Sunday, November 26, 2017

A Quilter's Christmas Shopping List Guide

It's that time of year and often times, if someone is not a quilter, they can be in a quandary trying to figure out something their quilty friend or loved one might like. This guide will give you a list of some of the items we have featured on our Facebook page over the past year or so. The price ranges vary, there is something for every budget here!  We have made it especially easy for you by including a link to the item, just click on the highlighted text. Hint: If you are a quilter...print this out and leave it laying about so that Santa will know what you the items of most interest to make sure your Santa won't skip a beat! 

This first item is a great stocking stuffer. Very small in size but mighty in ability. The Thread Cutterz. It comes in a couple variations. The one shown above is flat on one side with adhesive already applied, you just peel and stick it to the surface of your desires, which in my case was my Vintage Featherweight as shown below. It also comes on an adjustable ring so that you might have thread cutting ability at your fingertips at all times. Great for a hand quilter or for someone who loves to stitch. It has a razor sharp blade that is secured inside the protective housing so that your fingers and those of little ones will never meet the sharp edge but your thread will glide right through and quickly be dispatched. You can purchase them directly from the producer at and I know my friend Annalee Leonard at 
Daydream Quilts has them as well! Be sure to check out her notions section online!

Second on our list of goodies are just some basic staples that every quilter should have in their box of tricks. A good 6" x 1" ruler, some clear template plastic and a fine point sharpie marker. These items can be obtained at any Little Quilt Shop (LQS), at your local Joann Fabrics, Michaels, Hobby Lobby, Walmart, Office Depot...they are pretty common actually. These items will help your quilter to make templates for fussy cutting. Particularly desirable for someone who enjoys English Paper Piecing (EPP) Very inexpensive, and toss in some washable glue sticks and small scissors, some Aurifil Thread, some Needles, a Clover needle threader, a Clover dome needle storage case, Thread Heaven thread conditioner and and you will have a dream stocking for your quilter.

Template Plastic, 1" x 6" ruler, Sharpie Fine Point Marker

Washable Glue Sticks
Small Embroidery Scissors
Aurifil Thread
John James Easy Glide Milliner Needles size 11

Clover Desktop Needle Threader
Clover Dome Needle Case,Stores up to 10 pre threaded needles.
Thread Heaven thread conditioner, prevents tangling

Since we are visiting EPP, you might want to get a Fiskars punch. They come in lots of shapes, the hexagons are particularly fun to work with. Save your Christmas cards and when the holiday is over, punch them up and you are ready to sew! These are readily available from Joann Fabrics, both in their stores and online. (use their coupons for a deep discount) They are also available online at They come in several sizes. Pair this with a pretty 2.5" packet of fabric, a washable glue stick and your quilter is ready to make some magic happen! 

Let's talk about basic tools some more. If you have a new quilter that wants to get started, there are several starter packets out there. They will need a good rotary cutter, a basic rotary ruler and a mat. 
I like this one from Fiskars. It has a 6" x 24" ruler, an 18" x 24" cutting mat and a rotary cutter. It's a good starter set for a quilter. You can find smaller rulers and smaller cutting mats but if someone is actually going to make a quilt, they will appreciate the larger mat. There are other brands out there and lots of places to purchase these items, so if you find a good deal, go for it! And remember, check for coupons, Joann Fabrics often has deep discount coupons and you can save up to 60% on these items. That link will take you directly to their current coupons. If your quilter already has a mat and cutter, extra blades are always appreciated!

Another foundational tool for a new quilter is a seam guide ruler. You can get these from Bonnie Hunter. You simply drop your sewing machine needle in the corresponding hole to check your foot and make any changes you need to obtain your 1/4" seam allowance. Perfect seams make for perfect piecing.

Bonnie Hunter Sewing Machine Seam Guide
Square up rulers are another good addition. A square up ruler lets you square up your work as you go along, making sure things are the proper size and squared up will result in a more pleasing quilt. They come in a multitude of sizes from 2.5" on up. For the average quilter I would suggest 3 sizes that are most frequently used: 2.5", 6.5" and 12.5". They come larger than that but these would be the most frequently used sizes. You can often find them in packs that will save you money if you buy multiple sizes at the same time.

Square Up Rulers

If your quilter already has the basics, you can add to their quilting enjoyment by gifting some fun rulers. Here are a few of my favorites:

A June Taylor Quarter Cut mat makes short work out of cutting stacks and stacks of fabric. You lay your strip out, and drop your rotary cutter into the appropriate slot and before you know it you have just cut several hundred squares the size you need! Stack several strips side by side and on top of each other, watch this little video demo:

Another one of my favorite rulers is the this little video below for a demo. This ruler gives your quilter so many options for creativity. 

Flying Geese have never been so easy when you are using Eleanor Burn's Flying Geese rulers. She has them in every size and she even has a pack with several in it and a fussy cutting square as well. Watch this little demo video below to see how easy and perfect your flying geese can be!

