A Change of Seasons

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Frequent visitors to Prairie Point Quilt & Fabric Shop have probably seen one of our best-selling books in the shop, A Change of Seasons by Bonnie Sullivan.  Folk-art style continues to be popular, and this book is full of projects you can display in your home every season of the year.

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Part of its popularity at Prairie Point is Lisa's regular project contributions of gorgeous quilts, wall hangings, and other small home decor.  She is also teaching a monthly club called Prairie Wool Club: A Change of Seasons.  Each month members gather to sew and work on a new design.

 Summer Celebration -- I love this wall quilt she made.  The quilt is basically  Woolies Flannel from Maywood Studio  pieced together to form a frame around the center medallion of wool applique.  The birds in the corners and the white sawtooth trim are also wool. 

Summer Celebration -- I love this wall quilt she made.  The quilt is basically Woolies Flannel from Maywood Studio pieced together to form a frame around the center medallion of wool applique.  The birds in the corners and the white sawtooth trim are also wool. 

Woolies Flannel is 100% cotton flannel fabric, designed and printed to look like wool textures.  More colors will arrive later this summer.

I can't wait to see these autumn designs.  Harvest Home is wool appliqued on Robert Kaufman's  Essex Linen background, as are the other three framed pictures.  The quilt is Woolies Flannel with wool applique to make a cozy, nice, small throw.  Wouldn't you just love to have this in your home?  The piecing is simple, the applique is relaxing.

Christmas is a'comin'.  I think I better join her club so I can get all these made. I know where to get the fabric!

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Using three enjoyable techniques - patchwork, wool applique, and hand embroidery - this book offers quilts, wall hangings, pillows, framed pictures, banners, and more.  Seasons of beauty, stitched by you is how this collection is described.

Lisa is making kits for many of the book projects. She also teaches Beginning Wool Applique. Find her next class in the Fall.

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One more thing!  Bonnie is coming out with a new book in September.  I think I counted almost twenty projects in it, again using wool applique, embroidery, and Woolies Flannel. 

Bonnie Sullivan is a fabric designer, quilter, fiber artist, and author.  She is the owner of All Through the Night pattern company.  Pay her a visit!

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I'll share more peeks into this book later this summer in the weekly newsletter. Let the shop gals know if you want a copy saved for you with the first arrivals.

Wool is wonderful to work with.  It is so Americana, folk art. It feels so natural in the hands.  Sewing with wool makes me think of these words --

She seeks wool and flax and works willingly with her hands. Proverbs 31:13

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Lemoyne Star Block

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Lemoyne Star has always been one of my favorite quilt blocks.  In fact, it is the block I made for my first quilt, a queen-size.  I made a cardboard template, drew around it onto the wrong size of the fabric, cut the diamonds out with scissors, and hand pieced the blocks.  I also hand pieced the sashing and borders, then to top it off, hand quilted it on a quilting frame.  To sew a quilt using the sewing machine was a no-no.  It wasn't unheard of, though; I do have an antique quilt top that was machine pieced in the early 1900s. 

On with the new.  I discovered the Rapid Fire Lemoyne Star ruler designed by Deb Tucker for Studio 180 about five years ago.  I loved the results I'd seen with this ruler, but the instructions!  It was just too much for me to wrap my head around!  Well, now Wendy has been teaching this ruler technique in the Tucker University classes, and it has made me want to give it a try.  I found out quickly that when you take the instructions one step at a time, it is very understandable and easy to follow.  There are other methods out there now for making Lemoyne Star blocks that work very well, but I really like this technique from Deb.

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There are patterns available from Studio 180, but you can easily design your own simple quilt just by choosing the block size you want, the quilt size you want, and then the number of blocks to make.

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Then the fun part: choosing your fabrics!  Scrappy or controlled colors and prints, modern or traditional, prints or solids.  Select your background fabric.

The chart in the instruction folder tells you how wide to cut strips for your star prints and your background fabric.  Prints and background are sewn into strip sets in mirror images. 

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Pressing seams in the correct direction throughout (this is important), laying units out as shown in the diagrams, and reading instructions carefully all make this so simple and something to get excited about when it is all done. 

These bright colors are what I used for my first attempt, making 12" blocks.  Sashing between the blocks helps eliminate some of the bulk in seams when sewing blocks into rows.  In this case I wanted the blocks to float, so I used white.  When all is finished the sashing won't even be noticeable.  

I completed the quilt with a narrow white border around it.  This stabilizes all those seams around the perimeter, yet still gives my quilt that border-less look. 

 Kits will be available for this quilt.  It is 51" x 51". 

Kits will be available for this quilt.  It is 51" x 51". 

Wendy is teaching a class on the Lemoyne Trails pattern this summer, and in the fall we will offer the Sugar and Spice pattern, made with the Voyage fabric collection from Moda Fabrics.

 

But just this simple block with simple setting can make a stunning quilt.  Your creativity might be in the fabrics you choose.  Don't like choosing fabrics?  Don't trust your selection?  Pick up a 12-Pack fat quarter bundle to begin with.  I can see this in 1930s prints, 1800s reproduction, solids, French General, Fig Tree prints, Kansas Troubles...the possibilities go on.  Try a tone-on-tone group of many colors, or an autumn or Christmas look.  I bet you have something in your collection at home you can begin with.

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Find the Rapid Fire Lemoyne Star ruler on our website or in the shop and get sewing!  Oh, and we will be happy to help you through the steps.  Better yet, take a class.

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Shabby Chic

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I found this definition from Wikipedia:

noun: shabby chic 

a style of interior decoration that uses furnishings that are or appear to be pleasantly old and slightly worn.

