Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The turkey, our national symbol??

It's Thanksgiving Eve...relax while your turkey brines and learn a bit more about this tasty bird!

At one time, the turkey and the bald eagle were each considered as the national symbol of America. Benjamin Franklin was one of those who argued passionately on behalf of the turkey. Franklin felt the turkey, although "vain and silly," was a better choice than the bald eagle, whom he felt was "a coward."

The ballroom dance known as the Turkey Trot was named for the short, jerky steps a turkey makes.

Turkeys are the only breed of poultry native to the Western Hemisphere.

Read more:

The average person in the United States will eat 15 pounds of turkey this year.

A male turkey is called a tom, a female is a hen, and a youngster is a poult. Only male turkeys, or toms, can gobble, and they mostly do it in the spring and fall. It is a mating call and attracts the hens. Wild turkeys gobble at loud sounds and when they settle in for the night.

The loose red skin attached to the underside of a turkey’s beak is called a wattle. When the male turkey is excited, especially during mating season, the  wattle turns scarlet. The fleshy flap of skin that hangs over the gobbler's beak is called a snood and also turns bright red when the bird is excited.

Read more: The Old Farmer's Almanac
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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A twist on text fabric...

...from Kanvas' softer side.

Perfect for gifts given commemorating religious celebrations like baptisms, First Communions, Confirmations, and weddings, or just for creating a quilt with a deeper spiritual message, these fabrics have something to say.

Bible Study I and II features well-known verses, prayers, and religious iconography--beautiful prints with an impact.
Bible Study I and II by Maria Kalinowski for Kanvas
And a few larger looks so you can truly appreciate these prints:

State of Grace includes two different prints with Christian roots. The first is the Lord's Prayer on a cloud and sky background; the second, a verse from Ecclesiastes that was also used in the song Turn, Turn, Turn by The Byrds. 
State of Grace for Kanvas

The rainbow cloud backgrounds of Sunday School are sure to appeal to everyone--soft, pretty pastels that can be used in so many ways!
Sunday School

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Friday, November 21, 2014

Hummingbird Love

If there's one bird people are passionate about, it seems to be the hummingbird. These tiny creatures, with wings that beat about 50 times per second, almost defy imagination.

With a little imagination, Jackie Robinson used her Glorious Hummingbirds collection to create this bird lover's beauty, "Hummingbird Trail." The quilt, featured in Fons & Porter's Love of Quilting, features appliqued fussy-cut birds and Jackie's signature floral stripe border.

"Hummingbird Trail" designed by Jackie Robinson;
made by Marilyn Eider; machine quilted by Aimee Mahan

Jackie took a few minutes to talk to us about her design:

Are those fussy-cut hummingbirds and morning glories on the appliquéd blocks?
Yes. I designed that print on purpose so the birds and flowers could be fussy cut by putting space around them. The placement is varied in each block because somebody once told me I wasn't supposed to point the camera at the center. You're supposed to divide your camera view into three sections and get on one of the sidelines. So I did that with the appliqués. Plus if you're trying to hit the center and miss, it's noticeable. Don't aim for the center at all and you can't lose!

Talk about your fabric placement.
There are four fabrics used in the 6'' squares—three printed fabrics and then the cream with the applique on it. I arranged the fabric in the ninepatches so that the light nine-patch squares touching the 6'' squares are exactly the same fabric. You can do it with strip sets. The whole idea was to have the center block and the ninepatch side squares match.

And you used three different blues in the ninepatches?
I like the tonals in this line. I like a little bit of variety in the blocks, I think it's easier on the eye.

Tell us about fussy-cutting your floral stripe.
They've got the ¼'' bands/stripes that separate the two designs—those can become seam allowances or be part of the pattern—it offers a whole bundle of different cutting lines marked right on the fabric. That secondary stripe that it's in there (the blue)—sometimes I use it in the border, but we often use it as the binding (like in this quilt). It's an efficient use of fabric.

What do you like best about this quilt?
The offset appliqués on the cream blocks. I think they're interesting. They are certainly easy. You spend more time cutting them out than anything else. 

Click here to see the entire Glorious Hummingbirds collection.
Click here to order the lap-size kit for Hummingbird Trail.
Click here to learn more about Jackie, view other patterns featuring Glorious Hummingbirds, and find alternate quilt kit sizes.
Click here to find Love of Quilting.

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Eleanor Burns presents Zoey (and) Christine!

If you've spent any time quilting at all, chances are you're familiar with Eleanor Burns of Quilt in a Day fame. She's often called the first lady of quilting, and for good reason--she's been a prolific teacher and designer for more than 35 years! We are excited to share Zoey and Christine, her follow-up line(s) to Ellie Ann, here with you today on the blog,  Eleanor's story of how these fabrics came to be, and some eye-candy: quilts Eleanor made using these prints.

