Another Craftsy Class Giveaway – Fresh Applique Techniques

It’s time to wrap up my giveaway series that coincided with my Abacus Quilt Along. (For those of you who quilted along – be sure to email me pics of your progress and I’ll share showcase them here on Wednesday.)

Since the quilt along was all about easy applique, I thought you may want to learn more about this fun technique. My friends at Craftsy are giving one lucky reader the online class, 20 Fresh Applique Techniques with Amanda Murphy. You may remember not too long ago I fell in love with Amanda’s book on color. As much as I love quilting books, video classes are even better!

20141110_fresh_ideas_appliqueIn this class, Amanda walks you through 4 fun applique projects that cover a total of 20 different techniques. The class is divided into 7 lessons that run about 20-30 minutes each. As a bonus, she even includes tips on free-motion quilting and trapunto.

Here’s an overview of the class agenda:

  • Lesson 1 Swirls Quilt: machine applique techniques with concave and convex turns
  • Lessons 2-3 Garden Runner: learn about fusible web and tips on using a lightbox
  • Lessons 4-5 Flower Power Pillow: work with bias tape and variety of stitches
  • Lesson 6 Hawaiian Table Topper: practice trapunto techniques and yo-yos
  • Lesson 7 Emphasis Your Applique with free motion quilting techniques

Check out her Swirl Quilt below, where she demonstrates one of my personal favorites for machine applique – the blanket stitch.

20141110_swirl_applique_amandaSwirl Quilt by Amanda Murphy

Amanda’s style is whimsical and fun, her manner is easy-going and she has a soothing voice, which is always nice to listen to!

All patterns and templates for the projects are included in the class materials and she goes over some of her favorite fusible products, stitches and threads. The Q&A section (off to the right) also has a wealth of information including suggestions for troubleshooting as you sew.

Here are details on how to win this class:


Sew and Tell – A Class with J. Michelle Watts

A few weeks ago, my traditional guild brought in guest speaker J. Michelle Watts to lecture and present a series of classes. I was fortunate enough to take a super fun day-long applique class with her.

20140601_michelle_1Quilting students watching J. Michelle Watts’ machine applique demo.

Michelle’s focus is on machine applique with a southwest theme and it was very interesting to me how many Southwest designs have a little bit of a geometric modern vibe to them.

20140601_michelle_2Some of Michelle’s beautiful class samples.

As any well prepared teacher would do, Michelle offered kits available for our class and many of the students took her up on that offer. The medallion piece was a great exercise to practice stitching angular shapes, sharp points, and tight curves.

20140601_michelle_3My friend Cory stitched her practice sample on a striking black background.

Of course, I had to go my own way and try something completely different! 🙂 I may not actually do anything with this piece, but it was fun to try out the teacher’s methods and pick up a few tips and tricks along the way.

20140601_michelle_4My version – it’s such fun to play!

No matter how much I think I know about a particular subject, I always learn something new whenever I take a class. The best tip I picked up from Michelle’s class was to use a dotted outline when tracing shapes for fusible applique. It’s much quicker than drawing the whole line!

20140601_michelle_5Drawing dotted lines rather than a full outline of the shape is much faster!

Thanks, Michelle, for a great day – and a fun class!


It’s Worldwide Quilting Day – How are You Celebrating?

It’s Worldwide Quilting Day – how are you celebrating? I hope you are enjoying the day with a bit of sewing! Or if you don’t have time to sew, maybe a little dreaming!


To mark the occasion, I was honored to contribute a quilt block that will go towards supporting St. Judes’ Children’s Research Hospital. The folks over at Chili’s restaurant chain are putting together a quilt for them in honor of this “unofficial” holiday.

christaquilts_chiliChili Pepper block by Christa Watson, 8″ x 8″ – machine applique

Last year, Chili’s reached their goal of donating $50 million for the Chili’s Care Center and the kids of St. Jude. I think that is wonderful and I am honored to be a part of a special quilt they are making.

fabricsPicking fabrics is so fun! My finished block is a reverse image of the original picture.

I made an applique Chili Pepper block from an image I had saved in my “idea folder” waiting for something to do with it! It was fun to print off the block and find solid fabrics to match.

threadsI also enjoyed rummaging through my ever-growing stash of Aurifil threads to find the right colors for machine applique. Next to designing and quilting, machine applique ranks up there as one of my favorite go-to techniques!

Be sure to visit Chili’s blog to see the rest of the quilt blocks, made by other bloggers around the country. I’m sure you’ll recognize many of their names. Now I can’t wait to see how the quilt comes together!

Modern Love Mini Quilt Along #3

This weekend I finished my Love table runner. Today I will show you how to applique and quilt it all at the same time! Scroll to the end of this post for links to the previous tutorials.