Here are some examples I found on Pinterest:

"A fashionable but informal style of decoration that uses furniture and other objects that look old and used, not modern and new."
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Tanya Whelan with Free Spirit Fabrics always offers a beautiful group of pastel prints, most of them from the Charlotte collection.  This one is pink, blue, gray, and green.  Fat quarter bundles are available.  Cool Water pattern from Villa Rosa is what I chose for the quilt.  It's just a bunch of squares and rectangles making it perfect for this collection.  I really just want to look at the fabric designs anyway, not necessarily detailed quilt blocks here. 

 
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The pattern is Chianti.  Pattern calls for 16 fat quarters.  We used a 12-Pack Bundle which is perfect for baby size.  Want it larger?  Get 20 or 24 fat quarters.  Caroline by Brenda Riddle for Moda Fabrics features her typical color and tiny floral.  I love Brenda's prints and by the way they sell, it seems you do, too.

 
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We received three pieces from Moda's Cottontail Cottage collection by Bunny Hill Designs.  So I took the bunny print and the red check and made a whole-cloth baby quilt.  Scallops give some chic to the shabby theme.  The quilts turns out to be about 38" x 50".  Perfect.

 
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Some of the quilts we have offered in the last few years include this baby quilt made with the Scrap Crazy tool from Creative Grids.  (I love this one!  I mean the tool.  But the quilt too.)

Use a Layer Cake for convenience for a baby quilt, two for a nice throw.  Come in and we'll show you how to do it.

 
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I think French General could fit in the Shabby Chic category.  Depends on the prints you use and what you do with them.  This red and white quilt we made with Atelier de France works for me.

 

3 Sisters with Moda often has 'the look'.  Poetry last year was stunning. This year they designed Victoria.  It will arrive at Prairie Point in February. 

 
 Make a rag quilt with cotton prints.  Now this is where the shabby part really comes in.  The pretty prints give the chic look.

Make a rag quilt with cotton prints.  Now this is where the shabby part really comes in.  The pretty prints give the chic look.

 

There are lots of ways to get the Shabby Chic look if you love it.  Cotton lace, old hankies, ball fringe, yo-yos. Use double gauze for quilts or for clothing. Make bags; some of the ByAnnie patterns would be fun.  Search it on Pinterest for some inspiration. You can make any item with the right kind of fabric and get 'the look'.  I think Fig Tree, Bonnie & Camille, and other Moda designs can work. Using patterns by Tina Givens you can wear Shabby Chic.

 

You are limited only by your imagination!

Do you like to decorate with the shabby chic look?  What says shabby chic to you?  Let me know in the comments below!

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The Big Book of ...

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Martingale has a series of quilting books with dozens of patterns in them.  These books are larger than most of their published pieces, but are great resources for improving your skills in specific areas.

Let me tell you a bit about each of them and show you photos provided by Martingale.

 This book is jam-packed with table runner ideas. With the 56 toppers in this book you can surely find some that will fit your table topper needs.  Several different styles include seasonal and holiday-themed projects as well as designs to complement your home decor. 

This book is jam-packed with table runner ideas. With the 56 toppers in this book you can surely find some that will fit your table topper needs.  Several different styles include seasonal and holiday-themed projects as well as designs to complement your home decor. 

Wow!  Sixty patterns in this book to make from 2 1/2" strips.  Cut your own or use a Jelly Roll from Moda.  So many styles and sizes to choose from for beginners and experienced quilters alike.  And all of these by top designers!  Look at just four of them below.

With small quilts I guess you can fit more patterns in one big book!  Top designers contribute to the 87 different baby quilts included here.  This makes it a real bargain per pattern.  Modern and traditional, patchwork and applique, all skill levels provided for -- keep this on hand to whip up a shower or birthday gift.  I picked out this foursome below to give you a sneak peek.

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 Scrappy quilts -- lots of us love them.  I think they're more fun to make.  Use fabrics from your collection or pick up some precuts -- there are patterns for everything.  With a selection of 77 projects from Civil War to 1930s, traditional to modern, and country looks, these quilts range in size from 28" x 36" to 99" square.

Scrappy quilts -- lots of us love them.  I think they're more fun to make.  Use fabrics from your collection or pick up some precuts -- there are patterns for everything.  With a selection of 77 projects from Civil War to 1930s, traditional to modern, and country looks, these quilts range in size from 28" x 36" to 99" square.

 The house quilt is on my bucket list.

The house quilt is on my bucket list.

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For the lovers of reproduction fabrics (to me that means the antique look) of the 1800s there is a plethora of patterns here for you to explore.  Now this is what patchwork quilting is!  This book includes 58 quilt patterns that will take you back in history.  It includes quilts for all sizes. Have lots of reproduction fabrics in your stash?  You will love this one.

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Make the same block over and over again and use it throughout the quilt.  That is what this book is all about.  You'll be amazed at how many times you can make this work.  Sound boring?  The color selections will make it fun by making each block different.  Sound easy? The repetition will give you experience and confidence to perfect those piecing skills.  57 quilts by top designers.

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This book combines patterns from authors Pat Speth and Charlene Thode from their previously published books, all in one volume here!  Take your 5" squares, add a bit of background to some, and look for a pattern among the forty projects included.  You can even find directions for 4" and 6" squares, too.  No limit to the fabric genres.

Aaah... fat quarter quilts. One of my favorite fabric cuts to begin with.  Sixty-six different patterns, time tested and proven.  Find one of our many fat quarter bundles, or gather some that you have at home.  Then sit down with a cup of tea and select a pattern.   

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Well, that should be enough to get you started!  Which of the books above appealed to you the most?  Share your thoughts in the comments!

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Block Party's April Block

April Block Party is the Centennial Star.  Here are a few tips in making this month's block.

Number 1 -- (#1) Mark or crease the center of the square and the center of the triangle.  Match these markings up when sewing the seam.  Directions tell you to press to the background square on one triangle and to the triangle side on the other, but make sure you do this on all four of them the same way so they are all identical.

(#2) Mark the center of the rectangle and match to the corner point of Unit #1. Sew rectangle to Unit 1; sometimes the Unit #1 will be wider than the rectangle; trim #1 to the size of the rectangle.

