Nap and Nod

Nap and Nod – 12 Adorable Baby Quilts by Myra Harder

Martingale - Nap and Nod (Print version + eBook bundle)

Myra teaches you how to do plush applique, curved seams, and monogrammed lettering in her book, Nap and Nod.  Although you will find hexagons and seemingly complicated patterns in her book, they really are simple and easy to make.  The one below would make a great baby gift; you can put either the length and weight of the baby or you can incorporate the birth date.


Martingale - Nap and Nod (Print version + eBook bundle)

I like how she uses monogramming in her quilts.  It gives them a more personalized touch, in my opinion.

Martingale - Nap and Nod (Print version + eBook bundle)

For all you modern quilt lovers, this next one will “allow” you to play with your quilting to make it unique.  I love how she uses the chevrons for water around the cute duck.

Martingale - Nap and Nod (Print version + eBook bundle)

For more on this book, go to Martingale’s website here.   Many thanks to Martingale and their photographer, Brent Kane for providing the book and the photos!


Sew a Modern Home

Sew a Modern Home – Quilts and More for Every Room by Melissa Lunden

Martingale - Sew a Modern Home (Print version + eBook bundle)

Melissa does a good job of including a wide variety of items you can make for your home or as gifts.  Not only are there patterns for quilts, but also placemats, napkins, a table runner, plushie toys for kids, and a crib set to include fitted crib sheets… and more!

I think my favorite quilt in this book is this next one.  I like the clean, straight lines.  They look a bit curved to me, but I think that is just the quilting, which gives it movement.

Martingale - Sew a Modern Home (Print version + eBook bundle)

In this crib set, you will get directions for how to make the baby quilt, the bumper bad, and the fitted sheet.  Cool, huh!  Plus, see that turquoise penguin under the quilt?  She gives directions for how to make it as well.

Martingale - Sew a Modern Home (Print version + eBook bundle)

You can’t see it in the picture below, but Melissa has directions on how to make the napkins with a pocket to hold the eating utensils.  The napkin’s have a triangle (flying geese) on them to match the placemats and table runner.

Martingale - Sew a Modern Home (Print version + eBook bundle)

If you would like to see more about this book you can go to Martingale’s website here.



Remarkable Rectangles

Remarkable Rectangles – Deceptively Simple Strip-Pieced Quilts by Robert DeCarli is a book you will want to have in your quilting library.   This book gives you the look of a woven coverlet in quilt tops.  The trick is in how you set up sets of fabric strips.  You will marvel at the variety of designs in the 15 quilt patterns in this book, all made with strips of rectangles and squares.

Martingale - Remarkable Rectangles (Print version + eBook bundle)

What I found interesting were the quilts that had an ethnic look to them such as this one, which looks like it could be Native American.  Coincidentally, its name is “Indian Beadwork.”

Martingale - Remarkable Rectangles (Print version + eBook bundle)

Or, this one, which looks Asian to me, called “Chinese Screen.”

Martingale - Remarkable Rectangles (Print version + eBook bundle)

And, then there’s “Kathy’s Star,” probably my favorite (I have a star fetish, didn’t you know?).

Martingale - Remarkable Rectangles (Print version + eBook bundle)

“Robin’s Butterfly” really does look like a butterfly, doesn’t it?  And, it’s an interesting design, I think.

Martingale - Remarkable Rectangles (Print version + eBook bundle)

All of the patterns come with clearly written, specific instructions and color diagrams for cutting and piecing together.

Martingale - Remarkable Rectangles (Print version + eBook bundle)

Many thanks to Martingale and their photographer, Brent Kane, for providing the book and the pictures you see above.  You can find more about this book at Martingale’s website here.


Hawkeye is from Iowa?

Remember Hawkeye from the TV show M.A.S.H.?  Wasn’t he from Iowa?  You know the little guy who liked Nehi soda?

*Editor’s Note: A couple of hours after I published this, I realized it was Radar who was from Iowa and who also liked Nehi.  Hawkeye was the character played by Alan Alda (his eyes kind of do look like hawk eyes, don’t they?).  I must have been channeling your thoughts when I realized I was wrong, so I apologize.  This is a good example of why we should question what we read.

Little did I know when I watched that show that the University of Iowa’s mascot is (a) Hawkeye.  My friend, Elaine, made this T-shirt quilt for her son.  Isn’t it cool?

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You know what is even more cool?  This!


