Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Squared Away -- a machine quilting challenge

If I had a to pick my favorite quilt patterns, Squared Away would make the Top Ten list.

I usually quilt this quilt with a Ribbon Candy quilting pattern, but my students challenged me to use any pattern BUT ribbon candy this time.

Challenge Accepted!

Before I committed to quilting this entire quilt, I made some placemats as test pieces.  I filmed how I quilted them.

I used rulers on a home sewing machine in this video, but these designs can also be quilted with a longarm or a sit-down longarm machine.

The fabric in my Squared Away quilt is Pat Sloan's Bobbins and Bits (and a few pieces from her other lines) and I adore it!  I bought it at Quilting Possibilities in Forked River, NJ.  I checked with Debbie and she definitely has more of this fabric in stock.  Check it out.

The thread is my FabuLux Mellow Yellow and InvisiFil Daffodil.  They quilted like a DREAM! 

The first quilt I made with this fabric was Oh My Stars!

I made a test block into a pillow.

I filmed the quilting:

I still have fabric left and am piecing more quilts.  I will show you as I finish them and will try to keep filming the machine quilting videos as I go along.

Have you made any of these quilts?  Have you used Pat Sloan's fabrics?  Let me know in the comments!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Acorn Valley by Patty Young -- Free Scarf Tutorial!

Today is the day I get to tell you about the new fabric line that Patty Young of ModKid has designed for Riley Blake Designs!

I picked some yummy flannels from Acorn Valley to make a scarf.  It's blazing hot here in New York right now and most folks aren't thinking about winter scarves, but summer means something else to me.  My immune system doesn't work very well and that means summer is a bit of a respite from the non-stop colds and flu that swirl around during the winter months.  I don't want to hide at home, though, so I make and wear very long scarves whenever I venture out into public places.  They look great and keep me warm, but that isn't the whole point.  Every time I need to open a door, grab a railing, or push an elevator button, I use the bottom of my scarf instead of touching germy places with my hands.  This might sound silly, but it totally helps!  I throw the scarves in the washer and tumble dryer and make sure I have a clean one on every time I brave going in public.

Here's how I make one flannel scarf:

1/2 yard fabric A
1/2 yard fabric B
1/3 yard fabric C

Pre-wash and dry fabrics

From fabrics A and B, cut 3 strips 2 1/2" x 40"(width of fabric)

Stitch together 2 sets of 6 strips, alternating colors:

Press seams toward one color.  I pressed toward the red (The Dark Side).

Trim each strip into 16 units 2 1/2"x12 1/2":

There should be 32 strip sets.  If you ended up with fewer sets, your very long scarf will only be slightly shorter.  It's not a problem!

Stitch strips together alternately into a piece that measures 12 1/2" x 64 1/2":

Press seams open.

From fabric C, cut a 10 1/2"x40" (width of fabric) strip.  Sub-cut into two rectangles 10 1/2"x12 1/2".
Stitch a rectangle to each short end of your checkerboard scarf.

Fold this long scarf in half, right sides together, and stitch along the short ends and the very long edge, leaving about 10" open on the side for turning.

Turn scarf right side out and hand-stitch the opening closed.

Press your scarf well.

Now put it away and enjoy the rest of the summer!

Do you want a chance to win some of these very yummy flannels?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you totally need to buy them now (and you do!) Patty has a discount code for her Etsy Store:

Coupon code AcornValley2016 gets 25% off your entire purchase in the Modkid Etsy Store (https://www.etsy.com/shop/modkid). 

Valid July 11th through July 22nd at midnight EST.

Sue O'Very is the other stop on the blog tour today.  She has a Craftsy class on machine embroidery that I'm just DYING to take!!!

Check out all of the other fun stops on this blog tour:

Monday 7/11: Riley Blake & Modkid
Friday 7/22: Ameroonie Designs

Monday, July 18, 2016

Machine Quilting Tutorial -- No Ribbon Candy!!!

Any quilter who has ever taken a class with me realizes that I love the ribbon candy machine quilting design.  Like, a lot.  A LOT!  I have made many versions of my Squared Away quilt pattern and quilted each of them the same way -- with Ribbon Candy, all Ribbon Candy, and nothing but Ribbon Candy.

Squared Away in American Made Brand Fabrics:

Squared Away in Halloween prints:

Squared Away in (really, really old) Fig Tree fabrics:

Squared Away in Riley Blake Lazy Day fabrics:

Each one of these quilts was quilted with only ribbon candy!

