Thursday, February 25, 2016

Trip Notes

The last couple weeks have been crazy, crazy! Non-stop travel.

As of last week, I was headed out of Atlanta toward North Carolina. Concord, specifically and We're Sew Creative quilt shop for a trunk show and workshop.

If you're making The Splendid Sampler™ blocks, then you might pick up a trick or two from these ladies who were organizing and sewing tons of little 1" scrap squares into the 99 Bottles Quilt during our workshop. There were boxes with lots and lots of tidy compartments . . .

. . . Chris used her pins to make square skewers - kinda like shish-ka-scraps!

With the classroom full, shop owner Jennifer Roycroft had to get creative. When all the chairs are occupied, a ladder will do!

A day off in between events and an excuse to explore Charlotte. Charlotte is considered the Queen City of North Carolina. And every queen has a crown, right? Charlotte's is atop the Bank of America Corporate Center.

My hostess (and driver) for some fun-time in Charlotte, Janice Pope of Anything But Boring patterns.

Kinda quiet right now. Panther Stadium. Super bowl 50 2nd place finishers. Eh, well. Looks like a great place for a game!

Lunch at the Mint Museum was amazing. Birdies painted on the walls overhead!

A quick shop stop at my Raleigh workshop Host: Wish Upon A Quilt.

Oooh. Look at these tempting tulip-shaped fabric bundles!

This is where things took an unfortunate turn. My next stop was a delicious lunch. Unfortunately, lunch must have contained an ingredient to which I am highly allergic. The next couple of days were challenging. Many thanks to those at the two Raleigh events for their understanding of my less-than-par situation . . . We made it through, didn't we?!

On to Fayetteville, NC, and the Tarheels Quilters Guild for one more workshop and trunk show. The workshop: Chopped. Here's Thea with the block she finished during the workshop - one of several!

Happy Stitching, y'all
(See, I learned a new Southern quilty word)!


Thursday, February 18, 2016

Not-so-Hot 'Lanta!

I left my home base in Syracuse, NY on Tuesday, headed southward to Altanta for a two day business event. Atlanta has been unseasonably cool, but not quite so cool as other parts of the country where the temperatures have been bone-chilling! I guess I picked a good time to head out of the northeast!

Before moving on to the trunks shows and workshops at We're Sew Creative in Concord, NC, Wish Upon A Quilt in Raleigh, NC, then the Tarheels Quilters Guild in Fayetteville, NC, I stopped at A Scarlet Thread on Monday morning in McDonough, GA, just south of Atlanta, for a book-signing and some demos during their shop hop.

This looks like I'm in the right place.

Okay. One step inside, and the display says it all, bright and welcoming! They were definitely expecting me!

The shop is fabulous! Excellent merchandising, miles and miles of beautiful fabrics and finished samples. I loved the fat quarter racks. No messy folded fat quarters in bins. Very easy to pick a few to come home with me. (Which I did!)

Here's a quick selfie with Karen, shop owner. Everyone was so helpful. I even got a quick  lesson on how to speak 'Southern.' I will never ask for hottamahled (hot or mild) salsa the same way again! It was a delightful stop during my brief stay in Atlanta. I'll definitely be visiting again, next time I'm in the neighborhood!

On to North Carolina! See you there?

Happy Stitching!

joan ford

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Hearts Aflutter! A Splendid Tutorial

Update: The Splendid Sampler started as a year-long mystery sew along. As a member of the block design team, I offered block construction tips in my weekly newsletter, some of which transferred to this blog throughout 2016 and the start of 2017. My Block, "The Early Bird" was released in December 2016. Due to space considerations, the block was published in the book that followed the sew-along as a paper-pieced pattern. You may access the original patchwork pattern for "The Early Bird" and a bonus right here!

The Back Story - Featuring Back-Basting Applique

When I first started making quilts not all that long ago, I never, EVER imagined that I would want to do any sewing by hand. I was in love with using the sewing machine. Boy, was I ever wrong! These days, I love sewing at the machine, but equally appreciate the opportunity to step away from the sewing machine with some quilty handwork.

The first block in the Splendid Sampler™ Sew Along, Hearts Aflutter from Pat Sloan is a perfect opportunity to combine a few of my favorite machine and hand sewing techniques.

