Let the feathering begin!

If you’ve been following this blog you’ll know I’m in the process of quilting my Vintage Linens quilt top:


Most of the feathering has been completed in the strips of reproduction fabrics so it’s time to start on the actual vintage linens.

I’ve drawn in the undulating feather vein with a water soluble blue marking pen. I use EZ International pens mostly because I can buy them in bulk. I also use a small plastic applicator filled with distilled vinegar to remove the blue lines. Why vinegar? If you’ve used blue pen much you will know that when using water on the pen marks it can sometimes cause the blue to “wick out” as it dries. I’m finding the distilled vinegar lessens the wicking. The vineger aroma hangs around for maybe a day and then it’s gone.

Below you’ll see the right side of the linen has been marked and quilted:


After the right side was quilted I marked once again the left side to be a mirror image of the right, best as I could. Don’t stress about perfection, it’s all about the finished quilting.

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Both right and left sides are finished:



If you look closely you can easily see the two sides do not match perfectly. When they are freeform feathers, it would be difficult for them to mirror image each other. You can make yourself crazy trying or you can be happy with however they turn out.


The center feather wreath below was created by first stitching around an acrylic circle template and then adding both the inside and outside feathers. For me, unless I mark, the inside feathers can be difficult to line up. Look below and you’ll see there’s a “funny looking” feather at about 2:00 on the wreath. I’m not bothered by this, it’s all about the “big picture”. If you are crazy about perfection, heavily mark or use a feather wreath template.

This block is very special to me because my maternal grandmother embroidered this dresser scarf. The other half is part of my mom’s Old Linens Quilt shown in my previous blog post, or maybe the one before that…


The block below is made up of two doilies. The smaller piece is laying atop the larger.

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Again, I marked blue registration lines to remind me where the center of my feathers should fall as well as a dot to show the center of the block.

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My quilting friend Blue Painters Tape comes to the rescue again, holding back the lace trim to keep it out of the stitching area:

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Almost finished:

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And done! Well, almost done. I will probably eventually add quilting to each of the white 4 corner areas.

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So it’s 2 down and about 24 more to go and then there’s all the white negative space created as I set the blocks together. In other words, there’s lots more to be done! Sometimes a large space can be intimidating when deciding what to quilt.  I’m all about the concept of “divide and conquer” when it comes to quilting.

Hope you’ve enjoyed all the detailed pictures and of course, leave a comment if you have questions!

*** House update: I received an email from the floor tile company advising they have shipped our order! All 8000lbs!

Blessings for a wonderful day and of course “Happy Quilting”!


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Do you SID? How about SID-ESS?

Do you SID? Stitch In the Ditch? Does just the very thought give you hives? Learn from the master, and by master I’m talking about Cindy Needham. If you’ve ever taken a class from her (in person or on Craftsy) then you’ll remember her mantra: ESS…every stink’in seam! I have learned at least 10,000 things from Cindy but honestly, the ESS has changed the way I longarm. 

My rational for ESS: I spend hours upon hours developing and then creating my “one of a kind” quilts. So why hurry through the actual longarm quilting process? It makes perfect sense to be just as meticulous while quilting as it does while piecing. ESS takes a lot of time but then again so did the planning, the cutting, the stitching and the pressing. Enough about that.  Now on to my Vintage Linens quilt project.

Here’s the pic from my last blog post, the finished quilt top.


The backing fabric is 100% cotton bleached medium weight muslin. I over-size cut, serged, laundered and loaded onto the longarm. Did you notice I did not press? I learned a longarm secret a few months ago… Whip that backing fabric out of the clothes dryer and quickly load it onto the longarm. Once loaded, roll the fabric onto the bar furthest from the front of the machine. With a spray bottle in hand, lightly spray the width of the fabric lightly with water. Rolling as needed through the entire length of the fabric, lightly spraying with water at each advancement until all the fabric has been spritzed and rolled. No ironing needed! Love it!