Some of my students double-dog dared me to quilt my Pat Sloan Bobbins and Bits Squared Away without using a stitch of ribbon candy and I couldn't back down!

See how I quilted this practice block (and see a few surprises in the video, too!)

So, did you notice my new machine?????  I am tickled pink to be quilting on a Handi Quilter Stitch 710 machine.  She's a beauty!

In the video I promised to link to a video on making a stencil.  I scoured YouTube and couldn't find the video I thought was there.  So Sorry!  If you know of a video, post a link in the comments so others can find it, ok?

In the video, I promised you links to the products I used.  Some of these links are affiliate links for products I've paid for and use.  If you click through my referral link, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you make a purchase.

Mellow Yellow FabuLux thread

Quarter-inch Quilting Tape

Handi Quilter Mini Scallop ruler

Handi Grip

Daffodil InvisiFil thread

Handi Quilter Oval C

Handi Quilter Wave F

My Craftsy Class:  Free-Motion Quilting with Loops, Lines & Curves (scroll down for the discounted link)

Did you like my video?  It is my hope that if you quilt on a longarm or a sit-down longarm machine, you will still find the video instructional.  One of the most frequent questions I'm asked is about quilting with rulers on home sewing machines and I really wanted to show you how easy and fun that is!

I am planning to film more videos about how to use different longarm quilting rulers.  I have all of the Handi Quilter rulers -- is there one you'd like to see how to use?

Stay tuned for more videos!

Now for the most important question:  Do you prefer ribbon candy or swirls on the Squared Away quilt?

Or do you have a different idea?

Friday, July 15, 2016

The Splendid Sampler -- Lina's Gift

I'm having a Splendid time catching up on my Splendid Sampler blocks.  In the last week, I've survived paper piecing and teeny-tiny pieces.  Pat Sloan's Lina's Gift block was a breath of fresh air!

It had larger, simple pieces and went together quickly.  I'm using April Rosenthal's Meadowbloom fabrics.  She has a pink fabric that looks like basketweave and I fussy-cut one of the larger prints so there was a flower inside of the basket.

Check out all of the beautiful Lina's Gift blocks HERE.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Acorn Valley Blog Tour

I am tickled to be a part of the Acorn Vally Blog Tour celebrating Patty Young's new line of woodland inspired knits and flannels.  Check out the fabrics HERE.

I will be sharing my pattern and tutorial on Tuesday.  While you are waiting, check out the rest of the stops on the blog tour.  The designers have already shared so many darling projects I just have to make!

Monday 7/11: Riley Blake & Modkid
Friday 7/22: Ameroonie Designs

My Modern Penny Mat

Confession:  I am a cross-crafter.  In addition to quilting, I knit, crochet, embroider, cross-stitch, sew garments, and participate in too many other hobbies to remember them all.  The shorter list is one of the hobbies I've avoided thus far.  I do not:
  • tat
  • do crewel-work
  • applique with wool
  • dye fabric
Since my job means that I basically go to quilt shows for a living, avoiding these hobbies has been difficult.  I walk by the wool booths and the Pro-Chem Dye booth at shows with my face covered, just so I won't be tempted the fall deeply in love with another hobby.

Recently, the folks at Grab N Go Kits trapped me, held me hostage, and made me start a wool applique project.  THE HORROR!  Once my fingers touched the wool, floss, and needle I was doomed for life.  Here's my finished Penny Mat:

(This kit is due to be released in September, but check out their current kits HERE)

My fingers are not itching from the wool, but they are itching to be stitching again!  Yet another "I've never tried this" hobby has been struck from my increasingly short list.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Splendid Sampler -- Family Stars

Oh Kimberly Jolly, what have you done to me???  I was minding my own business, piecing the next Splendid Sampler block in my stack, and suddenly I was excited about piecing a 6-inch block that contained 55 separate pieces.  How did this happen???

Click HERE and scroll down to see everyone else's awesome Family Stars blocks.

So now I have accepted paper-piecing as an option for quilts and teeny tiny pieces made me smile.  What else might the designers of The Splendid Sampler throw at me?

Whatever it is, I'm up for the challenge and am sure I'll love it!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Machine Quilting Tutorial -- Oh My Stars! Pillow Sham

I did it!  I finished the pillow sham that matches my Oh My Stars! bedspread.