For a creative finish on a quilt, the Quick Points Rulers are a lot of fun. You can do a lot more than just finish your quilt with them. 
Choose from Prairie Points, Scallops and more. This little demo 
video will show you how. You will want to get the corresponding pusher and a Frixion Erasable pen for a complete package. The Frixion Erasable pen is wonderful, you can just iron it away when you are finished. Comes in a multitude of colors.

Quick Points Ruler
Quick Points Pusher
Frixion Erasable Pen

Pins and clips are great stocking stuffers. There are 3 types of pins that I use most. Regular glass head pins, Fine point glass head pins and Flat head pins. When you are piecing, the fine point glass head pins are really great for accurate piecing. 

Glass Head Regular Pins

Glass Head Pins Extra Fine

Flat Head Pins

Proper lighting is essential to good quilting. Ikea makes a great task lamp that is super flexible, LED and great light portable light for your work area. Under $10. it's a great buy. I have used mine for years!
Ikea Jansjo LED work lamp

Does your quilter have a featherweight sewing machine? You will want to get a thread stand. This can be used with most vintage sewing machines being placed in the oiling hole at the top of the machine. Allows you to use large spools of thread that you normally would not be able to use on a vintage machine.

Featherweight Thread Stand from Nova Montgomery

To maintain your vintage machine, it's good to have a great oiler. This one is my favorite, you can get a precise drop of oil exactly where you want it. Great for longarm machines as well! 
Precision Machine Oiler

Specialty sewing machine feet are nice to receive as well. A good Quarter Inch foot with a guide is really great! Make sure you know what type of sewing machine you are buying for. Get the make and model and if you are not still unsure, take a photo of the area where the foot attaches and take it to your local sewing machine shop, they can help you select the appropriate foot. Other notions in this realm would be extra bobbins, bobbin storage cases, sewing machine needles. All are necessary in sewing and quilting and would be much appreciated.

1/4" Quilting Foot with Guide
Would your quilter love a vintage featherweight, beautifully restored? Well, who wouldn't? Right? The folks at Twice Nice Sewing Machine Restoration have machines fully restored, painted, decals, ready to go. Or you can send in your old featherweight, they will tune it up for you and can paint it any color you wish! And they don't just do featherweights! They have a variety of machines in stock, ready to go, from traditional black to a multitude of colors. Pricing is fair and the quality is good.

Does your quilter fancy a longarm? May I suggest that you look at the new Handi Quilter Amara. It is well built here in the USA, designed by quilters for quilters. This machine is their newest longarm, it is a step up from the Avante which I have. All the same features, a 20" bed. Plenty long enough for the home quilter. Stretch your arms out in front of you, you want to be able to control your machine if you like to free motion, it is rare that you would have your arms outstretched as you would lose control. You don't need a giant longarm unless you are planning to go into the business of longarm quilting for a living. Pricing is reasonable, financing is available. 

Here is their demo video: 

That is the top end of the present giving...let's get back down to earth here and talk about fabric! Every quilter will love fabric. You can choose to give a gift card for a little quilt shop your quilter frequents. There are tons of online options.  If you want to actually pick out fabric, you may want to select precuts as they offer the most variety in a bundle and pricing. Precuts come in a range of sizes, here are a couple guides that will help you. Generally, Mini charms will be your least expensive and half yard bundles will run you the most. Fabric in these precuts will generally contain the entire line for that designer in one or more colorways, already pre-coordinated for you so there is no color matching to do on your part.

Okay, Santa's helpers...I hope this has given you just a few ideas to get you started on your gift shopping. Lots of great deals to be had out there! Be creative, bundle your goodies in a second hand thrift store basket or bowl, lined with a fat quarter of pretty fabric, tie it all up with a ribbon. Make sure to include some chocolate! Merry Christmas Everyone!!!

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Maple Sugar Table Topper Tutorial

Suitable for a beginner! You can make this easy Table Topper. Change up the fabrics and it can serve for any holiday or occasion you wish. The topper measures 18.5" x 18.5" square

For the center of this table topper, I used a piece of Kona Cotton Black which I had fun experimenting with.  Dying fabric using Tsukineko Ink which I picked up at the Pacific International Quilt Festival in Santa Clara, CA a few weeks ago. 

Below is a demo video I shot at the show which gives you an idea of the application process. You can use any focus fabric for your center, it does not have to be hand dyed. If you want to pick up these inks, you can get them at This demo was given by Thomas Teng. He and his lovely wife Joyce are the owners of TSC Designs which has been a family owned business since 1985. They are able to answer all your questions about Tsukineko Inks.