Here’s me hard at work stitching in the ditch in every seam. Almost every seam. Stitching in the seams that count! It has made a world of differenct in my finished quilts. It keeps the blocks true, it cleans up the look of things and it makes such a huge differenct with not having to deal with shifting quilt tops. Besides ESS I machine base along each side. For the first time ever in the history (my history) of longarming I floated this quilt top. Why? I’m not terribly sure. I’ve heard a lot about floating quilt tops and decided to give it a try. Will I do it again? I’m not sure. I was VERY NERVOUS throughout the entire SID-ESS process. Did it turn out ok? Yes. Sometimes I find that I have the backing/batting/quilt top pulled too taut. Not this time!


I did something else different this time. In order to keep my floating quilt top true, I used my channel locks as I SID-ESS’ed on about 80% of the block outside edges. That way I knew the top was not getting skewed in any given direction. Once again, it proved to me the importance of Mary Poppins Piecing (you know, when Mary Poppins uses the tape measure to determine the heights of the children Jane and Michael? Well, remember the tape measure results when she measured herself: Practically Perfect In Every Way!”)


The above and below pictures show how crisp and clean the SID blocks look. It is worth your time! This vintage pieced basket block really stepped up to the plate with the stitch in the ditch.


This last picture shows the versatility of our trusty blue friend; Painter’s Tape! It is remarkably handy when you need 3 hands. Use it to hold things out of the way that you’d really rather not be caught up in what ever you’re stitching. Below the tape is wrangling the white round doily edges so they are not lasting friends with SID-ESS 🙂


Have I convinced you of the importance of SID-ESS? Thank you Cindy Needham! Try it the next time you load a project on the longarm, a mid-arm or even your domestic machine. You put a lot of time and effort into what you’re about the quilt, take your time with the quilting!

Now it’s time to contemplate how I’m going to do all the pretty and fancy quilting. The nice thing is that each block is stabilized and almost no matter how much I quilt it, it will not distort 🙂

***house update: The contractor is working daily to make the necessary repairs to our first floor. Hopefully most of the major things will be completed by Thanksgiving!

Blessings to everyone and of course, Happy Quilting!



The Vintage Linens Quilt Top might get quilted!

I’m so happy to let you know I had time today to get the top and the backing fabric loaded on the longarm! The batting will be a challenge as the large rolls of Hobbs are stowed away in a guest room closet. A closet that is quite inaccessible because boxes and boxes and boxes of “1st Floor stuff” are piled in front of the door. “Where there’s a will there’s a way” said someone famous. Sometime tomorrow afternoon I plan to put on a hard hat and steel toed boots and retrieve that batting!

This quilt top has been long in the making. Years ago mom and I saw an inspiration piece handing in a long closed quilt shop in Liberty, Mo. We both began furiously making our own quilt blocks. She finished hers a long time ago and oh how I love her quilt! I love the vintage linens, I love the piano key border and I love the quilting she did on this piece:


But I didn’t want to duplicate her work so I branched out. While our projects are remarkably similar, they are also unique stand alone pieces. Here’s my quilt top draped over the longarm:


For me this is a sizable piece, 85×92″, I usually work on much smaller projects.

The border is a custom swag. Sounds impressive doesn’t it… If you’ll scroll back a few blogs posts you’ll find a detailed tutorial on how to make a Custom Swag and you’ll know it is easy-peasy! Try it! Your quilting friends will be impressed. It’s up to you whether or not you tell them how straight forward it is…


Each of the vintage linens used in this project was cleaned, pressed and if necessary, trimmed to size. The beautiful piece below was once one end of a dresser scarf. If you look again at mom’s quilt you’ll see the other end of the scarf near the center of her finished project. This block shows how the decorative trim can be part of the quilt block. Only the top of this linen piece is incorporated into the quilt block seam.

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The block below shows how the entire linen is stitched to the surrounding fabric strips.

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And what’s not to love about having a “sewing helper” during block construction! If you don’t remember from previous posts, this is Winston, our beautiful and wonderful and very vocal House Panther. He is carefully eyeing those silver scissor snips, making sure they don’t wander off…


I created all the blocks in a “helter-skelter” method. “Oh, how hard could it be to get everything to fit together?” I said to myself as I started this project.  I will NEVER ever use this crazy “fly by the seat of my pants” construction method again.


Do I have some favorite blocks? Oh yes and here are a few:


Here is how I began to work with the blocks. Needless to say, things got moved around a lot!


