The Best Flying Geese Technique I Know!

I love making blocks that use flying geese now that I learned this construction technique.  I no longer am sewing bias edge triangles together.  The technique is easy to do and with each construction you are making four flying geese units which are enough for a block.

Below is a short video from Fons and Porter showing this construction technique.  From 5 pieces of fabric you will have 4 flying geese units.  I recommend cutting the patches a little over size so that the final flying geese unit can be squared up to size.

Once you try this technique, don’t hesitate to tackle any block that has flying geese units.

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Easy Flying Geese

Flying geese subunits are the mainstay of many star blocks.  The challenge with the flying geese subunit is maintaining the points and the distortion because of bias stitching.  All of this results in subunits that are not quite rectangular.  If you try to square them up, another challenge is the math and trimming (squaring the subunit) to keep the ¼” accurate so that the points are nice and sharp.  As a result, many quilters simply avoid making anything with these flying geese.

The good news is that there are several methods and techniques that, when used separately, or combined, result in perfect flying geese.  Not only are these methods and techniques easy, but fun.  In the next several posts I will cover techniques and methods for piecing perfect flying geese.

One Seam Flying Geese

Nothing could be easier than stitching only one seam.  Sounds impossible, but it is true.  Following are two videos that illustrate this technique, one with Ricky Tims and the other with Jenny Doan.  After you see this technique, you will want to run to your stash and start making these easy flying geese by the hundreds.

 

 

 

 

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Super Easy Flying Geese Quilt

Flying geese are often subunits in star blocks and by themselves make a very attractive quilt.  In the video below Jenny Doan demonstrates the easiest technique I have ever seen to have the look of flying geese, but without all of the effort.  Once you see this technique you will want to be on the lookout for just the right fabrics, or better yet, this might make a good stash buster.  Have fun!

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Quilting for the Sake of Good Health

health and fitnessWe live in a health conscious world.  Everything we eat must be healthy for us, low in calories and fat, high in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.  Soda is bad for us because it has high fructose corn syrup and fast food is terrible because it is high in fat and salt.  Many join a gym or fitness center to keep trim or loose weight.  And, what about those health monitors that keep tabs on our heart rate and how many steps we take each day?  Has all the fun been taken out of life?

Quilters, take heart!  Literally take HEART.  Scientific evidence points to many positive health benefits of quilting.  Not only do we often quilting with our friends, but the right kind of body chemicals are formed when we are happy doing something we enjoy and we have something to show for it.

Next time your family complains about a late dinner or the laundry not done, tell them you were “working” on your “fitness” program for good health.

Read the whole (short) article on Surprising Health Benefits of Quilting.

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Henry Ford – Thoughts For Quilters

Henry Ford once said, “If you need a machine and don’t buy it, you will eventually find you

henry ford

Henry Ford

have paid for it, but don’t have it.”

Now I am not advocating that you run right out and break the bank by purchasing every machine, tool, and gadget you think you want for quilting. But, there is a lot of truth to that statement.

Those of us that go back a few years will remember when the first rotary cutter and mat came on the market. The first I purchased was a mat and ruler set, which I still own, 12” wide and 24” long.  The mat did not even have a grid on it. We were very excited to have a tool to accurately cut patches. What a time saver as well as a hand saver from manipulating the scissors. Previous to this new tool we used ruler and pencil to make templates from cereal boxes. Try as best as possible we would cut the templates out following the line. Cutting on the lines was one of the useful skills I learned in kindergarten. Another was learning to wait in line, now waiting in the cutting line at the quilt store. After cutting the cardboard templates we would carefully trace around them on the fabric and again pick up the scissors to cut the patches. Depending on whether you were going to hand piece or piece by machine, the ¼” seam allowance might or might not be included on the template.

quilting tools

Quilting “Tools”

Wow! That was a lot of work. Not only do we have the rotary cutter today, but an even faster and potentially more accurate system, a machine with dies to cut the patches.

Henry Ford, of course, was looking at the “time is money” principle of business as he grew his auto company from each auto as a custom build to the assembly line with the goal of every family in America affording a car (and, of course, employ people and put dollars in his bank account). In business, the more labor (time) involved the higher the cost to produce.

What do we actually need to quilt? Tools and machines that will help us become more efficient. Today we spend money to get time. If a machine or tool will give us more time, then it could be worth the purchase. If the longer bed home sewing machine makes it more comfortable  or easier for sewing, then we are trading the money for that purchase for increased comfort and enjoyment in our craft. If the crank or mechanized cutter improves our quilting, gives us more time to make more quilts, and increases our enjoyment in quilting, it could be worth the expense. And what about a really big purchase like a longarm quilting machine? If you want to have ownership of the entire quilt from start to finish, quilting at your sit down home machine is a frustration, or as in my case, painful to my neck and back, or renting time is not possible, then perhaps purchasing a longarm is the right decision.

There is a trap that many of us fall into. That of thinking we must justify a purchase like an

featherweight and table

Me enjoying my “new” Featherweight and table.

embroidery machine or longarm and do work on it to “help pay for it.” What is wrong with owning something just for the enjoyment of owning it? Or owning it because it makes the process easier, more enjoyable, or simply saves us time? How many men do you know that have purchased a hunting rifle, bass boat, or the latest and greatest lawn and garden tractor want to justify the purchase by making money with it?

