Monday, September 28, 2015

Chickadees and Berries - We have a Winner!!

Oh my goodness I was overwhelmed with the beautiful responses to the Chickadees and Berries Christmas Gift Trio post and Tutorial.    Thank you all so much!!   

There were so many entries and sweet, sweet comments I could not possibly respond to every one.  

Thanks again for your kind and encouraging words.    I hope you have a chance to pickup this lovely panel and coordinating fabric by Jackie Robinson (Animas Quilts) for Benartex.
I would LOVE to see anything you make from it.

  You can send images of completed projects to me anytime -- my email address is:  karen @ redbirdquiltco dot com.   

Before we announce the winner I want to also thank our Giveaway Sponsors.

Many thanks to Bear Creek Quilting Company for hosting the tutorial AND providing the Chickadees and Berries Fabric Kit Giveaway!!
 A  great selection of fabric and a fantastic company to work with.    
Thank You!

Again,  many thanks to the Aurifil team who also do a wonderful job of supporting the independent designers and bloggers.   You can't find a better cotton thread for your quilting needs.  
I'm always excited to add to my #Auristash and do so every time I find a great deal.  
Did you know Bear Creek Quilting Company is carrying Aurifil 50Wt Cones now?
Oh Boy!!
That is 6452 yards of thread on one Cone!!  The bigger the cone the better the deal!.   

Thank you both again.

Ok - now on to our winner -- we had 362 entries that made it in before Midnight Sunday (EST).  I used Mr. Random Generator and he choose #281.
 Congratulations Rachel!!
Comment number 281.   
Rachel blogs over at Quilt or Dare -- do checkout her fun blog and say hello.
You're going to love these products Rachel -- congrats again!

There is a lot going on in Redbird Quilt Co land this coming weekend.  If you live in Central or Western NY consider joining in the fun at Creekside Fabrics in Arcade, NY .

There is an all day workshop Friday for Free Motion Quilting Basics and Beyond -- you won't want to miss that. 

On Friday evening we'll be learning how to prepare the Faux Ruched Flowers that were shared in my Chevron with A Twist Quilt for the Moda Bake Shop.    It's going to be a fun "Dessert and Share" at the Hope Lutheran Fellowship Hall.

Saturday morning starts out with a 1/2 day Needle Turn Applique Workshop and wraps up at the Hope Lutheran Quilt Show with a Lecture and Trunk Show (1pm).   

Don't miss out now -- we'll have a blast!  
More details can be found on my Facebook Events Page -- I would love to meet you so do come up and tell me if you follow my blog.   

Have a great week everyone and, as always, thanks for  your continued support.

PS - I haven't forgotton about that binding tutorial or FMQ Feather video - stay tuned (thanks for your patience).

Happy Stitching,

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Tutorial and Giveaway - Chickadees and Berries Gift Trio

Greetings and Welcome to
Christmas in September !!

If you've been following along on Instagram and/or Facebook you know I've been working on a surprise using the awesome Chickadees and Berries Fabric Panel by Jackie Robinson for Benartex.

I'm excited to share my creation with you today on the Bear Creek Quilting Company Blog.
The neat thing about this fabric panel and tutorial is that, with just one panel and a bit of yardage, you can make a beautiful coordinating Christmas Gift Trio that includes a wall hanging, a table runner, and a set of 4 coasters.

Share it with someone you love or keep it for yourself.  Either way - it's really charming! 

This is the wall hanging we'll be making: 
And the table runner and coasters:
As always, I had a blast free motion quilting the Trio using my Aurifil 50Wt Mako Cotton thread and including some decorative top stitching with Aurifil 12Wt Mako Cotton... Oh! The joys of having a growing stash of Aurifil thread. 
Maybe you've heard me encourage others to use panels for practicing and enhancing their free motion quilting (FMQ) skills -- this tutorial and trio is a great place to start.  It doesn't matter if you're quilting on your domestic machine or just learning a long-arm... practice makes perfect.  