I can see you now with that confused look on your face.  Well, this is the backing fabric.  It is obvious which way is up on the quilt top, but on the back, one could easily overlook the direction of the mascots’ faces and just throw the quilt backing on the frame without another thought until… you’ve completed the quilting and took the quilt off the frame.  By that point, the quilting and the damage is done.  You either live with it or pick out all the stitching.  So, I can’t tell you how grateful I was to Elaine for putting this tape on the top side of the backing fabric.  I wanted to hug her for doing this!  But, she lives a couple of states away, so I didn’t.  But, if you are reading this, Elaine, THANK YOU!!!

All Elaine asked for on this quilt was simple meandering all over and curvy, back-and-forth lines in the sashings.  I was surprised how relaxing the mindless meandering was to quilt; nothing to worry about with making sure it was going to work.  Because it did!  It matches the backing fabric and goes very well with the fabrics on the top.


I asked her to tell me a bit about her son, so I could make this more personal for him, and she said he likes sports, specifically basketball and football.  I quilted a basketball in the quilt in the picture above and a football in the picture below, but they are really hard to see.


So, since that gray T-shirt seemed to “need” something besides meandering quilted there, I decided to put a basketball and a football in that block.  When I took the quilt off the frame, that basketball didn’t look right.  Then I looked at a picture of a basketball and realized it needed a line down the middle, otherwise it looks like a baseball.  So, back on the frame it went and down the middle that line was stitched.

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No matter how simple or how difficult a quilt is to quilt, I love them all.  And, I have to admit, I had a lot of fun quilting this T-shirt quilt.  Elaine does such a nice job of piecing; that makes my job a lot easier!




Diamonds & Roses

My client, Nancy, likes to give her quilts to me and let me quilt whatever I want on them.  Personally, I get nervous about putting whatever I want on another person’s quilt, because you never know how she or he will react of if she or he will even like it.  But, she’s a trooper and a sweetheart for liking what I have done so far.  Her latest quilt was made with diamond blocks. It’s quite striking, don’t you think?


But how on earth would you quilt it?  I decided that since diamonds are a girl’s best friend, roses must be the next best thing.  So, why not quilt some roses inside those diamonds?


In the border I quilted roses and leaves.


Here is the backside, where you can see the quilting better.


A lot of people would have just quilted an allover edge 2 edge design on this, but for some reason I thought those white diamonds in the middle really needed something. How about you?  What would you have done and how would you have quilted this quilt with diamonds?

Permission to Play

Recently I finished a quilt for Joan called “Dog Park.”  The pattern and kit is through McKenna Ryan.  If you don’t know who McKenna Ryan is, go here to look at her work.  The details in her patterns are phenomenal, and this quilt in particular gave me a new respect for Joan.  I knew she had to have put hours and hours of work into this quilt top with all the tiny pieces she had to applique… the patience of a saint!  Wait til you see the details!

Here is a picture of the quilt after I finished quilting it.  Joan said I could do whatever I wanted with her quilt.  She only wanted the names of her 2 dogs who have passed on in the quilt somewhere. 


I decided to quilt a Rainbow Bridge and put her dogs’ names there. 


Can you also see the little squirrel I stitched on the tree branch (peeking out from behind the leaves)?


Here’s a close-up of the squirrel.  See its tail between the leaves on the branch?


At the base of the tree are the 2 dogs – I decided to have one barking and the other howling.


Over on the merry-go-round is where I decided to put some dog bones.  You can barely see them in this photo.  One is under the big dog in front and another, partially-chewed, bone is under the tongue of the little dog. 


With this quilt, I had to figure out how to hold the quilt layers together with stitching in a creative way.  In this next picture, you can see how I tacked it down with “grass.”


For the skies, I mostly stitched in clouds, but this block needed something different.  So, I used a light gray thread to stitch in the shadows of the cascading branches and leaves.


The big dog in the main block created a special challenge, because, like quilts with people’s faces, I didn’t want to stitch on the dog’s face.  But, I needed to tack it down somehow, comparable to the amount I stitched elsewhere in the quilt.  Otherwise, it would poof up and look distorted.  I should have, and wish, I had asked Joan if she knew what kinds of dog this was.  I don’t know why I didn’t think to ask her.  I should have guess that it was a Great Dane, due to the shadowing on its lower legs.  It would have made a difference in how “smoothly” I stitched the fur onto this dog.  Mistakes and regrets are always an opportunity for learning, so I will try to do better next time at asking my customers more questions and not assuming too much on my own.  And, no, the dog’s head is not bashed in.  Joan, smartly, waited until after the quilting to add the embellishments.  She added a 3-D ear to this dog, which you will see in the photos following. 