Certainly Henry Ford was on to something back in the early 1900’s recognizing the importance of having the machinery (and tools) to get the job done. Without the machinery to take the place of costly labor, those machines were paid for, but not owned.  For us as quilters, not owning the machines and tools we really need may save us money, but could cost us more in time, make us less efficient and productive, and lower our quality of life and enjoyment of quilting.  Although I can’t give you permission to run out and purchase what you want, I do give you permission to seriously consider machine and tool options that will make you more efficient, be more comfortable to use, give greater productivity, and greater enjoyment as you travel along your quilting journey.

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Inspiration from the Life of Yvonne Porcella

Yvonne Porcella

Yvonne Porcella

Recently one of the legends of the quilting world passed away. Yvonne Porcella, who never even won a ribbon for any of her quilts, influenced the quilting world for decades. Learning to sew from her Mother when she was growing up, Yvonne was influenced by the art and quilting motifs found in textiles purchased in the 60’s from Afghanistan and other nearby countries. Although trained as a nurse and crafting as a weaver years ago, she began quilting to be able to do something near her children and even sewed standing up with her machine on the kitchen counter top to keep the pins away from the children. Her eclectic art quilts are only made with a couple of blocks and almost always her signature black and white, often checked fabric.

The link below from a 2010 The Quilt Show episode is now available for all to see and

yvonne porcella quilt

Quilt purchased by the Smithsonian.

met Yvonne Porcella. I was first introduced to Yvonne on Alex Anderson’s quilt show years ago. Yvonne reminded me of a hippy with her unique, colorful clothing that she made. Her quilts also had that unique signature, not uncommon for today’s art quilts, but certainly very different from the traditional quilts of the 1970’s, 80’s and 90’s. Yvonne’s quilts made such an impression in the quilting world that the Smithsonian even purchased one of them in the mid 1990’s as well as having one chosen for inclusion in the 100 Best Quilts of the 20th Century.

yvonne porcella quilt

Biscuits Tris unique Porcella style.

I hope that you will set aside about an hour to watch this video, meet this amazing woman and see how different things in life influenced Yvonne to become the quilt maker she was. More importantly, watching the video should make you think about what has influenced you to become the quilt maker you have become or are becoming.  Most of all, I would hope that we each would be encouraged to step out of the box and express our individuality through our quilting.

The video is broken into chapters (listed to the right on the page) with short advertising interludes, so, if you do not have time to watch all of it, book mark it and go back later.

 Link: The Quilt Show 2010 video with Yvonne Porcella.

 

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Workshop Fun With Joe Cunningham

I belong to a very large quilt club in Rochester, NY, Genesee Valley Quilt Club, that has about 335 members and meets monthly September through June at a very large building. Before the short meeting (about 10 minutes long), there ample time to search the large library borrow books, participate in the block of the month and fat quarter activities, enjoy time chatting with quilting friends new and old, turn in quilts you have made to be given away as “comfort quilts,” sign up for a workshop, check out the free table, or see what a member might have at the “sale” table that month. After the short business meeting is over we enjoy “show and tell” seeing the many comfort quilts turned in (often 40-50) and member show and tell, which is an inspiration to all of us. We take a lunch and take turns providing snacks. After lunch we have a program, usually a presentation by a well-known quilter, often with a slide show and quilt samples.

Each year I try to take at least a couple of workshops to learn new techniques or perfect techniques I already use. Because the club likes to bring in nationally known teachers and lecturers, I had the opportunity to take a class last fall (2015) from Joe Cunningham. Anyone who has been in the quilting world very long knows the names of some of the well-known quilting teachers. Because there are significantly fewer men quilting teachers than women teachers, you are more likely to know their names.

As a vendor (Nolting Longarm) at Quilt Canada in 2014 held at Brock University in St Catharines, Canada, I noticed one day a very tall, slender man strolling down one of the halls where classes were taking place. Later I noticed that same man eating in the dining area. Could it be, yes, it was, Joe Cunningham. Joe was teaching classes at Quilt Canada.

Over the years I have read articles about Joe and his quilts in various quilting magazines. His style is not traditional, not really art, although sometimes, it is simply his style. So, when I had the opportunity to take a class from Joe in Rochester, NY, I immediately signed up. Like most workshops you are provided with a list of supplies that include fabric suggestions, sewing machine, cutting tools, and sewing supplies. Armed with everything I needed or thought I might need, I went to class which was held in a very large meeting room at a church. There was more than enough room for the fifteen or sixteen quilters. Each of us had two large size tables to work on! This was the second workshop that Joe taught, having taught another project the day before.