When I place my side background triangle on Unit 1, the small triangles may extend past the corner of the square on 1 side! Sew the large triangle on with raw edges even.  Make sure your seam is 1/4" and raw edges together.

You don't want your star points to look like this, so you may need to rip and trim before sewing back together again.

When sewing a seam sometimes the fabric drifts away making your seam allowance narrow at the end. This can also be a reason why it look like the pictures above.  Sew again to be sure it is 1/4"!  Using a stiletto helps with this -- those times when you want to use your finger but it is too big to get into the small places. 

This is what you want your star points to look like at the edge.

Continue with the pattern instructions and your block will look like this. Now, wasn't that worth it?

90-Degree Double Strip Ruler from Creative Grids

The 90 Degree Double-Strip Ruler from Creative Grids is one of our most popular rulers at Prairie Point.  It makes a quick decision for using your 2-1/2" Jelly Roll strips.

Cut all your strips 2-1/2" x width of fabric.  Sew two 2-1/2" strips together.  Now, let's back up; there are lots of options here for you.  a) You can use one Jelly Roll and select any two strips. b) You can use a Jelly Roll strip and a background color. Here there is the option of a white or solid Jelly Roll, or c) get a three-yard cut of fabric to cut into strips. (This is where your Stripology Ruler will come in very handy.) d) You can get yardage for your print strips and cut them 2-1/2" yourself.  This may be your choice if the fabric you want is not available as a Jelly Roll.  But you really do need to have 40-inch or more wide strips to get the most efficient use of your fabric.

The instructions that follow are specifically for making the quilt I am showing you here. Now, sew two strips together, a print and a solid.  Press the seam on the wrong side to set the seam, then open double strip and press seam to the print side.  This is important because it will help to lock the seams later on where they meet; and it helps assure that you don't get tucks pressed into the sewn seams.  An accurate or scant 1/4" seam is important.

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When pressing, be sure that the double-strip does not get stretched out of shape or bow on the ironing board. 

Place the Ruler on the strip as you see here.  The very base edge of the triangle should be directly on one edge, and the top of the triangle on the other. 

Cut on all four edges of the two triangle shapes to get three half-square triangles.  The hole between the triangles allows the rotary cutter to get to the very base so there is a clean cut. 

Then, move ruler along strip set and continue cutting triangles. You will get eight triangles from this strip set. 

Sew two of these together so the colors are opposites to make a square.  This will give you four squares which is what you need for one block.  Carefully press toward the print, being careful that you don't have tucks on the right side. 

Now, don't square up the blocks just yet; you will square up later. 

Your block units have bias edges on all four sides.  Try to keep them from stretching out.  

Sew four block units of the same print together into a four-patch block. 

The stretch (that you normally don't desire in a block on the outside edges) actually helps to force them to match up. 

This is where you will lock your seams.  Where necessary at the center of the block turn your seam allowance so the seams lock as you sew across them. The stiletto actually helps with this instead of your finger.

Then press the entire block taking care that you don't stretch out sides.  Now you will square up the entire block so that it is 11-1/2 inches.  Square up all your blocks this same measurement with the center of the block exactly centered.  

Cut two sides, then flip block and square up the other two sides. You want the seams in the corners of the blocks, or as close to it as possible.

Lay out all the blocks on a table or floor in a pleasing arrangement.  I made this quilt with five blocks in a row, six rows.

Sew blocks together into rows.  Again, stretch and ease in seams so the seam lines match up when each seam is finished.  Then join rows. Notice how seams lock nicely. It doesn't necessarily happen by accident -- you have to make them meet. 

All that being said, put your block units together any way you like. The Strip-Smart Quilts and Strip-Smart Quilts II books will give you lots of creative ideas.  This layout is the one I wanted for this fabric line with its soft vintage color scheme. 

It is very important to add a border around this quilt with all its bias edges.  If you prefer a border-less quilt, just add a 2-1/2" strip all the way around to stabilize the quilt.  It will be much appreciated at quilting time!  Measure for the side edges carefully by placing the pieced strip down the center of the quilt; cut at that measurement. Sew to both sides, pinning first.  Press seams toward border and repeat the process for the top and bottom. 

See what else you can do with the blocks we just made?

And what about these quilts?

Same layout, totally different looks. There are other ways these blocks can be laid out.  See the Strip Smart books for more ideas. 

Giggles and the Sidekick Ruler

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I found this adorable pattern from Jaybird Quilts three years ago and have been looking for the perfect fabric for it. When The Big Chill from DearStella arrived I knew I finally found it.  Of course there are many fabric collections that will work wonderfully for this design.  I have just a few tips here to show how the Sidekick Ruler is used to cut out the shapes and to put the blocks and rows together. 

Cut ten-inch squares into rectangles the same width as the background strips.  (This can even be done without beginning with squares.  Use your favorite fabric from your own collection and cut into rectangles as directed in pattern.)  

Cut diamonds from these print squares. Be sure the directional prints run the direction you want them to, and the other side is a mirror image running in the correct direction.

Cut background fabric into diamonds, too. The pattern shows you how to make units to complete your rows.

Lay out on the table or floor all the diamonds with the alternate background pieces.  Then you will sew them together in lengthwise rows. Sew two lengthwise rows together to complete the design. The pattern instructions are excellent and will give all the information you need.

Check out this VIDEO for a demo on using the Sidekick Ruler.

It's all really very simple.

It looks great. Quilt it any way you want. It is a small quilt at 40" x 44".

Now all it needs is a baby.

Field Trip to Cockrell Mercantile Co.

John and I took a day off last week to do some antiquing, and made an impulsive detour before we reached Greenwood, Missouri.  We stopped at Cockrell, just off 50 Highway east of Lee's Summit.  I had heard about Cockrell years ago and that it is a great place to get Fiesta dinnerware, but I had no idea there is a whole group of shops.  Let me tell you about our visit.

