Friday, December 28, 2012

Perfect Harmony (on the wall!)

Asian prints have a sophisticated elegance to them, and Ro Gregg's Dancing Cranes collection fits this description perfectly, highlighted with metallic gold accents. Designers Sue Harvey and Sandy Boobar of Pine Tree Country Quilts framed the collection's panel with a unique design of pieced blocks that integrate seamlessly--as Sue says, "we definitely do not do just plain borders around a panel!"

"Perfect Harmony" featured in the Feb-March issue of Quilt magazine

Q.  What attracted you to the fabric line?
Sue: We have always loved the lush florals of Oriental-style fabrics. And the panel in this collection is really beautiful.

Q. How did you decide what type of piecing to put around the panel?
Sue: We wanted the panel to become part of the piecing. Fortunately one of the fabrics in the collection is the same as the background of the panel so by using this fabric in the piecing directly around the panel, the straight edges of the panel disappear. By using rectangular blocks, we could accommodate the “twice as long as wide” problem of the panel while still adding distinctly angular lines to offset all the flowing lines of the panel and the outer border fabric.

Q. What do you like about working with Asian-inspired designs?
Sue: The rich colors of the fabrics, and that they almost always include black. We tend to use black to set off color or the design in many of our quilts. It’s the one basic fabric that we keep in stock (actually bolts of it in stock) at all times!

Q. What do you like best about this quilt?
Sue: When all was said and done....its size! We think it really does show off the fabric in a good way. The scale of the prints is fairly small and the motifs in the panel are quite delicate. The challenge of making a small quilt was a good thing. We had only enough room to add a little piecing so the prints of the fabric were not overwhelmed. It’s funny ... the designs we do with limits are often the ones that we end up liking the best!

See the entire Dancing Cranes collection here.
Order the kit for this project and learn more about Pine Tree Country Quilts here.
To find the February/March issue of Quilt, click here.

Monday, December 24, 2012

A Gift for Yourself

When you own a quilt shop, what's the next step? (Well, besides more fabric, because we all know you can never have too much of that!) A bigger place to sew, of course. Preferably with other quilters. 

Theresa Bringardner, owner of The Quilt Place in Rockledge, Florida, has done just that, opening a retreat center just 3-1/2 miles from her shop. The retreat is located on the picturesque Indian River in Cocoa, FL. 

It seats 25 people to quilt and can sleep 15—just large enough to make some new friends, yet small enough to feel personal and cozy. In addition to its proximity to the shop for fabric or notions needs (with 12,000 bolts, The Quilt Place is one of Florida's largest quilt shops), the center is also close to a quaint little restored shopping area in Cocoa. Did we mention the retreat also includes a heated pool?

The next retreat scheduled is January 25-27, 2013, with classes by Phyllis Anderson—a perfect cure for mid-winter blahs! As Teresa says, ''no cooking, no cleaning, no interruptions!" You come, you quilt, you swim, relax, and make friends (or come with friends!), and they'll take care of the rest (including meals!).

Visit The Quilt Place website for more details and to find out future retreat dates. 

p.s. Sending you warm wishes for a joyous holiday season and happy and healthy new year, filled with all the sewing you would wish for!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Sara Trail's Sweet Potato Pie

We asked our designers to share some of their favorite holiday traditions with you.

For Sara Trail, it's all about the food!

"I would say my favorite holiday tradition is cooking ! My mom bakes pumpkin pie, cookies, sweet potato pie and many other treats that I enjoy eating. Since I'm an only child I usually help, and I always eat the batter of whatever tastes the best!"  

Here is the recipe Sara's mom uses for sweet potato pie. It sounds delicious!