I filmed a machine quilting tutorial so you can see how I made the quilting decisions:

Here are the links for the supplies for this project:

Oh My Stars! Cutie* Pattern  -- I used a leftover block for the center of this pillow

Complete Your Suite Accent Pillow Pattern -- This is for a 20-inch pillow and I use this pattern all of the time!

Pat Sloan's Bobbins and Bits fabrics

FabuLux thread in Hint of Lime

FabuLux thread in Majestic Sunrise

InvisiFil in Chartreuse

Handi Quilter Oval set A

Handi Quilter Oval set B

Handi Grip

I have more Bobbins and Bits fabrics to use and can't wait to add to my bedroom decoration!

*Cutie Patterns use 16 fat eighths of fabric

Monday, July 11, 2016

The Splendid Sampler -- Pieces of Friendship

I'm so excited to have time to work on my Splendid Sampler blocks this summer!

I just finished Lindsay Mayland's Pieces of Friendship block:

It was difficult finishing this block because I was so busy petting my Meadowbloom fabrics from April Rosenthal.  Aren't they gorgeous?

I have pieced this pattern before as a pillow sham:

Do you like the quilting on this pillow?  I filmed a short tutorial about the machine quilting HERE.

Friday, July 08, 2016

Mine all Mine!!!

I finished a quilt and it is just for me!  OK, I'll let super-hubby sleep under it, too, but it's not often I make a "for me" quilt.  Most quilts are made and then given away immediately.

Here's my new bedspread

The pattern is Oh My Stars!, a Cutie Pattern that uses 16 fat-eighths of fabric.  I didn't design this, but I wish I had.  I've wanted to make this quilt since the moment I laid eyes on the first sample.  I finally did!

I am filming a how-to YouTube video about the quilting on this quilt.  Subscribe to my newsletter so you don't miss any new videos.

The fabric is all from the fabulous Pat Sloan.  I bought 20 fat quarters from Quilting Possibilities in Forked River, NJ when I taught there last year and added three 2-yard cuts to the collection, figuring that would prepare me for whatever I decided to do.  Well, it didn't because there can never be enough Pat Sloan fabric.  Two yards wasn't enough for the border, so I had to choose two fabrics for the border and I even had to piece them.

I piece borders LIKE A BOSS!

I pieced this entire top at a SewCation at Sturbridge Quilting and Sewing Center in Massachusetts.  Scheduling that quilting weekend was the best idea I ever had!!!  A lot of the quilters who attend are locals, but I booked an inexpensive hotel nearby and had an absolute blast.  I can't wait to go again.  Soon, but not soon enough!

I have a bunch of fabric left over from this project and am trying to use it all.  Expect to see several more projects featuring these Pat Sloan fabrics.

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

The Splendid Sampler -- Family Affair

Long, long ago I used to make The Splendid Sampler blocks.  Then I got to a block that involved paper piecing and my progress came to a screeching halt.  "I'm a machine quilter, not a paper-piecer!" I screamed.*

I have been watching all of the pretty blocks made by all of the brave quilters and I finally decided to jump back in.  I wanted to start with the current Splendid Sampler block, but I needed to conquer my fear of paper piecing first.  I went right back to the Family Affair block by Janice Ryan.

I always tell my students not to point out their own mistakes, but since I'm a teacher my mistakes might be instructional so here's what happened:

1.  I meant for the white and light blue circle fabric to be in the opposite positions.  I'm so not ripping this out or starting again.  We're just calling it a "design choice" at this point.
2.  My four blocks aren't joined perfectly together, but I am leaving them.  When I quilt this, I can de-emphasize those seams so... GOOD ENOUGH!

I am still a machine quilter and not a paper-piecer, but I survived and will live to paper-piece another Splendid Sampler block in the future.

Yes, I did use both Star Wars and Star Trek references in the same paragraph.  Sue me.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016


I've been hard at work on some super-secret quilting projects.  It's been a busy and fun time.  I promised an announcement on Monday.  Well.... I came back to my hotel room on Monday and fell asleep before I could fill everyone in.  So two days late, here's my announcement:

I recently got a new 'do:

A manicure:

A pedicure:

I flew to Denver carrying nearly everything I own:

I'm staying at a super-fun hotel with my buddies Inky, Pinky, Blinky, and Clyde:

I sat through hair and makeup:

And I'm ready for my close-up!

