Tiaras and threads…

It’s a Beauty of a Pageant Contest and it starts today!

The designers-contestants have finished strutting their stuff and now it’s ready for you to have some fun.  (Though I hope you’ve enjoyed the hop and had some fun already.)


Here’s what you need to know – and do.

Get a copy of the book – buy it, win it, borrow it… whatever works.  Just so long as you have a copy of Moda All-Stars – All In A Row in your possession.

Get some fabric – from your stash, from your favorite quilt shop, from a friend!  Just gather up a nice little stack of fabric you love.  (Moda, of course.)

Make a row – any one will do!  And for the time being, you only need one.


Take a picture of your row and post it-e-mail it so you can be entered in the Beauty of a Contest contest!

There are two ways to do that –

  1.  Join the Facebook group – All In a Row Quilt Along.  Yes, you must be on Facebook to join the group.  Post a picture of your row using the hashtag – #allinarowquiltalong – and BAM! – you’re entered.
  2. Send a JPEG – a good-sized, low res image will do – to service@shopmartingale.com and BAM! – you’re entered.

If you’re a super-talented over-achiever and you make seventeen rows and post/send seventeen pictures – WOW! You’re entered seventeen times.

On March 15th, Miss All-In-A-Row and her court will be announced.

Miss All-In-A-Row will be the envy of all her quilty friends from April through December 2016 as she will receive a Fat Quarter pack from Moda and 2 new-release books from Martingale.  She’ll be a Stitching Stunner!


No, Miss All-In-A-Row does not get this quilt.  She can make it herself – that’s her talent!

The First Runner Up – 2nd prize – will receive a Moda Fat Eighth pack for six months (April through August 2016) and one new-release Martingale book for four months.  (Unless for some reason, Miss All-In-A-Row can’t fulfill her obligations, of course.)  (Four play will not be tolerated.)

The Second Runner Up – 3rd prize – four months of Moda Layer Cakes and new-release books.

Third Runner Up – two months of Moda Layer Cakes and two new-release books, and finally, the Fourth Runner Up will get a Layer Cake and a new-release book.

Each week of the pageant – contest – there will be additional prizes.

  • Miss Congeniality – 2 Moda charm packs and a book
  • Talent Winner – 2 books and 2 Mini Moda Charms
  • Stash Accumulation Award – 1 Moda Mini Charm, 1 Moda Layer Cake and 3 books
  • Social Media Butterfly Award – you’re going to win my House Row from the book


I’m wondering why there isn’t a Miss Hashtag?  A prize for the entry with the most hashtags attached – #ShowMeTheModa #ModaFabrics #AllInARowQuiltalong #MartingaleRocks #ModaDesignersAreTheBomb #ModaRocks #ILoveMakingItModa and so on.  (And no, borrowing these will not get you any special prizes from yours truly.)

Are you excited?  Are you ready to start sewing rows – rowing?

Me too!  #LetsGetRowing!

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More Great (and Free) Ideas and Inspiration from Moda Designers

Last week I perused the blogs of some of Moda’s designers and found great information, patterns, and inspiration. (And if you’re following along on the All in a Row blog hop you’ve probably encountered more.) This week I checked out a few of the designers’ websites and the goodies available there.

First up: patterns. I mentioned last week that I’m away from home with my sewing machine and fabric, but no patterns or books. Websites and blogs were the answer to my dilemma…kind of. Turns out there are so many options out there that I’m a bit overwhelmed and haven’t chosen one yet. Check these out:


Me and My Sister’s XOXO quilt

Barb and Mary of Me and My Sister have lots of great quilt patterns downloadable via PDF. I’m kind of partial to the XOXO pattern, particularly since I’ve got a layer cake or two I’d like to use.


Janet Clare’s Runner Duck

Janet Clare has a pattern for a Nocturne Table Runner, but also a pattern and tutorial for learning appliqué and machine-drawn embroidery to make Runner Duck—she suggests whipping up an entire flock.

zen chic luggage tag

Luggage tags by Zen Chic

Since I’m traveling, I was drawn to Brigitte Heitland of Zen Chic’s quick luggage tag tutorial (in both English and German)—perfect for locating your suitcase in the sea of black bags whirling around the luggage carousel. (She’s also offers a free, downloadable ZiggiZaggi Pillow Pattern on the lefthand side of her home page.)