A panel allows you to play and learn and grow your skills with little investment in time or money.   Also, when you're done stitching, you have a sweet gift to give to someone you love or donate to a charity organization.   It's a win-win situation.

On the Bear Creek Quilting Company blog - I share the fabric requirements and a step by step process for preparing the Christmas Gift Trio that uses this *beautiful* panel.
But, before you run off to the Bear Creek blog to see the step by step tutorial, let me share a few FMQ images and tips.  

I pieced, quilted and finished the Trio on my home machine -- a Janome Horizon (7700).

The quilting process is always the most fun for me - I love scrutinizing the fabric and thinking about where and how the piece will be used to help determine how to quilt it.   If the fabric is really busy, often the quilting details won't even be noticed -- keep that in mind when you're deciding how to quilt busy fabrics.

On this particular panel - much of the quilting design came from studying and listening to the fabric.

Enjoy these close-up images and tips:

I used Aurifil 12 Wt to avoid

Stitching in the Ditch:

 Often, before free motion quilting a pieced quilt, I will stitch the seams in the ditch to stabilize the quilt (domestic machine quilting).  With this particular piece I decided to stitch outside of the ditch with Aurifil 12 Wt thread.

Don't you just LOVE the texture and sheen the Aurifil 12Wt thread provides -- a beautiful decorative element to the overall quilting... 
Keep these things in mind when top stitching with Aurifil 12 Wt thread:
  • Use a 90/14 needle
  • Use Aurifil 50Wt thread in the bobbin
  • Take advantage of your machine Walking or Even-Feed Foot
  • Choose thread colors that complement the fabric
  • Set your stitch length higher than normal
To top stitch with 12Wt Aurifil thread, I set my Janome straight stitch to 3.0 or higher and took smaller stitches at the beginning and end to "tie-off".
It gives such a wonderful accent:
 Once done stabilizing the quilt sandwich I'm ready to begin stitching with a finer weight thread.

Aurifil 50Wt is my go-to cotton
thread for Free Motion Quilting!

On this particular piece, I LOVE the way Aurifil #5001 made the panel shimmer!!
I free motion quilted around every bird and nearly all the leaves and berries -- what great FMQ practice!
If the panel has a subject that I want to highlight with movement, I almost always use echo stitching to do this.  Echoing involves quilting around the original subject several times in even (or not so even) increments.  For the Chickadee -- it added beauty and movement.
Try it out yourself - sew much fun!
On the table runner quilting, the background in the panel fabric was perfect for stitching little mini C's or swirls.
If you were following along on my Instagram feed -- this is what I shared.
Notice how the quilt design was actually inspired by the fabric background.
It's good to let the fabric speak to you -- quiet your mind so you can hear.

Let's talk Free Motion Feathers:

Often when I quilt feathers I use a air or water soluble pen or a Clover Hera Marker to mark the feather spine.
With this panel the pine boughs were screaming "Quilt me with feathers!".
Never pass-up an opportunity to quilt feathers!

Mark the feather spines:
Here's another section marked:
To begin quilting a feather I always start with a pearl or paisley at the bottom of the spine.  Now work up one side of the spine, creating "bump-back" feathers as you go and remembering to make rounded plumes as best you can.  After I've stitched one side, I use the spine to travel back to the beginning and work up the other side of the feather.
Once you get a rhythm going they are so fun!!
I don't fuss too much with perfecting feathers -- I just have fun!

Stay tuned to my YouTube Channel for an upcoming feather video -- you can subscribe here: Redbird Quilt Co. YouTube
On this particular piece, filling the negative space with echo quilting seemed appropriate.
On the smaller sections of the wall hanging I let the fabric speak to me.
I quilted those wispy lines that were already printed on the fabric - love it!
On the table runner -- I quilted little C's or mini swirls in the panel ends and decided to practice feathers on the Cream/Red center.  The Cream/Red Scroll fabric is beautiful and can really stand on its own.  Quilting feathers or any motif here is great practice because no-one can see your mistakes ;)
Winding down... so you've seen all sorts of detail images and read fun quilting tips -- if you still have questions about the Trio feel free to leave me a comment (include your email) and I'll be sure to get back to you...

