Wednesday, June 20, 2012

thread question

I'm feeling like a real dummy right now. I'm working on my Roseville and my thread is showing, no matter how tiny a bite I take. I was taught that if I didn't have the exact color to match my applique fabric, to go a tad lighter. I asked on another site and was told I should have gone a tad darker.
What is the right answer? I'll pull out the stitches on one piece but not the whole block!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Pastel & solid fabrics?

A question from Jennifer D:

I am curious if you’ve posted/written your perspective about color anywhere that I could read?  I am very intrigued by your use of color and pattern in your quilts.  I’m mostly curious whether your style of design would work with solids or pastel prints.  

Hi Jennifer,

Thanks for your question, I hope I can answer this!

Pastel fabrics will be suitable for my patterns, just watch out for the values of the fabrics. If we're talking in a scale of 1 to 10, your pastels will be in the range of 2 to 5 or 6. If you scan and print various fabrics in your computer and set the printer only to print black and white, you'll see the fabric in grey. The grey scale runs from 10 which  is black and white is at 1. Decide what sort of look your quilt is going to be, pastels as in the French country quilts? Then look at the background fabric you're going to use. If this background is say a pastel dotty / stripe fabric in light apple green, you'll be able to use quite pale prints up to the medium range, I think the important thing to consider is the contrast and texture of the prints. Line up your print fabrics on the background. I'll pull out all the pastel pinks, yellows, apricots, blues, greens, aquas and lilacs. Most fabrics in pastels also come in many hues if you put them next to each other. 
Say you're going to do a flower in pinks on the light apple green background and it has 5 parts, try and find 5 different shades of pinks, then add a yellow for the middle bit and different greens for the leaves and light to mid- brown for the stem. Also, look at the texture of the prints, not feel-wise but what the print fabric gives you. If you look at PJ Feathers, this fabric has a lot of textures in different parts of feathers, same as in PJ Shell Montage. I hope this is making sense, it is really hard trying to explain in words, not being face to face.

Solids are do-able, but as the solid fabrics have no texture, you'll probably need a huge array of solid fabrics to achieve and maintain the interest in the quilt. I think it will probably work better on a dark background rather than a pale one. Pam has done her Roseville Album in solid Oakshot cottons on a dark background, it looks spectacular, have a look at it, it is on the list of Labels. Also, if you decide on solids, it will be better if you work with the shot cottons. Shot cottons are woven using 2 different colour threads and it gives that lovely luminosity that you don't get with the regular solids. Hope this helps, I hope other readers who have done the patterns in pastels and solids might be able to put their thoughts? cheers, Kim McL

Sunday, June 17, 2012

my last bird tree!

So finally I finshed the last of the big panels!! I still enjoy sewing with all theese beautitful fabrics, but now I begin to see the end of this quilt and cannot wait to see it finished!!

Pandemonium Quilt tutorial # 6, pieced blocks & four animals

Hello Everyone,

We're on the last tutorial on this quilt!

We'll cover the areas that are left over.

In case you haven't noticed, Janet has kindly grouped the tutorials together, it is under the Glorious Applique banner, on top of the photograph.

The four animals: 

I think this part is pretty easy, choose the log cabin fabric strips for the 4 blocks first, then the frames that go with them, and then the animals. These 4 blocks are fun to do!

The Disc block:

Choose the shot cotton background first - now - at this stage you're going to have to take notice of all the other blocks you have done. Might be a good idea to spread all on the floor or on your design wall or pin to a big flat bedsheet, see what shot cotton colours you're going to need. Some of these blocks are interchangeable because they are all 12" x 12", the only one that is a stand alone is the Wheel block which is 15" x 15".

Having the shot cotton background, choose the big focal circle and then the ring around it. Next, choose the scallop flaps. When appliqueing the flaps, keep the first one partially open as you'll have to slip in the last one. I've used PJ Miami for the centre - brilliant isn't it? I think the PJ Shell Montage or PJ Feathers might be great too, or the PJ Floral Burst. Here is a chance to showcase that favourite fabric! 

The Four Stars Block:

Not my best, I think the top right hand star is not great, too much same aqua as the shot cotton background, should have used a stripe fabric I think. Overall, I think the block is too pale! The applique ovals, circles and bird in the middle square were sewn first on oversized squares, pressed and then trimmed to size + seam allowance. 
If I were to do this block again, I would have chosen stronger colour stars using stripe fabrics or fabrics that you can fussy cut. So, I'll wait and see what you come up with, please post the photos, love to see it!
Hint, make a cutting template from see through plastic, draw the sewing line in and then move this template around the fabric. When you've decided which area you're going to use, use your pen to draw the motif or the stripe of the fabric on the template - this way you're going to get the same patch , its amazing what sort of stars you can come up with! If you're using those laundry pens, you can use the nail polish remover to clean the ink from the template.

