Saturday, July 25, 2009

Two Kids, A Dog & A Rowboat

Good afternoon.

This week's edition of the newsletter is going out a little early, as we're leaving this afternoon for a family reunion in Nebraska. We're especially excited to spend a day floating down the Niobrara river... the kids on tubes, and the adults in a modified "water tank" loaded with a cooler & supplies for a picnic lunch.

When we started planning this trip, I checked out a number of websites for various canoe/raft/tube outfitters in Valentine, Nebraska. The water tank option looked like fun, and I noticed that in one photo there was a dog in the water tank. (Click here to see what I mean).

"Perfect," I thought... "We can take Sox!"

"Not so fast," said Wesley. "He's never even been in a boat before."

Not easily deterred, I asked an outdoors-man friend his opinion. He advised me to do a trial run on Mirror Lake before we hauled the dog all the way to Nebraska, only to find out Sox hated the idea.

With a lot of persuasion, I talked Wesley into our "trial run". Tuesday night, we borrowed my friend's rowboat, and headed to the little man-made lake on the south edge of town. Mirror Lake is perfect to walk or jog around, and a great location for for picnics & parties. Fishermen occasionally fish from shores. Rarely, do you see anyone boating there.

We carried the rowboat to the dock, loaded up Matthew & our niece Justina, and lifted Sox into the boat. He trembled at first, but seemed okay as we floated away from shore. Wesley & Justina rowed to the middle of the lake, then we returned to shore with no problem. I will admit that as we got closer to shore, Sox looked like he wanted to bail out and swim.

We rested, and Sox and I climbed out of the boat to get the camera. When we returned to the boat, I told him to "LOAD UP!", and he jumped right into the boat! I quickly snapped these pictures of Sox, Matthew, Justina & Wesley, and we headed for home.

Success.. He passed the trial run! Wesley relented, and agreed that he can come with us to Nebraska. I'm pretty sure that he'll do just fine in the water tank, and I'll try to get some great pictures for next week's newsletter.

In the meantime, Laurie-Ann will "hold down the fort" at home, house-sitting & looking after our other four-legged friends.

Quilts & Stitches Designs by Christine Bump, Stitched by Rose

We’ve been carrying the “Quilts & Stitches” pattern series by Christine Bump for quite some time now, adding to our pattern selection as she releases new designs.  Christine is “almost our neighbor”, as she lives in Blackhawk, South Dakota.

We are especially captivated by her series of appliquéd silhouettes, featuring various wildlife & western motifs.  Using her patterns, Rose has made seven different quilts for store samples.  Travelling in-store customers often comment that are not familiar with this style of art quilts, and leave the shop with a handful of patterns that represent their visit to our region.

Click here to see our current selection of “Quilts & Stitches” patterns & kits.

The technique to make these dramatic wall-hangings is simple: fusible web (Steam A Seam II Light, Click here for the value pack, or here for running yardage) is fused to the back or tightly woven, high quality batik fabric.  Using sharp embroidery scissors, the silhouette is cut carefully cut out.  In many cases, it is cut a SINGLE piece!  Rose says it is a bit “fussy”, but not difficult if you take your time.  Then, the appliqué silhouette is fused on pretty background fabric, and the borders are added.  The quilt top, batting, and backing are layered, and then quilted by stitching around the outline of the appliqué shape.

The Sturgis Rally will start in a little over 8 days, and the sound of motorcycles driving through our little town on the way to the Black Hills will become more & more common as the rally approaches.  Believe it or not, some of the “bikers” are “quilters” too, and it’s really fun to visit with them as the stop at the shop.  Most leave with a yard or two of “Sturgis Fabric” (click here), and they all love
“Rose’s Rally Quilts”.

“Chopping to the Rally”:


“Cruising to the Rally”:


Christine does have a third “Rally” design, but Rose hasn’t found time to make it yet.  Our quilt kit includes the same sunset batik background fabric as shown in the two quilts above, and this is the pattern cover photo by Christine:


Rose has also completed a number of Christine’s western designs.

“Cowboy Sunset”:


“The Morning Discussion”:


And, both the “Girl” & “Boy” versions of “Making a New Friend”:



Also, she made this stunning version of “Pheasants in Flight”.  Look closely, and you’ll see a hunter kneeling beside his dog within the pheasant outline:


We currently have kits available online for all of the quilts that Rose has made, plus “Sporting to the Rally”.  But, if you are interested in a custom kit for any of Christine’s Quilts & Sitches patterns, simply let us know, and we can cut one for you using our extensive selection of beautiful batiks. 

Have a Sherri Berry Holiday! ~ Learn to make “Prairie Points”


Project: Sherri Berry Holiday Lap Quilt, with Prairie Point & Rick-Rack Trim (Click here to purchase the quilt kit). Click here to see the complete Sherri Berry Holiday fabric collection.