We first entered the Cockrell Annex which has a few antiques and some garden accessories. All this time I have been looking all over for a large crock and here it is!

The Morton House is a cook's paradise.  They have just about any bakeware you can think of.  I will go back for some metal bakeware I found that is made in USA. Yay! This is a great place to get gifts for others or something for yourself.

Fiesta Cottage has the largest selection of Fiesta Dinnerware in the Midwest.  I think they must carry every piece they make and it is open stock, not just in sets.  I grew up with Fiesta which my mother began using in the 1940's.  It is still made in America.  I have never had a piece chip, and I know it is safe to eat off of.  Occasionally I use Fiesta dishes in some of our displays in the shop.

Then we headed to Cockrell Cottage that has home decor items, candles, some clothing, unique gifts, soaps, and so forth.  John walked in then walked right back out -- that smelly stuff gives him headaches.  The cobblestone walks around the shops give the place an old-time feel.

Cockrell Mercantile Company is where we did most of our shopping.  Gourmet foods, jellies, pickles, table linens, towels, aprons, cookware -- you will have to go there yourself. It must be one of Kansas City's best kept secrets.

On to Greenwood . . .

It has been a long time since I have done antiques shopping, and we enjoyed our time in Greenwood at the malls and shops.  I snapped some pictures of the quilts we saw, but there is also a lot of furniture and other items for the home.  I bought two tablecloths for my collection -- one of them has a Christmas pattern.  We just missed lunch at the tea room. 

The entire day was fun and refreshing -- we had a really good time with a late lunch out, and stopped to purchased a Christmas tree.  I wanted to share with you what a gem of a town Cockrell is--John and I will certainly go back.

Here are the directions to Cockrell, Missouri:  Travel East on Hwy. 50 through Lee's Summit. Go 3/4 mile past the 7 Hwy. exit. Turn right at the Cockrell sign and follow the road for 1/2 mile.

Spicy Pepparkakor

This recipe is one of my favorites to make around Christmas time, and I'm always asked for the recipe whenever I serve them at the shop.  If you're one of the people who I've forgotten to give the recipe to, here it is!

Ingredients

1 cup butter

1-1/2 cups sugar

1 Tbsp. light molasses

1 egg

3 cups flour, lightly spooned into measuring cup

2 tsp. baking soda

3 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. cloves

2 tsp. ginger

Directions

1.  Cream butter and sugar together, then blend in molasses and egg.

2.  Add 2 cups flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and ginger.  Stir together and gradually add last cup of flour.  Mix thoroughly. (NB: add a teaspoon of milk to the dough after the last cup of flour is added, if needed.)

3.  Roll out thin, about 1/8 in., and cut into desired shapes.  Bake at 400˚ for 5-8 minutes. 

Use about half the dough at a time and shape into a round before rolling out.  Flour keeps the dough from sticking to the rolling pin.  (I still use my mother's rolling pin she got when she was first married in 1938.)

A heart shaped cutter is traditional for this Swedish cookie, but any shape will do, of course.  Bake until just browning around the edge; cookies are best if a bit crispy.

Ooh, those scraps get a bit dry to roll out again.  Mix with a wee bit of milk in the mixer to moisten enough so that it does not crumble.

Enjoy!

Find a printable copy of this recipe here.

The Folded Corner Clipper

The Folded Corner Clipper by Prairie Sky has got to be one of the most practical and versatile tools you can have at your cutting table.  Many patterns call for the triangle in a block to be made by drawing a line that you will sew directly on and then trim away the seam allowance.  With the Folded Corner Clipper you can put an end to that.  Simply place this triangle shaped ruler on the square, trim away the excess leaving a seam allowance, then sew with a ¼” seam from the cut edge.  Let me show you how it's done.

I am working blocks 9 and 10 for the Be My Neighbor Block of the Week from Moda Fabrics.  Here I am making a flying geese block for block 9.  You know how that is done.  

Here my triangle begins with a 3” square, so I lay this on the 3” rectangle; lay the Folded Corner Clipper on them as shown above with the 3” line at one edge and the top of the ruler at the other edge.  

Cut along the edge of the square through the rectangle. The diagonal line you see here represents the seam line.  Remove the waste and sew ¼” from your cut edge. Press background away from rectangle.

Then repeat for the other side of the flying geese unit.  Be sure you have positioned your ruler properly, like the picture above, so that you make the geese block.  

You do not want to place the ruler on the unit horizontally like on the left, (unless that is the kind of block unit you are intending to make) nor upside down and vertically like on the right, which will put your seam allowance on the wrong side of the seam line.

With accurate cutting and sewing you will end up with nicely made units.

Putting a triangle on one corner of a square is another use for the Folded Corner Clipper. Just keep placing and cutting, lining them up on a surface you can just pick up and take to the sewing machine.

Here I am making little bow-tie units for block 9.  Whoops! I sewed the square to the wrong side of one of them. A little ripping out to do here.

The trees in block 10 can also be made with the Folded Corner Clipper.  I really like my quarter-inch foot with the ledge on the side.

Here I'm using it for the floating star, too. Notice how the seam allowance does not go to the star points. No star tips getting in the seam allowance here!  I love this technique.  Check out our Jane Austen Stars quilt pattern, or Squares Baby Quilt & Floating Stars pattern.

Here you can see what your finished units look like for the floating star made with this technique. See how your 1/4" seam allowance is a distance from the points?  Really cool!  Your patterns will not instruct you to use this tool, but now you know how to apply it and can use it in any of your patterns.    

Many quilters love the Folded Corner Clipper so much they have bought one for a friend. Now that is a true act of charity.

You can use the Folded Corner Clipper to trim the ends of your binding strips before you sew them together. Use it for flying geese and snowball blocks and absolutely any time your pattern tells you to, "draw a line... sew on the line... trim away."  The tool comes with complete instructions and Prairie Sky Quilting has many patterns designed for the Folded Corner Clipper.