I'm at Craftsy filming another class this week!

Do you want to know what my class is about?  I can give you a hint if you promise not to tell anyone.  I'm filming a class about...







If you want to check out my earlier Craftsy classes, use CLICK HERE to find the links to get $20 off each class.

Stay tuned for another announcement when the class is released.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

I Remember

This is my second Father's Day without my Dad.

Grief comes at weird times.  It hits when I see a fancy Christmas ornaments because Dad obsessed about his Christmas tree.  Seriously.  He took such joy in re-arranging all of the ornaments (every. single. day).  I get happy and then sad when I see a mixed nut selection and think "I need to buy this for Dad."  Dad was always hard to buy for (really, Really, REALLY hard to buy for) but mixed nuts were a sure bet!

Happy Father's Day, Dad.  

Friday, June 17, 2016

Book Crush

I just got a new hair-do to prepare for a top-secret quilting event that has me quilting nearly non-stop this week:

I frequently listen to audiobooks.  When I'm quilting my fingers to the bone preparing for some super-secret quilting events, I listen to an average of one audiobook per day.  Most books are entertaining enough to keep me quilting and for that I'm grateful.  It's a happy occurrence, then, when I read a book that instantly makes my heart sing.  The combination of the finely crafted words, the narration, and (for me) the smart humor keeps me listening while whispering to myself "Please be true.  Please be true."  My biggest fear is that this "Oh my heck I love this book more than oxygen!" feeling will be ruined by the book not finishing as strongly as it started.

In 2015, I read two books that started and finished strong and made my heart happy every second in between:
1.  The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas  This book was a "Why have I never read this before?" book.  It was long and I savored every single word.  I will definitely read this again.  Have you read it?  My advice:  read the book, skip the movie.
2.  The Martian by Andy Weir  Geeky.  Smart.  Fantastic.  I could spend all day writing how I feel about this "You have to read this!" book.

Now that 2016 is nearly half finished, I realize that I've been reading drivel all year.  For months I've read books that have entertained but didn't transform.  This week, though, I finally had a book crush:
The World's Strongest Librarian by Josh Hanagarne  It's a memoir about an LDS strongman librarian with Tourette's syndrome.  That sounds like a lot of things to be, but this book and its author are so much more than that.  The author is a smart, funny man full of heart and hope.  READ.  THIS.  BOOK!

I have more hours of quilting to do than hours left in the day.  I will listen to the next book in the pile.  If I am lucky, it will entertain me but I am not greedy enough to expect another book crush .  (Shhhh.... part of me hopes for exactly that!)

Monday, June 13, 2016

Home Sweet Home!

Last week I had the honor to teach at Handi Quilter Academy.  My Sweet Sixteen students played me my favorite song:


Music to my ears!

A student blogged about my More or Less Quilts lecture HERE.

I posted a bunch of fun photos on InstaGram (@debbybrownquilts).

If you have never been to Handi Quilter Academy, put it on your "must do" list!  I'm already dreaming and scheming of the new classes I want to teach there next year.  Will I see you in Utah June 22-24, 2017?

Some of you may know that I tend to have a higher than average number of travel horror adventures.  I've been stuck during hurricanes and blizzards and the Polar Vortex.  I've had luggage lost and luggage memorably destroyed.

Traveling home from Salt Lake City yesterday, however, I had a new-for-me travel adventure:  Emergency Vehicles.  Many times, my plane has been met by an ambulance to care for a passenger who became ill during flight.  This was different.

My flight took off from Detroit and headed to New York.  Once we reached altitude, the pilot informed us that there was a mechanical problem and we'd have to turn back to Detroit and should expect to land in seven minutes.  A few minutes later the pilot announced that we would not, in fact, be landing shortly; instead we would fly around for a while to burn off our fuel.  When we had used enough fuel to attempt to land, we landed on a runway lined by emergency vehicles.

It was odd seeing all of the emergency vehicles in place for a plane that I was on and I think I'm glad that I didn't hear all of the conversations between the pilots nor their communications with the airport.  Less information is definitely more.  The pilots, flight attendant, emergency crew, airline, and airport all worked together well.  We landed safely, were promptly boarded on a replacement plane, and I was home less than 3 hours late!

I succumbed to my travel exhaustion when I finally got home but am hard at work this week on top-secret quilting projects.  I will be quiet this week, but expect a fun announcement next week!