There is this mirror made by Marty Mitchell " Magic Mirrors" - if you angle the mirrors around the 45 degrees diamond on the fabric, you can preview what your star will look like. Great gadget!

I've used a 60 degree diamond template to illustrate as to how to use the Magic Mirror, can't find the 45 degree one! I've used the 2 mirrors around the template & you can see what the star would look like. You can also use it for hexagons.

The Flower Petal Block:

You've chosen the shot cotton background, now, find the fabric, again as above, make the plastic template and audition the fabrics in your stash for the petals. I've used KF Kirman and the fabric did have lots of holes after I've finished cutting. I love this fabric and have used it a lot in other quilts. I'm sure you'll find your favourite too. Next choose the star points , pick a colour from the petal print, then choose the focal centre fabric and the ring around it. I think PJ Feathers might be cool here, there is a section of the Feathers where there is the peacock's tail with it's eye - look at it, it kind of screams Me, Me, you might need a bit of yardage though.

In the pattern pack, I did put this CAUTION paragraph in regards to cutting the background fabric.

The 4 corners of the block tapered to a line in the centres, and there is absolutely no way you can make a plastic template cut to this line. So, make the template as far as you can, and instead of cutting the background fabric and then marking the sewing line, this time you'll need to mark the sewing line first. Extend that line 6" from the corners and mark the point, you'll be sewing to this point. If you don't do this, you are going to be a bit short! 

Six Pointed Star Block:

 Again, watch out re cutting the background fabric, the 4 corners of the block tapered into a line in the middle, proceed as the above block - please read, it is important ( it is mentioned in the pattern pack also). 
You have the shot cotton background, now choose the fabric for the large segments,  make the plastic template first and use it to audition the parts of the fabric, see above as per 4 stars block. Then match the star points fabric to the large segments and then the circles in the centre. I love this block. One day, I'm going to make a quilt using this block.

The Wheel block:

You'll need to choose the blades for the centre circle, something that will go with the shot cotton background. Stripes always add a lot of movement to the block, I've used KF Serape and the Spots. Try others, KF Mirage for example. Again make that see through plastic template as per 4 Stars Block above so that you can audition the area of your chosen fabric.
For the applique in the corners, you are asked to cut 2 squares, draw the applique design on the 2 opposite corners, applique the patches, press then use the template to mark the sewing lines, then cut after adding seam allowance. If you cut first, then applique, the fabric will stretch and it will be harder to manage. 

If you need to see how to hand piece a curved edge, please refer to previous tutorial on handpiecing. ( see link for tutorials under the banner)

Oops, almost forgot, the Ninepatch and Flower Spray Blocks up above the Folly:

They are pretty simple, you need to do the applique first on the oversized patches, then press, mark with templates, add seam allowance and cut. Then proceed with the piecing.
Choose the 5 shotcottons for the backgrounds and then the prints that go with the shot cottons.

Also, if you have EQ 7 or previous EQ software, you can use their block library to change the blocks, just make sure they are the right size.

If you don't want to do the whole Pandemonium Quilt, you can use the applique blocks to make a baby quilt or a wall hanging, or a floor cushion. Do what you like and make it your own, I love to see it, so please post pictures!

Hope these tutorials have been of some interest to you, do let me know if you need something clarified.

Many thanks for reading, and please post you work, Love to see it. Kim McL

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Kim's Mariner's Compass Medallion quilt

Kim was invited to display two quilts for the New South Wales quilt and craft show in Sydney which started yesterday and runs through until Sunday. Her two quilts were part of the Masters exhibition which was to celebrate the thirty year anniversary of the guild's show.
This Mariners Compass quilt was done with reproduction fabrics. You can see Robyn's version of this quilt on the blog here. This will be released as a pattern but not for awhile.
I'm sorry about the quality of the photos, I only had my phone but I'll be returning tomorrow to take lots with a decent camera. I couldn't get far enough away to get a straight on shot of the quilt and the lighting was washing the right side out a bit. The hand quilting was lovely.
The second quilt was the Pandemonium which was lighter in real life than what I had imagined. It was truly glorious and such a treat to see.
photos shown are with Kim McLean's permission.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Pandemonium Quilt Tutorials # 5, House & Horse yard blocks, 8" pieced flower baskets and 4" circle in diamond blocks