Come in to Prairie Point and we will show you a demo if you would like.

International Quilt Market

I was at the International Quilt Market this week, and international it was--there were vendors and quilt retailers there from all over the world.  It was truly an amazing experience.  The convention center in Houston is huge.  Wendy went with us, and John did all the grunt work including driving, hauling our stuff around, and buying our meals.  I posted a few pictures on Facebook, and Allison has put some on Instagram as well for you all to see.  Many of you show so much interest in this retailers' event that I thought I would give you a bit of a peek into what we experienced.

Wendy and I attended a few early morning classes including Pleachet.  We'll be telling you more about this handwork technique later as we perfect it and feel ready to teach it.  We also learned more about using the Stripology ruler from Creative Grids, taught to us by the designer Gudrun Erla.  That was exciting and there is much to share with you.

Schoolhouse was super fun.  From 10:00am until 5:30pm we took thirteen classes, each one thirty minutes or fifteen minutes.  With five minutes between classes, we had to find the next classroom in this huge convention hall.  The Schoolhouse event began with a presentation by Aurifil with Alex Veronelli on how threads are made and the processes they go through.  Now I see why the better quality threads cost a bit more.

Can you find Wendy?

There she is.

Barb and Mary of Me & My Sister Designs gave a great class on their new book coming out next month -- 12 Pack Quilts.  We can't wait to share this with you.

One of our Schoolhouse classes was a presentation by Annie Unrein, designer of the ByAnnie bags.  She is offering a bag of the month class program that we will be sharing with you.

Penny Haren and Gudrun Erla shared their tips and techniques with log cabin quilting and the Stripology ruler.

If you think all the beautiful fabrics and quilts you see at Prairie Point are amazing, you should see this place.  Our heads were swimming with ideas we could implement into our offerings here at the shop.  Let me show you a few.

Cheryl Phillips showed us what she does with the 10-degree ruler.  Yes, we bought these patterns.  This will make a great class.

Elizabeth Hartman has a new fabric collection out and new patterns.  It's amazing to see the youth in her creativity.  

Jenny Pedigo and her sister Sherilyn have new patterns out with the Sew Kind of Wonderful Quick Curve Ruler®.  Yes, I bought these patterns too.

Bloc-Loc has a new pineapple ruler.  Wendy is on top of that one.  Good for her!

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Under the Garden Moon's Amy McClellan and her sister were there with Amy's Stitching Society hexagons.  She made hers into a whole quilt!

Susan Marth with the Suzn Quilts Tiny and Mini Dresden rulers showed us what is new with her: a monthly program we will offer.

Remember Anne Marie and her quilts from our own Schoolhouse last March?  She had a beautiful display. The last day we were getting tired.

Wow!  Deb Tucker is a vibrant person!  She can match Wendy in enthusiasm any day.

Moda Fabrics has an outstanding presence there as always.

Julie Hermann with her design company, Jaybird Quilts, is another young designer. 

What new trends did we see at Market?  Lots of new tools and techniques to help both the beginning and the seasoned quilter be more efficient and accurate in her or his sewing techniques.  Young designers are continuing their creativity; so many of these creative ones are not even thirty yet!  This is very encouraging for the industry.  Wool continues to grow in popularity.  Traditional is still in.  Modern is not going away.  There is so much for baby.  Cuddle, double gauze, and clothing are everywhere.

Wendy wanted a picture with Deb Tucker; I wanted one with Alex Veronelli.

The entire event would not be complete without a few trips to our favorite grocery market in downtown Houston.

The whole event gets us pumped up.  Our goal here at Prairie Point is to provide you with the fabrics, tools, and information you are looking for in an independent quilt shop.  We are so excited to go to Market and find new things for you!

Tiny Dancer Quilt with the Hex 'N More

Tiny Dancer is one of my favorite quilt patterns by designer Julie Herman for Jaybird Quilts.  When Corey Yoder's Sundrops collection came into the shop, I knew the twirly design, Tiny Dancer, was just the one to make up with this fun fabric.

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Cut strips from your prints to use the hexagon side of the ruler.  Then cut strips from the background for the triangles.  They are then sewn together to begin the hexagon blocks. 

Check out this VIDEO for a closer look at using this wonderful tool, the Hex N More.

It is fun to see this quilt come together so capably, and yet look challenging.  Certainly this one is for the experienced beginner. 

The Hex 'N More ruler will also help you with placing hexagons together.  Again, the hexagon and the triangle are both on the same tool.

Sew fabric strips together and cut triangles, then place them together into half-hexagons which will then form one two-color shape.  The Jawbreaker pattern will get you started with this technique by making a pillow.

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The Tiny Dancer pattern can be in any size from a baby quilt up to a king size.

Let me know if this inspires you!  I'm already making plans to use this tool again.  I think 1930's reproduction prints will look great and give a traditional look to this design.  Whatever you choose, be sure the background will contrast well with the other prints.

Happy sewing!

Don't Be Afraid to Cuddle

Don't be afraid to cuddle!

That's what Toni Steere talked about at Prairie Point last Saturday.  She gave us lots of tips for sewing with Shannon Cuddle® fabrics and Embrace® Double Gauze.  We had great attendance - nearly 46 enthusiastic ladies - that filled up the classroom.  Everyone received a bag with a few patterns, recipes, and a 5" Cuddle square packet to practice some of their new knowledge.

Toni began the class with some tips of sewing with the Cuddle fabrics (which are generically known as minky).

  • Use a ball-point needle (also called a stretch or jersey needle)
  • Use a walking foot, and pin the fabric well
  • Vacuum your cuddle dust after cutting
  • Reduce the pressure of your presser foot so that it is not pressing down too hard on your fabric. (Note: You may need to look up your machine manual for directions on this.  Don't forget to change it back when you're finished sewing the Cuddle)

Strips of Cuddle can be sewn in rows, often with a quilt-as-you-go technique.  Kits are very popular for this project, making it sew convenient to get a project started and finished.