Friday, May 27, 2016

Quilting is the Best Medicine

Recently, I received some sad news.  While I was grieving, I decided to give myself a little time off.  I picked a pattern and decided that I wouldn't go back to work until my little quilting project was complete.

I decided to stitch up a little zippered bag by Lori Holt from A Bee in my Bonnet:

I hand appliqued this project using 100 weight InvisiFil thread.  It was so soothing!  I machine quilted it with Ocean Breeze thread from FabuLux.  That tropical pink/yellow/green thread was so bright and happy and brought me a bit of cheer.

Do you ever stitch your sorrows away?  What are your go-to projects?

Friday, May 20, 2016

Happy Graduation, Jacob!

I make a lot of quilts.  A Lot of quilts.  A LOT.  I give most of them away.  I decided to make a Nickel Quilts quilt for a young man named Jacob for his high school graduation.  I pulled out all of my cream and brown scrappy nickel squares and started piecing.  I was ready to add borders when I received the shocking news:  Jacob grew nearly a foot and my quilt wasn't tall enough for him!  I pieced a few more rows but got sidetracked and this quilt ended up on a shelf, unfinished.

I recently found this project, quickly finished it up, and delivered it to his mother with my apologies.  Apologies?  Yes, apologies.  You see, Jacob graduated from high school seven years ago.  Seven!

This finished quilt is now long enough to cover the tallest man I know in person:

I had fun quilting swirls all over this quilt and used Mudpies thread from FabuLux:

This thread is shades of brown and blended perfectly into this quilt!

So, congratulations Jacob... a few years late.  I hope you enjoy your quilt!

Friday, May 13, 2016

Welcome to the world, Emersyn!

My friend, mother of several daughters, was expecting another child.  I was absolutely positive that she would once again give birth to a daughter and made this quilt for her:

Well, she surprised me with a BOY and I made her a different quilt.  I held on to this sweet version of my Share and Share Alike pattern, waiting for a baby girl to arrive.  Well, one finally did!  I hope baby Emersyn loves it!

I quilted this quilt with Giggle, a pink/peach/yellow thread from FabuLux.  It looks solid when you look at the entire quilt, but up close you can see the color changes:

Officially, I love all of my FabuLux threads equally, but I have a bit of a quilt-crush on Giggle and can't wait to use it on more quilts!

Friday, May 06, 2016

Placemat of the Month Club -- April's offering

I had a few bits of fabric left from my St. Louis 16 Patch Quilt so I pieced up a pair of placemats for Mom.

I quilted them quickly with FabuLux Rocking Horse and am absolutely tickled with them:

I hope Mom enjoys the April selection from her Placemat of the Month club subscription!

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Pieces of Friendship Mini Quilt -- Quilting Tutorial

Are you stitching along with The Splendid Sampler?  I am, and I am having tons of fun and learning a lot!

One of The Splendid Sampler designers, Lindsay Mayland, created a bonus pattern using her Pieces of Friendship block

I made the Pieces of Friendship Mini Quilt as a pillow sham for my mother-in-law for Mother's Day because I take hints well.  Very well, in fact.

At Thanksgiving, when she was visiting, she saw some David Walker Sweetheart fabric left from my Share + Share Alike pattern sample and kept saying "I like this fabric.  I really, really like this fabric."  So, I took the hint and used that fabric to make her Mother's Day gift:

Do you like it?  Do you want to see a video about how I quilted it?

Good, because I filmed while Hazel, my sweet Sweet Sixteen, and I worked together to quilt this pillow.  This isn't meant to be an instructional video; it's purpose is to answer the "How did she do that?" questions.  I had a special guest star in the video and I hope you enjoy meeting him.  (If you watch on a mobile device, you won't see the explanation on the video.  Blame YouTube for not supporting annotations on mobile devices.  Sorry!)

I used another of my FabuLux thread colors:  Hush.  It is a pastel lavender/pink/peach thread.  There is no purple in this quilt, but the lavender plays beautifully with the brown fabrics and looks great on the pillow!

So, the sources for this project:

Fabric HERE
Mini quilt pattern HERE
Pillow pattern HERE
Thread HERE
Handi Quilter Oval C template set HERE
Handi Grip HERE

Final note, the fabrics used were left over from this quilt:

Share + Share Alike, a pattern I designed using 16 fat eighths plus borders, binding, and backing.