Since I put the longarm in my sewing room I don’t have a good space for my portable design wall. In the picture below I have it propped up on the longarm table. It actually worked quilt well! You may also see that I’ve used 2 vintage quilt blocks with the embroidered pieces, the hexagon flower (think Grandmother’s Flower Garden) and the on-point green and yellow basket block. Looking over this quilt top I see dresser scarves, pillow cases, doilies, quilt blocks, antimacassars and dish towels. Some of my “negative” white spaces, once quilted, will feature vintage crocheted butterflies. At least that’s the plan right now.


Again, a few pictures of some of my favs:


How did I decide what fabric strips go where? All the fabric strips are cut 1 1/2″ by width of the fabric. It was just an audition process based on the colors of the vintage embroidery designs. I did use all reproductions by the way.


The top right block, a dresser scarf made by my maternal grandmother.


Once I was comfortable about the block placement I began measuring to determine the sizes of bleached muslin needed to “fill in the gaps”. Like I said earlier: NEVER AGAIN!


So it’s on to the quilting! I will double batt this project using both Hobbs Heirloom white 80/20 with their Poly Down on top. I will get the entire quilt stabilized by stitching in the ditch in every seam before I begin the exciting process of decorative hand guided free motion quilting longarm.

I plan to use white Wonderfil Deco Bob (80 weight) in the needle and a white poly 60 weight in the bobbin. If you haven’t tried this fantastic thread, give it a try! I love it! If you’re planning to attend the IQF in a few weeks, look for their booth, #1634. I don’t know what they will have as a “special” but earlier this year in Chicago they had a “buy 6 for the price of 5” booth deal. Stock up!

I’ll keep you posted in my longarm progress! Until then, Happy Quilting and Blessings to You!


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There was water in my home :-(

I live in Houston, Tx. The Houston, Tx that got a record 51″ of rain from Hurricane Harvey. My home is about 1.5 blocks from Cypress Creek and I flooded.  15″ of standing water was in the house for about 4 days.


I’ve had a very hard time coping with what happened in the wee hours of August 28th. Something woke me at 1:10 am and I could not for the life of me understand how our bedroom carpeting could possibly be reflecting the night-light of the master bathroom. Couldn’t understand it until I sat up and my feet plunged into 15″ of water.

The day before, my hubs and I decided to make Emergency Go Bags just in case we got seepage and needed to evacuate. Thank heavens we did some pre-planning because we jumped up, scooped up our Go Bags, grabbed our sweet fur baby Winston (the cat) and out the door we went! Straight into 15″ of water covering our entire yard, garage, driveway, etc. Hubs drives (or should I say drove) a Navigator. This big beast of an auto made its way down the flooded driveway only to encounter chest high water throughout our cul-de-sac. The Navigator promptly died a quick and sudden death.

gary's floating car

I don’t know where you are with God but I am a Christian. I began praying the minute I realized our home was flooded. I prayed for safely as I stood in knee-high water and turned off the main electrical circuit breaker to our home. I prayed for safety as I waded through chest deep water to try to help my hubs who was trapped in his car. (When the car died he was unable to open his locked car door.) I prayed as I reached out and with ease opened the back passenger door. He climbed out through the front seats into the back, grabbed the cat carrier and waded through the water to higher ground. I prayed for a safe place to go as now we couldn’t return home and his car was toast.

Now for a bit of levity…before leaving the house I stripped off my pj’s and dressed in underwear and a workout top. I stuffed my workout pants into my Go Bag because I couldn’t put them on without getting the legs wet. So picture me half-dressed wading up the flooded cul-de-sac in my underwear with our Go Bags held as high as possible.

Our “up the street” neighbors (Angels in disguise) were in their driveway calling out to us to try to make it to their house. We could hear but not see them. Remember, I’m only half dressed and soaking wet… As I approached their house on higher ground I began holding our Go Bags at waist level to hide the fact that I was not properly attired. As I reached our neighbors I (as calmly as I could) said something like “I’m so sorry to come to your house like this but I only have on my underwear…” Our sweet neighbor immediately turned his back to me to allow me some privacy. What a gentleman!

We stayed with our sweet friends for 6 days! Our next door neighbors waded up the street a few minutes after we arrived so it was the 6 of us for days and days! We had a wonderful stay with our Angels! And we are positive we’re the only evacuees to actually GAIN WEIGHT during our ordeal. Chris is positively the best chef ever and Terry is a fabulous dessert master!!! They kept us well fed and rested!

