I received the following email from Dena today:

I am having a Piece O’ Cake dilemma and could use your advice. I’m appliquéing a block that will have both regular appliqué and reverse appliqué on the same piece. Your books & DVDs are still in storage so I can’t refer to them for the convex & concave process (and I just can’t recall which comes first).

Should I appliqué the outside circle first or the reverse appliqué on the inside first? The background and inside the design are the same material.

Thank you for any help!

This was my reply, and I see now that I need to add a bit more info:

Hi Dena:

I wouldn’t try to cut these shapes with their 1/4″ seam allowances and then applique them. They’ll be too prone to stretching.

I’d make a finished size template of each piece and trace that on either a square or rectangle of fabric that is about 1″ bigger on each side than the shape you are working on. I’d do the applique, press, and then cut out the shapes (with their seam allowances) and sew the quilt together.

You’ll waste some fabric this way but it will be a whole lot easier to applique.

And here’s some additional info: I would generally do the reverse applique first but that could change depending on the specific design. When sewing concave and convex curves together, sew with the concave (inner curve) on top.

Happy stitching to one and all!


Where have I been!

I’m sorry – I’ve been so busy that I’ve forgotten to blog. I have no excuses. So, what have I been doing? I’ve been learning QuickBooks (which Linda knows inside and out, but I do not). I’ve been machine quilting, but not as much as I should. I’ve been working on supply lists.

I’ve been preparing for the LAST Jinny Beyer Seminar in Hilton Head. I am so thankful that I was asked to teach for her at this event. I hope to see some of you there! Karen Stone is teaching too (among others) and I’m looking forward to getting to visit with her.

Steve and I are building raised beds. Steve has access to lots of cedar trees that need to be cut down. So he went out with his trusty chain saws (the big one and the less-big one) and slayed some – it was economical and green.

Late this afternoon we got the first load of soil mix and I was shoveling. It’s going to take a little more than 3 pick-up loads.

I hope each and every one of you has had a good week and, as Arnold says: I’ll be back.

Supply lists…

Hello everyone! I have been tweaking my class page online in the hopes of making it even easier to read. I’ve just begun posting my supply lists with the classes. (That’s sort of an over-statement as I have only posted 2 supply lists.)

If you are like me, you want supply lists to be accurate, easy to understand, and only list the items that must be brought to class. If any of you have time to look at the “Sewing Sunny Flowers” supply list and furnish me with feedback, I’d appreciate it. You’ll find it on Becky’s Class Page, it’s the first class listed.

Be as critical as you can be. I’d much rather hear it from you than from students when it’s too late to fix it.



Trimming the edge…

Here’s another tip related to machine quilting: Once your quilt is quilted, you need to trim the outer edges of the quilt and then sew on the binding. When you trim, leave about 1/4″ of batting and backing fabric beyond the edge of the quilt top itself.

The raw edges of the binding are placed next to the raw edge of the top. The extra batting and backing will fill the binding nicely.

I like to “sign” my quilts as I quilt them. I load my machine with a slightly heavier thread (like King Tut) in a contrasting color. I do my best to capture my actual signature. I do also sew a documentation patch to the back of the quilt.

Machine quilting answers…

There were a variety of questions asked about my post on January 7. I’m happy to answer them here,

For free motion quilting, I believe that practice does indeed make perfect – or at least practice makes you a lot better. Classes and books may point you in the right direction, but without practice on your part, you will never quilt as well as you want to.

When I was a new machine quilter I practiced on quilts that I gave away. This allowed me not to stress out over mistakes. Don’t machine quilt on quilts that you care deeply about until you can trust yourself not to ruin them.

Get a sewing machine that will do what you need it to do. Men have always known that if there is a tool you need for a particular job, you get the tool. You need a good sewing machine (we are Bernina girls). And you need the table that it sits in.

I use cotton thread when I machine quilt. I’m a big believer is using the same fiber throughout the quilt and I don’t like (or trust) polyester thread. When I want the quilting thread to stand out on the quilt I use Superior’s King Tut or Mettler’s 50-weight silk-finish thread. When I want the threadwork to be more subtle, I use Superior’s 50-weight Masterpiece, Aurifil’s 50-weight cotton (which we have on sale until it’s gone), Mettler’s 60-weight cotton machine embroidery thread, or DMC’s 50-weight thread.

This quilt has Fairfield’s Bamboo batting. I like it a lot! It has some cotton and bamboo is a “greener” plant fiber so I am happy to use it. If I wasn’t using that, I’d use a 100% cotton batting – Hobbs and Quilter’s Dream both have good batts.

Here’s a tip that you won’t enjoy hearing, but it will help. If you make a mistake in your free motion quilting, stop and fix it right then. What usually happens to me is that I’ll stitch up onto my applique when I wasn’t supposed to. Rather than hope that no one will ever see this mistake (because it will be the first thing that people see) I stop, cut my thread, bury the tails, and begin again. I don’t like doing it, but I do it. Every time. Eventually I slow down and am more careful.

And here’s another tip that you may not want to hear, but I feel compelled to share with you: Strengthen your upper body! I always bring this up in class because I found out how important it is. I have osteopenia (not quite oseoporosis) and my doctor told me that I had better do weight-bearing exercises or I would be a bent-over little old lady some day. I walk 3 miles a day, 5 days a week; lift weights 3 times a week (for 1/2 an hour); and go to a 1-hour pilates class 2 times a week. I am not superwoman but I can really tell a difference! My back hurts less often, my posture is better, and I have more control when I machine quilt. Walking alone did not do this – it’s the weights and pilates.

I used to be afraid to go to the gym. I was sure that I would stick out and be embarassed by my out-of-shape body. That has never happened. Most of the other folks at the gym are normal people with the same issues I have and they don’t care if I’m wearing my mis-matched gym clothes.

If you are not exercising, now is as good a time as any to start. If you have never lifted weights, take advantage of the trainer at the gym so that you exercise correctly. If you are going to work out at home, consult your doctor first. You can hurt yourself if you lift with bad form. I started with really light weights.

Feel free to ask more questions in the comment section and I’ll answer them as I can.

Happy stitching!