Tips for Blocking a Quilt

Do you want your quilt to hang straight when you finish?  Do you have an upcoming quilt show and your quilt is just a tad wonky?  Well, this blog is for YOU!

I use these steps EVERYTIME I make a quilt.

FIRST… I ALWAYS place the lengthwise grain of my backing fabric going from the TOP OF THE QUILT TO THE BOTTOM.  Remember the lessons I taught on how important the grain line is to the piecing?  Well, it is equally important to the BACK of the quilt.  (It might be a little late for the quilt already finished, but try the rest of the blocking tips below to see if you can work out any wonkiness.)

The lengthwise grain has NO STRETCH!

The lengthwise grain has NO STRETCH!

If you have ever made curtains, you KNOW that the lengthwise grain needs to running  from the top to the bottom or your curtains won’t look straight.  The same principle applies to the backing.

Next, I do WASH my quilts when I finish quilting.  I use the gentle cycle and quilt soap.  (Exactly like I wash my fabrics before piecing.)  I place the quilt in the dryer just for 5 minutes to fluff out the wrinkles.

Now I lay the quilt on a carpeted floor under a ceiling fan.

The quilt be wet and pliable.

The quilt will be damp and pliable.

This is the best time to pull out the corners and pin if necessary.  Use a square to make sure the quilt is drying square.  If the quilt is really out of shape, you can spritz the quilt with spray starch to add a little sizing to it while it is still wet.

Square up all the corners and pin if necessary.

Square up all the corners and pin if necessary.

After the quilt dries, it will be perfectly square and ready to hang.

"Poke Berry Baskets"

“Poke Berry Baskets”

May ALL your quilts hang straight!  :)

Happy Stitching!

New Stamp!

You asked for it and here it is!  The 3/4″ Hexagon Connector is NOW AVAILABLE.

3/4" Hexagon Connector

3/4″ Hexagon Connector

This stamp is used with the 3/4″ Hexagon.  Just finish your hexagon flowers any size (here I did 2 rounds, but you can expand your flowers to 3 or 4 rounds) and then connect with this stamp.

3/4" Hexagon Stamp

3/4″ Hexagon Connector Stamp

Stamp your diamonds and then cut any triangles you need on the stamped line.  Both shapes are included on one stamp.  (Instructions are included.)

The 3/4″ Hexagon is NOT included.  You will need to purchase the stamps separately.

You will need both stamps for this option.

You will need both stamps for this option.

Remember…  There is free domestic shipping on any order over $100.00.

Happy Stamping!


Autmn in the Smokies

Every year I anticipate the coming of fall in the Smoky mountains.  Nature is glorious!  The Cherokee Indians used to say, “Shaconage”, which means, “Blue, Like Smoke”.  Some friends were visiting this week and we were able to drive up the parkway to see some of fall foliage.  It isn’t peak, yet, but you can see it won’t be long.

It certainly looks "Blue, Like Smoke".

It certainly looks “Blue, Like Smoke”.

Some of the trees had turned a brilliant red.

Hiding among the green.

Hiding among the green.

Of course, at home, my own garden is just finishing up it’s beautiful color.

The very last of the watermelon crepe myrtle.

The very last of the watermelon crepe myrtle.

And I love walking the little paths around the house and discovering…

Red Sedum

Red Sedum

Along the pathway, here is my view…

The "sedum" trail.

The “sedum” trail.

Along the other side of the house, I have a beautiful purple sedum.

Purple Sedum just coming into bloom.

Purple Sedum just coming into bloom.

I got out my fall decorations of course, so I need to wish you all a “Happy Fall.”

Sit awhile and enjoy the view.

Sit awhile and enjoy the view.

Winter is coming, and Thanksgiving around the corner so we need to give thanks for all the blessings we have enjoyed all year.

Come on in...

Come on in…

Enjoy the beauty around you this week.

Happy Stitching!

Prepping for my next project!

Hi Everyone!  Even though it has been an Indian summer, I see fall colors right around the corner!  I’ve already taken out my fall quilts and am ready to sit and sew.  Last week’s trip to Canada with my knitting friends was wonderful, but now that I’m home my fingers are itching to get working on a new project.

The first thing I do is WASH my fabrics.  I do wash all my fabrics to remove the excess sizing, making them easier to hand piece and hand quilt.

Use the GENTLE cycle.

Use the GENTLE cycle.

I don’t use any harsh detergents.  If I have quilt washing soap, I use it.  I’ve also used Eucalan, a washing soap for wool and my hand knit garments.  I do use warm water and rinse with cold on my delicate cycle of my washing machine.

Next I put the fabrics into the dryer just for a few minutes to let out some of the wrinkles.  (Caution, DON’T LEAVE THEM IN AND WALK AWAY!  Your fabrics will be a wrinkled mess.  Ask me how I know that!)

Take them out and hang dry.

Remember these drying racks?