"The Self-Binding Baby Blanket and Lovey" is one of the more popular projects right now.  The pattern for it can be found on our website for you to download and print.

In the shop, we have lots of kits made especially for the self-binding blanket pattern.  There are so many cute choices!  You can choose one of our Cuddle and Embrace combinations, or pick out your own.

Some of the Cuddle textures we have are rose, arrows, chenille, hide, and others.

The Embrace® Double Gauze is a new trend in receiving blankets.  It just gets softer and softer with each washing.  It is preshrunk, but will crinkle up when washed and look nicer.

Embrace is used in the receiving blankets along with the Cuddle.  Toni also showed us blankets made with two layers of double gauze put together with a soft Cuddle binding, and then a blanket/burp cloth of two layers of embrace with thin batting sandwiched in between.  Bamboo batting is lovely for this.  Use simple, minimal quilting to hold it all together, and finish it off with Cuddle binding.

And don’t forget to use Cuddle on the back of your quilt. It can be used in free-motion quilting on your own machine, or applied on a long-arm machine.  Click here for tips on machine quilting with Cuddle.

There is so much to show and tell!  We will continue to provide you with more tips and project ideas for Shannon Fabrics here at Prairie Point and offer some classes. Let us know what you would like us to carry in the shop.

Susan's Marble Squares

I came across this recipe from Kraft Foods several years ago when I was teaching middle school Home Ec.  It was a great classroom activity for that age level because it is not made using the traditional method for cakes.  The kids learned baking techniques making this recipe and it is practically no-fail; so if you don't consider yourself a baker, give this a try.  You can serve it right out of the pan or place the squares nicely on a pretty plate. 

Now, gather your ingredients and begin!  It helps if the cream cheese is softened. I use my Kitchen-Aid to mix this with egg and sugar for the topping. 

The 2-1/2 qt. saucepan works best for mixing the rest because the butter and chocolate are heated with water; then the dry ingredients are added to this. I like to use real butter for baking; margarine has too much water for most baked products.  I also use only Hudson Cream flour.  The wheat is grown and the grain is milled right here in Kansas! That's why I buy it.

Click HERE for a printable PDF version.

Ingredients

Cream Cheese Mixture

8 oz. cream cheese, softened

1/3 cup sugar

1 egg

Chocolate Mixture

1/2 cup butter

3/4 cup water

2 oz. unsweetened chocolate or baker's chocolate

2 cups flour

2 cups sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. baking soda

2 eggs

1/2 cup sour cream

6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions

Heat oven to 375°F.  Combine softened cream cheese and 1/3 cup sugar, mixing until well blended.  If the cream cheese is very soft it will spread better on the cake batter.

Add one egg; mix well.

Combine butter, water, and unsweetened chocolate in medium saucepan.  I use a 2-1/2 qt. saucepan.  Bring to a boil but do not cook. You just want to melt the chocolate and butter.

Combine flour and 2 cups sugar, then add to the chocolate mixture and mix well.  Add 2 eggs, sour cream, baking soda, and salt; mix well.

Pour batter into greased and floured 15-1/2 x 10-1/2 inch jelly roll pan.

Spoon cream cheese mixture over chocolate batter.  This is a little tricky since the cake isn't baked yet! Cut through batter with knife several times for marble effect.  Sprinkle with chocolate chips.  Bake at 375° for 25-30 minutes or until done in center.  Makes 24 servings. Store at room temperature or freeze for later.

This is a fabulous recipe to make up when sharing with others.  Take it to the next potluck or family dinner.  

I have never met anyone who did not love it.  I get lots of requests for this recipe because I serve it a lot, even here at the shop!

The Prairie Point Quilt Club

Prairie Point Quilt Club is a favorite event held in the shop every other month.  Beginning in January it is usually held on the fourth Thursday of the month, with exceptions due to holidays.  After we are finished rushing around the shop getting ready for our guests, we finally unlock the door for a long line of eager visitors. 

They rush past the sign-in table to claim their seats, then come back to get a name tag and something to eat.  As they wait for the classroom to fill up – but oh my goodness – they are still coming! [what?]

This past meeting, September 22nd, we had a record breaking attendance and they still had a good time.  Wendy and I began by showing them our new fabrics, then we move on to our new quilts and their patterns.  There is always lots of participation with laughter, questions, and passing the items around for the ladies to handle and get a close look at. 

We end the event with show and tell, then door prizes.  Here are some of the show and tell this week.  I wish I could show you them all!

Sharon finally finished her king size Kansas Troubles quilt.

Pam made a tablecloth using American Jane's Lorraine collection, inspired by the one we had displayed in the shop.

Cathy has this beautiful tumbler quilt made with the Fat Cats ruler and reproduction fabrics. Bonnie's quilt has alternate blocks with twilling in Christmas designs.

Jessie and Helen have been busy. They often get together and sew. How fun!

Sue finished the top for Block Party's Farm Girl with a color change. She's also been busy with Scrap Crazy.

The Swoon Sixteen quilt Carol made for her daughter-in-law using 30's prints. Lucky lady! Isn't it swoon-worthy?

Jenifer specializes in small projects -- embroidery, knitting, bags. With three young children she gets a lot done!

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Ann began this snowman quilt from the book Here Comes Winter.

Lois finished her Row by Row quilt with the patterns she collected this summer.

The evening crowd also had a good time as well.

Sally is counting all her squares for us.  Just kidding! 

I love the three-dimentional look on Ann's quilt.

Matasha again shows another quilt made for others.  Janet made two quilts from neckties. Quilters love to share their quilts.

Rachel is another one of our beginning quilters who has caught the bug!

Becky shows off a gorgeous colorful quilt top. No, quilts do not have to be finished to present for show and tell!

Ann and Mary Beth are sisters.