Hello everyone,

Hope you're all happily stitching at something,

We'll go through the House block first,

With this one, choose the roofing first, then the middle section where the the flower box is and then the upper part of the roof where the circular window is. Line up these three fabrics and see if they are working or not, they are very noticeable parts of the block. I've used KF Diagonal Stripes. Why? because I love the fabric!  This is the first fabric I chose, then the other two. A fabric like BM Rings or KF Plink might be worth auditioning for a different effect. The house bricks - I used Shingles in grey but I think it looks too pale, try the green one - it is more grey than green and it is a darker grey. Choose the curtains - BM Straws, Wrinkle, Waves or Plaid come to mind, or something in small florals? It can a be a chintzy one then! Mine was BM Bones, long gone now. The " sheer curtain" was KF Lotus Leaf in the pastel. The door will have to balance the roof, mine is the BM Herringbone, but try other geometrics.
The next thing you need to choose is the big tree and then, once chosen, the smaller tree. I like using the big florals in Phillip Jacob's or Kaffe's for trees, the big florals give the tree different colours and that makes it interesting. Examples of these big florals: KF August Rose, Cabbage Patch, Cabbage and Rose, Lotus Leaf and Bekah. And PJ Floral Burst, Brassica, Luscious in pink to name a few.
Now, having made decisions for the big pieces, lay out the ironed out shapes on the the background fabric ( see tutorial # 1) you can use the smaller shapes to fill out with the needed colours. Lay them all out on the background as you iron and cut. It is really fun to see the block come alive with the addition of the smaller pieces. Remember that you can still add more colours in the circles.

The Horse Yard:

I love this block, but then I love horses, they are gorgeous animals, skittish and elegant at the same time. Choose the fabrics for the 5 trees first, I've chosen to do them all in different green fabrics, but you can do these in different colours if you like, just keep an eye out for the colours of the horses nearby, you might not want 2 trees and horses all in red for example. You can choose the left tree now if you like or later after the horses. There are 8 horses, so gather your fabric combinations for these. I would choose the bodies first, then match the tails and faces. Spread the colours evenly, if you have a darkish horse at one end, try and have a similar one at the opposite side, it is a matter of balancing the block. After this, choose the other fabrics for the rest of the smaller pieces. I've found that using all red and pink hues for the circles are beneficial for adding colours, I guess it is like putting on a pink or red lipstick!

Whilst we are on the photograph, we might as well  look at the 4 pieced/ applique blocks under the Horse Yard.
Decide the 4 colour groupings - whether you'd like these to be in  blues, browns or whatever. Now, choose the 4 different shot cottons colours. For each shot cotton, choose 4 different prints that go with the shot cotton. I also used different solids as well as the same prints for the little triangles. Regarding the appliqued flowers, I would do the applique first in the oversized square as per pattern instruction, then when applique is done, mark with template the correct size, add seam allowance and trim, then go on with the piecing.

The Vertical Pot Block and the Circle in Diamond blocks:

The applique pot is not really that hard, choose the flower combinations and lay them out and see.
The Circle in Diamond blocks: 
I would choose the fabrics for the focal circles first, then find shot cotton that goes with it, then find fabric for the triangles. 
Applique the circles to the oversized squares first, press then mark with the square template ( see tutorial # 2) and proceed with piecing.

Till next time, happy stitching and please ask if anything is not clear, Kim McL

PS, if you're in Sydney, the Sydney Quilt Show is on from tomorrow ( Wednesday) till Sunday, you'll find the Pandemonium Quilt hanging there for display only, it is not in a competition. Also hanging for display only is the Mariner's Compass, this one is in the reproduction fabrics, the last quilt I did in repros before I moved on to the Kaffe Collective. This poor quilt has been shoved in the corner of my sewing room for a good 10 yrs, it needed some hand quilting to get it done. So, last Christmas holiday period, I actually sat down and finished the hand quilting. I don't have a professional photograph yet, if I manage to take a photo at some stage during the quilt show, I'll post it. K

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


Hi everyone, I am almost through with the last long panel block, about to start my outside border on the Roseville Album.  I need suggestions on how to quilt this large quilt.  Any suggestion will be appreciated! thanks Paula

Monday, June 4, 2012

Pandemonium animals

I have finished the first animal block, the cow. What fun choosing the fabrics! She has a big heart.

The second animal block is Hetty the pink pig.


Pandemonium Quilt tutorial # 4, hand piecing, kitchen garden and the folly.

In this tutorial, I'll cover the handpiecing, the way I do it anyway, perhaps others have other methods? I'm going to copy sections of Basic Quilt Making in the book " The Fabrics of Societywhich I co-authored with Annette Gero:


The following photographs illustrate basic hand piecing. The important points to remember are: sew small stitches, back stitch every three or four stitches, check that the seam lines on both patches match and do not sew over seam lines as you would in machine sewing. In hand piecing, leave seam allowances free, trim seam allowances when the quilt is completed. Use matching thread or medium grey if there are a lot of patches in different colours. With hand piecing, it is perhaps best not to press seams as you go, the less it is handled, the less likely it is for the quilt to be stretched out of shape. I suggest press once before the quilt is basted with batting and backing fabric.


Mark patches, add seam allowance and cut pieces.

