*squeal* Jen Kingwell is coming to Atlanta! *squeal*

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I first met Jen Kingwell a couple of years ago at Fall Quilt Market in Houston, TX.  She was quietly in her booth, surrounded by some of the most phenom quilts I had ever seen.  Circle Game caught my heart hard and fast.  Green Tea and Sweet Beans was there too.  I was just blown away by everything from the fabric selection to the execution.  And Jen.  She couldn’t have been more delightful to chat with.  I felt like saying to everyone I met, “Hey, did you see that Jen Kingwell lady?!?”  I know, totally professional.

At that time I had no idea that I would ever have a studio, much less the opportunity to host this hand-piecing, hand-quilting, crazy awesome Aussie designer for a workshop and trunk show!  Yeah, that’s right.  She’s coming here.  I die.

So, here’s the scoop.  Intown Quilters, the phenom quilt shop in Atlanta, and I have partnered up to bring Jen to town.  All workshops are $165, lunch included, pattern/book required, no machines, limit 20 attendees.  Trunk shows are $20, no supplies needed, limit 40 attendees.  Click on links to register online.  Here’s the schedule:

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Monday, Nov. 2, 10 am-5 pm, at Intown Quilters, My Small World (brand new pattern!)
Link to sign up: https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=DAR2ANSPP9RVU

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Tuesday, Nov. 3, 10 am-5 pm, at Intown Quilters, Bring Me Flowers
Link to sign up: https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=3QU2J9EYC3SJG

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Tuesday, Nov. 3, 7-9 pm, at Intown Quilters, Trunk Show
Link to sign up: https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=LDURJX39T7QVQ

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Wednesday, Nov. 4, at Intown Quilters, Georgetown on My Mind
Link to sign up: https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=GWSBBDNP7UNYS

spring fever

Thursday, Nov. 5, 9am- 4pm, at The Green Apricot, Spring Fever from Quilt Lovely
Link to sign up: http://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/event?oeidk=a07ebczqxdm6612087e&llr=kyej4ltab

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Thursday, Nov. 5, 7-9pm, at The Green Apricot, Trunk Show
Link to sign up: http://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/event?oeidk=a07ebd0g31m7cbf7733&llr=kyej4ltab

We began with a registration priority list, so these classes have already begun to fill.  Don’t wait to sign up, and if sign-ups are full, be sure to contact Intown Quilters (404-634-6924) or The Green Apricot (770-584-3498) for a waiting list in case of any cancellations, although registration is strictly an online process.  (You do not have to have a PayPal account in order to register via PayPal.)

Okay, so now that all of the nitty gritty is out of the way, is it okay if I just totally have a quilt geek moment?  Will you join me in a bit of a happy dance?  And maybe a little delightful giggle?

See you in November…

Simply Strings: A Modern Approach to a Traditional Quilt Block

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Stag Nation by Rana Heredia of Sewn Into the Fabric…

This was the quilt that stopped me in my tracks at the Spring 2015 Quilt Market.  So, I had to stop and chat a minute with the designer.  Rana Heredia of Sewn Into the Fabric… was a delight to talk to, and I enjoyed so much looking through her creative offerings.  One of my goals at market was to find books to review, and it so happens that Rana has just published her first book.  She has a multitude of patterns available- everything from string quilts to pin cushions, so it seems a pretty natural transition to a book.

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Simply Strings: A Modern Approach to a Traditional Quilt Block is really a very fun string quilt pattern book.  The section “String Quilting Basics”, pages 5-11, is well illustrated and written, especially for those who are new to string quilting.  I was especially intrigued by the process of creating string blocks, then using them in a reverse applique process, as in the process to make Stag Nation.  The reverse applique process is also used in the patterns “Organic”, page 46, and “Big Max”, page 50.

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Hoping to make this one in the future!

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This process just took an afternoon!

Rana teaches a needle turn reverse applique method.  Admittedly, I cheated a bit on my sample.  I was in a bit of a hurry, so I did a raw edge reverse applique.  I liked the raw edge effect, although I would like to practice the needle turn technique.