Red Quilted Pillow

Corey Yoder’s Red Quilted Pillow

Corey Yoder’s site is like hitting the mother lode of free goodies. Quilts, individual blocks, bags, and adorable pillows. I’m especially taken with the the Red Quilted Pillow, which employs her beloved big stitch quilting


What a Pear tea towel design by Kathy Schmitz

On Kathy Schmitz’s site are a wealth of free embroidery patterns. There are more on the right-hand side of her blog, too, and what I especially like about these are the excellent illustrations explaining the embroidery stitch used in the projects.

Anne Sutton's February Snow Happy Heart

Anne Sutton’s February Snow Happy Heart

Anne Sutton of Bunny Hill has some great patterns for little stuffed hearts appliquéd with adorable snowmen—one for each month of the year. She’s got one that’s just perfect for next month and Valentine’s Day. (And she makes a point that her free patterns, and indeed the free patterns on everyone’s sites, are for individual use and not to be sold or distributed commercially.)

Edyta Sitar’s Laundry Basket Quilts web site has it right up there on top—“Free Stuff.” Her Spool Pincushion looks perfect for a project I have in mind. (Sorry, don’t have a photo of this one.)

quiltbinding_zps3b06b2e3 jumpingjacks_zps2e2032a6

Vanessa Goertzen of Lella Boutique has some cute patterns and a great binding tutorial that links to that most wonderful site of all: The Moda Bake Shop! Talk about an amazing resource of free patterns and tips for using your pre-cuts! Here’s a link to Vanessa’s binding tutorial and to her Jumping Jacks quilt, which could prove just the ticket for the jelly roll I have with me.


So there—an incredible number of inspiring projects and “how-to” instructions. Have I missed some? Please share them in the comment section below.

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Merrily, merrily rowing…

Except I’m late!

And behind – more on that in a moment.

Welcome to the Beauty of a Blog Hop – a hop for the Moda All-Stars All-in-a-Row book!


Compiled by – corralled by? – Lissa Alexander.  ModaLissa.  Friend.  Mentor.  Mother Hen.  Big sister – though not “older sister”.  Guidance counselor.  Awesome quilter.  Big-picture thinker.

Published by Martingale ~ That Patchwork Place.  Editor – Jennifer Keltner.  See list above.  (It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Lissa and Jennifer are good friends – they have a lot in common.)

All royalties from the All In A Row book will go to NoKidHungry – a charitable organization dedicated to ending childhood hunger.

For the hop, two designers – rowers – were paired and each of us was to make the other person’s row.

This is the row by Brenda Riddle – it’s called Garland Knot.


It’s made with fabrics from Brenda’s Ambleside collection…


The nine-patches – they look like they’re fussy-cut with the way the flowers are placed in the squares.  But they’re not – Brenda is just. that. good.


Brenda loves applique – and she’s really good at it.


More leaves – there were several beautiful green prints in Ambleside.  I particularly like the large floral print that she cut up for some of the leaves – there’s a bit of green and that’s all that matters.


On the back – her “label”.  It’s perfect.

So are you sensing that I might possibly be stalling here… maybe perhaps… probably.


This is as far as I got.  It was all those leaves!

Not really, there is only one reason.  I moved this past weekend – just across the street but let it suffice to say that there are were piles of stuff everywhere.  All of which means – I not only didn’t finish, I didn’t even really get started.

But that does sort of tie in with something I noticed while reading the book… one of my favorite things in the book is a little “skinny” from each designer.


We were each asked a list of questions and some of our answers were included.

Some of the questions were relating to the group…


And cleaning.


This is Brenda’s answer – but she’s not alone!  Ladies, this is a very compulsive group of tidy-uppers.

Fortunately, there are a few of us who replied that the only thing stopping us from starting a new project is nothing – being awake means we’re ready.

Beginning on February 1st, there will be an All In A Row Quilt-along.  It will run through March 15th and there will be prizes!  For every row you complete, you’ll receive one entry.  Complete six rows – you get six entries.  Easy, right?  More details will be coming – details will be on Martingale’s All In A Row Quilt-Along Facebook page.

On Facebook and Instagram – follow the hashtag – #allinarowquiltalong.

So here’s who is hopping and when – it’s a bevy of beauties!

January 18: Brenda Riddle & moi.