Remember these drying racks?

If you have access to an outdoor line, even better.  I TRY to not let the fabrics dry completely, so I can press them while they are still damp.  (You can see I hang several fat quarters right on top of each other, no need for a separate bar for each fabric.)

Now to press…

Love my Rowenta steam generator iron!

Love my Rowenta steam generator iron!

I press all my fabrics and fold them up to put into a basket until I’m ready to start stamping.

Okay, my fabric is ready, what shall I stamp today?  :)



Pressing the Mystery Blocks

Those of you working on the mystery quilt have been asking about pressing the blocks you just put together.  As a rule, I usually wait until I have the entire block completed before pressing.  That way, most of the edges of the block are on the lengthwise grain or crosswise grain.  The grain lines will hopefully keep the block from stretching.

Here is the back of my mystery block after pressing.

Back side of one of the mystery blocks.

Back side of one of the mystery blocks.

Can you see I just pressed the seams where they logically wanted to go?  Kind of around in a circle.  Don’t be obsessive.  If one seam wants to go in another direction, let it!  :)  AND NO SQUARING IT UP, PLEASE!  I know my block doesn’t seem square, but I’ll press it better after it is contained in the quilt with borders.

After I’ve pressed on the back side, I flip the block over to the front and give it a final press making sure I don’t have any creases.

Next question of course is “Do you use steam?”  I have a steam generator iron  I love and use steam for the final press.  BUT… YOU NEED TO BE CAREFUL!  I press, not iron the block.  (The difference between pressing and ironing:  Pressing is just placing the iron down on the surface and gently rolling it over the block.  Ironing is placing the iron down and forcing the block forward as you move the iron.)

Here is the front side of the completed blocks after pressing:

Front side of the mystery blocks.

Front side of the mystery blocks.

Now, only one more clue in November to put the blocks together and quilt them.  The big ta da!  My quilt is quilted and hanging in my living room right now.  It is one of my very favorites.  I hope your quilt will be one of your favorites, too!

Happy Stitching!

PS  I’ll be traveling to Canada next week so I won’t be able to send out orders as quickly as I normally do.  Please be patient and I’ll mail them out as soon as possible.

NEW Stamp Set.. Sugar Loaf!!!

I’m so excited to bring the “Sugar Loaf” set of stamps to you.  I’ve been working on developing some new patterns with stamps.  When my friend, Jo Morton sent me this design as a possible stamp set that I had been thinking about, it was a GO!  I finished the sample in record time and I plan on adding more to this quilt to make a lap throw.

Sugar Loaf is a very graphic pattern.

Sugar Loaf is a very graphic pattern.

The finished “peaks” measure 8″ wide x 7″ tall, so the piecing goes really fast!  Can you see this done in red and green for Christmas?  How about scrappy “peaks” on an indigo blue background?

The set contains 2 stamps, a 60° diamond and an equilateral triangle.  They measure 1 1/2″ per side.

The stamps come with the darling "Sugar Loaf" pattern.

The stamps come with the darling “Sugar Loaf” pattern.

Know what else?  You can make “baby blocks” with the diamond!  You can make “thousand pyramids” with the triangle.  You can also use them both to make a charm quilt.   (I’m working on that design and another one made with the stamps!)

Yes, this set will keep me busy for awhile.  How about you?

If you’d like one for you collection, you can find the stamp here!

Happy Stitching!


45° Diamonds

I sometimes get questions how can my stamps be used in different quilt patterns.  You know I love to use my stamps over and over in different patterns so you can get a lot of use out of each set.  The most confusion is over diamond shapes.

Do you remember your 9th grade geometry class?  (Beside the cute boy sitting beside you.)  I do remember drafting different shapes, especially diamonds and triangles.

There are 2 basic diamonds used in quilting.  The first is the familiar 45°, which I will blog about today.  This shape is used in 8 pointed star designs. (45° x 8 = 360°)  You need EIGHT of these to make a flat block.

I have 2 stamp sets that contain the familiar 45° diamond.

The first is the carpenter’s star stamp set.  The stamps in this set will make a 4 3/4″ finished size 8 pointed star block.  (Or 9 1/2″ if you put 4 of them together as shown in the pattern.)

Carpenter's Star set of stamps will make a  4 3/4"  8 pointed star.

Carpenter’s Star set of stamps will make a
4 3/4″ finished size 8 pointed star.

You can use this stamp set to make the pattern contained with the stamps:

Carpenter's Star Quilt

Carpenter’s Star Quilt made with the Carpenter’s Star set of stamps.

You can use the SAME stamp set to make this pattern, “Wild Mountain Vine”.

Wild Mountain Vine pattern made with the Carpenter's star set of stamps.

Wild Mountain Vine pattern made with the Carpenter’s star set of stamps.

Using just the 45° diamond piece in the Carpenter’s Star set of stamps, you can make this pattern, “Lone Star Blossoms”.