I also found that I liked using a lightweight fusible stabilizer to create my string blocks rather than paper.  I prefer this for two reasons.  The first is that the fabric lays nice and flat as new strings are added.  Sometimes, when using paper, the fabric can slip and leave rumples in the design.  The second is being able to leave the stabilizer in the project, thus reducing paper waste.  (Several of the blocks have to be cut from larger pieces, so new paper, rather than recycled paper, ends up being the go-to.)  Also, eliminating the need to remove the papers saves time in the overall project.

I used a Pellon product called Shape Flex.  It is a very lightweight woven cotton stabilizer with a light fusible on one side.  Be careful not to run the iron over the fusible side of the stabilizer, but if you do accidentally hit it with the iron, it is generally pretty forgiving, unlike many fusible products.

Rana also has a fun website and blog, where I found another string project to work on.  Her String Along 2015: String Fling is delightful, and we are jumping on that wagon here at The Green Apricot.  Below are two of Month 1- the center medallion of a six-month project.  In the end, the quilt is 84″ x 84″- pretty large and in charge.  Each month as we meet at The Green Apricot for Program Night, we will add the next needed border and share our work with one another.  You’re invited too.  If you can’t make it to the studio, share your pics on Instagram or Facebook so we can see what you’ve been making.

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Dear Dresden: Small Bets

As you may have read in Dear Dresden, I have recently fallen in love with the Dresden Plate.  But being in love with a quilt block is complicated.  I expect the block to make changes based on my desires, and to do it quickly.  I require flexibility, and very little complaining about it.  Not too much to ask.

And so, I thought I’d make a couple of small bets- bets that I could actually get what was in my brain on fabric.  And they paid off.

Bet you’ll love them.

Dear Dresden: Small Bets

Mini- 18 1/2″ x 24 1/2″
Snack Mat- 9″ square

Tools I used:  Suzn Quilts Mini Dresden Plate Templates and Suzn Quilts Tiny Dresden Plate Templates

Dear Dresden: Small Bets Mini

Dear Dresden: Small Bets Mini

Dear Dresden: Small Bets Mini
Fabric Requirements:
(48) 3 1/2″ background squares
(16) Mini blades, cut from 3 1/2″ strips or squares
(32) Tiny blades, cut from 2″ strips or squares
7″ x wof binding fabric (binding cut 2 1/2″, 3/8″ seam)
Batting and backing to fit

Great opportunity to use up some scraps!  I used some tidbits of Lecein Fabrics that I picked up at Quilt Market (Spring 2015) for the blades, and a collection of low volume fabrics from my scraps for the background squares.

Begin by creating the blades.  I used the Mini and Tiny Dresden Plate Templates from Suzn Quilts, but it would be possible to make your own templates.

Follow the directions that come with the templates to make each blade.  (There are also plenty of tutorials online, including a very brief discussion on Dear Dresden.)

Aligning bottom of blade to bottom of blade, sew two Tiny blades to either side of a Mini blade.  Press seam allowances to center of Mini blade.

Carefully pin blade unit to a 3 1/2″ square of background fabric.  Top stitch blade unit.

Carefully trim away excess background, leaving 1/4″ seam allowance.  I prefer to use serrated scissors for this process, and be careful to only cut the background fabric, leaving the Dresden blades in tact.  Check the partial Dresden block to verify that it is 3 1/2″.  Repeat this process for 16 blocks.

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Arrange the 3 1/2″ background blocks and the 3 1/2″ partial Dresden blocks in a pleasing manner, as shown.  Anticipate holes in the Dresden sections.  Sew blocks together in groups of four, and then by rows.

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Raw-edge applique circles over the holes in the Dresden plate blocks.  Use a whole circle, even for the half Dresden sections.  I used a shot glass to trace circles onto fusible web, which is the only use I have for a shot glass!  After the applique circles are in place, trim the excess from the half Dresden sections.  (A hexagon or any number of other shapes could also work.  Use your imagination!)