January 19: Corey Yoder & Janet Clare

January 20: Me & My Sister (aka Barb & Mary) & Barbara Brackman

January 21: Pat Sloan & Edyta Sitar

January 22: Camille Roskelley & Kathy Schmitz

January 23: Sweetwater (Karla, Lisa & ) & Blackbird Designs (Alma & Barb)

January 24:  Anne Sutton & Laurie Simpson

January 25: Lisa Bongean & Joanna Figueroa

January 26: Betsy Chutchian & Jen Kingwell

January 27: Kate Spain & Sandy Gervais

January 28: Kaari Meng & Lynne Hagemeir

If you leave a comment by Friday, January 22nd – midnight – you’ll be entered to win a copy of the book and a couple of Layer Cakes to get you started on your rows.

Who knows, even waiting for the fabric and the book, there is a really good chance you’ll finish your first row before I do!  (And no, I’m not counting the house row I made for the book.)

Whew.  Done.  I’m off to sew…

Or work.  One of those.

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Digging Deep into the Past and Present of Quilting

There are lots of reasons we love quilting—the fabrics, the patterns, the time spent sewing by machine and hand. For most of us, making quilts is enough. But some folks want to dig deep into quilting, to learn more about where quilts come from and where the art of quilting is going.

delaine log cabin coll brackman

Log cabin pieced of challis, delaines, and other mixed wools, circa 1870.

One way to learn more about quilting is to peruse quilting books and magazines. Moda’s very own designer, quilt historian Barbara Brackman, has written many books on quilt history and these are a great place to delve more deeply into quilting’s past. Her Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns, for example, contains more than 4,000 examples from 1830 to 1970. While a number of her books are out of print, you can check her Etsy shop for some of them. (The images in this post are from Barbara’s collection.)

Tree Peony Coll Brackman

Peony Patch tree, circa 1900-1920

Barbara’s blogs are also a terrific source of information. Check out Material Culture and Civil War Quilts. Her reproduction patterns, available in many of her books, would make a great group project—perfect for the shop owner who wants to provide a little historical background along with teaching technical skills.

Pineapple Coll Brackman

Wool Pineapple quilt, circa 1890-1910

If you’re interested in ongoing research and study, check out the American Quilt Study Group. They hold annual national meetings as well as regional meetings, publish the journal Uncoverings, and have a Facebook group where members share their quilt finds and questions.

Hexagon Coll Brackman

Hexagons, circa 1840

Quilters interested in taking things further can study quilting at the university level. The University of Nebraska at Lincoln offers a certificate and degrees in quilt studies. (I confess that this is on my bucket list. Especially because it’s possible to earn the certificate and one of the degrees via distance learning.)

zig-zag Coll Brackman

Orange Zig Zag , circa 1910-1925

Another option for learning more about quilt history is to become a quilt appraiser. Professional appraising certification can be earned through the American Quilter’s Society in Paducah, Kentucky. According to Lori East, one of about 100 appraisers certified by AQS in the U.S. and Canada, professionally trained appraisers must know about quilts, but also fabric styles, dating, and weaves; dye chemistry and history; tax and estate conditions for new and old quilts; social and political history and stay abreast of auctions, market conditions of new and old quilts, and current quiltmaking trends. “Certification is difficult and time-consuming and includes both written and oral examinations,“ says Lori. She notes that most quilt appraisers belong to the Professional Association of Appraisers of Quilts and Quilted Textiles, and she also shared a detailed blog post about appraising. You can find it here. Having a professional appraiser come to your shop or guild is a great way for members to learn about their own quilts, as well as about historic quilting in general.

hexagonpineapple coll Brackman

Hexagonal Pineapple quilt of wools, circa 1880

Did I miss any opportunities for professional certification in the quilting world? (I realize I’ve just touched on those the United States.) If you know of others, leave a comment. I’ve learned so much from your comments and I know others do, too. Thanks!

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From across the pond…

England.  Great Britain.  The UK.

English Paper Piecing.

EPP Sweetgirlstudio - sweetwatercottonshoppe

I love this picture from the Sweetwater Cotton Shop on Instagram – @sweetgirlstudio.  They’re Aussies – they love EPP. 

The first thing most of us probably think of with English Paper Piecing is hexagons – a Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilt.  Hexagon-based patterns became popular in England in the 1830s and when Godey’s Lady’s Book published the first hexagon quilt pattern in 1835, it became very popular in “the Colonies”.  It was often called “English Paper Piecing” because anything British was deemed very elegant.

Even though it’s remained popular, it has become very “hip” to EPP.  I think there are several reasons for that, not the least of which is the portability of it.  (Says someone with a sewing machine that weighs 38 lbs. in it’s case.)

Do you EPP?  I do… or I have.  I really enjoyed it and I’m trying to get back to doing more of it.