Sweet Potato Pie Recipe
1 1lb sweet potato 
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 9" unbaked pie crust

1. Boil sweet potato whole in skin for 40 to 50 minutes, or until done. Run cold water over the sweet potato, and remove the skin.
2. Break apart sweet potato in a bowl. Add butter, and mix well with mixer. Stir in sugar, milk, eggs, nutmeg, cinnamon and vanilla. Beat on medium speed until mixture is smooth. Pour filling into an unbaked pie crust.
3. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 55 to 60 minutes, or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Pie will puff up like a souffle, and then will sink down as it cools.

Of course, the holidays aren't just about food...they're also about sewing!

"My favorite holiday sewing projects are creating elaborate table decorations for Christmas dinner, and  the fun holiday socks I enjoy making for all members of my family."

Homemade socks, sweet potato pie, and elegant decor; Sara might need to invite some of us over this year! What about you? Have you sewed any holiday decorations this year? What is your favorite recipe? 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Stained Glass Stars

This time of year, you see a lot of stars. Starry nights over snowy fields, stars on Christmas trees, star blocks in quilt and table runner designs. Designer Reeze Hanson has created a star quilt that is likely different than any you've seen before. We love it and thought you would too!

The quilt, made using Marblehead prints, is featured in the January/February 2013 issue of Fons & Porter's Love of Quilting magazine and the pattern is available for FREE online!
Q.  How did you come up with the design idea?
Reeze: I found star in a Roman floor mosaic in a book on ancient tile and mosaic designs and immediately thought it would make a great quilt.  I drafted the star in EQ7 in a variety of ways and then played around with dozens of setting ideas.  This was one I especially liked, although I have several others, including a table runner version that really appeal to me.  I knew I wanted to make it using "marble-like" fabrics to give it a feel of the ancient marble mosaics.

Q. How did you choose what colors to use?
Reeze: Since the illustration I originally saw was in black and white, I was free to play with color.  I love the textures and colors of Ro Gregg's Marblehead line, especially in the gray and green pieces.  It just reads "stone" to me and I love that. I tried colors I liked and worked with combinations of both muted neutrals and bold colors in contrasting shades of blues, purples and greens.  I love how those cool colors of the spectrum play together.

Q. What do you like best about this quilt?
Reeze: I love the color and texture of the fabrics.  They give me the mosaic marble effect I was going for.  It looks really complex but it was easy to make, which is the hallmark of my pattern designs.  I love rich colors, textures and strong design that looks way harder than it really is. 

Q. What was most challenging about this quilt?
Reeze: Actually, it was the sashing!  I had designed pieced sashing with a long rectangle in the middle using a very different fabric.  When I made up a few sashing pieces and put them up on the design wall with the blocks, I knew that both the design and the fabric would not work.  I simplified the design, and completely changed the colors.  

Q. What did you make this quilt for?
Reeze: I made this quilt as a challenge to myself.  I have designed a lot of quilts based on tile and mosaic inspirations and this was the most ambitious of those so far.  I wanted to make it and see if it would look as I had envisioned it. I am pleased with the result.  I think it may go to my new daughter-in-law who might just need a quilt made with love to let her know how happy I am to have her in our family.

Q. Tell us about the machine quilting.
Reeze: Brenda Weien of Brenda's Machine Quilting always makes my quilts look good.  I never tell her what to do.  At most I will tell her the "feel" that I would like in a quilt and she uses her incredible talent and experience to find just the right design to accent the piecing and color.  I especially like her curved cross-hatching in the alternate blocks.

To see all of the Marblehead prints, click here.
To learn more about Reeze Hanson, click here.
To download the free pattern for this project, click here.
To find the January/February 2013 issue of Love of Quilting, click here

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Hung by the chimney with care (Part 2)

You've seen our basic stocking pattern. Here are a few variations we think you'll love!

2. Wonky Pieced Stocking pattern

You will need:
(2) 12" x 20" pieces of batting

4-5 Christmas-themed fat quarters or fabric scraps to piece the stocking front (and back, if desired) Prints shown here are from the Santa's Workshop and Christmas 2012 collections, as well as the Marblehead collection.
3/4 yard of a Christmas-themed print for the lining
Basic sewing supplies

To piece the stocking front:
This stocking front uses batting as a foundation, and the strips are pieced directly onto it. Lay out a 12" x 20" piece of batting and cut your first two strips of fabric. Strips can range in width from as narrow as 1" to as wide as 4" and should measure about 12" long. Lay out the first strip near the bottom of the batting piece.