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Layer quilt top with batting and backing and quilt as desired.  Cut binding 2 1/4″.  Fold  and press binding in half lengthwise.  Machine stitch to the front of the mini using a 3/8″ seam.  Turn binding to the back and hand stitch.


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Dear Dresden: Small Bets Snack Mat

Dear Dresden: Small Bets Snack Mat
Fabric Requirements:
(12) Mini blades, cut from 3 1/2″ strips or squares
9 1/2″ square background fabric
1 1/2″ x wof binding fabric (binding cut 1 1/2″, 1/4″ seam)
Batting and backing to fit

I love the effect of a double-ended Dresden Plate, and I had a few of those Lecein fabrics left over, so this begged to be made.

I used the Mini Dresden Template by Suzn Quilts for this one, but you could make your own template.

Create Dresden blades in the traditional manner with a seam at the top, or larger, end of the blade.  Do the same process to the bottom, or smaller, end of the blade, creating a point at both ends of the blade.  Repeat 12 times.  Sew blades together, aligning points and pressing seams consistently in one direction.  *Tip- When sewing blades together, begin seams about 1/8″ down, back stitch, stitch to end, back stitch.

Find the center of the 9 1/2″ square background fabric by folding in half twice and pressing.  Center the Dresden Plate by using the pressing lines.  Pin in place and top stitch to the background.  Layer with batting and backing, then quilt as desired.  Trim to 9″ square.

Cut binding 1 1/2″ x width of fabric.  Fold binding in half lengthwise.  Machine stitch to the front of the snack mat using a 1/4″ seam.  Turn binding to the back and hand stitch.

Dear Dresden

The Green Apricot studio has a number of options.  The studio accommodates 16 sewing machines easily, and includes outlets for each sewer, as well as space for 4 irons and a cutting station.

Yeah, yeah.  So what?  A lot of sewing studios have that.

The studio also offers a large variety of tools for use while in the studio- like about 150 rulers and templates.  All of which I like to test, and then explain them to you.

Recently I had the chance to do a program at a local guild about Dresden Plate tools that are available on the market.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I know I did not test every single tool available to make a Dresden Plate.  However, I did test enough of them to be able to tell you a little about how they work, and when and why to buy which one.

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So, here’s the scoop.  First of all, not all Dresden Plates are Dresden Plates.  There are also Fans and Wagon Wheels, which technically are similar to Dresden Plates, but are not Dresden Plates.  And they may have a peaked tip, or not.  Some have blunt tips.  Some have rounded tips.  Some have three-sided tips.  Some have 20 blades.  Some have 12 blades.  Some have 8 blades.  Some are tiny.  Some are huge.  Some have a hole in the center when you make them.  Some don’t.  Some are complete circles.  Some are not.  And honestly, in the history of quilting, all of those variations add up to totally different block names, but for today, let’s just lump them as Dresdens, simply because it is the most recognizable name.

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Secondly, as far as I can tell, there are basically three ways to make a Dresden Plate.  Paper piecing is probably the least common, but in patterns such as Everyday Best by Piece ‘O Cake use the Dresden idea and expound on it.  The oldest, and probably most common, is templates.  Just Google Dresden Plate Templates and you’ll come up with lots of results, but I especially liked the tutorial on making your own paper templates at PatchworkPosse.com.  The third way is to use manufactured templates or rulers, which are usually made out of materials suited for rotary cutting tools.

Paper piecing is paper piecing, but whether you use paper templates or manufactured templates, the process is pretty much the same.  Cut wedges, sew tops, clip, turn, press, then sew wedges together into desired finished shape.  Applique finished shape to a background fabric, then applique circle over center.  Applique can be hand or machine.  Background may be whole cloth or just a block.  All depends on the desired finish.

There are two basic differences to look for in templates or rulers.  It’s all about the degree of the wedge, and how narrow the bottom of the wedge is.