Noellert group

ServPro was in our home for 9 days getting it “contractor ready”. We are hopeful that most of the major repairs will be completed by Thanksgiving (Thursday, November 23rd for all the non-Americans reading this post.)


Here’s the great room with the beautiful paneling stripped off:


Our driveway looking out to the street before the “big” flood waters hit:


So what happened to all my quilts? If you couldn’t tell from the pictures, we live in a 2 story home. Sunday, the day before the waters hit, I decided that as a precautionary task I would put all my quilts into large translucent trash bags and firmly secure the ends. I was worried that if we got a bit of seepage into our home that the quilts might absorb some unpleasant odors.

Why was I worried? Our home, built in 1985, has never flooded before. Not during Allison and not during the 2016 Tax Day Floods, but because that Sunday afternoon we had water within about 20′ of the house. Now if you’re squeamish, skip past the next few comments… The lowest manhole for the neighborhood sewage system is in our backyard. The pumping station lost power about 36 hours before the flood waters hit. Yes, that means the flood filled up our home with brown poop water. Yes, the stench was awful. How thankful I am that I was able to get so much into protective bags!

Here’s another icky pic: a few days after the flood waters receded from the house I was trying to save a buck by cleaning out the plastic nozzle of a half used can of Great Stuff. I clipped out the straight part of a wire hanger. Making a long story short I managed to run the wire straight through my middle finger and into the joint of my index finger. A quick trip to the doc found me leaving his office with a tetanus shot and a 10 day supply of antibiotics.


This is our backyard. The privacy fence in the far back right corner had a water debris line of just over 6′.


For some perspective, here’s what our beautiful backyard normally looks like:


And my hubs…. he sometimes works from home and had a beautiful first floor home office. He said to me right after the water receded: “I need to set up an office upstairs… can I use the desk in your sewing room?” My brain was screaming NOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!! but my mouth said something completely insane like: Sure honey, let me clear things for you…

Needless to say I’m suffering from “lack of creative time”. I had planned to try to get something on the longarm Thursday (tomorrow) until hubs mentioned he was planning to work from home the rest of the week.

Yes I’m going crazy, yes I am generally sleep deprived, yes I am suffering from lack of quilting but in all seriousness, we are alive, by the Grace of God we have flood insurance and we have a home that can be repaired.

Sadly I had to cancel three speaking/workshop engagements; 2 in Sept. and 1 in Oct. Hopefully these three awesome groups can find time to book again for maybe 2018! Thank you to each one as they were so very gracious and completely understood my predicament.

I have my days when things seem bleak but I also have found my sense of humor is slowly returning. If I come to mind, say a prayer for hubs and me. We hold fast to our God! He and He alone will provide!

Blessings to all and of course: Happy Quilting!



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It’s finished! Well…almost finished…

If you don’t count proper trimming, binding, sleeve and label, well then it’s finished! Ok, I took it off the longarm! I’m thrilled with the quilt so far. Remember, this began a few months back as an experiment with 20 beautiful vintage ladies handkerchiefs. I started the project at a quilting retreat and it’s fitting that I bind it at another retreat mid August.

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20 handkerchiefs all quilted with their own design! I waited until the blocks were finished before deciding on how to quilt the sashing. My final decision: nothing! As the sashings are only 1″ finished, I decided any quilting would only serve to distract from the 20 “Stars of the Show”. Here are a few pictures of the various blocks:



So what are the technical particulars? This quilt is double batted with my favorite batting, Hobbs white 80/20 as well as their white Poly Down. It is backed with double wide bleached muslin (that I laundered in hot water) and my thread of choice for the entire project: Wonderfil Deco Bob #104 in the needle, a white 60 weight poly in the bobbin. If you’ve been following me long you’ll know I am enamored with both Wonderfil Deco Bob and Invisafil. They are fantastic threads! Oh, and the quilt measures 71×85″



And finally, a few pictures of the back:

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Quilting time: 29 hours, 35 minutes. The binding will be pink to matching the sashing.

I created this piece because so many times during either my Lecture and/or Workshop someone always asks something like “What can I do with all my mother/grandmother’s beautiful handkerchiefs?” I’ve personally been collecting these beauties for years and now finally I can demonstrate a great way to showcase a collection.