To close and before the Giveaway details are revealed -- No quilt is complete without a photo-shoot at the lake...
We love our summertime cottage, the water, the air, the neighborhood -- and especially the view.
Table Runner
Wall Hanging

Its a Giveaway!!!

 Now for the fun part -- the wonderful folks at Aurifil thread and the Bear Creek Quilting Company have sponsored a giveaway for one lucky winner!

How would YOU like to win a collection - that's right, 12 Spools of Aurifil 12Wt Cotton thread.  This particular designer collection was chosen by Victoria Findlay Wolfe and is called "Fresh Modern and Timeless".  The colors are amazingly beautiful and I KNOW you'll be thrilled to top stitch or hand stitch with this lovely collection of threads!
Also, you can't practice your Free Motion Quilting on this Trio unless you have the fabric.  The generous Bear Creek Quilting Company added a Chickadees and Berries Christmas Trio Fabric Kit to the giveaway mix.   Yes!  You'll win the exact kit I used to prepare the Christmas Trio - woohoo!
For a chance to enter the giveaway -- jump on over to the Bear Creek Quilting Company blog, check out the Chickadees and Berries Christmas Trio Tutorial, and leave a comment there letting them know what part of the Trio you liked best and why.

When you return here -- leave me a comment too-- any comment at all.

Please be sure I have a way to reach you - NoReply bloggers, leave an email address.
(It breaks my heart when I have a winner with no way to reach them)

The Giveaway is open through end of day Sunday, September 27th and a winner will be announced Monday evening, September 28th.

Entries are open to ALL participants - We love our International followers too!

Here are some extra entries if you so choose:

Please let our sponsors know how much you appreciate them by "Liking" or leaving a comment for them on Facebook.
Aurifil shares inspiration daily including awesome projects, tutorials and events.
and the
  Bear Creek Quilting Company shares the latest fabrics and lots of fun!

Leave me an extra comment if you follow one or both!

As always -- I appreciate your support.
Did you know you can visit me on
I post all sorts of fun things there!!
If you love to Free Motion Quilting consider joining my Facebook Community Group
I share quilting related
videos on my YouTube Channel
I'm also on PinterestTwitter
and I share other tutorials and patterns
on My Tutorials (above) and
and on my Craftsy page...

Have a blessed week all -- Happy Quilting!!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

A Winning Combination! Cone flowers, fabulous fabric and perfect thread

More fun than a barrel of monkeys - that is how the saying goes...

You see I've been preparing for an upcoming Needle Turn Applique Workshop (more on that later) and wanted to stitch-up a sample for the shop display.
Now what to stitch ?

I looked through my needle turn UFO's and was inspired by a Cone Flower (Echinacea) that was part of a larger block in Blackbird Designs "Quilting the Garden" book.

You remember ? This one...
You can see more images of my "Quilting the Garden" blocks by clicking here.

After scouring the internet (and peeking in my own back yard) I proceeded to draw a "new to me" version of the cone flower.  I added a couple of leaves that would enable me to teach inner and outer points (basically -- I made them up!!) and....

Viola!  Meet my new mini - perfect for teaching basic Needle Turn Applique techniques.
Here's where the barrel of monkeys come into play...  This little guy so much fun to prepare.

1.  Needle Turn Applique - Oh it felt so good to be back in the groove.

I chose fabrics from my stash of  Blackbird Designs Chelsea Boutique for Moda.  It's always hard to part with these precious fabric swatches...  The Chelsea Boutique line is, by far, one of my favorite...

Also, I had loads of fun choosing just the right Aurifil 50Wt Mako Cotton thread for my needle turn hand work.  Aurifil 50Wt is very similar in thickness to a Mettler 60Wt thread and works perfectly for Needle Turn applique.   Here is an image from my Instagram feed that shows the fabric and thread selection in-process - sew much fun!!