The wider the degree of the wedge, the fewer blades the Dresden Plate will have.  A 30 degree wedge will create 12 plates, an 18 degree wedge will create 20 plates.  There are other degrees that are available, so just be aware that as the degree of the template changes, so will the number of plates.  And be aware that what one manufacturer calls 18 degrees may not be what another manufacturer calls 18 degrees.  If you want your Dresdens to be consistent, be sure to use the same template for all of your blades.

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Likewise, the more narrow the bottom of the wedge, the less of a hole will be created in the center of the Dresden Plate.  Most templates have a wider bottom edge, which is what creates the hole in the center.  However, some have very narrow bottom edges, which leaves no hole in the center, or at least a very minimal one.  Having a hole in the center eliminates the bulk where the seams come together, and there isn’t a concern with matching seams as they meet in the center.

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Some templates include information on cutting the circle to applique on the center, and some do not.  It all depends on the product.  Just as in with the blades, it is possible to make your own template for the center applique, but it is helpful to have a guide.  Also, the center applique does not have to be a circle.  It can be a hexagon.  A square.  A bird.  Really, anything you want, as long as it securely covers the opening in the center of the Dresden Plate.

So, here is the list of products that I reviewed, and just a little bit about each one.  I hope you find this helpful on your next Dresden Plate project!

Suzn Quilts Mini Dresden– Uses 3 1/2″ strips to create 12 blades.  Includes circle applique template.
Suzn Quilts Tiny Dresden– Uses 2″ strips to create 12 blades.  Includes circle applique template.
Marti Michell Dresden– Includes multiple tools and extensive instructions for multiple sizes from 7-12″.
Marti Michell Mini Dresden– Includes multiple tools and extensive instructions for multiple sizes from 3-5″.
Creative Grids Kaleidoscope & Dresden Plate– 45 or 22 1/2 degree triangle for multiple size blades.  45 degree makes 8 blades, 22 1/2 makes 16 blades.  Instructions included as well as online video.
Creative Grids 18 degree Dresden– Cuts multiple size blades, 20 blades per full Dresden.  Includes circle template, which can also be used to make rounded tips.  Instructions included as well as online video.
EZ Quilting 30 degree Triangle Ruler– Cuts multiple size blades, 12 blades per full Dresden.  Limited instructions.  Finishes with no hole in center.  Does not include template for applique circle.
EZ Quilting 45 degree Triangle Ruler– Cuts multiple size blades, 8 blades per full Dresden.  Limited instructions.  Finishes with no hole in center.  Does not include template for applique circle.
EZ Quilting Dresden– Cuts multiple size blades, 20 blades per full Dresden.  Limited instructions.  Does not include template for applique circle.
Stack’N’Whack 18 degree Fan– Cuts multiple size blades, 20 blades per full Dresden.  Excellent instructions.  Includes pattern.
Fast 2 Cut Dresden Plate Template– Cuts multiple size blades, 20 blades per full Dresden.  Excellent instructions.  Does not include circle template.
Clover Dresden Plate and Fan Collection by Nancy Zieman– Cuts multiple size blades, 20 blades per full Dresden.  Instructions in multiple languages.  Includes template for applique circle.  Not to be used directly with rotary cutter.  Trace first, or alight rotary ruler with the template.

Hmmmmm. Green Apricots. And Sarah. Who knew?

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Well, as the story goes, my husband loves green apricots.  With salt.  In late spring he would climb the trees that grew on his family’s property and eat his fill.  He looked forward to it every year as a boy, but he hasn’t eaten any green apricots in a very long time.

This year we happened to have the opportunity to be in southern Utah in late spring.  We were visiting family and taking care of some business, and while we were in town we looked for some green apricots.  And we found them.

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I have actually never eaten an apricot.  Except dried.  And maybe canned.  So this was going to be a new thing for me.  I was surprised at how small they were.  And by how much Jeff enjoyed eating the really, really green ones.