Tammy helped.  She’s been working on this the past month or so, it’s one of three she’s making for her grandkids.  (If I wasn’t the same age, I’d probably see if I could get on that list…)


Linzee helped too.  At Quilt Market, she told me about a Schoolhouse presentation she’d been to by Diane Gilleland for her new book, All Points Patchwork.

CT All Points Patchwork

Of course I had to get it and it’s one of the best “quilt books” I’ve bought in years.  What I love most about it is that on the second page of the book, Diane states that this is an “idea book” and not a project book.  Her goal is to share tricks, tips, ideas and methods, the kind of information we need to create our own designs.  By explaining how to draft the pieces and create patterns, she’s giving us the freedom to incorporate EPP into designs we already like and use.

I also love that she takes the time to talk about tools – what she uses, what she recommends, and lots of options.  Of course I took that as an excuse to raid search the warehouse look through my workroom in search of tools.


Some of the basics – from top left in a roughly clockwise order:

  • Good, fine thread.  I like Aurifil 50 wt.  Neutral thread for stitching pieces together and a brightly contrasting thread for basting is you’ll be removing your thread after joining pieces.  The bright contrasting color makes it easier to see the thread while removing it.
  • Thimbles – hand-sewing with a fine needle… some fingertip protection is in order.  Right?  Any thimble will do but this Nimble Thimble is my current favorite.
  • A seam ripper because yes, pieces do still get sewn together incorrectly.  This Clover white seam ripper is my all-time favorite.
  • Needles.  Diane recommends Sharps for basting and Quilting/Betweens for joining pieces.  She also suggests trying different sizes to find the one that works best for you.
  • Applique pins – used to secure the paper to the fabric while basting or to pin to pieces together for stitching.
  • Wonder Clips – very popular to keep two pieces together while stitching adjoining pieces.

And that’s why I love this book – it presents options instead of “this is what you will use and you will love it”.  I like straw needles – quilting/betweens are too short for my clumsy fingers.  Thimbles?  I’m trying – really.  The Nimble Thimble shown above is nice and I’m getting used to it – slowly.  But because I don’t like stitching through the paper, I usually do fine with Thimble Pads.  (They’re always in any stitching kit/bag I have.)


More options:

  • Templates.  If you like them, use them.  I use them because I love being able to cut an entire mini charm pack into hexagons in a minute or two.  Then it’s just a matter of basting them to the pre-cut papers.
  • Hole punch and crochet hook – they make removing the papers a lot easier.  I knew about the hole punch but not about the crochet hook.  Genius!
  • Glue sticks.  Even if you’d never glue-baste the edges, a glue stick can be very, very helpful while  basting.  The Sewline Glue Pens are my favorite but I always have a few Elmer’s School Glue Sticks on hand.
  • Pre-cut papers.  While Diane shows you how to draft your own pieces, she also discusses how to use and combine pre-cut papers to make original designs.  Many of the projects in the book were made with Paper Pieces templates and papers.


This is one of my favorite things about English Paper Piecing, the back of the quilt is almost better than the front.

Okay, now that I have the tools, I’m going to make this…


Lucy Boston – the Patchwork of the Crosses by Linda Franz.


Or not.  I love the quilt, it’s an “eventually” project.  I know I’m going to be tempted though, a friend has half of her blocks done and it’s quite wonderful.  While the quilt and book have been popular since it was published a few years ago, it seems like more and more quilters are diving in every day.

The variety of fabrics being used is amazing – it’s not just for Reproduction fabrics.  Bonnie & Camille?

Lucy Boston B&C ThreeHoneyBees - Kylie Seldon

This is by Kylie Seldon – @ThreeHoneyBees on Instagram.

The best thing about designs that work well for English Paper Piecing is that they can be found anywhere.  A book I’ve had on my work table for a few weeks is Hexagons, Diamonds, Triangles and More by Kelly Ashton.


It’s billed as a skill-builder with techniques for 60-degree patchwork by hand or machine, and all of the designs could be done with English Paper Piecing.  Paper Pieces has the pre-cut papers in the shapes required to make all three of these blocks.

The funniest part of all this is that this all comes back to geometry.  Another one of those subjects I avoided in school because I was never ever going to need it or use it in my lifetime.  Given what I do for my work and hobby, I find that just a wee bit ironic.

So do you do English Paper Piecing?  Do you have any tips or tricks to suggest?

Have a terrific weekend!

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