Lay the second strip on top, matching raw edges, with right sides together. Stitch using a 1/4" seam allowance.

Press the second strip up so it looks like this: 

Now it's time to trim the second trip on a wonky angle. There are two ways to do this. You can flip the entire piece upside down and fold back the batting, as shown below. Position your ruler on a slight angle and trim ONLY the fabric strip just added. 

Or, the second option is to leave the piece right side up and fold the batting away from under the just added strip. This way you can trim your strip while seeing the angles and widths of the strips below. The important part is to make sure you DON'T trim the batting too. 

Here's an example of a wonkily trimmed strip. TIP: If your chosen fabrics have some busy prints, try mixing them with something calmer, like our Marblehead prints (see lime green below).

Whichever method you choose, after you've trimmed the strip, fold the batting back up and position your next strip against the raw edge of your trimmed strip. Repeat to add strips the entire length of the batting. Vary strip width and angle of wonky trimming for added interest.

You don't have to quilt the finished stocking top; the foundation method means that it is quilted already. But a nice finishing touch is to choose a contrasting thread color and topstitch 1/4" on both sides of each seam line.

Note: If you prefer not to do wonky piecing, use strips cut to the width you desire, and no trimming is necessary!

Layer the stocking template on your pieced stocking front and cut out out. You can either repeat for your stocking back, or just use a single piece of fabric, backed with batting. Follow the directions for our basic pattern to complete the stocking. 
Note: Be sure that your stocking back, whether it's pieced or not, is a mirror image of your stocking front. 

3. Diagonally "Pieced" Stocking
Using the Marblehead Metallic Xmas stripe creates the look of stripes without the work!

You will need:
(2) 12" x 20" pieces of batting
1 yard of Marblehead Metallic Xmas stripe
3/4 yard of a Marblehead Metallic Xmas print for the lining
Gold thread
Basic sewing supplies

To piece the stocking front:

Position the stocking template on the stripe, with the stripes running on a diagonal as shown. 

Cut a loose shape around the stocking. Back this rectangle with batting, baste, and quilt along the diagonal lines. This helps create the illusion of piecing! Tip: Use gold thread to match the lines on the fabric. It doesn't have to be metallic, though--a gold colored thread works just fine and is easier than metallic!

Position the stocking shape on the quilted fabric and cut out.

Repeat for the the back side, making sure the stripe are oriented correctly and the stocking shape is a mirror image of the stocking front. 

Follow the directions for our basic pattern to complete the stocking. 

And one more variation we're providing for inspiration:
4. Checkerboard "Pieced" Stocking

You will need:
(2) 12" x 20" pieces of batting
3/4 yard of Marblehead Metallic Xmas stripe
3/4 yard of a Marblehead Metallic Xmas print for the lining
Gold thread
Basic sewing supplies

We'll just get you started with this one...

Cut 3" wide strips ACROSS the stripe.
You'll need strips of 6 squares each, but don't cut yet! Lay out your first row, and then position the remaining fabric below to make sure your have a fairly even distribution of color. Trim off extra squares.

Continue adding 6-square strips until you have 12-13 rows. Piece the rows together to create a checkerboard look, and then follow the directions for the diagonal stocking above--layer with batting, baste, and quilt on real and "faux" seam lines. 

Have fun! 
If you make one of these stockings, we'd love to see it! Send a photo to fabriquiltblog (at)

And...we hope Santa fills your stockings with something besides coal!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Hung by the chimney with care... (tutorial)

The stockings, that is!