Hope you enjoy the pictures!

Blessings to all and Happy Quilting,







So you want to make a handkerchief quilt with a custom drafted swag border!


So you want to make a handkerchief quilt? There are so many different ways to use all those beautiful vintage hankies you’ve been collecting. I’m in the process of finishing my quilt top and want to share my progress. I’ve included a brief picture filled tutorial of sorts near the end of this blog if you’re wondering how to create a custom swag for your borders.

To start you need to decide how many blocks you’re wanting. I began with the idea of a 3 block by 4 block quilt top but quickly revised my plans to a 4 x 5. At this point I also decided I wanted a 6″ finished border on all sides.

Not all vintage handkerchiefs are the same size and not all are square. Once you’ve decided on the number of blocks, sort through your hankies and determine the size of the LARGEST handkerchief.

Do not determine your largest hankie until you have laundered, starched and pressed each one!!!

My largest hankie is 13 1/2″  and is pretty much square. This largest piece determines the bleached muslin block size for EVERY BLOCK going forward.  Before you do any cutting of your bleached muslin or solid white fabric you also need to think about how much of the white fabric you want to show around the sides of the handkerchief. I decided that I wanted 1/4″ to show around my largest hankie to I cut my muslin into  14 1/2″ squares.

Here’s the math: the hankie measures 13 1/2″. Add 1/4″ to show around hankie makes 14″ and seam allowances of 1/4″ each makes a 14 1/2″ unfinished block. With me so far?



The smaller the hankie the more your white fabric will show.


So it’s time to attach your hankies to your solid white background fabric. Note that I said “solid white” fabric. Hankies are thin and if you were to choose a print of some sort or even a white tone-on-tone fabric you will get unwanted shadowing and you will be sad.  I experimented with using both a straight stitch and a teeny tiny zig-zag stitch to attach the hankies. The zig-zag stitch looks nice but takes FOREVER!!!! Just warning you: you’ll be crazy sick of zigzagging around all those lovely tiny handkerchief scallops. Just do a medium length stitch super close to the hem of the hankie.



Thread! You’ll probably know by now I’m a HUGE fan of Wonderfil Deco Bob and Invisafil. The Deco Bob is 80 weight, the other is 100. For this project I used the 100 weight Invisafil. It is wonderful as it crosses over different colors as it takes on the color beneath it. You couldn’t ask for a better thread!

So, the picture below shows all the handkerchiefs lined up like little soldiers. They’ve each been stitched into the 14 1/2″ white bleached muslin squares and with the help of my sweet friends at retreat, they are in the order for stitching. How did I decide on the order? I wanted the “visually heavier” handkerchiefs to hold the 4 corners. After that it was left up to how well they “played” with each other.



About sashings: I knew I wanted soft pink sashings with the bleached muslin cornerstones. I chose a solid soft pink for the strips. Each sashing strip is cut 1 1/2″ by 14 1/2″. Each cornerstone is cut 1 1/2″ square. After seam allowances I will have a 1″x14″ pink sashing strip around each block and a 1″ finished white cornerstone.



Sew your rows together first with a sashing strip both at the beginning and the end of each row of 4 hankies.


After your rows are completed make a long sashing strip beginning with a white 1 1/2″ square followed by a pink strip, etc. etc.. Sew this long strip to the top of each of your rows of hankies. Remember, you’ll need to also sew one of these long strips to the bottom edge of your last hankie row.



Here’s a picture of the hankie rows sewn together and custom sized swags machine appliqued to the top border. My design wall placement didn’t allow me to get a picture of the entire quilt top.


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So…how do you draft a custom swag for your quilt top borders? I’m giving you lots of pictures below in what I hope will be a good enough explanation for you to charge ahead!

You’re going to need a few tools:

  1. graph paper helps but is not mandatory
  2.  pencil
  3.  some sort of large curve tool and
  4.  some sort of circle(s) tool. I have some longarm clear acrylic templates I’ve used to help me with the large curves and a RAPIDESIGN® R-440 Template for my circles.
  5. a teflon pressing sheet
  6. freezer paper
  7. spray starch
  8. iron

The picture below shows a custom swag that will measure 12″ x approx. 5 1/2″ when finished. You’ll see I’ve drawn my first arc for my swag.