Oh, I forgot to tell you -- everyone sharing a quilt for Show & Tell receives a fat eighth and gets to put her name in for a drawing at the last PPQC of the year. In November we will combine all the names from January on and draw one for a Grand Prize. We draw one in the morning and one in the evening. 

If you haven't joined us before, put it on your calendar. It's fun, free, and open to all.  We hope to see you at our next meeting in November!

Autumn at Prairie Point

It's beginning to feel like autumn at Prairie Point.  We have some beautiful fall fabrics and quilts on display.

Pumpkin Patch Throw from Farmhouse Threads can become a great autumn tradition in your home.  The quilt is 53" x 61"--if you want it larger just add a border.  This is a good quilt for an experienced beginner because it is the simple snowball block and nine-patch block.  Use your Folded Corner Clipper for the snowball block; the nine-patch forms a chain on the quilt in a variety of browns. The colors are rich in a nice combination of hues.  An apple, a book, and a pumpkin quilt--that's all I need on the front patio to enjoy the cool weather.  This one is a hit!  The pattern is included in our kits.

Welcome Fall by Deb Strain is fun but grown-up.  I love this color combination so much that I just wanted to mix them all together, and this is what I came up with.  The pattern uses 10" squares, or can be cut from whatever fabric you have in your stash.

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Harvest Primo Plaids from Marcus Brothers are kitted up for a rag quilt.  There are so many other things you can make with them.  If you don't want a rag quilt, sew some squares together to make a warm, cozy throw.  All the Primo Plaids will make up nicely into jackets, shirts, scarves, and more.  Click HERE to download a pattern for the infinity scarf, and HERE for the poncho.

Autumn Elegance would make a gorgeous quilt, bit it is awesome for decorating as well.  Try a table runner, napkins, or placemats.

Oak Haven by Kansas Troubles is expected to be in the shop very soon.  Rich autumn hues are typical of Lynne Hagmeier.  

Don't forget the little ones...make a table runner, placemats, or pillowcases they will love with these cute groupings from Katie Hennagir for Andover Fabrics and by Ann Kelle for Robert Kaufman.

Blueberry Backroads' designer Sara Hardwig has some embroidery projects that can be made into pillows, small hangings, and towels.  Perfect handwork projects for cool evenings at home--better yet, in front of a toasty fire.  Sounds so inviting!

These buttons are just too cute and whimsical.  Forest critters, colorful leaves, even pumpkins--embellishments for any fun project.

Buttermilk Basin's "Give Thanks" pattern is a perfect, small project to help decorate your home for Thanksgiving.  Wool appliqué just seems to sing when paired with rich, vibrant fall colors.

"Pumpkins" wool embroidery project--a darling décor item for your home this season.

I'm having fun watching the mums show their beauty more and more every day.  And I can't pass up a chance to share my favorite Pumpkin Bread recipe.  Click HERE to view the PDF.

Block Party 2017 - Tips for Block 1

Welcome to Block Party 2017!  The theme this is year is Cookie Exchange.  We have three color choices for you.  We call them Ginger Snaps, Lemon Bars, and Oatmeal Cookies--and they are yummy!

All the blocks this year will be stars.  We are grateful to Jeanne Poore for designing these as she has been for the last 15 or so years.  She chooses the fabrics then supervises the preparation of these kits--about 350 of them each month.

Carefully read the pattern instructions and remember: measure twice, cut once.  The fabric in the kit is presented in the order in which it is used; from the back to the front.  This will help you to know which fabric is background (that one is usually obvious), which is medium and which is dark.  One tip: "dark" is not always the darkest print, so don't go by color or shade.

I'm going to share a few tips with you here to help make your first block successful.

First of all, spray starch your fabrics before you begin cutting.  This block has some bias edges that you will want stabilized, preventing them from stretching out of shape.  Just don't let the fabric stretch when you press the damp fabric!

For this month's block, the center square unit should measure 6-1/8" after it is pieced together.  If it is not it will throw off the final measurement.  This part is super easy.

Sew the medium triangles to the white square.  To make sure it is centered, fold square in half and finger-press a crease; then place the point of the triangle at this mark.

After pressing them both, use a ruler to make sure the unit is 6-1/8" wide.  I really like using small rulers.  They are so practical when cutting small pieces and block sections, and for trimming short edges.  The 24-1/2" rulers can be so awkward; they just get in the way for small stuff.

The little white triangles go on either side of this, for two of the units.

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Then sew the units without triangles to the center square.  They should both be 6-1/8" so make them match at the edges, then pin.  Don't let this bias edge stretch out of shape!

After pressing these, sew on the other two sides.  Press block and . . . ta-da!  Beautiful!

The finished block should measure 12-1/2".  Mine is just a wee bit off.  I'll make it work.  It's really important to have a 1/4" seam allowance past the points of the star.

Now make another one with some fabric you have on hand, and by the end of the year you could have enough blocks for two quilts!

If you have never done a Block Party with us at Prairie Point, give it a try this year.  It is great for beginners to practice techniques, and fun for everyone.  You can find more info about the particulars and participation under the Block Party/Cookie Exchange tab.  Each month I will post a picture of each of the three blocks, but until then it's a mystery. 

If you are from out of town, not a problem!  We are happy to mail them out to you.

String Quilting

Today, I want to share with you a scrappy quilt that is made using a method called string quilting. It is not new; in fact it is a very old technique in which strips of fabric are cut into different widths and then sewn onto a foundation fabric.  It is a great way to use up leftover scraps you have in your sewing room and a fun way to have a memento of the many projects you have made.  You don't have to worry about, "Do these prints go together?" or, "Is this too busy?"  Just collect the fabrics you want to use (or rather, the ones you want to remove from your fabric stash).

I use thin muslin for the foundation.  Prewash it first because it will shrink; wash it even if your other fabrics have not been washed.  Decide what size you want your finished blocks to be, then cut muslin squares about an inch larger than this.