If making stockings is one of the unchecked things on your to-do list, we're here to help! 
Today's tutorial is a basic stocking design with a fold over cuff, and then we'll show you a few alternatives for adding a bit more detail. (Finished stocking size: approximately 10" across toe x 22")

Click here to download the stocking template. It will print out on three pieces of paper, and you'll need to cut it out and tape the pieces together as directed on the template itself. If you have a stocking around the house, you can just trace that if you prefer. 

1. Basic Stocking Pattern 
You will need:
3/4 yard each of two different Christmas themed prints (1 for outer stocking; 1 for lining)
Prints shown here are from the Santa's Workshop and Christmas 2012 collections.
Interfacing or batting (optional)
Basic sewing supplies

To make the stocking:
Fold the outer stocking print piece in half, wrong sides together. If the fabric features a directional print (this one does), make sure it is oriented correctly. Position the stocking template on top and pin in place. Cut out around the shape, leaving a 1/4" (or slightly more) seam allowance to create a generous stocking. **Note: If you choose to cut the front and back stocking pieces separately, make sure they are mirror images of each other.**

Repeat for the lining fabric. **Note: If your lining fabric is directional, orient the template so that the fabric design is upside down. This will make the fabric on the cuff right side up when you fold it over.**

**Note: To create a sturdier stocking, you can also cut two stocking shapes out of interfacing or batting. Pin or baste to the wrong side of each outer stocking piece and continue with the next step.**
Place the two outer stocking pieces right sides together and stitch along the sides and bottom with a 1/4" seam allowance, leaving the top edge open. 

Repeat with the two lining pieces, but leave a 4" opening at the bottom for turning.

Clip the seam allowance in curved areas to help create a smooth curve after turning.

Turn the outer stocking right side out. Stuff the outer stocking inside the lining, right sides facing. Line up the top raw edges, and align the side seams. 

Pin the raw edges together.

Stitch around the top edge using a 1/4" seam allowance. 

Turn the stocking right side out through the opening in the lining and sew the opening closed. 

Press the top seam of the stocking, letting a tiny bit of the lining fabric show on the outside (this will ensure that the under side of the cuff doesn't peek through after you fold the cuff down). If desired, topstitch the top edge of the stocking. Fold the cuff down as much as desired. (See how the print is right side up?!) Press the fold. You can topstitch this folded edge as well, if you like. 

To make the hanging loop, cut a 3" x 14" strip of fabric. Fold in half lengthwise and press. Open the fold back up, and fold each lengthwise edge in again to the center fold.

Fold the strip along the center fold again to create a long, narrow strip with finished edges.

Topstitch along the open edge of the strip to secure. 

Decide how long you want your loop to be and trim strip accordingly. Hand or machine stitch the raw edges to the inside top of the stocking along the heel-side seam. 

Fill with goodies, hang by the fireplace, and enjoy!

Check back again soon for a tutorial showing variations to this basic stocking.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

12 Faves on 12-12-12

In honor of 12-12-12, we're presenting 12 of our favorite fabrics from the past year!

They are, listed from left to right and top to bottom:
1. Garden Whimsy by Judy Hansen
2. Tribal Council by Ro Gregg
3. Pretty in Pink by Ro Gregg
4. Marblehead Northern Woods by Ro Gregg
5. Folk Art by Sara Trail
6. Farmer John's Garden
7. Marblehead Metallic Xmas by Ro Gregg
8. Funny Farm
9. Lady in Red by Ro Gregg
10. Cook's Helper by Judy Hansen
11. A Star is Born by Ro Gregg
12. Wildflowers

Are these your favorites too? Let us know if your favorite isn't on the list!

We also have free quilt patterns on our website for many of these collections. Check out the quilts below and click here to download the pdfs of the various patterns.

1. Garden Whimsy

2. Tribal Council

3. Pretty in Pink

4. Marblehead Northern Woods

5. Folk Art

6. Farmer John's Garden

8. Funny Farm

9. Lady in Red

10. Cook's Helper

11. A Star is Born