I’ve shifted my set of oval templates up and will draw my second arc. Why do I have blue painters tape on my oval acrylic templates? First so I can keep them all held together and second so I can find them when they’re laying on fabric.


Ok, so now we’ve drawn both the top and the bottom arc.


It’s time to use our circle template to make the swag bumps.  Choose a circle size of your choice, paying attention to the circle side and top and bottom hash marks, place your circle on the top most arc, center your circle on your half way line and draw your half circle. The mechanical pencils below are pointing to the 3 important hash marks.  See how the circle is lined up on both the “half-way” mark for both the arc and the swag length line.

Warning!! Do not position your swag bumps (circles) so that they touch the top like of your drawing! Leave at least 1/4″ space!


Here’s what your first swag bump will look like:


For the placement of the remaining circles you can use the hash marks as your spacer between half circles.


By time you reach both the right and left outer edges of your top arc, you may have to use the “fudge-factor” technique of swag bump placement. Just do what looks good to you.

Next step: you don’t want a straight line in between the bumps. You’ll need to free-hand a dip between the circles, either above or below the arc line. For this example I chose to place my dip below the arc.



It’s time to erase the pencil lines you don’t need any longer. And look what you’ve made, a custom sized swag pattern for your beautiful handkerchief quilt top border!


If you’ve never made/used a freezer paper template before, well, you’re in for some fun! There are many methods you could use but this is what I do:

Iron three sheets of freezer paper together. The size of the three individual sheets needs to be a bit larger than your finished swag you just created. For the above sway my three freezer paper sheets would measure something like 13″ x 8″.

On your ironing surface, first step is to position your teflon pressing sheet. On top of the pressing sheet place one piece of freezer paper SHINY SIDE DOWN and without steam, lightly press. Repeat with the remaining 2 sheets, SHINY SIDE DOWN until you have a nice firm layer of three sheets. ***Important: let your newly created stack of papers cool! Give the stack 2 or 3 minutes before your proceed. Once cooled, slowly peel the freezer paper from the pressing sheet.

With scissors, cut out your graph paper swag on the pencil lines. With the freezer paper stack laying shiny side down, place your cut-out swag on the stack, trace around the swag edges and carefully cut out your new template. Smooth cut edges are key so take your time with this step. Be sure to keep your graph paper template in a safe place as you’ll need it if you need to make a 2nd or a 3rd freezer paper template.

Position your new freezer paper swag template on your fabric and with a medium temp. iron press it into place. The paper will stick to your fabric.



When it has cooled to the touch, trim around all edges leaving at minimum 1/4″.  Here’s what your cut out should look like:


Using a rather heavy handed spray of the starch, make sure your fabric edges are a bit wet. Begin folding the top starched wet raw edge over the template and press into place.


Here’s a pic of the top edge folded over and pressed:


Important! At the inside dip of each of the swag bumps you’ll need to make 3 small snips to allow for the dip or the concave part of the template. Snip almost but not quite to the template edge.  Spray again with the starch and begin to slowly fold in and press these outer edges. Slow and steady all the while keeping your finger tips out of the way of your iron tip.


This is what your swag will look like when all the edges are starched, folded over and pressed, you can snip away the little pointy parts at each end of the swag:


Here’s what your swag will look like on the right side of the fabric:


Here’s the scary part: you need to remove the freezer paper template. Find a spot on the smooth arc edge, carefully pry up the paper edge and pull it away from the swag. Yes, your edges will get rumpled but don’t worry! Once your paper is removed, lay your swag right side down, re-position your edges, give it a quick press with your iron if needed. Warning!!! Do not spray starch your swag at this point!!! You will lose most of your hard work!! (Ask me how I know…) If you feel you must starch again, do it when you flip your swag over to wrong side down/right side up!


And you’ve just created your first custom sized swag for your handkerchief quilt top border! Congratulations!! Simple, easy and straight forward! How many freezer paper swag templates should you make? I usually make 2. These templates are used over and over again until they no longer stick to your fabrics. You’ll notice my template is brown in spots; that’s because I’ve used it maybe 10-15 times already.


