Hand Sewing Magic

A couple of weeks back Lynn Krawczyk sent me a copy of her new book, Hand Sewing Magic. Lynn begins the book with a discussion of the basics - tools, threads, and tension etc. She moves on to show utilitarian, outline, and filler, decorative, and dimensional stitches. She shows clear how to photos of each embroidery stitch as well as stitch variations or ways add your own style to them. Also included are a variety of projects featuring hand stitching.

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When it arrived in the mail, my daughter snatched it up to look through it. She found a lot of projects that looked interesting to her and started right in on a Boro Sketchbook Cover as described in the book.

My daughter says, “I like that while she provides clear instructions on accomplishing the techniques, she also leaves room for personal adventure within - and sometimes between - the projects.”

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I’m inspired by the Embellished Coat project and now want to go thrift shopping for a wool coat to embroider!

Thanks, Lynn, I know this will be a well used reference book.

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Antique Quilt Inspiration

The quilts at the Shelburne museum have been on my radar for many years. Last June, when I was in Vermont teaching at the Vermont Quilt Festival, I stayed an extra day to visit the Shelburne Museum. Mandy Leins and her family joined me for a lovely day at the museum.

I do love viewing quilts with people like Mandy who really “get” them.

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Congratulations Marla or Penny Lane Quilts, you are the winner of an “e” version of Mandy’s book, Inspired Free-Motion Quilting.

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If you need me I’ll be looking through all my photos of antique quilts.

Inspired Free-Motion Quilting

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I am excited to share Mandy Leins’ and Bill Volkening’s new book, Inspired Free-Motion Quilting, with you. I have to say I didn’t even wait for Mandy to ask if I would review it for you; I asked her first. It’s true, I like the book THAT much.

Inspired Free-Motion Quilting teaches you how to look at antique quilts with an eye for quilting design inspiration. There are beautiful photographs of quilts from Bill’s private collection. I especially love the white quilts and the beautiful applique pieces included. Bill did the photography himself to ensure that you could see the quilting and details that he wanted to highlight. Mandy then used those images for her inspiration.

I have always studied antique quilts for inspiration and guidance in my own work and I love seeing how others use antique quilts for ideas.

Mandy tweaked some of the antique quilting designs so that they can more easily be machine quilted with minimal stops and starts. She also created some of her own new designs based on applique designs or other design elements in the quilts. Some of these are symmetric, traditional designs and others are more freeform and organic.

Some of my favorite designs came from this 1825 Candlewick Counterpane.


I love the way Mandy stepped out the stitching order for some of the more complicated designs. This makes it much easier to know where to start.

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Look at this brilliant thistle design, for example. The motif is created in two passes; each pass creating a chain of half-thistles. When both are completed, they create the thistles and stem. I can see using this idea with loads of different designs, and I know I’ll be using this concept in the future.


After reading this book you will see quilting designs everywhere you look, whether in magazines, on billboards, or even the tiles on the bathroom floor. Mandy’s ideas for connecting motifs and creating symmetrical designs will be a big help in fitting your doodles and drawings onto your quilt. I am looking forward to drafting traditional style, or even more modern looking motifs, and feeling more of a connection with the quilters of the past.

Thanks Mandy and Bill for an excellent resource book. You are making me want to get to work on new quilts.

For a chance to win an electronic copy of the book, leave a comment here telling me about a finished project you are most proud of. Be sure to let me know how to contact you or come back Saturday the 12th for the announcement of the winner.

Also, Mandy will be giving out a grand prize so be sure to check her site on Friday.

January 7:
C&T Publishing
Bill Volckening

January 8:
Amanda Murphy of Amanda Murphy Design
Kim Lapacek of Persimon Dreams
Stephanie Palmer of The Quilter's Planner  

January 9:
Teri Lucas
Lynn Harris
Debby Brown of Debby Brown Quilts

January 10:
Robin Koehler of NESTLINGS by Robin
Patty Murphy of Patty Murphy Handmade
Mary Abreu of Confessions of a Craft Addict

January 11:
Joanna Marsh of Kustom Kwilts
Amanda Leins of Mandalei Quilts

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Unconventional King Size Quilt

Here’s my last quilt finish of 2018. It’s a king size quilt made in the style of one of the string quilts in Roderick Kiracofe’s book, Unconventional and Unexpected: American Quilts Below the Radar 1950-2000. If you don’t have this book, you should get it. It is chock-full of inspiration for the improvisational quilter.

Here’s another post about the making of the quilt. I originally had the blocks in a more “random” setting but didn’t like that because it looked cluttered. After studying the original quilt in the book some more I moved the blocks around and created a little bit of color grouping with the plain alternate blocks. That made all the difference.

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This quilt was fun to do because it was created a little differently than most of my other string quilts. The color palette is much more controlled and the string pieces are chunkier looking. The wider string pieces meant that the blocks went together very fast.

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I used a wool batting which makes it extra soft and warm without being too heavy.

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The backing is a perfectly coordinated vintage large print floral. Isn’t this fabric fabulous?

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My daughter-in-law curated the fabrics for this quilt and I love her choices. I think she needs to come over and pull another bunch of fabrics for me to play with, don’t you?

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This quilt is on its way to a happy new home in Australia.

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Finished size: 98” by 106”

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Tree Cutting

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Each year I thank our previous selves for planting these trees on our property. I love that we can walk from our house to the field to cut our Christmas tree. Some of us don’t even bother to change out of our pajamas.


We also planted the trees that are on either side of this path. This part of our property was a corn field when we moved in.

I love having the tree lights on through the darkest part of the year. Some years we can keep the tree up until February. We’ll see how long this one lasts.

Kishie Shawl

Last week I was in Pasadena, CA for my last teaching event of the year. It was great fun and I enjoyed teaching quilting at an event that had much beautiful yarn in the marketplace. I shopped a little each day during my lunch break. I have been doing well at knitting my stash the last few years so didn’t feel bad in treating myself to some new yarn. One of my favorite purchases was this beautiful hand dyed lace weight silk. I’ve started the Kishie Shawl and I CAN NOT WAIT to wear it. I know it will be soft, warm, and drapey.

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I also bought enough of a pretty merino silk blend to make the Katharine Hepburn Sweater that has been on my make list for more than ten years.