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As for the border, I simply quilted dog paws around the edges.


Here is a shot of the dachshund in the lower border.  Notice how Joan added a “loose leash” on the dog?  Too cute!  I had to put some kind of mischief in there as a reason the dog had gotten loose, so I stitched a small circle as a ball for the dog to run after.


Here’s another shot of the center of the quilt after Joan added the 3-D embellishments.


And, a shot of the completed quilt…


Finally, I got a picture of a customer holding her finished quilt!  Meet Joan, the proud owner of this awesome quilt!


Zipper Leaders

Cowtown Quilts:

An update to the original post, which is included at the bottom of this post…

For those of you who like using zipper leaders, I have found a couple more shortcuts.   Awhile back, when I was getting ready to baste the quilt backing onto the zippers, I had my 1/4″ quilting foot on my machine.  Instead of swapping out the foot, the lazy side of me decided to leave the 1/4″ foot on and try to baste the zippers on with that.  Guess what?  It worked!


Another discovery has to do with backing that is not cut square.  It’s more important, for me, to have the backing square than the quilt top.  I can fix the quilt top so that it ends up square with the quilting.  But, if you don’t have a square quilt back, then your quilt will never be square when it’s finished.  Whatever side you attach to the zippers needs to be straight, so if the customer does not have a preference of which way the quilt is loaded (which is usually the case), then he/she will not know which 2 sides need to be straight.  I could charge my customers for cutting the fabric for them to make the quilt backing straight and square, but I don’t feel comfortable cutting their fabric.  You never know what they want to do with it.  Besides, unless a customer has watched you step-by-step in the preparation process, he/she won’t understand how important this is.  So, this is what I’ve done with quilt backings that are not straight.


I fold the fabric back and just stitch over it.  This is especially an issue with pieced backings.  Here’s another shot after I unzipped the other side of the zipper.  See how the backing is pieced and the edges don’t match?


But, what about when you want to sew the other side of fabric to the other side of the zipper and it doesn’t match up?  Before you unzip the zipper to attach the other side of the fabric, make sure you line up the 2 sides of the backing fabric.  If they don’t match, mark the side that extends with a pin and pin it onto the other side of the fabric.


I only suggest you try this if you do not have too much fabric to fold back.   When I attach the quilt top to the quilt sandwich on my frame, I make sure I am about 4 inches (at a bare, bare minimum 2 inches) from the edge of the zipper.  The reason I do this is because I have found that when attaching the backing to the zipper, the fabric stretches a bit.  This is a problem no matter what.  When I was pinning the backing fabric to the canvas on the quilting machine frame’s rollers, the backing fabric would stretch then as well.  Sometimes it was worse than when I baste it with a zipper leader.  I know a lot about fabric, but I haven’t figured that one out yet.  In the picture below, you can see how the zippers kind of “wave” with the stretch of the fabric.  It’s not bad, but to be careful, I accommodate for that, which is the reason the above fabric folding technique can work for me.


One more thing… Sue Schmieden, the creator of the zipper leaders I use ( suggests color coding your zippers.  I don’t have a picture to show you, because I haven’t tried it yet, but when I am ready to replace the zippers I have on my canvas, I will definitely try this!  For color coding, Sue suggests that you use a different color fabric for each side of the zippers.  So, for the belly bar or bottom of the backing, you would attach the backing zipper that would go on the canvas onto a piece of colored fabric (let’s say “red”) and then sew the “red” fabric with the zipper to the canvas on the belly bar.  I’ve gotta tell ya, this sounds so much easier than trying to sew the zipper onto the canvas. Then, for the other side of the zipper that would be zipped go with the belly bar zipper, you would attach red fabric to that part of the zipper also.  That way you know that the bottom edge of the backing fabric which is attached to the belly bar will always be red.

You would repeat this process with a different color for the other 2 rollers with canvas.  Let’s say “blue” for the take up roller (the roller bar with the canvas that rolls up the top edge of where you are working if you are facing the front of the machine) and its set of zippers.   And, then use another color (let’s say “white”) for the quilt top roller.  I hope it all makes sense, but it would only make sense to another longarmer, I think.



Originally posted on Cowtown Quilts:

Warning!  For those of us who are longarm quilters or who want to be longarm quilters, read on… otherwise, this will bore you.

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