches for my outermost plumes.  This soap line is a temporary line that serves as the boundary for the edges of the plumes:

Here’s what it looked like once I added the plumes.  You can see that even though they are all a  bit different since I’m adding them freehand, they still look pretty symmetric and it’s all because of stretching the plumes to the soap line:

Next, I began filling in the narrow channels.  A single row of pearls is a great way to fill a 1/2 inch wide channel, and quilting this in a gold polyester thread will add a little bling and help “set off” that circle well:

In this next shot, you can see I’ve added fingertips (magenta polyester thread) inside the irregular channel that falls between the pearls and the circle of crescents, and also added small featherettes (lavendar polyester thread), inside the space interior to the crescents:

…and the last thing I did on this day was to add a single row of pearls in the outermost 1/2 inch wide channel:

I had no idea of what I wanted to place in that wide channel, so I walked away from the project to think about it overnight.  I cut away the excess batting that fell outside the wreath before I called it a day, so here’s what the project’s backside looked like at that point:

(Just to make it clear, there are 2 layers of batting underneath the center star, and 1 layer underneath the entire wreath at this point.)  I decided to add a series of triangles surrounding the circle, so I created those using a straight line ruler and then created a tapered channel inside those rays:

…and here I have added an Aztec featherette (dark blue polyester thread) inside each of the rays:

…and I’ve now added a featherette inside the outer triangle spaces:

These are not very striking, so I added hyperquilting inside the featherettes in turquoise thread.  You can kind of appreciate how much this adds in the next photo that shows some hyperquilted and others not yet hyperquilted:

Now, it is starting to get exciting, and remember, all this drama is being created using thread!  Here’s a shot once the whole wreath is done; you can see that it’s cool but seems king of “flat:”

Here is where I decided I wanted to set off different zones more, so I threw in yet another extra layer of batting that covered the entire center “circle” that ends with the gold pearls.  I wanted to exaggerate the difference between the 2 “featherette zones” inside that outer wide channel, so I added small pieces of batting over the outermost triangles.  Here is a shot of what the back side of this piece looked like at that point:

The rest is a downhill coast as I layered it unto the final quilt sandwich with a final layer of batting underneath the whole thing, followed by a backing fabric.  I preferentially stitched outside certain zones of design to set them off, and here is the finished product:

Another UFO rescued…or at least it will be once I make the time to bind it!