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So I tried them.  A green one.  A not-so-green one.  A ripe one.  I was starting to feel like Goldilocks.  Turns out that when it comes to apricots, I’m a Momma Bear kind of girl.  The green ones were way too firm and tart for me, and the ripe ones seemed to be lacking in flavor a bit.  The right kind were a pretty shade of orange, with just tinges of green.  Right texture.  Right flavor.  Just right.  Like a banana with just a bit of green still left on the skin.

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But all of that is only part of the story.  The trees that Jeff used to climb are no longer in the family, so his brother hooked us up with a sweet friend named Sarah who owns these trees.  Sarah is a character.  Sarah is 92.  Sarah is a smart cookie.

As we were taking pictures, eating apricots, and other such shenanigans in the orchard, Sarah came out and asked why we were so very interested in her apricot trees.  My sister-in-law explained a bit about The Green Apricot, and Sarah wanted to talk to me.  So we chatted for a minute.  Turns out Sarah’s a retired quilter, if you will.  She asked if I had one of those big quilting machines.  I told her I did not yet.  Then she looked at me earnestly with those clear, blue eyes and said, “Well, you should get one.”

Then she said “I want to show you something.  Come on in the house.”

I dutifully followed her inside, where I met her pup and descended into the coolness of a sitting room.  We were surrounded by plants and paintings.  She began to dig through piles of pictures, looking for just the right one.  As she dug, she told of a flood relief effort she had been involved in in the 1990’s.  A phone call here, a smile there, a good natured push in the right direction and this woman had gathered materials and man power to make enough quilts to cover the floor of the Dixie College sports arena.  Six times over.  And, as if that wasn’t enough, found a way to have them all delivered to the correct distribution spot with the Red Cross.  She carefully controlled the slight curl in her nose as she expressed her gratitude for the yards and yards of cotton-poly blend fabric donated for the backing of the quilts.  She told of logistics miracles, and then the pictures started to emerge.  Photos of a woman 22 years younger, with a grin almost as large as the stack of quilts she was standing with.  Who knew?

A few minutes later we said our good-byes, and she looked at me with those eyes and said “Get you one of those machines.”

Well.

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What I learned at Spring Quilt Market 2015- Minneapolis, MN

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By the Block: 18 Surprisingly Simple Quilts by Siobhan Rogers

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This book is SO. MUCH. FUN.  By the Block: 18 Surprisingly Simple Quilts by Siobhan Rogers and published by Interweave (F+W Media) is stinking loaded with great projects for everyone from the novice quilter to the maker who is “time-poor,” as Siobhan describes in her introduction.  The directions for each project are clear, with plenty of diagrams for the spatial learner, such as myself.

"Wild Horses" by Siobhan Rogers, page 119 of By the Block: 18 Surprisingly Simple Quilts

“Wild Horses” by Siobhan Rogers, page 119 of By the Block: 18 Surprisingly Simple Quilts

As I perused the pages, I found that there were 11 projects that I was seriously contemplating making.  Like immediately.  But I had to pick one.  Ugh.  If you ever want to know about someone’s commitment issues, ask them to pick a quilt pattern or a piece of fabric.

"Go Big or Go Home" by Siobhan Rogers, page 47 of By the Block: 18 Surprisingly Simple Quilts

“Go Big or Go Home” by Siobhan Rogers, page 47 of By the Block: 18 Surprisingly Simple Quilts

I finally settled on “Go Big or Go Home.”  I mean really, who wouldn’t love a quilt named that?!?  And besides, how can you go wrong with huge HSTs?  So, I got to work.  The hardest part was picking fabrics from my stash that were worthy.  See the comment above about commitment issues.  The fun part was the arranging.

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I chose to use two different large scale fabrics to go into this project, and I loved playing around with the effects of placement.  I was actually not having the best day, and was really excited when this last arrangement showed up on the design wall…

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Now to pick out fabrics for the next project… Maybe “Deco” on page 95- nestled log cabin hearts, which isn’t normally my thing, but hello, this one is cool.  But wait, “Wild Horses” uses fat quarters, and I just got that Alison Glass FQ pack from Spool…

See ya.  I got some sewing to do.