Pattern: A DCQ original design by Laura & Rose

Finished Size: 32” x 50”

Skill Level: Confident Beginner

Technique: Framed Panel, “Stitch in the Ditch” machine quilting, “Prairie Point” construction, Binding with Rick-Rack accent.

Let’s Get Started!

Depending upon the manufacturer, focus panels usually measure approximately 24” x 42”, and can be easily trimmed & framed with one or more border fabrics to create quick quilts. The panel in the Sherri Berry collection is “dual purpose”: it can also be sub-cut into quilt squares measuring approximately 4 3/4”, or it can be used as a single unit.


I determined that my brown border fabric would look best if sewn directly next to the multi-colored stripe, but I wanted to preserve as much of the stripe as possible. Therefore, the flat brown that was printed on the edge of the panel became my seam allowance.

Start by trimming the panel 1/4” away from the edge of the striped accent. Lay a ruler on the panel fabric, and carefully trim away excess fabric.


Measure the size of the trimmed panel, and add 4.5” borders to fit each side. As you stitch the borders in place, be sure the panel is on the top, and the border fabric is on the bottom. As you stitch, you’ll be able to see the 1/4” seam allowance you created in the previous step. Stitch right along the edge of the stripe, hiding the unwanted edge print in your seam allowance.


Frame the panel on all sides, pressing each seam toward the outer border.


Layer your quilt top, batting, and backing fabric on a large table or clean floor. Use quilting safety pins to secure the layers (click here) , or spray with quilt basting spray (sorry, we don’t sell this online, because we can’t ship aerosol cans… check at your local quilt or craft store).

Using a coordinating thread, machine quilt as desired. I simply stitched along the horizontal & vertical lines created by the “quilt blocks” in the panel. I used 28 weight Variegated Aurifil thread because it is a heavier weight thread for topstitching (it shows up nicely on the background). I chose color 4661, but both 4654 & 4647 would have looked nice too. Variegated thread is great for machine quilting, as it moves from light to dark, creating a decorative accent.


Click here for our selection of Aurifil 28 weight. I recommend using a quilting needle for machine quilting (Click here for variety pack of Schmetz quilting needles).


When I finished the simple machine quilting, I also “stay-stitched” 1/4” away from the outer edge, to secure the layers in place for the prairie-point trim.


“Prairie Points” are decorative folded fabric points, most commonly added to the outer edge of a quilt, although sometimes you see them incorporated into borders. They can point either toward the center of the quilt, or point away from the edge. Click here for great book by Darlene Zimmerman regarding “Prairie Points” and other decorative “borders, bindings, and finishing touches”.

To create a prairie point unit, start with a square of fabric:


Fold the square in half, wrong-sides together, and press:


Fold the triangle in half, and press:


Repeat, making a “whole bunch” of prairie point units… I ended up using 46 in this quilt. Prairie points can be scrappy, or uniform, depending upon your preference.

Because I decided to orient my prairie points inward, I didn’t want them to nudge up against each other at the corners… I thought it would be too bulky & wanted a strip of border fabric to peek through. I drew a chalk line from the corner of the panel to the corner of the quilt top, then 2 more lines 1/4” on either side of the central mark.


The edges of the prairie points should touch the top & bottom lines:


Align prairie point units along the edges of the border, opening each unit to tuck the folded edge of the next between the layers:

(Note: the tucked in effect is optional… you can also do an “on top/on bottom” pattern as you overlap the units)


Once you have arranged the scrappy points, and are pleased with the appearance & alignment, pin in place, and stitch a scant 1/4” away from the outermost edge. The alignment doesn’t have to be exact, because depending upon the dimensions of your prairie point units, and the width & height of your quilt top, you have to adjust the spacing “to fit”. However, each unit should overlap with the next by approximately the same amount.


The quilt top will look like this, when you have added the prairie points to all four sides.


Coming soon… Rose will add a binding to the quilt top, including a rick rack accent.

Cabin Award Winner: July 25, 2009

Congratulations to user gooneybird! Your name has been randomly selected as this week's winner of the Cabin Award: a gift package of "Christmas Quilting Items" from our great selection of "Christmas in July" merchandise, retail value of $25.00. Please send an e-mail to Laurie-Ann at with your mailing address, and she'll help you redeem your reward.

The next "Cabin Award" will be posted on Sunday, August 2nd. The lucky recipient will receive the “Making a New Friend” quilt kit & pattern, designed by Christine Bump (Quilts & Stitches).  Be sure to check out this week’s blog entry about these designs. The recipient will be randomly chosen from the list of our blog's followers.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Christmas in July: Secret Santa Stockings


Project: “Secret Santa Stockings” , using Sweet Roll Stocking Kit from Moda. Click here to purchase the kit.

Pattern: designed by Moda fabrics, included as an insert in the Sweet Roll Stocking kit.

Finished Size: each stocking measures approximately 4” x 10”. The kit includes the fabric to make SIX stockings, with the exception of backing fabric. Use “fabric from your stash” for backing, or ask us to add a suitable coordinate to your kit purchase.