If you have followed along so far you will have a top that may look something like this:

Lover RunnerThe letters were traced and applied to the background fabric with  Steam-A-Seam 2, my favorite type of fusible web. Now it is time to applique them down.

Step 1 – Baste your Quilt

You can use safety pins, or my favorite basting tools – straight pins and pinmoors. I chose a scrap of thin cotton batting (Warm-N-Natural) because it lies very flat which is what I want.

Pin Basting

Step 2 – Choose Your Thread and Decorative Stitch and Practice First

Open Toe FootI use an open toe foot with a wide needle plate. The open toe allows me to see my work so that I can be more precise.

I prefer to use silk thread in a color matching my fabrics for the applique. It is so thin that it nearly disappears into the fabric. A lightweight cotton works well, too. If you don’t have a thread color that’s an exact match, go with a darker thread color rather than a lighter color.

I like to use a buttonhole or blanket stitch rather than a thready satin stitch because it’s much lighter on the quilt and more forgiving to stitch out.

Practice Stitches

Practice with a few decorative stitches on scrap fabric until you find one you like. You can use a regular straight stitch, too, sewn closely to the edge of your fabric pieces. You need to learn the “rhythm” of your stitch so you can anticipate where the needle will next pierce your fabric. Sew slowly and “count” how many movements it takes to complete the decorative stitch.

Step 3 – Appli-quilt Your Letters

Since you will be stitching through all the layers of your quilt, you don’t need a stabilizer. I suggest using the same thread color in the bobbin as well as the top to hide any less-than-perfect stitching or tension issues.

Stitch the Letters

Start in the middle of your letter and bring the bobbin thread up to the top. Take a few small straight stitches to lock your threads. Then switch to the decorative stitch on your machine. You may need to scoot your quilt over so the needle position lines up correctly.


Anticipate where your needle will pierce the fabric on each movement of the stitch. Turn the top slowly and smoothly as needed so as to avoid stitching outside the letters into the background. If you have the “needle down” function on your machine, use it. Always stop with your needle down before turning your quilt. Pivot when needed.

Inside Angle

When you have an inside turn, try to land your stitch right in the middle. Don’t be afraid to pivot every stitch or two when needed to completely outline the letters.

Finished Letter

When you reach the beginning, change back to a straight stitch and end with a few small locking stitches. Clip your threads close. When you get to the ‘O’ stitch the inside first.

Finish stitching all of the letters the same way.

Step 4 – Finish Quilting Your Quilt

Now you can have fun quilting the rest of your quilt however you like. I like a lot of quilting, and the background fabric can give you a chance to add a lot of texture.

Quilting Detail

I stitched in the ditch with a thin matching polyester thread, quilted paisleys in the backgrounds with high-sheen polyester in cream, added a fun heart loop motif in the border with high-sheen heavy polyester and quilted the straight brown accent lines in cotton. I use whatever thread I have that will match best!

Step 5 – Bind Your Quilt and Check off Another UFO!!

Using your favorite method, bind your quilt and finish stitching either by hand or machine. Megan from Canoe Ridge Creations has recently put up a wonderful double-fold binding tutorial here on her blog.

My table runner measures 12″ x 30″. I am pleased to add  a little more LOVE to my home!

Love Table Runner

For my fabrics I “borrowed” a few strips of BasicGrey’s Kissing Booth from a jelly roll I have set aside to begin my next quilt-along (starting in 2 weeks). I cut the letters from a fat quarter of Pearl Bracelets in watermelon. The binding and backgrounds were from my stash.

Here is the complete mini-quilt along schedule. Click the links to go to each section.

Please join my ChristasQuiltAlong flickr group to share pictures of your work-in-progress.

If you make any of the other arrangements below, or even a pillow or larger quilt, I’d LOVE to see it! Or if you are inspired to go in a different direction I’d love to see that, too. 🙂

Love Wall QuiltLove Squared
The vertical love wall banner uses the exact same directions as the table runner except that the letters are arranged vertically instead of horizontally. The love block would make a great wall-hanging, pillow, or center of a larger quilt.

Modern Love Mini Quilt Along #2

Thanks for joining me for part 2 of my Love Mini Quilt Along. Links for the supply list and the tutorial schedule are shown at the end of this post.

I am making this table runner which finishes approximately 30″ x 12″. I played around with EQ7 and fabric swatches from BasicGrey’s Kissing Booth to come up with a couple of different color options. My version is shown for the step-by-step photos and at the end.