You can learn more about my Needle Turn technique by checking out my free blog tutorial "Teardrops of Love - a Needle Turn Applique Tutorial".  I share my favorite tools along with detailed and illustrated steps outlining my technique for creating beautiful applique. Read and see for yourself at this link.  Teardrops of Love Tutorial  I would LOVE to get your feedback.

As indicated in the tutorial, I use a plastic or freezer paper template to cut out and mark the needle turn line on the right side of the fabric.  If possible, I'll use a soapstone pencil to mark the design -- otherwise SewLine Leads work very well.  I also use my Clover Hera Marker to score the turn line so it folds under easier.  (More details in the Teardrops of Love Tutorial).
next I thread or pin baste my pieces onto the background and use Aurifil 50Wt Mako Cotton thread and Jeana Kimball's Foxglove Cottage Size 10 or 11 Straw Needles to stitch them down.
Here is an image from my Instagram account that shows the front and back of the needle turn.  It's been a few months since I've stitched -- so the stitches are a little inconsistent.  
But just like Free Motion Quilting, the more you practice, the better you get.

Once the applique is stitched, I used the Hera Marker to "score" or crease the fabric at 1" on-point lines across the quilt background.  These are used a reference marks for the continuous curve or Orange Peel quilting (coming up in a few steps).
The next fun monkey in this barrel was....

2.  Free Motion Quilting Feathers - I Love, Love, Love to quilt feathers

Oh my goodness feathers are fun!!  I wasn't quite sure how to quilt this mini but I decided to stitch some feathers and I'm so happy I did!!  Whenever I free motion quilt feathers on my domestic machine, I mark the feather spine with a blue water/air soluble pen -- you can also use a Hera Marker (by Clover) or Sew Line leads to mark the feather spine.   This is what it looks like after I've marked the spine.

Now that all my marking is complete, I layer the quilt top, batting and backing and pin baste the mini.  Because I really wanted the quilting to show, I used two layers of Quilter's Dream - Dream Wool batting.  I love how wool quilts...  If you've not tried it you should give it a go!
Before I get started stitching I gather all my 50Wt Aurifil thread to determine which color will work best.  I try to use a color that will complement the background fabric.  Always unwind the thread from the spool to test it against the background fabric.   On the first go-round I misjudged the color match and needed to rip out a bit of feather.  I recovered nicely and switched to Aurifil color #2314 for a perfect match.  
To stitch the feathers, I start at the bottom of the spine stitching bump back feathers up the right side of the spine and adding a top pearl.  Next, I travel (stitch) down the spine and begin again, stitching bump back feathers up the left side of the spine.  It's so rewarding to create feathers.  Even if they are not perfect they are pretty.   In this case I also echo stitched the cone flower and stem/leaves...

Here are a couple progress shots:
Oops - sorry for the image color changes.  Some images were taken using my machine lighting and some were taken using full spectrum lighting.  Rest assured this background fabric is beautiful no matter how you light it.
     3.  Free Motion Quilting an Orange Peel Design - a simple motif that provides so much texture

Moving on to the remainder of the quilting.... I had already marked the background fabric with 1" on-point grid lines (See image above).  I continued using Aurifil 50Wt #2314 to stitch continuous curves on the background fabric, crossing over at the grid intersections.  I stitched one direction and then back in the opposite direction, moved to the next line in the border and repeated.  
 Once I had enough lines stitched on one axis, I stitched a few on the other axis.  It came together wonderfully.
I've recorded a couple of video's for stitching the continuous curve (Orange Peel Grid design) on a domestic machine.  
You can view them on my YouTube Channel here:  Karen's Redbird Quilt Co YouTube Channel   

The one difference is that on the Cone Flower Mini I only marked the grid design, I did not stitch it.

4.  A New to Me Flanged/Piped Machine Binding - wow - fast, simple and really pretty.

And last but not least in the barrel of monkeys was this neat new Flanged/Piped MACHINE binding.