For the Maple Sugar Table Topper you will need:

1.)  A square of focus fabric for your center - cut (1) 6.5" x 6.5"

2.)  Two coordinating and contrasting fabrics cut as follows:

Gold Batik  cut (4) 3.5" x 6.5" rectangles
                    cut (1) 7.5" square
                    cut (1) 2" x 9" strip

Burnt Orange Batik cut (1) 9" square
                                 cut (4) 3.5" x 3.5" squares
                                 cut (4) 3.5" x 6.5" squares
                                 cut (1) 2 x 9" strip
                                 cut (1) 2 x 16" strip
Batting (1) measure 20 x 20 (you will trim to fit after quilting)
Backing fabric (1) measure 20 x 20 
Binding Fabric cut (2) 2" or 2.5" x WOF strips, depending on how thick a binding you wish.

I have used the 3 x 6" Quilt-In-A-Day Flying Geese Ruler to make four flying geese as illustrated below.

Place the 7.5" square on top of the 9" square, centering them with right sides facing each other. Draw a diagonal line from one corner to the other. Pin the squares together.

Stitch 1/4" on both sides of the drawn line as shown. Remove your pins and then press to set your seams, cut apart on the drawn line as shown below.

Open each half and press flat, make sure there are no tucks and that you have pressed the seam toward the large triangle. You should have two pieces that look like the photo below.

Place your pieces right sides together so that opposite fabrics touch and your seams are parallel with each other...DO NOT TRY TO MATCH YOUR SEAMS. Your pieces should look like the photo below with a "swallow tail" on each side. 

Again you will draw a diagonal line from corner to corner, pin and stitch on both sides of your drawn line as shown in the photo below.

When you have stitched on both sides of your drawn line, then you will remove your pins, press to set your seam and cut apart on the drawn line as shown below.

Now before you press these two halves open, you will make a little clip in the middle of your seam as shown below. Fold your fabric in half to find your middle and then make a little clip to the seam. I have made a wedge to show you the clip.

From the right side, press INTO one triangle. turn and press INTO the second triangle. Turn over and press on the wrong side. At the clipped seam, fabric is pressed AWAY from triangles as shown below.

Now don't freak out! You didn't sew it wrong! You should have two squares that look exactly like the photo below. And now the magic begins...

Place your ruler on your square and line up the solid teal lines with the peak of your triangle as shown below and trim away the excess.

Repeat this process for the remaining half of your square and also the the second square.  You will have four perfect flying geese!

There are lots of methods for making your flying geese, if you like another method, use want your geese to measure 3.5" x 6.5" (they will finish in the quilt at 3" x 6")

Now take your flying geese unit and matching up a 3.5" x 6.5" rectangle of your gold batik stitch them together on the long side that does not have the point of the geese as shown below. Press to the rectangle. Create four of these and set them aside.

Take your  (2) 2" x 9" of the gold batik and one of the burnt orange batik and match them together. Stitch a 1/4" seam down one side to create a strip set as shown below. I have made this larger than needed to allow you some wiggle room when cutting.

From your strip set, cut (4) pieces that measure 2" x Width of your Strip set which should be 3.5". They should look like the photo below.

Now take your 2" x 16" strip of burnt orange and placing that under your needle...lay your strip set pieces that you just cut on top of that strip, right sides together and making sure that you have the golden batik piece at the bottom closest to you, stitch them as shown below...leave yourself a little room between each piece...about 1/2 an inch should be plenty.  Press open to the long strip and then trim apart. Each little block you just constructed should measure 3.5" Square. This is a good time to square them up.

To the squares above we will be adding a 3.5" square of the burnt orange and a 3.5" x 6.5" rectangle of the burnt orange.

You will be creating (4) of these units.  First we will attach the 3.5" square to the units shown above using a 1/4" seam. As you lay them out to stitch, make sure that your gold batik square is under your needle first and place the burnt orange 3.5" square on top as shown below. 

Construct (4) of these and press the seam to the 3.5" square. Now we will add the 3.5" x 6.5" rectangle to our unit. Lay them all out as shown below so you are stitching them all the same.  Use a 1/4" seam allowance and stitch the long strip to the pieced unit as shown.

Create (4) of the units shown below.

You are ready to lay out your table topper. There are many possibilities at this point depending on which way you turn your geese unit. Below are some possibilities.

Once you have decided on your layout. Stitch your topper together in rows as shown below. Then finish by stitching your rows together. Press your top and bottom rows to the outside, away from the geese unit.  Press your center row toward your center block away from your geese units. This will let you nest your seams when you stitch them for perfect matching.

Make your quilt sandwich with batting and backing and quilt as desired. When you are finished quilting, trim your batting and backing to your topper and then bind for a finished topper.

I hope you enjoyed this little tutorial. Experiment with different fabrics and be sure to share a photo with me when you have finished your Maple Sugar Table Topper! I always love to see what you create. Happy Quilting! Special Thanks to Brittany Kay for her sweet suggestion of Maple Sugar for the name!