How did the Zoey and Christine collections get their names?
My son Orion named the entire collection after his younger daughter, Zoey Christine. Benartex decided to split the line into two because it was so big, so the purples and yellows became Zoey and the pinks and teals became Christine. When I think about the line, I think about Zoey. She's so full of life and color and she loves purple. It's a perfect line for her. My last line was named Ellie Ann, after my oldest granddaughter, who is named after me (Eleanor Ann). I think it's cool that we're naming collections after family members.

Zoey Christine

Tell us about the color palettes in Zoey and Christine.
The Ellie Ann collection featured my favorite colors—old-fashioned, soft, romantic pinks, blues, and greens. Zoey and Christine are bright, younger-looking colors. My granddaughter Zoey loves purple, and when I took her into the fabric store, she ran her fingers over the purples and said, ''pretty!" It was really fun to make the colors more happy and bright. Even just the name Zoey sounds more modern than Ellie Ann. I recently did a program on Craftsy using Zoey and Christine, and the video came out so bright, and beautiful.

How did the collection come together?
It's not how "I" do the lines, but how "we" do the lines. My sister Patty is an art major. She always gets in on it and starts with the colors. Orion moves the designs along while I'm out in the world teaching. Nearly all of my lines start with a beautiful painting with multiple colors in it. We start with a large-scale print, and then we think about different scales. We always have a stripe and a dot.

How does being a quilter help in designing fabrics?
If we don't have a variety of scales in the fabric patterns, it's too hard to make a quilt. The values have to be the light, medium and dark as well. It's gotten easier and easier to build a line, especially with Esther's help in the art department at Benartex.

Tell us about the overall patchwork print.
It's great for backings. I totally love it on the backs of my quilts. Then you have a flip quilt—you have the pieced design on the front and you can flip it over and you have a beautiful patchwork that coordinates—a second quilt on the back.

And you used Zoey and Christine to make the All Star quilt in your new book?

Yes. I called my book All Star Quilts. In the early 80s I thought about doing a feathered star but the author of the book I opened said they were hard to make, so I slammed it shut and said I'd do it when I grew up. Now I'm grown up and I decided to do it. I made two with Zoey and Christine. They're both beautiful. The book features all-star quilters Marianne Fons, Alex Anderson, Nancy Zieman, and Mark Lipinski and several different star blocks, including the center feathered star. I decided to call it a mystery quilt, bringing in one celebrity each month as I shared blocks. The audience didn't see the finished quilt until month 4, and I promised my students that if they finished their quilts in time for photography, I'd include theirs in the book. That was incentive--I had 36 students finish their quilts!

Here are some more of Eleanor's quilts made using Zoey Christine:
"Geese in the Garden"
Find it here.

"Hole in the Wall"
Find it here.
"Double Wedding Ring"
Find it here.

Click here to see the Zoey collection.
Click here to see the Christine collection.
Click here to visit Eleanor's Quilt in a Day site and find out more about her new All Star Quilts book.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Felicity: Not just a girl's name...'s also the name of what could be your new favorite fabric collection!
(...or a TV show, if you grew up in the 90s.) 

Greta Lynn's new fabric collection for Kanvas, called Felicity, is modern and cool, all rolled into one.

 Swirls and paisleys, liberal sprinkling of squares in squares, and a stippled dot. Don't forget the unique waterfall stripe, which then reappears as an eye-catching textured background for large flowers. In trendy purple or blue, this collection will be a girl's best friend!
Let's take a closer look at those large focal prints!

 Need an idea for a quilt using the Felicity fabrics?
Click here to download the free quilt pattern using the purple colorway.
"Purple Patches" designed by Heidi Pridemore
Click here to see the entire Felicity collection.
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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Made with Love - a sewer's dream collection!

Have you seen Greta Lynn's Made with Love collection for Kanvas? Since you're reading this blog, you're probably a sewer, so we can practically guarantee that you'll be tickled by these prints featuring all your favorite supplies! Patterned sewing machines, brightly colored spools, scissors, zippers, pins and buttons...the perfect whimsical prints for anyone who loves her sewing machine! Tiny daisy blenders and buttoned-themed paisleys complete the look.

Here's a better look at the stripe, which includes a little bit of everything from the line:

 And the ever-popular text print, with a few notions and stitches scattered about:

We saved our favorite for last--this print features a variety of 3" squares that you can as a great backing print or fussy-cut for projects. The black stripe along the selvedge is full of labels that you can cut out and use on projects, all ready to go!

What would you make for a friend or for your sewing room using these fun prints?

Click here to see the entire Made with Love collection.
Wendy Sheppard stitched a pillowcase using the Made with Love collection for AP&Q's 1 Million Pillowcase Challenge. You can see it here.