The workshop with Joe was a joy. It was very laid back, the technique had a few instructions, very few, and the interpretation was left up to the quilter. Joe roamed around the room looking at progress as we made our 6 ½” blocks. Although laid back, there was structure and he did have the clock in mind suggesting that by 2 pm our blocks should be made. If you don’t have 36, use 28 or if you have more, fine. At 2 pm we would start working on arrangement. Thankfully we each had a lot of space to arrange our blocks. Joe would come by and spend several minutes looking at the arrangement, move a few blocks to another spot, maybe back again, but urged us to be open and look at other design options and that it would speak to us when it was done.   What was so interesting was that everyone’s project looked quite different because of the many different kinds of fabric used. Some fabrics were solids, others read as solids, others were prints with a dominant color, how value (relative strength of color compared to other colors) affected the design, every project looked very different. I remember one project in particular made of fuchsia, lime green, gray and black solids. What a modern quilt that was going to be, very striking.

Wow, the arrangement took the rest of the class time. Even then I was not sure I was

Joe Cunningham

Joe serenading us as we work.

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Joe showing us his quilts.

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One of Joe’s quilts using his bias tape technique.

happy with my arrangement and spent at least another hour or more on the design wall at home before deciding that was enough and started stitching the blocks together. Joe did spend a little time talking about finishing, adding borders, or not, and, of course quilting. He had a number of samples to look at which provided lots of inspiration.

As Joe started packing up his quilts for their journey back to California, I learned something about storing quilts. I noticed that he did not fold them nice and even by quarters, then fold again into a nice square. Instead, he flopped one corner over, then another corner over and each corner, rather haphazard, like a child might “fold” something. So I asked. Quite simply, folding haphazardly in different ways each time reduces the fold marks that you often see in quilts that are neatly folded and stored. So, I guess sometimes it is best not to be so neat.

My project is now finished, assembled, quilted, and bound.

My finished quilt "Joe Cunningham" style.

My finished quilt with closeup of binding finish technique.

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Piped binding technique.

The workshop with Joe was one of the most fun filled workshops I have ever taken. Low stress, using a free, no thought cutting technique, an encouragement to think out of the box, and he even serenaded us with his guitar and songs. Thank you, Joe Cunningham for a very enjoyable workshop experience.

Below take a tour with Joe Cunningham in his studio in San Francisco.  And, if you have a chance, sign up to take one of his workshops.

 

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What Quilters Should NOT Do

If you have made a New Year’s resolution to work on your quilting skills, congratulations! There are a lot of opportunities out there to do that from guild workshops, quilt shop classes, and even online classes. There are also a few things as a quilter you should not do. Angela Walters, Longarm quilter and author, has words of wisdom that are important for all quilters regardless of skill level.

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“Quilter’s Night Before”

As we quickly approach the night before Christmas, you, too, may be working hard to christmas treecomplete a few last minute quilted gifts.  A member of my quilt club passed this along and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Quilter’s Night Before

by Brenda Groelz, Kathy Rockbugs, Marilyn Root, Cindy Swafford

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house,
The only one sleeping was Quilter’s dear spouse.
The Log Cabin stockings were almost completed,
“Just a few stitches left,” our sweet quilter repeated,
“Then I can hang them and head to off to finish
the pillows I’m making, fulfilling Mom’s wish
For something ‘quilty’ to put on her couch”,
as she pricked her poor finger, our quilter yelled, “Ouch!”
When from out in the kitchen there arose such a crashing,
she sprang from her work, and she dropped all her sashing.
Away to the doorway she flew like a plane,
wondering just what was happening and who she could blame.
When what to her wondering eyes should appear,
but Old Mrs Claus and her bag of quilt-gear….
With her elves bearing gifts, through the kitchen she came,
she directed and pointed and called them by name.
“Now Elna, now Pfaff, now Bernina and Viking,
the Hoffman and Mumm should be just to her liking.
To the sewing room – there, it’s just back of the hall,
now dash away, dash away, dash away all!”
“My Dear,” said The Claus (as she liked to be called),
“There really is no need to worry at all.
Your projects will all be completed this night,
I’m terribly sorry we gave you a fright.
Sit down. Have some tea. It’s relaxing, you’ll see.
My friends and I’ve come a long way to help Thee.”
She thought she was dreaming, our Dear Quilter did,
In fact she quite feared that she’d near flipped her lid!
But the flash of the needles and twist of the thread
soon gave her to know she had nothing to dread.
They spoke no more words, but went straight to their sewing.
How the work went so quickly she had no way of knowing.
The stitches, how tiny! The corners, how straight!
This Claus-woman’s talent was awfully great.
They finished the pillows, then started a quilt.
Before they all knew it, the whole thing was built!..
Now old Mrs. Claus, she knew quilters real well,
and she knew they’d need help on this night most of all
So she said to our quilter, “Just move over, dear,
I’ve brought my own needle. We’ll get done, never fear.
I told dear old Santa about what quilters do.
How they plan all these projects but have other work too.
So he taught me his magic for doing things fast.
There, that pillow’s done. Now this is the last.”
They tidied their thread snips, and picked up the scraps
and chased our dear quilters six cats from their laps.They left behind gingerbread (just to be nice)
and the whole house smelled sweetly of Christmas and spice.
As they scurried away with their thimbles still gleaming
dear Mrs. Claus paused, her cap ribbons streaming.
“Merry Christmas, my dear, now just have a ball!
Relax and enjoy. Happy Quilting to all!”

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