Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Welcome AccuQuilt Readers!

I'm proud to tell you that I am the Spotlight Blogger today on AccuQuilt's consumer newsletter.  YEA!  I'm not making this up to be nice to AccuQuilt..... but I really enjoy my relationship with them.  They have a strong commitment to customer service.... plus they're just plain nice folks.  As a retailer, I work with dozens of vendors, and the people at AccuQuilt are among the best.

Those of you who are long time readers of this blog have seen my Double Wedding Ring quilt.  I never could have done it without my GO!  Well.... I COULD have...... but it would have taken me eons!

Check out the AccuQuilt post..... and be sure to sign up for their consumer newsletter to receive spotlight posts from other bloggers!

Below is the post from AccuQuilt on 4/25/12

Happily Ever After

by Sue Hauser, Alderwood Quilts

My name is Sue Hauser and I have the best job in the world! I am the owner of Alderwood Quilts, an online quilt shop. I blog, teach and sell lots of great products online. I’m proud to be associated with AccuQuilt because I honestly believe their die cutting systems help quilters, and because I know that customer service is as important to them as it is to me. Read more about blogger.
When our son told us that he was getting married, I knew that I just had to make a Double Wedding Ring quilt. I started right away using plastic templates to cut the pieces. I soon realized that I would have several grandchildren before I would get the quilt finished! So I tried other approaches—paper piecing (which I love to do), foundation fabrics, as well as other templates. While all of these other approaches were fine, I was feeling very overwhelmed with this project. I then saw that AccuQuilt had a GO! Double Wedding Ring die set and thought I’d give that a try. WOW! I knew right away that THIS was how I was going to cut my quilt!
The GO!® Double Wedding Ring die set (55078) gives quilters a few different options when designing their quilts. The large shape colored in pink is the center of the block. The “football shape” (blue) is sandwiched with 2 arcs. These arc units are then nestled into each side of the center shape. You have the option of making the outer arc from one solid shape (colored orange here), or by piecing the small shapes (pink) or by using a combination of solid and pieced arcs. There are so many possibilities!
Before purchasing fabric for your quilt, you’ll need to do some planning. Decide how big you would like your finished quilt to be, and what sort of color pallet you would like to use. One finished block is 11 1/2" each direction. The last block in the row (or first block, depending on how you look at it) will need one additional arc/football unit to complete the row. This is about another 6". We’ll refer to the football shape surrounded by two arc shapes as the “arc units” here. Take your desired measurement and see how many times you can divide 11.5 (plus 6" for the extra arc unit) into that number. It might not give you your desired measurement exactly, but decide how many blocks you want to make to get as close as you can.
Each additional row will share the arc units of the previous row on one side. (If you just multiply the number of blocks you want to make by four—that will give you too many arc units). When you have calculated how many centers, and how many arc units you will need, you are ready to calculate the total number of shapes you need. You will need one center shape for each block. For each arc unit, you will need one “football” shape, two square end pieces, six of the small center shapes, and four of the small angled shapes. The directions that come with the die set assign letters to the shapes and give you some very clear diagrams to see how they all fit together.
The amount of each fabric you will need depends on how you decide to arrange your colors. Figure how many of each piece you will need of each of your fabrics. To conserve fabric, you will rough-cut pieces that are a little larger than the shapes you want to cut. You can do this easily by cutting strips of fabric just a little wider than the shape. You can “accordion fold” the strip to give you six layers of fabric. After a few cuts, you’ll get into a rhythm and the cutting will go fairly quickly. I was able to cut the shapes for a king size quilt (105" x 105" - 64 blocks) in about a week, working a few hours each day. And that includes pre-washing and pressing fabrics. I never could have done that without the GO!
The AccuQuilt GO! ® Fabric Cutter will cut your shapes with great precision. It’s very important to sew accurate 1/4" seams when assembling the pieces. When I was assembling the shapes, I used a few tricks to check myself along the way. I cut one solid arc shape. After assembling the small shapes to make an arc, I checked the pieced arc against the solid arcs to make sure my piecing was accurate.
It’s important to stay organized when piecing the arcs. If you make piles and use labels, you’ll save yourself time and frustration. Chain-piecing helps, too!
When you start assembling the units, take your time. Really pay attention to your accuracy. It helped me to take a few stitches in place, leave my needle down, lift my presser foot, and pivot the fabric when I came to the points. Press often, and do your best to press seams in opposing directions to reduce bulk on the back. If your fabric feels a little limp after pre-washing, it may help your accuracy to use spray starch or pressing spray.
When it’s time to bind your quilt, use a tape measure to measure around the perimeter and add several inches to that number to determine the length of binding needed. It’s critical that you use bias binding for this quilt. I also found that it helped to use a binding that was a little thinner than I generally use. Take your time and maintain your accurate 1/4" seam when applying the binding, paying close attention to your accuracy when you reach the point where the arcs meet. It helped me to take a few stitches in place when I arrived at that point and pivot the fabric. In a few cases, I actually took my needle out and adjusted the fabric before resuming my stitching.