Here's a peek at our free quilt pattern designed using Made with Love. Stay tuned for the link to download the pdf.
"Sew Lovely" by Wendy Sheppard

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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Technique Tuesday: Knitty Sheep Does Crochet

We're here with Debby Kratovil of Debby Kratovil Quilts for Technique Tuesday! Today Debby is playing with Greta Lynn's Knitty Sheep line for Kanvas while showing how to make Hourglass blocks and offering suggestions on how to best use fussy cut sheep "stripes."

It's natural for sheep to want to knit or crochet, right?

Knitty Sheep, Knitty Sheep: can you knit with wool?
No, ma'am. No, ma'am. I never learned in school!

What! That sounds so crazy. Did you skip classes just to play?
No, ma'am, I took a class to learn how to crochet!

Whew! Now that's what I'm talking about! I can't knit and can only crochet. It's refreshing to find wool bearing sheep who know what to do with their hair!

Debby, why did you want to work with this collection?
Debby: I loved working with the Knitty Kitty collection a few months ago and made a few items for my crochet supplies (see post here). And now the fabrics are also in flannels. I can think of some cozy things to make for my little grandsons using those.

And some flannels to stay cozy and warm . . .
Knitty Sheep flannels
How long did it take for you to come up with your idea for our Technique Tuesday?
Debby: Well,  it usually only takes a day or two for the fabrics to convince me of what they want. Yes, they actually do start whispering once I rescue them from the mailing box. Then they get louder and louder until they convince me. But this time I think they were exhausted from their trip and it took over a week for them to talk to me.

And can we see what you did?
Debby: Why not? Isn't that what we're all here for?
I wanted so badly to capture the sheep in a horizontal strippy type quilt. I measured and figured that I would be able to cut 4" strips without lopping off any important sheep body parts! I allowed 1/4" from the tips of their little sheep heads.  I was given 38" (basically a yard) to work with and the strip looks like this:

4" strip, allowing for 1/4" from the tops of their heads
(Important note: the line of sheep runs parallel to the selvedge. For a longer strip you need more yardage.)

Then I dug through my files and found a tried and true pattern for an Hourglass block using my quick piecing and cutting using a 45˚ ruler (NOT a kaleidoscope ruler).

I used Judy Martin's 45 Shapemaker:

Judy Martin's 45 Shapemaker
Omnigrid side setting triangle
 I'm able to get two full blocks from two contrasting fabrics cut 2-3/4" x wof. Always press toward the "solid" reading color so the seams will nestle when units are joined together.

Two strips cut 2-3/4" x wof. Off-set them by 2-1/2" as shown
I selected 3 companion fabrics from the Knitty Sheep/Kitty Collection and the perfect blue from a Benartex batik. 

I wanted to make 12 - 16 blocks, so I cut:

** 2 strips EACH of 4 colors: 2-3/4" x wof (will yield four blocks)
** 8 strips 2-3/4" x wof of the novelty print from Knitty Kitty/Sheep as shown above

From the Knitty Sheep panel fabric, cut:
** Four strips 4" x 36/38". Take care to measure 1/4" from the tips of the sheep heads. This way you won't "intrude" on the heads in the next panel. Two strips are used for the quilt center and two are used for the side borders.
** Cut two wider borders from the two ends at the selvedges. Note that there is more of the gray background fabric on each of the ends. This makes them a natural for the top and bottom borders.

Use the ruler to cut perfect triangles, always aligning the ruler tip at the top of the strip set
Flip flop the ruler across the strip set until you get to the end. Notice that by offsetting the strips as we did at the beginning, it allows us to get ONE MORE cut, thus enough for two blocks per strip set.

Squeezing one more cut from the strip set
Let's see the block units:
8 triangle cuts from each strip set, enough for 2 blocks
And how do you arrange them?

Pretty nifty, huh?
Pair two together and sew the two block halves:
Two block halves. Always press in the same direction
You need for the seams to go in opposite directions from each other, so always press toward the same center triangle. Then you press the center seam open to reduce bulk.

Hourglass block with center seam pressed open

Now, can we see the other colors you used?

Four happy blocks in bright colors
 Now, let's see how you put the rows together. (Sorry. The lighting in my sewing studio is not good)

Rows of 4 blocks stitched together. Then joined to a horizontal sheep row.
Don't you love these two sheep from Poland? And that awesome wool with crochet hook?
Here are all the blocks and borders
Because I didn't have the length I needed to cover the entire length of the sides, I cut rectangles from the gray background companion print (like the one used in the blocks). The patches were the size of the side borders (4") and the top/bottom borders (5-1/4" - 6"). Worked perfectly!

Quilt Size: 43" x 44"

Love these colors. And aren't they such happy looking sheep?
This is a very quick -and fun - block to make. And look at those Knitty Sheep in their rows. Love them all!

Thanks Debby!

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