In the Pandemonium Pattern Pack, the instruction for the Variable Star block and the Pinwheel block give the accurate template free cutting instruction, in this case, measure and mark 1/4" from the edge of fabric. There are no templates given for these two blocks as it is assumed that you will be doing template free machine piecing.

Should you wish to mark with the template first, you will need to make the templates, follow below:

For the 3" pinwheel template, draw an accurate 1 1/2" x 1 1/2" square and draw a diagonal line, the triangle is template A with the short side of the triangle being 1 1/2"

For the 4" Variable Star templates:
Square A is 1"x 1"
Square D is 2" x 2" 
Template B: make an accurate 2"x 2" square and draw 2 diagonal lines and this will give you triangle B which has the hypoteneuse at 2"
Template C: make an accurate 1" x 1" square and draw  a diagonal line and this will give you triangle C, the short side is 1". 

 Arrange the pieces.

Place right sides of patches together, pin and sew. Backstitch every 3 to 4 stitches.

Look at the second patch at the back of work, check that the stitching is still on the sewing line.

Pin the patches at the intersection and at the last pinning point ( and in between if you wish)

 And sew towards the intersection.

Slip the needle at the intersection, don't sew over it as you would with machine piecing.
Finish sewing to the end, double stitch to knot.

For curved piecing:

Mark patches with the template, on the concave curve, clip the seam allowance.

Pin the right sides of patches together, then sew with tiny running stitch, and backstitch every 3 to 4 stitches. Check the other side also, to make sure the stitches are on the line.


If you are going to do lots of these Variable Stars and Pinwheels, gather your fabrics. I've used the shot cottons and prints.
For the stars, choose fabric for square D first as this is the focal fabric, then choose the star points - perhaps in a colour that is in the square D and then choose a contrast or coordinating colour in the shot cottons for the background of the star.

For the Pinwheel, choose the print and then the shot cotton in something that will go with the print.
The Kitchen Garden: 

I love this block! Those bias strips are meant to be the hedges. I've used BM "Shingles" - the green colour is probably better than the grey one I used, it's too light and used the Clover Bias Maker gadget to make the bias strips. Some stripey fabric would be great here too.
When stitching the bias strips onto the background fabric, make sure that they extend all the way to the edge of the background fabric. The last thing you need is for the hedges to be too short when you are at the stage of measuring the final block to cut off the excess seam allowance! ( I've done this, and I was not a happy camper!) 
Decide on the fabrics for the garden benches aka the cats' sleeping areas. Something that read solid like the "shell scape". ( Refer to last tutorial - see up the top under the banner for a link to previous tutorials)  For the cats and dog, look at the "feathers", "scallops" or "shell montage"-  there are lots of furry textures there. 
The vegetable plots - these are fun, choose the middle part of the vegie bits first and centre the motif of the fabric and then choose the leaves parts.  The animals in the middle, choose the bigger ones first and then use the smaller ones to balance out the colours. The applique pieces here are quite small, so you can use up the scraps. I don't think there is much of a problem here, lots of colours is the general idea. It's amazing how reds and pinks lift up the other colours.

Below this block is the panel " Rooster & Hen Vine". Choose the rooster & hen first and then gather the fabrics for the leaves and berries, line them up and look at the array first before you iron the templates. I used the "ombre" for the rooster and his tail is the PJ "Miami" - this fabric is really great - I also used it in the "Disc" block. Have a look at it and  see  what you can find! I've used BM " rings" for the hen, this fabric line is really useful, lots of rings for circles and it is also lovely for the larger animals.

The Folly:

With this block, you'll need to decide on the roofing, choose 2 fabrics that coordinate together, I used the KF yarn dyed stripe fabric, but this particular colouring may have been discontinued. Look up the Glorious Color site for stripes that are currently available. Really, not too worry, there are other stripes you can choose from, the BM lines have a few, or you can use something with dots like the hen fabric above, then pair it with a shot cotton, the contrast will be lovely. Then choose the fabric for the building structure, something that read solid ( see previous tutorial), I used the BM "shingle" in grey, again I think its a bit too pale, try the green one which is slightly darker. After this, choose the fabric for the dome thing up the top and the awning, the "ombre" is good for this as there are a lot of colours in each width. Next, choose the 2 trees on either side of the folly, and then decide on the pots. Something that will balance out the roofing. After this, choose the steps and the cats and dogs. For the birds on the lower section, try and choose colours that will balance the roof so you'll get an even distribution of colour density. Also do the birds above at the same time to make sure they are roughly at the same colour depth. I love the " coleous" fabric for the birds! Lastly, do the berries, use these to add more colours to the block, or to add colours that are still missing. I did some stem stitch embroidery for the hanging basket. It's not hard is it?

OK, let me know if you want me to clarify something, I'm only too happy to do so, if I know the answer that is! Hope this tutorial have been useful. We'll go and do the Horse Yard and the House next time. Have a lovely time stitching, and don't forget to post your photos! K