I’m thrilled with my finished quilt and I’m sure my son and his wife will treasure it and hand it down to the next generation. I’m so thankful that I had my GO! to cut the shapes. The accuracy I was able to achieve using the GO! helped me to create a king size quilt that hangs flat as a pancake!

My quilt won the first place Viewers’ Choice Award at our guild quilt show, and it will be shown in the International Quilt Festival of Ireland in the summer of 2012. The picture above was taken at that Westside Quilters Guild show in Hillsboro, Oregon in 2011. I’m on the left and my long-arm quilter, Sandy Pennington, is on the right.
I’m going to make another Double Wedding Ring quilt soon for my other son and his wife. I’ll be blogging about it in detail at
Watch Video:
How to use the GO!® Fabric Cutter
to cut the Double Wedding Ring Die Set
Watch Video:
How to use the Studio™ Fabric Cutter
to cut the Double Wedding Ring Die Set

About Blogger:
Sue Hauser has been sewing since she was 12 years old and has been an avid quilter for the last 15 years. She is the owner of Alderwood Quilts, an online quilt shop based just outside of Portland, Oregon. She and her husband also own a small lavender farm. When she’s not sewing, you’re likely to find her in her lavender field tending the fragrant crop.

Tile Tango Baby Quilt

I had fun last weekend with a baby quilt for my niece and her husband, who are first time expectant parents.  This was such a fun quilt to work on, and it has an even better story.  Thad and Charlene (the expectant parents) married a few years ago.  While attending a reception in their honor, I met Thad's mother, Jane.  Jane contacted me a few months ago with this "opportunity".

 The story starts 36 years ago when Jane was pregnant with Thad.  Her friends gave her a baby shower and each woman who attended the shower made a quilt block.  They gave Jane the blocks at the shower.  (Make a note.... Don't give a pregnant new mother who is not a quilter a pile of blocks... make the quilt for her!).  Jane has kept the blocks for all these years.  She cherished them, but always felt badly that she hadn't made anything with them.  I'm so glad that she called me!

I love a good challenge (good thing!).  These blocks were all different sizes and there were 13 of them! Some are painted, some are embroidered, some appliqued.

We don't know the gender of the baby, so I used 30's prints in many different colors, a white background, and yellow border fabric.


I showed Jane several patterns, and she liked the Tile Tango pattern from Atkinson Designs. (On sale through the end of April, 2012).

The cool thing about this pattern is that I could use it to set 13 blocks.  If you count the tiles, the first 5 rows have 13 "framed" 9-patch blocks.  This also makes a good size for a baby quilt.

I also thought this would be a good pattern to modify slightly to accommodate slightly different sizes of blocks.

 The pattern calls for framing 9-patch blocks and setting them with solid background blocks.  But I framed the focus blocks and set them with 9-patch blocks in between the frames.

To make the 9-patches, the pattern takes you through the process of sewing strips together, sub-cutting them, and then using those pieces to make the blocks.

So far so good.... now on to the fun part!

I arranged, and re-arranged, and  re-re-re-re-rearranged the blocks until I was happy with them.  I had some friends with me and one of them (thanks, Jean!) pointed out that each of the things in the blocks (animals, trains, people, etc) should be facing in toward the center.  We also balanced color and size of designs as we played with the placement and frame colors.  It was very helpful to do this with a room full of friends!.

For some of the smaller blocks, I made the frames larger, and for some, I added to the white background.  One of the reasons that I used the 9-patch blocks is that they distracted the viewer a bit so that the different sizes of frames and focus blocks weren't as obvious.

The focus blocks were on very thin fabric- I think they are probably poly-cotton that was so popular in the 70's.

I backed them with a piece of the white background fabric so that they would be more stable and so that you could not see through them, which would have shown the seams.

Once I had the focus blocks framed, and the 9-patches made, this quilt went together in a flash.

My original plan was to give the quilt 2 borders- a smaller white inner border and a larger yellow outer border.  But I never make that final decision until I have the center of the quilt finished.  Then I lay out the border fabrics and "audition" them. When I did that, I decided to leave out the white inner border.  I thought it looked best with the the yellow from the 9-patches blending into the border.  This created the illusion of the blocks "floating" over the background.

Such a fun project!  Now to quilt it and send it off to Jane so she can present it to her new grandchild (and his or her parents, of course).  I hope that some of the women who made these blocks see the quilt and remember their gift of 36 years ago! 

I also have a funny story to tell you about Thad and Charlene's first date.  Thad had just met Char and thought it would be interesting to do a quick internet search to see if anything about her popped up.  Char is a doctor and his search did yield a few things- mostly relating to her professional life.  But I had once mentioned a quilt that her sister, Melanie, made for her.  This took him to my website.  So- by their first date, I think Thad knew as much about me as he did about Charlene!  Little did he know that I would become his Aunt (by marriage)!

Congrats to Charlene and Thad!  We're all on "high alert" waiting to hear baby news!  (Let's hope I get the quilt finished before the baby arrives.)

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Bargello Shirt Workshop

I had a wonderful day today!  The quilt guild to which I belong (Westside Quilters Guild, Hillsboro, OR) offers a wonderful selection of classes and workshops throughout the year.  This month, we branched out a bit and used our quilting skills to create a piece of wearable art.  Here's my creation!