"Lone Star Blossoms" pattern was made using the carpenter's star stamp set diamond and the sunflower stamp set.

“Lone Star Blossoms” pattern was made using the carpenter’s star stamp set diamond and the sunflower stamp set.

You can also use the Carpenter’s Star set of stamps to make the free pattern on my website for the “Tumbling Stars.”  (Hint: The quilt in the foreground will be available soon as a free pattern, too.  Made again with the Carpenter’s Star stamp set.)

"Tumbling Stars" free pattern available on the website was made with the carpenter's star stamp set.

“Tumbling Stars” free pattern available on the website was made with the carpenter’s star stamp set.

I recently made a smaller set of stamps called the “Lemoyne Star” stamp set.  This set of stamps finish to a 3″ block.  (The same shapes, but smaller!)

The Lemoyne Star stamp set will finish to a 3" square.

The Lemoyne Star stamp set will finish to a 3″ square.

Here is a picture of the blocks set on point using the Large Triangle to set the blocks.

The 3" Lemoyne Star was made with the new 3" Lemoyne Star stamp set.

The 3″ Lemoyne Star was made with the new 3″ Lemoyne Star stamp set.

By using the diamond and triangle in the Lemoyne Star Stamp set, you can also make the “Circling Swallows” pattern.

 By using the pieces in the Lemoyne Star set you will get a 6 3/4" finished size block.

By using the pieces in the Lemoyne Star set you will get a 6 3/4″ finished size block.

This pattern is free on my website, too!  (And YES, you can make this pattern with the Carpenter’s Star set of stamps.  I haven’t made it myself, so I’m not sure what the pieces around it will measure.)

All of these quilts feature the 45° diamond.  So, hopefully, you will find new uses for your sets of stamps.  So dust them off and start stamping!

Happy Stitching!




Bad News…Good News

One of the unhappiest moments in a small business is when prices go up and I have to tell my customers.  I try very hard to keep my prices down even when all of the supplies used to make my rubber stamps keep going up!  I absorb as much of the cost as is feasible, but wood prices are going up again.

As you can imagine, the larger the wood, the larger the increase…



And with lots of larger pieces, such as the Mariner’s Compass, it is a hard decision to make…

Mariner's Compass

Mariner’s Compass

So, reluctantly, I’ll be raising the prices on these 2 sets on October 1st.  If you have been thinking about ordering these 2 sets, now is the time to purchase them.

BUT, the good news is that these are the ONLY sets that will be raised.  I’m holding the line on the other stamps even though their prices have been raised slightly.

My stamps are made locally in the United States with real wood, not wood product.

I’m working on several new shapes and designs, too.  They will be coming out later this year and into next year.  I’ve been designing so many it is hard to keep up!

I hope you make time this weekend to hand piece!

Happy Stitching!




Updated Studio Tour

My sister, Doreen, commented last week about my studio at our annual “sister’s week”.  She didn’t know how it was arranged when it wasn’t a flurry of card making activity.  I realized I hadn’t given everyone an updated tour of where I work on my designs.

I thought you might like to see how I’ve changed things around since your last visit.

When you first walk down to the studio from the upstairs a quilt awaits you at the bottom of the stairs.

I change out the quilts to match my mood.

I change out the quilts to match my mood.

Notice the little sign lovingly made by my grand daughter on the shelf.

I DO surround myself with my quilts.  What better wall art!  A couple of them were published many years ago.

My sewing machine is usually closed.

My sewing machine is usually closed.

My sewing machine is open because I need to sew a binding on a THE MYSTERY QUILT.  (Don’t look for it, I hid it in the other room as I took these pictures.)

My work table is full of fabric that I’ve been stamping.  It is on the opposite side of the room.  (The quilt hides my design wall which isn’t being used right now.)

I love having everything around me.

I love having everything around me.

Next, 2 comfy chairs facing the television.  One for me and one for any stitching guest.

AND...  They recline if I feel weary! :)

AND… They recline if I feel weary! :)

Of course, there is the nerve center of the room.  Where I answer your emails and take care of writing patterns…

Sometimes it is hard to resist running outside to garden, but...

Sometimes it is hard to resist running outside to garden, but…

I also have the “studio annex”.  It is a room to the left that houses my ironing center, butler sink and refrigerator.  The butler sink is ideal for rinsing a piece of fabric.

Stock cabinet from a home improvement store.

Stock cabinets from a home improvement store.

Yes, those are snacks on the counter.  Quilting is hard work and I don’t want to faint from lack of nourishment!

Behind the doors I keep some supplies for my mail outs.

Aren't those plastic boxes great?

Aren’t those plastic boxes great?

The refrigerator and microwave are great for my guests.

Hope you have enjoyed your short tour of my work space.  It is time to get out those stamps and stamp up the rest of that fabric!

I hope you all have a great stitching & stamping weekend!