Wednesday, November 14, 2018


In October, my guild had a workshop on dyeing fabric with natural items.

The fabric had been pre-treated with a mordant and we dipped each piece of fabric into iron water to lightly dampen before placing our leaves and flowers on the fabric.  The instructor - Erin Miller - brought all kinds of samples.

I didn't roll mine until I got home (I was too busy helping with the meeting) which I was able to add rose petals and geranium leaves to the mix.

The BEFORE shot
After putting the rolled up fabric into my vegetable steamer for 90 minutes, I kept it in a plastic bag for about 24 hours.

Probably what surprised me the most was the purple spots from the roses.  And the fact that those golden rod stems and flower added a lot of yellow.

Isn't this interesting?

I rinsed out the fabric, pressed it and hung it up on my design board for some inspiration.  I want to do something special!

It was so much fun to try something new, especially since it did not involve any harsh chemicals!

Have a wonderful day! Patty

Monday, November 12, 2018

Hand Pieced QAL - The Running Stitch Tutorial

We've covered the basics of marking stitching lines - see my post and Kristin's post.  The most important thing to remember is to mark your stitching line such that it starts and ends 1/4'' from each edge.

With stitching lines marked, let's cover the basics:  the knot, the running stitch, and the back-stitch.  My post will cover this in photos and Kristin has published a wonderful video.

The Knot

We will be stitching with double strand thread in this tutorial.  You could also work with a single strand of thread.  (Note - please use a neutral color for your thread.  I've chosen black for better photos.)

Thread your needle with thread (50 wt or 80 wt) which is the length of your arm from elbow to finger tips .  (Anything longer is just going to tangle.)

A simple knot is all you need - just make a loop at the end and pull through the thread tails.  There are several other types of knots you could use as Kristen demonstrates her video.

At the end of stitching, I typically pull my needle under the last stitch, make a loop and make a knot.

The Running Stitch

The basic running stitch is a line of small even stitches that run through your fabric without overlapping.  To make a running stitch, push your needle from the front of your work and right back up to catch just a small about of fabric.  Start right at the mark you made - 1/4'' from the edge. (See tutorial for marking stitching lines.)

Continue taking one stitch at a time, working to get your stitches even.  You can also pick up several stitches on your needle by rocking the needle in and out and using your left hand to push the fabric onto the needle.

You should try for 5 - 6 stitches per inch.  With practice, your stitches will become reasonably uniform in size.

The Back-Stitch

The Back-Stitch is a very important stitch for hand piecing.  A back-stitch should be added:

  • at the beginning and end of a line of stitches to help secure the thread
  • right before and right after sewing through a seam allowance (tutorial on this coming soon!)
  • every 5-6 stitches to help keep proper tension  

A running stitch moves forward across your stitching line.  A back-stitch goes backwards!  (I bet you figured that out!)

Start by making a single running stitch.  Then, bring your needle back down through that first initial hole (or something right next to it) and then back up again as if you are making another running stitch.

And remember, back-stitching every 5-6 stitches in key for maintaining proper tension.

If you've never done a running stitch before, give it a try.

Don't forget to take a look at the wonderful video Kristin from Simple Handmade Everyday made on the running stitch.

For more information on the QAL including catching up with any tutorials you've missed, please visit the main event page - Hand Pieced QAL.  

You can also join our Hand Pieced Quilt Along Facebook Group and / or subscribe to our newsletter so you'll be among the first to know about new block tutorials.

Have a wonderful day! Patty

Friday, November 9, 2018

Tutorial - How to make a Temperature Quilt

Creating a temperature quilt for 2018 has been a lot of fun.  Checking the high temperature at the end of each evening and sometimes cheering for things to warm up just a little bit (or not) in order to make the quilt more interesting!

I am definitely making a temperature quilt for 2019.  Want to make one too?  Here's my hints and tips to get your started on your design plus a great source for your weather information.

Design Choices - The Block
  • Highs only or highs and lows?  A quilt in which you record only the high temperature is easier (read quicker) to assemble and to prep.  A quilt in which you record high and lows, however, would likely make a more interesting final design.
  • Hexies are an obvious choice for just recording high temperatures (like my quilt top) especially since the hexies can all be prepared ahead of time 
  • Flying geese or half square triangles are nice choices for a high / low.  Use the 'geese' part for the highs and the smaller triangles for the low temperatures. 

Design Choices - The Layout
  • Once you've decided on the "shape", time to break out the graph paper and decide on how to assemble.  My hexie quilt uses two columns for each month which will give me a finished size approximately 38 x 32'' when complete.
  • Another example - perhaps the simplest -  uses a rectangle and assemble each week into a row.  A quilt which uses fabric strips which are 5 x 1 '' (finished size) would be 35 x 52'' (finished).

You can find more examples on my Pinterest board.

Decide on your temperature scale and fabrics

Example Range
  • Study the average temperatures for your area.  Do you get some highs in the 20s in the winter and then hit the 90s in the summer?  You may want to consider a range of every 5 degrees.  Live in an area where the temperature is less diverse?  Perhaps you want a range of every 3 degrees.
  • Raid your stash and start laying out the fabric in gradient, mapped to color ranges.  I tried to stay in the same color family (ex - two shades of orange for the 80s) but you can really do whatever you want.   Before you cut any fabric, leave your fabric gradient on a table or design wall for a few days and make sure you are happy with it.  Better yet, ask a friend what they think.  Rearrange if you need to!
  • Once you have a final color mapping, sew together your weather rainbow. Mark the range on the fabric - since I used hexies, I marked on the paper piece.
A good range for North Carolina

Mother Nature becomes the ultimate designer of your quilt.  You choose the layout, the color range but the placement is a daily surprise!

Use a consistent data source

  • Decide how you will get your data for your quilt.  You can read your own thermometer at the same time every day or use a source like Weather Underground.  (There is a lot of historical data there so you could go back and make a quilt for a specific year, and not just the current year.)

Keep current!
  • Keep the project very accessible so you won't forgot to work on it every day.  Do you watch tv every night?  Choose an option that you can work by hand (like hexies) and store it in a basket next to your favorite chair.
  • If you sew at your machine every day, get into the habit of adding to your temperature quilt the first thing as you sit down at your machine or perhaps as a leader / ender project.
  • Pre-making (or at least pre-cutting) your units will make it easier to just add one unit each night. Hexies are so very portable so I can bring a stack of fabric squares in my travel bag and get the hexies made ahead of time.
  • If you do get behind - it happens! - give yourself a very specific goal on how you will get yourself caught up.  For example, away for a week and got 10 days behind?  Give yourself a goal of 4 a night until you get all caught up.

For 2019, I've narrowed my design down to two choices.  First, I plan to hand piece, adding each day's block before I pick up my book at the end of the night.

I may do a high/low quilt using a rectangle with a stitch & flip corner.  Changing the orientation of where the stitch & flip corner appears in the block would make it fun and interesting.

If I decide on a high temperature only quilt, I will likely do something like a geese shape as shown below.
Have you ever made a temperature quilt?  Are you considering one for 2019?  Leave a comment so we can all see!

Have a wonderful day! Patty