I watched a couple of different tutorials for this binding and then tweaked things to meet my requirements.  Initially I was going to add some actual rope piping, but I decided to take baby steps instead.

Here are the steps and measurements that worked for me.   If you're interested in a real tutorial with images, please leave me a message in the comments and I'll pop that out to My Tutorials page.

1. Choose a primary binding color (rose) - and an accent/piping/flange color (teal).

2. Cut the primary color (rose) 1 & 7/16" wide (by WOF for number of strips necessary)

3. Cut the accent/piping/flange color 1 & 3/4" wide (by WOF for number of strips necessary)

4. Piece the WOF strips of each color into the correct length with mitered (or diagonal) joints to help cut down on bulk.

5. With the single length of the primary (rose) and the same length of the accent (teal), sew them together with a 1/4" seam allowance (long edges).  I'll refer to this is the binding.

6. Now fold the binding in half, wrong sides together (TIP: Press wrong sides together with a steam iron, avoiding pressing the actual fold (I didn't want to flatten the fold of the accent color). Pressing  will help keep the binding raw edges aligned.

7. Next, align the binding raw edges - PRIMARY COLOR DOWN with the edge of the trimmed quilt ON THE BACK SIDE and stitch in place with a 1/4" seam allowance.  NOTE: This is being attached to the back, not the front of the quilt.  Follow the standard process for attaching a binding to a quilt sandwich, folding for mitered corners as you go.

8. NOTE: When I get a 1/4" from the corner, I always stop and stitch a 45 degree line to the corner of the quilt before turning and continuing to stitch from the top.  This helps give a really neat finished mitered corner.

9. NOTE: A few months ago I learned how to Miter finish binding and I just love it.  If you aren't sure how to do this, check out this Lisa Bongean/Fat Quarter shop video -- remember though, this is just how I miter finish the binding (good stuff around the 2:00 minute mark).

10. Next, finger press the finished binding to the front of the quilt, smoothing the seam that you just stitched.   I avoid pressing at this point because I don't like to press my wool batting.   So finger press the batting from the back to the front and be sure the wrap is firm against the raw edge.

11. Use Clover Wonder Clips to secure the wrapped binding in place on the front of the quilt - being careful to fold and secure crisp mitered corners.

12. Now to stitch the binding to the front of the quilt....

12a. Use a 90/14 needle with a complementary color Aurifil 12Wt thread on top and 50wt in the bobbin.

12b. If you have one, use a walking or even feed foot on your machine.
12c. Start stitching with a small stitch length (to lock your stitches) and increase the stitch length to 3.0 or a good "top stitch" length for your machine.

12d.  Stitch just outside of the primary/accent color ditch with the Aurifil 12Wt thread all the way around the perimeter of the top of the binding.   It came out wonderfully -- I really LOVE how it looks, front and back!!
The back:

Here's a full shot of the front:
And a full shot of the back with folded hanging sleeve corners included.

And no new quilt is complete unless we've taken a picture on the dock:
Many thanks to Aurifil Thread, Moda/United Notions Fabrics and Quilter's Dream batting for their awesome products.  I just love it when a plan comes together -- and it really was more fun than a barrel of monkeys.

I would love to hear your feedback - would you like a step by step image tutorial of the binding or any other part of the project ?

Oh - one last thing: I'll be using this mini in my latest workshop, Needle Turn Applique - a Techniques Workshop.  I'll be teaching it for the first time in Arcade, NY at Creekside Fabrics, Quilts and Yarns on October 3rd.

To learn more about my upcoming events - visit my Facebook Events page.   No Signon Required.

Thanks so much for stopping by.
Be sure to visit me on
 Facebook at Redbird Quilt Coand/or
Join our Facebook
 Free Motion Quilting Frenzy groupand/or
Follow Redbird Quilt Co on InstagramI post all sorts of fun things there!!
I share quilting related
videos on my YouTube*
I'm on PinterestTwitterand I share other tutorials and patterns
on My Tutorials (above) and
on  The Moda Bake Shopand on my Craftsy page...

Happy Quilting!!