Not to confuse you, these batik scraps and precuts inspired by Sandpiper, a recent pre-cut group from Hoffman California Fabrics, are my stash-grab for the year-long sampler project.

The tutorial that follows is made from a mix of traditional lines from Moda. So 'my' block and the 'tutorial' block will look a little different.

Make the Base

Back to Hearts Aflutter, the first featured block in The Spendid Sampler™. We start with a basic four-patch block. Since the block will have an applique shape placed over the center, I want to avoid bulky spots in the piecing, so I furled the seam intersection. Click here for more details on furling. I use this technique ALL the time! Love it!

At the stitch-and-flip corners, I opted to leave the bottom layer of the block intact and only trimmed the middle layer to reduce bulk at the corners. I know I'll be sewing this block to something eventually--another block or sashing or who-knows-what at this stage--I want to know that even if my stitch-and-flip corner was placed a little wonky, I can rely on my well-cut, well-pieced four-patch base fabric to be the proper size.

Ready for applique?

I've tried lots of different applique methods, and my favorite, by far, is the back-basting method, also known as the template-free method. Included with the many benefits of this technique:

  • It is extremely accurate. If your initial shape is traced accurately, there's a good bet that your applique will be accurate

  • No fusibles, freezer paper, glue, extra chemicals are needed. Not even an iron. A sharp pencil, a light source or a bright window, needle, thread, and scissors are all you need along with your pattern and fabric

  • Based on the above, it's perfectly transportable
This method is described in detail in all of my books. (Okay, well, not the coloring book! *wink!*)

Before you begin, double-check the inch marking printed on your pattern to make sure the applique page you printed is the correct size. Remember, your applique will be as accurate as your drawing, so we might as well start with the correct size, right-o?

The patterns will already be reversed in all the forthcoming Splendid Sampler blocks, but hearts are the same backwards and forwards, so no worries.

Place the reversed applique shape on your light source (tape it to a window, or place it on a small light box) and trace the shape onto the BACK of your base fabric.

Place the applique fabric on the right side of the base with the wrong side of the appilque fabric facing the right side of the base fabric.

Then, from the wrong side of the block place applique pins all the way around the shape as shown below. Hold the block up to the light to make sure your applique fabric covers the lines with at least 1/8" to 1/4" leeway at all the line edges.

On the front, you won't see the shape, only the rough outline of the shape made by the pins. 

With a larger needle (I like sharps, size 7) and heavier thread in a contrasting color (I like glazed cotton quilting thread - YLI hand quilting thread is my absolute favorite!), start on a smooth part of the shape WITHOUT making a knot in the thread, and sew a tight running stitch from the back of the block directly on the drawn line. Make sure a well-formed, tight running stitch goes through all the fabric layers all the way around the shape. 


Turn the block to the front, and trim the applique fabric about 1/8" away from the stitching.

Let the stitches rest a bit. At least an hour or so. I usually let it sit overnight or longer. The longer the better, IMO.

Working from the front of the block, start at the basting thread end and pull out a few stitches at a time. With a finer thread, (I like 50 wt. cotton in a color that matches the applique fabric) and needle (Sharps, size 10 or 11), turn the applique fabric under. You'll find that the applique fabric turns easily because the tight running stitches left a series of perforations in the fabric. So it folds on the lines like a check in a check book.

The applique stitches are teeny-tiny. And they only grab the very fold of the applique shape and a tiny bit of the base fabric. Pull out the the basting running stitches a little at a time, try not to get too far ahead of your applique stitches. 

At the point of the heart, snip the fabric to the stitching line, so you can turn under one side of the heart, then start up on around the other side of the heart.

View from the back.


Only 99 blocks to go! Wasn't that fun!?

Happy Splendid Stitching!
Joan Ford

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Color Me Scrappy!

A quick note this week to announce that my new Coloring Book from The Taunton Press has arrived!

Always exciting to see your name in print, as it were.

The book is filled with line drawings from many of my published quilt patterns. So, if you aren't sure of the colors you'd like to use to make your quilt, you can test them out with colored pencils, markers, or some combination thereof!

And if you want to make a quilt, but don't want to actually cut into any fabric, you can color your quilt and have your fabric too!

Anyway, get your coloring book and get sewing . . . er, I mean get coloring! *wink!*

Happy Stitching . . . and coloring!

Joan Ford