Fabric strips can be cut between 1-1/4" wide and 3" wide.  Try to have most of them around the 2" to 2-1/2"  widths, but variety is helpful.  You will see why as you make these blocks--it's not just for appearance but for usefulness as well.  The length of the strips will vary -- 3" on up is best.  My blocks here will be 6" finished because they are easier to photograph and demo with.

My muslin square is 7".  Lay a strip of fabric right side up diagonally across the muslin square.  Place a second one on top of this, right sides together, raw edges together and sew.  Flip over and press or finger press the seam.

Repeat this process to the corner, keeping the strips parallel. Be sure the previous strip is lying flat before sewing another strip on.

Repeat this on the other side of the square so that fabric strips cover all the way to the corners.  Press the finished square with an iron.  Be sure that the strips are pressed on the top side and press it all nice and flat.

Turn the square over onto your cutting mat with the muslin face up and square it up to 6-1/2".  (The 6-1/2" ruler is perfect here).  Ta-da!  Isn't this fun?

Make four of these and sew them together to make a 12-1/2" square. Press seams open.

At this point you are probably hooked.  Most of us find it so much fun to see what the block looks like after trimming it up that we just want to keep going! 

This is what my strips look like after pawing through them to make my blocks.

I like to make larger blocks, too.  10" muslin squares are a nice size to make the quilt come together a little quicker, but there is a certain charm in the smaller blocks.  When I make the larger blocks I just lay them out in rows and then sew the rows together.

Why should you make a string quilt?  It is fun!  

It can also be economical.  If you use your scraps it is almost a free quilt.  The foundation muslin adds a bit of filler and weight so you might consider not using batting, or use flannel instead.  Seams do not match up with each other, so there is no need to worry about matching when sewing blocks together.  You also can use up lots of thread in colors you don't know what to do with, and finish up old bobbins.

String quilting is so relaxing--no precision sewing and not a lot of thinking required.  It's a nice project to work on while taking a break from a more complicated quilt pattern.

Here is a PDF version of the pattern as well.

Our Visit to Moda - Part 2

Here is the rest of our Moda visit. When John and I arrived at the Moda offices, we were greeted with goody bags and then entered the warehouse where we began shopping with this huge shopping cart.  It's amazing how much fabric they have in there, yet they're waiting for more shipments to come in and fill the shelves again.  Most of our shopping was done in the fabric warehouse; there is also a notions warehouse and a pre-cuts warehouse, but we didn't have time to go through them!

Shelves are lined with bolts and bolts of fabric.

This is a stack of tons of quilts made from Moda fabric and patterns!

The Moda Library houses small amounts of all the fabrics Moda has provided over the years.  What a cool concept!  Mark says that here our great-great-granddaughters will find just the small bit of fabric needed to patch a worn block in a quilt that you made today.

This shows yardage of fabric in its different stages of screen printing.

Designers and vendors lined the aisles.

Barb and Mary of Me & My Sister designs.  They are a hoot!

Betsy Cuchian designed our Lizzie's Legacy collection that we carry at Prairie Point.

Joan Hawley from Lazy Girl Designs showed me some of her new products.  She makes the Key Fobio and the Becca Bags among others, and has her own line of purse interfacings and battings.

We met the Fat Quarter Gypsy, Joanne Hillestad, who designs the adorable pop-up bins.  Her newest product is a pop-up for your pop can! 

I enjoyed my dinner with the fabric designers! Here we have Barbara Groves and Mary Jacobson of Me & My Sister, Anne Sutton from Bunny Hill designs, and Karla Eisenach of Sweetwater.

I also got to see John Wayne.  The best cowboy. He didn't have much to say to me.

When we're all done, John pushes the cart to the checkout.  Looks like there is room for more.  Back to shopping!

Our Visit to Moda - Part 1

We had a fabulous time in Dallas last week visiting Moda Fabrics (United Notions) for their annual Open House.  Quilt shop owners from all over the country enjoyed shopping the warehouse, visiting with Moda designers, and meeting vendors showing demos of their products.  They kept us well fed and the company staff were very friendly and helpful. 

Moda's owner, Mark Dunn, founded Moda Fabrics forty years ago; he was truly a pioneer in the quilting business when quilting wasn't cool.  He may be a bit eccentric in tastes and style, but he is also very humble with a quiet manner.  United Notions caters to its customers, the independent retail quilt shops; Mark considers his company an independent business as well.

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Mark gave us a tour of his quilt museum which displays some of the antique quilts from his collection.

This is a pineapple log cabin quilt which was made in the 1800's, and a reproduction quilt made with new fabrics (Moda's, of course!).

These swatch books consist of actual old fabrics which are imitated for new reproduction style fabrics.

This cheddar quilt is well over 100 years old and in spectacular condition.  The one on the stand below is a new reproduction of it.

The date of this crazy quilt is unknown, but probably late 1800's.  There are three fabrics in it with images of Abraham Lincoln; that was often done in those days when a candidate was running for office.

This is a charm quilt made by a young girl in the 1880's who died at age 15 of spinal meningitis.  Here is part of the description from the back of the quilt:

"This quilt is called a Charm quilt because no two fabrics are repeated in it but all are cut in the same shape.  Quilts of this sort were made to use scraps, but also to remember friends and family because in order to get this many different fabrics, scraps that belonged to friends and family of the maker were sought... Today this quilt serves as an encyclopedia of fabrics available during the last quarter of the nineteenth century.

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It is not inconceivable that she pieced and quilted this quilt while she was battling the disease as hand piecing and hand quilting were likely activities that she could do until close to her death."

Seeing these old quilts is touching and inspiring.  It makes one wonder about the lives of the women many years ago who labored over these, what we would now consider, works of art. 

 

This is my first blog post; what a great way to begin!  Look soon for my second which tells more about my trip to Moda Fabrics.  The blog is one way I can take you there with me so that you can experience it, too!

Susan