For this project I’ve chosen to machine applique with a tiny width zig-zag set at a medium to medium/long stitch once again using the fantastic Wonderfil Invisafil in white.

Are you ready to start your own vintage handkerchief quilt top? I feel like I used WAY too many words in this tutorial! Hope all the pictures help! Don’t be the slightest intimidated about drafting your own swag, once you’ve done one you’re a pro and well on your way to a fantastic quilt border!

Happy quilting,


ps: Please-oh-please use the comments section to post your questions! If you’re wondering about something, chances are so are lots of other people!



The Process: “Basket of Flowers” Guild Member Challenge Piece

The Quilt Guild of Greater Houston’s Member Challenge as part of the show May 5th and 6th was to follow the theme “Joyous Flora” in a 24″x 24″ presentation piece. This is my entry:

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***Update 08/03/17: This piece was accepted into the Embellished juried competition at the IQF in Houston this Fall!*** 🙂

Three area Quilt Guild representatives served as our judges for this member challenge, each awarding a Judge’s Choice ribbon to their favorite entry. I was fortunate enough to received such a ribbon!

But where did this project start? For years I’ve been collecting vintage damaged crocheted doilies that incorporate flowers and leaves into their design. After soaking to remove stains, etc. I carefully took apart the damaged crochet and saved the valuable parts. About 80% of the pieces are vintage, I crocheted the rest, filling in needed flowers and leaves. 5/16/17 Update: people have asked about the saved crochet pieces unraveling. In general the flowers and leaves are “self contained” little pieces. The original creator would knot the end of her crochet thread as she finished each piece.

I’ve had in my mind for about 3 years what I thought I might create with these saved bits and pieces, so when the Guild Member Challenge came along, I knew just what I wanted to make.

The backdrop for the piece is a vintage white table topper measuring approximately 23″x 23″. The edge has a lovely manufactured white trim, the interior has both cut work as well as embroidery.

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Here are the particulars: the batting is Hobbs Poly Down white, single layer (if I did this again I would have double batted with a white 80/20 below the Poly Down) white (bleached) muslin directly below the table topper and again, white bleached muslin as backing.


Thread: Wonderfil Deco Bob 80wt., color 104 in the needle, the bobbin thread is a white 70wt. poly.

Marking pen for this project: a black Frixion pen by Pilot. Yes, I know all the warnings etc, regarding these pens but I still choose to use them in certain circumstances.


I don’t often stitch the spine of my feathers, but did for this project.



I’ve also been collecting vintage crochet baskets for a few years. I felt confident I’d be using the green basket below.


I did a trial layout and saw that the green basket distracted from the flowers.


On to Plan B: the ivory basket:


A few months ago I spent an afternoon dying several pieces of vintage trims. I knew I would need flower stems for this project, I knew I could crochet them but in the end it seemed simpler to use the Rit Dye.

Once the decision was final about the ivory basket, the next step was to secure it to the quilt and intertwine the ivory satin ribbon around the handle.


So, you know Elmer’s School Glue is your “quilting friend” right? If you purchase the white School Glue, it washes out. Yes, there are other “quilting glues” on the market but how can you beat .97 cents for this plastic bottle? I used tiny dabs of the glue to hold the flowers, leaves and stems in place until I could hand tack them permanently into place.


Where did I do all this work? Why at my longarm of course! It is height adjustable and made the perfect work table for this project!


After all the motifs were permanently hand tacked in place, I hand stitched white pearls into most of the flower centers.



With everything secure except the basket bow streamers, I carefully folded back the white outer trim, pinned it in place and did all the parallel line longarm quilting to finish this part of the project.


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I’m now finished with the quilting and the arrangement so I took it off the longarm, trimmed the edges and began to decide how to add a bit of subdle bling to the outside trim.

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Again, pearls were hand stitched to the outside white trim. I chose a brighter white pearl than is found in the flower centers. I used a long bead needle and again, the white Wonderfil Deco Bob thread.


Finished! Well, finished with the exception of the binding, the label and the sleeve…

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The 2 pictures below show the piece as it was hung on Thursday evening at the quilt show set-up.

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I’ve included this picture to give you an idea of the depth of the piece.


And here it is again, project complete, ribbon attached and ready for the show to begin!

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Hope you’ve enjoyed this blog post!

Happy Quilting,


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