Love Runner

Step 1 – Cutting the Fabric

  • Cut 4 roughly 4.5″ squares for your letters (red).  You will prepare them in step 2 below. Or you can fussy cut your appliques by using a big chunk of fabric instead.
  • Cut 4 – 5″ squares of background fabric (cream).
  • Cut 13 – 2″ x 5″ rectangles for sashing (red check).
  • Cut 10 – 2″ squares for sashing squares (red).
  • Cut 2 – 2.5″ x 8″ strips for side borders (pink floral).
  • Cut 2 – 2.5″ x 30″ strips for top/bottom borders (pink floral).
  • Cut 3 – 2.25″ x WOF (Width of Fabric) strips for binding.
  • Cut 1 – 14″ x 32″ piece of batting.
  • Cut 1 – 16″ x 34″ piece of fabric for backing.

Step 2 – Preparing the Love Letters

Love ReversedDownload and print of a copy of the letters L-O-V-E (click here). (Or if you’d like to be a little more creative, you can enlarge any font style you like and make your own letters.)

Flip your paper over so that your letters are backwards. Trace the backwards letters onto the paper side of your fusible web.

You may need to use a lightbox to see through the paper. Or print the letters out on transparent vellum for tracing.

Rough cut around each fusible paper letter. Then following the mfg’s instructions, adhere your fusible web to the backside of  your letter fabric. Use this phrase: rough to wrong. The rough (glue) side of the web needs to be stuck to the back (wrong) side of your fabric.

Use Fusible Web

I used Pearl Bracelets fabric for my letters and positioned them to take advantage of the printed design. Cut out the letters following their outlines. Don’t forget to cut out the center of the O! You have now made your own iron-on appliques.

Love Lettters

Step 3 – Assembling the Quilt Top

Sew your inner-quilt pieces (IQ) into 3 separate rows (sash row, block row, sash row):

Sew the Rows

You will notice I have not added the letters yet. I like to add them once the top is done so I can space them just right. Press seams open or towards the sashing fabric.

Add the Borders

Join the rows and add side borders that are trimmed to size. Then add the top and bottom borders and press towards the border fabric.

Lover Runner

Remove the backing from your cut out letters. Following the mfg’s instructions, adhere them to your block backgrounds. You can eyeball them in place, arrange them whimsically, or use a ruler to measure exact placement. It’s up to you!

Next week I will demonstrate you how to applique and quilt all at the same time. The key is to use thin thread that matches your letter fabric. I prefer silk or very thin polyester thread for this, but regular cotton thread is ok, too.

Here is the mini-quilt along schedule. Links will become active once that blog post is done.

Please join my ChristasQuiltAlong flickr group to share pictures of your work-in-progress!

For these other arrangements, just follow the modified steps below.

Love Wall QuiltLove Squared
The vertical love wall banner uses the exact same directions as the table runner except that the letters are arranged vertically instead of horizontally – watch out for directional fabrics and cut them accordingly.

To make the 18″ Love Square wall-hanging or pillow, use these cutting instructions:

  1. Cut 4 – 4.5″ squares for your letters.
  2. Cut 4 – 5″ squares of background fabric.
  3. Cut 12 – 2″ x 5″ rectangles for sashing.
  4. Cut 9 – 2″ squares for sashing squares.
  5. Cut 2 – 2.5″ x 14″ strips for side borders.
  6. Cut 2 – 2.5″ x 18.5″ strips for top/bottom borders (pink floral).
  7. Cut 2 – 2.25″ x WOF (Width of Fabric) strips for binding (for wallhanging only).
  8. Cut 1 – 20″ square piece of batting.
  9. Cut 1 – 22″ square piece of fabric for backing (use muslin or scrap for pillow).

Then sew together so that it looks like the diagram above.

Modern Love Mini Quilt Along #1

I have decided to create a mini quilt-along to express how I feel about quilting – pure love! Just in time for Valentine’s Day, I am going to make this table runner using machine applique techniques. You can follow along with me according to the schedule below:

Love Runner

Supply List for Love Quilt Runner, Finished Size Approximately 31″ x 12″

  • 1 Fat Quarter Cream Background
  • 1 Fat Quarter Red for Letters
  • 1 Fat Quarter Red for Small Sashing Squares
  • 1 Fat Quarter Pink/Red Check for Sashing
  • 1/3 Yard Pink for Outer Border (or 1 FQ if you don’t mind a pieced border)
  • 1 Fat Quarter Red for Binding
  • 1/2 Yard Fabric for Backing
  • 18″ x 36″ Piece of Batting
  • 1 Sheet of Fusible Web (at least 8 1/2″ x 11″)
  • Thread to match your applique letters fabric
  • Matching thread for machine quilting (cotton or polyester)
  • New Sewing Machine Needle

Although I will be using different fabrics than those shown above, I will use the same color-scheme of red and pink. You can do this in whatever colors you like!

And just to give you more options, I have made a couple other arrangements:

Love Wall QuiltLove Squared
Although I will be making just the table runner, the fabric requirements above will be enough to make any of the layouts shown here.

The Love square would also make a cute pillow.

Please join my ChristasQuiltAlong flickr group to share pictures of your work-in-progress!