 Our instructor for the day was one of our guild members, Ann Laffin (on right).

I wish I had taken some photos of the project in progress, but I didn't think of it.  I was so engrossed in my project!

We were instructed to bring a shirt or sweatshirt to class, along with strips of 5 different fabrics plus an accent fabric.  I selected a gently used shirt from my husband's closet that he never wears.  Now he's guaranteed not to wear it!  It's over-sized on me and I intend to wear it as a casual jacket.

My fabric strips are from the Winters Grace and Olde World Style collections. 

It's all in the details... I took off the little collar buttons and put them back on when the shirt was embellished.  And I'm very happy with the thin black piping on the sides.

I took the original pocket off the shirt before adding the bargello piece.  But the space that once had the original pocket was not completely covered with the bargello and it bothered me.  So I made a pocket from my scraps and placed it in the original pocket position.  It took almost as long to get this pocket right as it did to make the front panels!  I'm glad I did it, though.  I like the pocket.

Kathy made this shirt.  Really cute!  It's a little hard to see in this photo, but she used gold lame as her accent between some of the strips.  Fancy Schmancy!

This one is a sweatshirt and has a zipper added to the front.

A short-sleeved denim shirt.

Another sweatshirt with zipper.

And this is one of my favorites.  When Ann made this, she used her embroidery machine to add some flowers to the collar and front.  She also did embroidery to the back.  It's really cute.

It was a fun day, I learned a few things, I enjoyed the company of fellow quilters, and I have a COMPLETED shirt/jacket to wear.  Life is good!

Monday, April 9, 2012

More Atkinson Designs Quilts....

I asked for photos of quilts made with Atkinson Designs patterns this month for an extra chance at the giveaway. (There's still a lot of April left-- keep sending them in!)  This was sent by Andee in Arizona.  Andee blogs at

Nice Slide Show, Andee!

I thought I'd show you a few of my own quilts made from Atkinson Designs patterns.  ALL in-stock Atkinson patterns on my website are on sale this month, by the way.
The first 2 are Lucky Stars.  This in one of my favorite patterns.  It's so quick to stitch up!  The stars "float" which makes piecing a lot quicker (and more forgiving).  And Terry's patterns are so well written that it's very straight-forward.  The first was made for my DIL when she graduated from high school.  She wasn't my DIL yet at that time and it was the first quilt I made for her.  If you scroll down several posts, you'll see a pic of her with the snowman quilt I made her this past Christmas.  The second Lucky Stars was made for a charity auction a few years back.  It brought in a nice donation for the Lelooska Foundation,

This one, sadly, is no longer in print.  It's called Allegro.  I love it and it's the background quilt in my profile photo.

And this one is not an Atkinson Designs quilt.  I lifted it from my friend, Charlotte's, Facebook page.  :-)  It's her most recent finish and I thought it was really cute and just had to share it with you.  I love this pattern.  One of these days it just might make it to my sewing machine. Really cute quilt, Charlotte!

I hope everyone had a nice holiday weekend.  We've had SUCH a rainy spring, and this past weekend was sunny and warm-ish.  WHAT a gift!  It was such a spirit-lifter!  Today is beautiful here in the pacific northwest, too.  I think spring weather has FINALLY arrived here!  YEA!!!  (That means garden pictures are soon to come).

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Atkinson Designs Quilts

For this month's giveaway, I offered an extra entry if readers sent me a photo of a quilt they made from a Terry Atkinson pattern.  I thought I'd share some with you- thanks to all who sent pics!  This runs the whole month, so please send more!

Thanks to all who have entered the giveaway.  I have your entries!

Leah from South Carolina send me this picture of her Slideshow quilt.  CUTE!  I love it in the soft colors.  You can see her other great quilts on her blog, Quilted Delights.  She recently wrote a good post on paper piecing, too.

Cassie from Nebraska sent this photo in.  She calls it Madeline's 100 Good Wishes Quilt.  Cassie used the Slide Show pattern for inspiration and modified it a bit to use the fabrics she had.  You can read about it HERE on her blog.  Nice, Cassie!

Rebecca sent me this picture of a quilt she made for her daughter using the Lucky Stars pattern.  I've made three quilts from this pattern myself- it's one of my favorites!  The stars "float" so the seam matching is minimal.  Rebecca's blog can be found HERE.

Jocelyn, AKA the Happy Cottage Quilter, sent me a photo of her Yellow Brick Road.  I've made a few of these, too.  YBR seems to be a "go to" pattern for a lot of quilters who want a quick, cute, functional quilt.

Julie O. sent photos of 3 Atkinson Designs quilts:
 I love how she used fabric photo transfers to replace some of the blocks in this Yellow Brick Road quilt!
 All About Me is a very popular pattern.  So FUN!
Here is Julie's Tile Tango.  Love it!
Thanks for the picks, Julie.

 Thanks, again, to all who sent pictures.  Your quilts are all treasures!   Keep them coming!  Just a reminder that I have 16 of Atkinson Designs patterns on my website and they are all on sale throughout April.