Skill Level: Confident Beginner

Technique: Traditional Piecing, with a ruffled trim

Let’s Get Started!


Strip piece a pair of strip sets using the pre-cut 1.5” strips that make up the mini honey-buns. You’ll cut each strip in half to measure approximately 1.5” x 20”. As you sew the strips, finger-press each seam before you steam press. This helps to prevent bowing, or curving of your strip set.


As with all Moda pre-cuts (charm squares, jelly rolls, turnovers, etc.), the edges of the honey buns are “micro-pinked” to prevent raveling. The zig-zag edges can be a little tougher to line up than straight edges. I try to align the outermost tips with the exact edge of my presser foot. csb4

Arrange the strips in a pleasing order, and add them one at a time to the strip set, pressing as you go (first finger press, then steam press). Press all seam allowances in the same direction.


Continue adding strips until your strata has a total of (8) different strips. Then, using the other half-strips from the mini honey-bun, piece an identical strata. However, on the second strata, you will press the seam allowances the opposite direction compared to the first.


Lay both strata on your cutting table, right sides together. Carefully align the top and bottom edges, and make sure the seams interlock neatly as you smooth the fabric into position.


Cutting through both layers, subcut the strata into 1.5” segments.


Right sides together, sew (2) strips that are off-set by a single square. Choose strips that have seam allowances pointing in opposite directions.


Press. The seam allowances can be pressed to one side.


Continue to add segments, offsetting by one square each time. You don’t need to pin the seams, as long as you carefully align each as it approaches the needle. I do this by firmly pressing on the top and bottom of the seam joints (until you feel them lock into position). Then, I firmly hold the “joint” into position as I guide it under the presser foot.


Stitch a total of (9) strips into position, creating a pretty seminole effect.


Trace the stocking shape from the pattern onto freezer paper, and cut it out on the line. Then, press the freezer paper onto the wrong side of your backing fabric.

The edge of the freezer paper is the seam line. Do not cut on that line! Instead, cut a generous 1/4” away from the edge of the freezer paper.


Remove the freezer paper, and carefully lay the stocking back on your seminole piece, right sides together. Pin in position, then sew approximately 1/4” away from the edge of the backing fabric along the side and bottom of the stocking. Do NOT sew across the top.


Trim the seminole piece even with the stocking back. Zig-zag in the seam allowance, if desired (this helps to finish the seam, and prevent ravelling.) Cut notches in the top and bottom of the foot area, to eliminate bulk.


Turn the stocking right sides out. The pattern recommends adding a binding to the top, but honestly this seemed like way too much work. Instead, I just folded about 1/2" of the top of the stocking to the inside , and zig-zagged around the cuff. This area is hidden underneath the ruffle trim anyway.


The ruffle trim is created from a half strip of fabric. Join the ends, right side together, to create a continuous loop. Then, using the longest stitch length on your sewing machine, stitch (2) basting rows, approximately 1/4” from the top and bottom edges.


Turn the loop right sides out, and gently begin to tug on your basting threads, gradually gathering the fabric into a ruffle.


Pin the ruffle strip to the top of the stocking. Tighten or loosen the basting threads as needed so that the ruffle fits the cuff. You will likely need to intensely pin the area where the basting stitches start & stop, creating your own ruffles with each pin. If you don’t do this, you’ll have a flat area in the ruffle cuff, as it is hard to “hold the ruffle” without a lot of pins. About half of the ruffle strip should be below the top of the stocking, and the other half will be above the top of the stocking.


Working from the backside, straight stitch the ruffle in place. In this photo, the row of stitching you see just above the zig-zag is the stitch that attaches the ruffle to the stocking.


Remove all of the basting threads you used to create the ruffle. The top of your stocking should look like this.


Although the pattern does not mention this, I think the stockings need a hang tab. I created this by folding a 1.5” strip of fabric in half, and pressing it.


Then, I tucked the raw edges inside, folded the strip again, and top-stitched with matching thread to create a long, thin, strip for the hanger.


I stitched a 5” segment of the hanger as a loop on the back part of the cuff. I pinned the loop in place, and carefully stitched along the same location where the stitching for the ruffle was. I then backstitched over my stitches, to securely fasten the loop in position.


Tada! One is finished! Repeat with remaining fabric strips to create (2) more identical stockings.

Use the second mini honey-bun to make (3) more stockings for a total of six.

Fill with candy canes, wrapped chocolates, or other small stocking stuffers. Also, these could be used as tree ornaments, depending upon your preference (they are a little large compared to the average ornament).

Although this project is a little time consuming, the end result is uniquely beautiful. And, once you’ve made the first one, the next ones go much more quickly. The cost of each stocking is minimal ($20.00 for the fabric rolls & pattern), plus backing fabric of your choice.. each unit likely costs about $5.00. Well worth in, in my humble opinion :)

Have fun!